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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
THIRD DIVISION
G.R. No. 164687 February 12, 2009
SM PRIME HOLDINGS, INC., Petitioner,
vs.
ANGELA V. MADAYAG, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
NACHURA, J.:
This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision
1
of the Court of Appeals
(CA) dated March 19, 2004 and Resolution dated July 15, 2004, which set aside the
lower courts order to suspend the proceedings on respondents application for land
registration.
On July 12, 2001, respondent Angela V. Madayag filed with the Regional Trial Court
(RTC) of Urdaneta, Pangasinan an application for registration of a parcel of land
with an area of 1,492 square meters located in Barangay Anonas, Urdaneta City,
Pangasinan.
2
Attached to the application was a tracing cloth of Survey Plan Psu-01-
008438, approved by the Land Management Services (LMS) of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Region 1, San Fernando City.
On August 20, 2001, petitioner SM Prime Holdings, Inc., through counsel, wrote the
Chief, Regional Survey Division, DENR, Region I, demanding the cancellation of the
respondents survey plan because the lot encroached on the properties it recently
purchased from several lot owners and that, despite being the new owner of the
adjoining lots, it was not notified of the survey conducted on June 8, 2001.
3

Petitioner then manifested its opposition to the respondents application for
registration. The Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor
General, and the heirs of Romulo Visperas also filed their respective oppositions.
On February 6, 2002, petitioner filed its formal opposition. Petitioner alleged that it
had recently bought seven parcels of land in Barangay Anonas, Urdaneta,
delineated as Lots B, C, D, E, G, H and I in Consolidation-Subdivision Plan No.
(LRC) Pcs-21329, approved by the Land Registration Commission on August 26,
1976, and previously covered by Survey Plan No. Psu-236090 approved by the
Bureau of Lands on December 29, 1970. These parcels of land are covered by
separate certificates of title, some of which are already in the name of the
petitioner while the others are still in the name of the previous owners.
On February 20, 2002, the RTC declared a general default, except as to the
petitioner, the Republic, and the heirs of Romulo Visperas. Thereafter, respondent
commenced the presentation of evidence.
Meanwhile, acting on petitioners request for the cancellation of the respondents
survey plan, DENR Assistant Regional Executive Director for Legal Services and
Public Affairs, Allan V. Barcena, advised the petitioner to file a petition for
cancellation in due form so that the DENR could properly act on the
same.
4
Accordingly, petitioner formally filed with the DENR a petition
5
for
cancellation of the survey plan sometime in March 2002, alleging the following
grounds:
I.
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ALIENABLE OR DISPOSABLE PROPERTY WHICH IS
THE SUBJECT LOT IN THIS CASE
II.
NO NOTICE WAS MADE UPON PETITIONER (AS ADJOINING LANDOWNER AND WHO
BEARS INTEREST OVER THE SUBJECT LOT) MUCH LESS THE OWNERS OF
ADJOINING LANDS.
III.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES EVIDENTLY SHOW THAT BAD FAITH AND/OR MALICE
ATTENDED THE APPROVAL OF (PLAN WITH PSU NO. 01-008438).
6

On July 17, 2002, petitioner filed an Urgent Motion to Suspend Proceedings
7
in the
land registration case, alleging that the court should await the DENR resolution of
the petition for the cancellation of the survey plan "as the administrative case is
prejudicial to the determination" of the land registration case.
On October 8, 2002, the RTC issued an Order granting the motion, thus:
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Court hereby GRANTS the instant
motion and suspends the proceedings herein. In the meantime, and until receipt by
this Court of a copy of the resolution of the petition for cancellation by the DENR,
the instant case is hereby ARCHIVED.
SO ORDERED.
8

Emphasizing that a survey plan is one of the mandatory requirements in land
registration proceedings, the RTC agreed with the petitioner that the cancellation of
the survey plan would be prejudicial to the petition for land registration.
9

On February 13, 2003, the RTC denied the respondents motion for reconsideration
of its order.
10
Respondent thereafter filed a petition for certiorari with the CA
assailing the order suspending the proceedings.
On March 19, 2004, finding that the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in
suspending the proceedings, the CA granted the petition for certiorari, thus:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The
challenged Orders dated October 8, 2002 and February 13, 2003 of the respondent
Court are declared NULL and VOID.
The Court a quo is directed to continue the proceedings until its final determination.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
11

The CA ratiocinated that the survey plan which was duly approved by the DENR
should be accorded the presumption of regularity, and that the RTC has the power
to hear and determine all questions arising from an application for registration.
12

On July 15, 2004, the CA issued a Resolution
13
denying the petitioners motion for
reconsideration. Petitioner was, thus, compelled to file this petition for review,
ascribing the following errors to the CA:
I. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED MANIFEST ERROR IN NOT FINDING THAT
THE SUSPENSION OF THE PROCEEDINGS IN THE LAND REGISTRATION CASE IS
LEGAL AND PROPER PENDING THE DETERMINATION AND RESOLUTION OF THE
ADMINISTRATIVE CASE BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND
NATURAL RESOURCES-REGION 1.
II. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED MANIFEST ERROR IN FAILING TO FIND
THAT THE ASSAILED ORDERS OF THE LOWER COURT HAVE PROPER AND
SUFFICIENT BASES IN FACT AND IN LAW.
III. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED MANIFEST ERROR IN HOLDING THAT THE
LOWER COURT HAS ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN SUSPENDING
THE PROCEEDINGS AND ARCHIVING THE CASE.
IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED MANIFEST ERROR IN FAILING TO FIND
THAT THE FILING OF THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI, UNDER RULE 65 OF THE
REVISED RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, IS NOT THE ONLY PLAIN, SPEEDY AND
ADEQUATE REMEDY IN THE ORDINARY COURSE OF LAW ON THE PART OF HEREIN
RESPONDENT.
14

The petition has no merit.
Petitioner contends that, since the respondents cause of action in the land
registration case depends heavily on the survey plan, it was only prudent for the
RTC to suspend the proceedings therein pending the resolution of the petition for
cancellation of the survey plan by the DENR.
15
It, therefore, insists that recourse to
a petition for certiorari was not proper considering that respondent was not
arbitrarily deprived of her right to prosecute her application for registration.
16

Undeniably, the power to stay proceedings is an incident to the power inherent in
every court to control the disposition of the cases in its dockets, with economy of
time and effort for the court, counsel and litigants. But courts should be mindful of
the right of every party to a speedy disposition of his case and, thus, should not be
too eager to suspend proceedings of the cases before them. Hence, every order
suspending proceedings must be guided by the following precepts: it shall be done
in order to avoid multiplicity of suits and prevent vexatious litigations, conflicting
judgments, confusion between litigants and courts,
17
or when the rights of parties
to the second action cannot be properly determined until the questions raised in the
first action are settled.
18
Otherwise, the suspension will be regarded as an arbitrary
exercise of the courts discretion and can be corrected only by a petition for
certiorari.
None of the circumstances that would justify the stay of proceedings is present. In
fact, to await the resolution of the petition for cancellation would only delay the
resolution of the land registration case and undermine the purpose of land
registration.
The fundamental purpose of the Land Registration Law (Presidential Decree No.
1529) is to finally settle title to real property in order to preempt any question on
the legality of the title except claims that were noted on the certificate itself at
the time of registration or those that arose subsequent
thereto.1avvphi1 Consequently, once the title is registered under the said law,
owners can rest secure on their ownership and possession.
19

Glaringly, the petition for cancellation raises practically the very same issues that
the herein petitioner raised in its opposition to the respondents application for
registration. Principally, it alleges that the survey plan should be cancelled because
it includes portions of the seven properties that it purchased from several
landowners, which properties are already covered by existing certificates of title.
Petitioner posits that it is the DENR that has the sole authority to decide the validity
of the survey plan that was approved by the LMS.
20
It cites Section 4(15), Chapter
1, Title XIV, Administrative Code of 1987 which provides that the DENR shall
(15) Exercise (of) exclusive jurisdiction on the management and disposition of all
lands of the public domain and serve as the sole agency responsible for
classification, sub-classification, surveying and titling of lands in consultation with
appropriate agencies.
However, respondent argues that the land registration court is clothed with
adequate authority to resolve the conflicting claims of the parties, and that even if
the DENR cancels her survey plan, the land registration court is not by duty bound
to dismiss the application for registration based solely on the cancellation of the
survey plan.
21
lawphil.net
Without delving into the jurisdiction of the DENR to resolve the petition for
cancellation, we hold that, as an incident to its authority to settle all questions over
the title of the subject property, the land registration court may resolve the
underlying issue of whether the subject property overlaps the petitioners properties
without necessarily having to declare the survey plan as void.
It is well to note at this point that, in its bid to avoid multiplicity of suits and to
promote the expeditious resolution of cases, Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529
eliminated the distinction between the general jurisdiction vested in the RTC and
the latters limited jurisdiction when acting merely as a land registration court. Land
registration courts, as such, can now hear and decide even controversial and
contentious cases, as well as those involving substantial issues.
22
When the law
confers jurisdiction upon a court, the latter is deemed to have all the necessary
powers to exercise such jurisdiction to make it effective.
23
It may, therefore, hear
and determine all questions that arise from a petition for registration.
In view of the nature of a Torrens title, a land registration court has the duty to
determine whether the issuance of a new certificate of title will alter a valid and
existing certificate of title.
24
An application for registration of an already titled land
constitutes a collateral attack on the existing title,
25
which is not allowed by
law.
26
But the RTC need not wait for the decision of the DENR in the petition to
cancel the survey plan in order to determine whether the subject property is
already titled or forms part of already titled property. The court may now verify this
allegation based on the respondents survey plan vis--vis the certificates of title of
the petitioner and its predecessors-in-interest. After all, a survey plan precisely
serves to establish the true identity of the land to ensure that it does not overlap a
parcel of land or a portion thereof already covered by a previous land registration,
and to forestall the possibility that it will be overlapped by a subsequent registration
of any adjoining land.
27

Should the court find it difficult to do so, the court may require the filing of
additional papers to aid in its determination of the propriety of the application,
based on Section 21 of P.D. No. 1529:
SEC. 21. Requirement of additional facts and papers; ocular inspection. The court
may require facts to be stated in the application in addition to those prescribed by
this Decree not inconsistent therewith and may require the filing of any additional
papers.
The court may also directly require the DENR and the Land Registration Authority to
submit a report on whether the subject property has already been registered and
covered by certificates of title, like what the court did in Carvajal v. Court of
Appeals.
28
In that case, we commended such move by
the land registration court for being "in accordance with the purposes of the Land
Registration Law."
29

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The Court of Appeals
Decision dated March 19, 2004 and Resolution dated July 15, 2004 are AFFIRMED.
The Regional Trial Court of Urdaneta, Pangasinan is DIRECTED to continue with the
proceedings in L.R.C. Case No. U-1134 and to resolve the same with dispatch.
SO ORDERED.

















EN BANC

[G.R. No. 14167. August 14, 1919. ]

THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, petitioner and appellee.
ANTIPAS VAZQUEZ and BASILIO GAYARES, Petitioners-Appellants, v.
RUFINA ABURAL ET. AL., objectors-appellees.

Cohn & Fisher, for Appellants.

Hilado & Hilado, for Appellees.

SYLLABUS
1. LAND REGISTRATION; TORRENS SYSTEM; PURPOSE. The prime purpose of
the Torrens System, as established in the Philippine Islands by the Land
Registration Law (Act No. 496), is to decree land titles that shall be final,
irrevocable, and indisputable.

2. ID.; CADASTRAL SYSTEM; PURPOSE. The purpose of the offspring of the
Torrens System here known as the Cadastral System, as established in the
Philippine Islands by the Cadastral Act (No. 2259), is, like the purpose of the
Torrens System, proper incontestability of title. As stated in Section 1 of the
Cadastral Act, the purpose is to serve the public interest, by requiring that the titles
to any lands "be settled and adjudicated."cralaw virtua1aw library

3. ID.; ID.; PROCEEDINGS. Many precautions are taken to guard against
injustice.

4. ID.; ID.; ID. After trial in a cadastral case, three actions are taken. The first
adjudicates ownership in favor of one of the claimants. This constitutes the decision
the judgment the decree of the court. The second action is the declaration by
the court that the decree is final and its order for the issuance of the certificates of
title by the Chief of the Land Registration Office. Such order is made if within thirty
days from the date of receipt of a copy of the decision no appeal is taken from the
decision. The third and last action devolves upon the General Land Registration
Office.

5. ID.; ID.; ID.; FINALITY OF DECREE. For a decree to exist in legal
contemplation, it is not necessary to await the preparation of a so-called decree by
the Land Registration Office.

6. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID. Cadastral proceedings commenced. Notice published in the
Official Gazette. Trial judge also issued general notice. S asks for the registration in
his name of lot No. 1608. Hearing had. On September 21, 1916, the court in a
decree awarded the lot to S. On November 23, 1916, the time for an appeal having
passed, the court declares the decree final. On July 23, 1917, before the issuance
by the Land Registration Office of the so-called technical decree, V and G ask that
the case be reopened to receive proof relative to the ownership of the lot. Motion
denied by the trial court. Held: That since the judgment of the Court of First
Instance of September 21, 1916, has become final, and since no action was taken
within the time provided by law for the prosecution of an appeal by bill of
exceptions, the Supreme Court is without jurisdiction, and the appeal must be
dismissed.

7. ID.; ID.; RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT. Whether Sections 113 and 513 of the
Code of Civil Procedure apply to cadastral proceedings, quare.

8. GENERAL LAND REGISTRATION OFFICE. The General Land Registration Office
has been instituted "for the due effectuation and accomplishment of the laws
relative to the registration of land." (Administrative Code of 1917, Sec. 174.)


D E C I S I O N


MALCOLM, J. :


The principal question which this appeal presents is When does the registration
of title, under the Torrens System of Land Registration, especially under the
different Philippine laws establishing the Cadastral System, become final,
conclusive, and indisputable? The supplementary questions are At what stage of
the cadastral proceedings does a decree exist in legal contemplation? Does it exist
from the moment that the court, after hearing the evidence, adjudicates the land in
favor of a person and then, or later decrees the land in favor of this person, or does
it exist when the Chief of the Land Registration Office transcribes the adjudication
in the prescribed form?

STATEMENT OF THE CASE.

Cadastral proceedings were commenced in the municipality of Hinigaran, Province
of Occidental Negros, upon an application of the Director of Lands, on June 16,
1916. Notice of the proceedings were published in the Official Gazette as provided
by law. The trial judge also issued general notice to all interested parties. Among
others, Victoriano Siguenza presented an answer asking for registration in his name
of lot No. 1608. The instant petitioners, Antipas Vazquez and Basilio Gayares,
although said to reside in this municipality, and although said to have participated
in other cadastral cases, did not enter any opposition as to this lot. Hearing was
had during September, 1916. On September 21 of this year, the court issued the
following decree:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"It is hereby decreed that, upon a previous declaration of general default, the
following lots be adjudged and registered in the names of those persons whose
names appear next after the lots, and in accordance with the following conditions: .
. .

"Lot No. 1608 with the improvements thereon to the conjugal partnership of
Victoriano Siguenza and Marcela Guanzon."cralaw virtua1aw library

On November 23 of the same year, the court declared final the foregoing decree in
the following language:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The decision rendered by the court in the above-entitled case having become final
on September 21, 1916, it is hereby ordered that the Chief of the General Land
Registration Office issue the decrees corresponding to the lots adjudged by said
decision.

"An appeal having however been interposed as to the lots enumerated as follows,
the decrees thereon, must be suspended until further order by this
court:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Lot No. 521.

Eight months later, that is, on July 23, 1917, but before the issuance by the Land
Registration Office of the so-called technical decree, Antipas Vazquez and Basilio
Gayares, the latter as guardian of the minor Estrella Vazquez, came into the case
for the first time. The petitioners, after setting forth their right of ownership in lot
No. 1608, and that it was included in their "Hacienda Santa Filomena," and after
stating that they were in complete ignorance of the proceedings, asked that the
judgment of the court be annulled and that the case be reopened to receive proof
relative to the ownership of the lot. Counsel for Victoriano Siguenza answered by
counter-motion, asking the court to dismiss the motion presented on behalf of
Vazquez and Gayares. The court denied the motion for a new trial on the theory
that there being a decree already rendered and no allegation of fraud having been
made, the court lacked jurisdiction. It may also be stated parenthetically that
counsel for Vazquez and Gayares made an unsuccessful attempt in the Supreme
Court, through mandamus, to have the record completed by the taking of
evidence.

In order that the matter may not be confused, let it again be made clear that
counsel for petitioners have not raised the question of fraud as provided for in
Section 38 of the Land Registration Law, nor have they asked to be relieved from a
judgment or order, pursuant to Section 113 of the Code of Civil Procedure, because
of mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect. As a matter of fact, they
could not well claim fraud because all the proceedings were public and free from
any suspicion of chicanery. As a matter of fact, also, any special reliance on Section
113 of the Code of Civil Procedure would not get them anywhere because more
than six months had elapsed after the issuance of a judgment in this case. The
issue fundamentally becomes one of whether or not the Supreme Court has
jurisdiction over the appeal, since if the judgment and the supplemental decree
issued by the Judge of the Court of First Instance on September 21, 1916, and
November 23, 1916, respectively, have become final, petitioners may no bring their
appeal before this court, because the time for the filing of their bill of exceptions
has expired; while, if the cadastral proceedings did not become final until the
formal decree was issued by the Land Registration Office, then it was proper for
them to ask for a reopening of the case, and it would, consequently, be just as
proper for this court to order the trial court to permit the same.

OPINION.

The prime purpose of the Torrens System is, as has been repeatedly stated, to
decree land titles that shall be final, irrevocable, and indisputable. Incontestability
of title is the goal. All due precaution must accordingly be taken to guard against
injustice to interested individuals who, for some good reason, may not be able to
protect their rights. Nevertheless, even at the cost of possible cruelty which may
result in exceptional cases, it does become necessary in the interest of the public
weal to enforce registration laws. No stronger words can be found than those
appearing in Section 38 of the Land Registration Law (Act No. 496) wherein it is
said that: "Every decree of registration shall bind the land, and quiet title thereto. .
. . It shall be conclusive upon and against all persons, including the Insular
Government and all the branches thereof, whether mentioned by name in the
application, notice, or citation, or included in the general description To all whom it
may concern, Such decree shall not be opened by reason of the absence, infancy,
or other disability of any person affected thereby, nor by any proceeding in any
court for reversing judgments or decrees; subject, however, to the right of any
person deprived of land or of any estate or interest therein by decree of registration
obtained by fraud to file in the Court of Land Registration (Court of First Instance) a
petition for review within one year after entry of the decree, provided no innocent
purchaser for value has acquired an interest."cralaw virtua1aw library

While such statements can be made of the Torrens System proper, they become
even more incisive and peremptory when we come to consider the offspring of this
system, here known as the Cadastral System. Under the Torrens System proper,
whether action shall or shall not be taken is optional with the solicitant. Under the
Cadastral System, pursuant to initiative on the part of the Government, titles for all
the land within a stated area, are adjudicated whether or not the people living
within this district desire to have titles issued. The purpose, as stated in section one
of the Cadastral Act (NO. 2259), is to serve the public interests, by requiring that
the titles to any lands "be settled and adjudicated."cralaw virtua1aw library

Admitting that such compulsory registration of land and such excessive interference
with private property constitutes due process of law and that the Acts providing for
the same are constitutional, a question not here raised, yet a study of the law
indicates that many precautions are taken to guard against injustice. The
proceedings are initiated by a notice of survey. When the lands have been surveyed
and plotted, the Director of Lands, represented by the Attorney General, files a
petition in court praying that the titles to the lands named be settled and
adjudicated. Notice of the filing of the petition is then published twice in successive
issues of the Official Gazette in both the English and Spanish languages. All persons
interested are given the benefit of assistance by competent officials and are
informed of their rights. A trial is had. "All conflicting interests shall be adjudicated
by the court and decrees awarded in favor of the persons entitled to the lands or
the various parts thereof, and such decrees, when final, shall be the bases of
original certificates of title in favor of said persons." (Act No. 2259, Sec. 11.) Aside
from this, the commotion caused by the survey and a trial affecting ordinarily many
people, together with the presence of strangers in the community, should serve to
put all those affected on their guard.

After trial in a cadastral case, three actions are taken. The first adjudicates
ownership in favor of one of the claimants. This constitutes the decision the
judgment the decree of the court, and speaks in a judicial manner. The second
action is the declaration by the court that the decree is final and its order for the
issuance of the certificates of title by the Chief of the Land Registration Office. Such
order is made if within thirty days from the date of receipt of a copy of the decision
no appeal is taken from the decision. This again is judicial action, although to a less
degree than the first.

The third and last action devolves upon the General Land Registration Office. This
office has been instituted "for the due effectuation and accomplishment of the laws
relative to the registration of land." (Administrative Code of 1917, Sec. 174.) An
official found in the office, known as the chief surveyor, has as one of his duties "to
prepare final decrees in all adjudicated cases." (Administrative Code of 1917, Sec.
177.) This latter decree contains the technical description of the land and may not
be issued until a considerable time after the promulgation of the judgment. The
form for the decree used by the General Land Registration Office concludes with the
words: "Witness, the Honorable (name of the judge), on this the (date)." The date
that is used as authority for the issuance of the decree is the date when, after
hearing the evidence, the trial court decreed the adjudication and registration of the
land.

The judgment in a cadastral survey, including the rendition of the decree, is a
judicial act. As the law says, the judicial decree when final is the base of the
certificate of title. The issuance of the decree by the Land Registration Office is
ministerial act. The date of the judgment, or more correctly stated, the date on
which the defeated party receives a copy of the decision, begins the running of the
time for the interposition of a motion for a new trial or for the perfection of an
appeal to the Supreme Court. The date of the title prepared by the Chief Surveyor
is unimportant, for the adjudication has taken place and all that is left to be
performed is the mere formulation of the technical description. If an unknown
individual could wait possibly years until the day before a surveyor gets around to
transcribing a technical description of a piece of land, the defeated party could just
as reasonably expect the same consideration for his appeal. As a matter of fact, the
so-called unknown is a party just as much as the known oppositor for notice is to all
the world, and the decree binds all the world.

Both counsel for petitioners and respondents rely upon the decision of this court in
the case of Tambunting v. Manuel ([1916], 35 Phil.; 699) . That case and the
instant case are not the same. In the Tambunting case the contest was really
between two parties each claiming to have a Torrens title; here one party has the
title and the other is seeking to oust him from his fortress. In the Tambunting case
the declaration of ownership but not the decree of registration had issued; here
both declaration and decree have issued. The doctrines announced in the decision
in Grey Alba v. De la Cruz ([1910], 17 Phil., 49) relating to general notice and the
indefensibility of land titles under the Torrens system are much more applicable and
can, with as much reason, be applied to the cadastral system.

As a general rule, registration of title under the cadastral system is final, conclusive
and indisputable, after the passage of the thirty-day period allowed for an appeal
from the date of receipt by the party of a copy of the judgment of the court
adjudicating ownership without any step having been taken to perfect an appeal.
The prevailing party may then have execution of the judgment as of right and is
entitled to the certificate of title issued by the chief of the Land Registration Office.
The exception is the special provision providing for fraud.

Counsel for appellants and appellees have favored the court with able arguments
relative to the applicability of Sections 113 and 513 of the Code of Civil Procedure
to cadastral proceedings. The view we take of the case would make unprofitable
any discussion of this question.

It appearing that the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Occidental Negros
of September 21, 1916, has become final, and that no action was taken within the
time provided by law for the prosecution of an appeal by bill of exceptions, this
court is without jurisdiction. Accordingly the appeal is dismissed with costs against
the appellants. So ordered










Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 159310 February 24, 2009
CAMILO F. BORROMEO, Petitioner,
vs.
ANTONIETTA O. DESCALLAR, Respondent.
D E C I S I O N
PUNO, C.J.:
What are the rights of an alien (and his successor-in-interest) who acquired real
properties in the country as against his former Filipina girlfriend in whose sole name
the properties were registered under the Torrens system?
The facts are as follows:
Wilhelm Jambrich, an Austrian, arrived in the Philippines in 1983 after he was
assigned by his employer, Simmering-Graz Panker A.G., an Austrian company, to
work at a project in Mindoro. In 1984, he transferred to Cebu and worked at the
Naga II Project of the National Power Corporation. There, he met respondent
Antonietta Opalla-Descallar, a separated mother of two boys who was working as a
waitress at St. Moritz Hotel. Jambrich befriended respondent and asked her to tutor
him in English. In dire need of additional income to support her children,
respondent agreed. The tutorials were held in Antoniettas residence at a squatters
area in Gorordo Avenue.
Jambrich and respondent fell in love and decided to live together in a rented house
in Hernan Cortes, Mandaue City. Later, they transferred to their own house and lots
at Agro-Macro Subdivision, Cabancalan, Mandaue City. In the Contracts to Sell
dated November 18, 1985
1
and March 10, 1986
2
covering the properties, Jambrich
and respondent were referred to as the buyers. A Deed of Absolute Sale dated
November 16, 1987
3
was likewise issued in their favor. However, when the Deed of
Absolute Sale was presented for registration before the Register of Deeds,
registration was refused on the ground that Jambrich was an alien and could not
acquire alienable lands of the public domain. Consequently, Jambrichs name was
erased from the document. But it could be noted that his signature remained on the
left hand margin of page 1, beside respondents signature as buyer on page 3, and
at the bottom of page 4 which is the last page. Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT)
Nos. 24790, 24791 and 24792 over the properties were issued in respondents
name alone.
Jambrich also formally adopted respondents two sons in Sp. Proc. No. 39-
MAN,
4
and per Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City dated May 5,
1988.
5

However, the idyll lasted only until April 1991. By then, respondent found a new
boyfriend while Jambrich began to live with another woman in Danao City. Jambrich
supported respondents sons for only two months after the break up.
Jambrich met petitioner Camilo F. Borromeo sometime in 1986. Petitioner was
engaged in the real estate business. He also built and repaired speedboats as a
hobby. In 1989, Jambrich purchased an engine and some accessories for his boat
from petitioner, for which he became indebted to the latter for about P150,000.00.
To pay for his debt, he sold his rights and interests in the Agro-Macro properties to
petitioner for P250,000, as evidenced by a "Deed of Absolute
Sale/Assignment."
6
On July 26, 1991, when petitioner sought to register the deed
of assignment, he discovered that titles to the three lots have been transferred in
the name of respondent, and that the subject property has already been
mortgaged.
On August 2, 1991, petitioner filed a complaint against respondent for recovery of
real property before the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City. Petitioner alleged
that the Contracts to Sell dated November 18, 1985 and March 10, 1986 and the
Deed of Absolute Sale dated November 16, 1987 over the properties which
identified both Jambrich and respondent as buyers do not reflect the true
agreement of the parties since respondent did not pay a single centavo of the
purchase price and was not in fact a buyer; that it was Jambrich alone who paid for
the properties using his exclusive funds; that Jambrich was the real and absolute
owner of the properties; and, that petitioner acquired absolute ownership by virtue
of the Deed of Absolute Sale/Assignment dated July 11, 1991 which Jambrich
executed in his favor.
In her Answer, respondent belied the allegation that she did not pay a single
centavo of the purchase price. On the contrary, she claimed that she "solely and
exclusively used her own personal funds to defray and pay for the purchase price of
the subject lots in question," and that Jambrich, being an alien, was prohibited to
acquire or own real property in the Philippines.
At the trial, respondent presented evidence showing her alleged financial capacity
to buy the disputed property with money from a supposed copra business.
Petitioner, in turn, presented Jambrich as his witness and documentary evidence
showing the substantial salaries which Jambrich received while still employed by
the Austrian company, Simmering-Graz Panker A.G.
In its decision, the court a quo found
Evidence on hand clearly show that at the time of the purchase and acquisition of
[the] properties under litigation that Wilhelm Jambrich was still working and
earning much. This fact of Jambrich earning much is not only supported by
documentary evidence but also by the admission made by the defendant
Antoniet[t]a Opalla. So that, Jambrichs financial capacity to acquire and purchase
the properties . . . is not disputed.
7

x x x
On the other hand, evidence . . . clearly show that before defendant met Jambrich
sometime in the latter part of 1984, she was only working as a waitress at the St.
Moritz Hotel with an income of P1,000.00 a month and was . . . renting and living
only in . . . [a] room at . . . [a] squatter area at Gorordo Ave., Cebu City; that
Jambrich took pity of her and the situation of her children that he offered her a
better life which she readily accepted. In fact, this miserable financial situation of
hers and her two children . . . are all stated and reflected in the Child Study Report
dated April 20, 1983 (Exhs. "G" and "G-1") which facts she supplied to the Social
Worker who prepared the same when she was personally interviewed by her in
connection with the adoption of her two children by Wilhelm Jambrich. So that, if
such facts were not true because these are now denied by her . . . and if it was also
true that during this time she was already earning as much as P8,000.00
to P9,000.00 as profit per month from her copra business, it would be highly
unbelievable and impossible for her to be living only in such a miserable condition
since it is the observation of this Court that she is not only an extravagant but also
an expensive person and not thrifty as she wanted to impress this Court in order to
have a big saving as clearly shown by her actuation when she was already
cohabiting and living with Jambrich that according to her . . . the allowance given .
. . by him in the amount of $500.00 a month is not enough to maintain the
education and maintenance of her children.
8

This being the case, it is highly improbable and impossible that she could acquire
the properties under litigation or could contribute any amount for their acquisition
which according to her is worth more than P700,000.00 when while she was
working as [a] waitress at St. Moritz Hotel earning P1,000.00 a month as salary
and tips of more or less P2,000.00 she could not even provide [for] the daily needs
of her family so much so that it is safe to conclude that she was really in financial
distress when she met and accepted the offer of Jambrich to come and live with
him because that was a big financial opportunity for her and her children who were
already abandoned by her husband.
9

x x x
The only probable and possible reason why her name appeared and was included in
[the contracts to sell dated November 18, 1985 and March 10, 1986 and finally, the
deed of absolute sale dated November 16, 1987] as buyer is because as observed
by the Court, she being a scheming and exploitive woman, she has taken
advantage of the goodness of Jambrich who at that time was still bewitched by her
beauty, sweetness, and good attitude shown by her to him since he could still very
well provide for everything she needs, he being earning (sic) much yet at that time.
In fact, as observed by this Court, the acquisition of these properties under
litigation was at the time when their relationship was still going smoothly and
harmoniously.
10
[Emphasis supplied.]
The dispositive portion of the Decision states:
WHEREFORE, . . . Decision is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against
the defendant Antoniet[t]a Opalla by:
1) Declaring plaintiff as the owner in fee simple over the residential house of
strong materials and three parcels of land designated as Lot Nos. 1, 3 and 5
which are covered by TCT Nos. 24790, 24791 and 24792 issued by the
Register of Deeds of Mandaue City;
2) Declaring as null and void TCT Nos. 24790, 24791 and 24792 issued in the
name of defendant Antoniet[t]a Descallar by the Register of Deeds of
Mandaue City;
3) Ordering the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City to cancel TCT Nos. 24790,
24791 and 24792 in the name of defendant Antoniet[t]a Descallar and to
issue new ones in the name of plaintiff Camilo F. Borromeo;
4) Declaring the contracts now marked as Exhibits "I," "K" and "L" as avoided
insofar as they appear to convey rights and interests over the properties in
question to the defendant Antoniet[t]a Descallar;
5) Ordering the defendant to pay plaintiff attorneys fees in the amount
of P25,000.00 and litigation expenses in the amount of P10,000.00; and,
6) To pay the costs.
11

Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals. In a Decision dated April 10,
2002,
12
the appellate court reversed the decision of the trial court. In ruling for the
respondent, the Court of Appeals held:
We disagree with the lower courts conclusion. The circumstances involved in the
case cited by the lower court and similar cases decided on by the Supreme Court
which upheld the validity of the title of the subsequent Filipino purchasers are
absent in the case at bar. It should be noted that in said cases, the title to the
subject property has been issued in the name of the alien transferee (Godinez et
al., vs. Fong Pak Luen et al., 120 SCRA 223 citing Krivenko vs. Register of Deeds of
Manila, 79 Phils. 461; United Church Board for World Ministries vs. Sebastian, 159
SCRA 446, citing the case of Sarsosa Vda. De Barsobia vs. Cuenco, 113 SCRA 547;
Tejido vs. Zamacoma, 138 SCRA 78). In the case at bar, the title of the subject
property is not in the name of Jambrich but in the name of defendant-appellant.
Thus, Jambrich could not have transferred a property he has no title thereto.
13

Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied.
Hence, this petition for review.
Petitioner assigns the following errors:
I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN DISREGARDING
RESPONDENTS JUDICIAL ADMISSION AND OTHER OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE
ESTABLISHING JAMBRICHS PARTICIPATION, INTEREST AND OWNERSHIP OF THE
PROPERTIES IN QUESTION AS FOUND BY THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT.
II. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT
JAMBRICH HAS NO TITLE TO THE PROPERTIES IN QUESTION AND MAY NOT
THEREFORE TRANSFER AND ASSIGN ANY RIGHTS AND INTERESTS IN FAVOR OF
PETITIONER.
III. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN REVERSING THE
WELL-REASONED DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT AND IN IMPOSING DOUBLE
COSTS AGAINST HEREIN PETITIONER (THEN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE).
14

First, who purchased the subject properties?
The evidence clearly shows, as pointed out by the trial court, who between
respondent and Jambrich possesses the financial capacity to acquire the properties
in dispute. At the time of the acquisition of the properties in 1985 to 1986,
Jambrich was gainfully employed at Simmering-Graz Panker A.G., an Austrian
company. He was earning an estimated monthly salary of P50,000.00. Then,
Jambrich was assigned to Syria for almost one year where his monthly salary was
approximately P90,000.00.
On the other hand, respondent was employed as a waitress from 1984 to 1985 with
a monthly salary of not more than P1,000.00. In 1986, when the parcels of land
were acquired, she was unemployed, as admitted by her during the pre-trial
conference. Her allegations of income from a copra business were unsubstantiated.
The supposed copra business was actually the business of her mother and their
family, with ten siblings. She has no license to sell copra, and had not filed any
income tax return. All the motorized bancas of her mother were lost to fire, and the
last one left standing was already scrap. Further, the Child Study
Report
15
submitted by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
in the adoption proceedings of respondents two sons by Jambrich disclosed that:
Antonietta tried all types of job to support the children until she was accepted as a
waitress at St. Moritz Restaurant in 1984. At first she had no problem with money
because most of the customers of St. Moritz are (sic) foreigners and they gave
good tips but towards the end of 1984 there were no more foreigners coming
because of the situation in the Philippines at that time. Her financial problem
started then. She was even renting a small room in a squatters area in Gorordo
Ave., Cebu City. It was during her time of great financial distress that she met
Wilhelm Jambrich who later offered her a decent place for herself and her
children.
16

The DSWD Home Study Report
17
further disclosed that:
[Jambrich] was then at the Restaurant of St. Moritz when he saw Antonietta
Descallar, one of the waitresses of the said Restaurants. He made friends with the
girl and asked her to tutor him in [the] English language. Antonietta accepted the
offer because she was in need of additional income to support [her] 2 young
children who were abandoned by their father. Their session was agreed to be
scheduled every afternoon at the residence of Antonietta in the squatters area in
Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City. The Austrian was observing the situation of the family
particularly the children who were malnourished. After a few months sessions, Mr.
Jambrich offered to transfer the family into a decent place. He told Antonietta that
the place is not good for the children. Antonietta who was miserable and financially
distressed at that time accepted the offer for the sake of the children.
18

Further, the following additional pieces of evidence point to Jambrich as the source
of fund used to purchase the three parcels of land, and to construct the house
thereon:
(1) Respondent Descallar herself affirmed under oath, during her re-direct
examination and during the proceedings for the adoption of her minor
children, that Jambrich was the owner of the properties in question, but that
his name was deleted in the Deed of Absolute Sale because of legal
constraints. Nonetheless, his signature remained in the deed of sale, where
he signed as buyer.
(2) The money used to pay the subject parcels of land in installments was in
postdated checks issued by Jambrich. Respondent has never opened any
account with any bank. Receipts of the installment payments were also in the
name of Jambrich and respondent.
(3) In 1986-1987, respondent lived in Syria with Jambrich and her two
children for ten months, where she was completely under the support of
Jambrich.
(4) Jambrich executed a Last Will and Testament, where he, as owner,
bequeathed the subject properties to respondent.
Thus, Jambrich has all authority to transfer all his rights, interests and participation
over the subject properties to petitioner by virtue of the Deed of Assignment he
executed on July 11, 1991.
Well-settled is the rule that this Court is not a trier of facts. The findings of fact of
the trial court are accorded great weight and respect, if not finality by this Court,
subject to a number of exceptions. In the instant case, we find no reason to disturb
the factual findings of the trial court. Even the appellate court did not controvert
the factual findings of the trial court. They differed only in their conclusions of law.
Further, the fact that the disputed properties were acquired during the couples
cohabitation also does not help respondent. The rule that co-ownership applies to a
man and a woman living exclusively with each other as husband and wife without
the benefit of marriage, but are otherwise capacitated to marry each other, does
not apply.
19
In the instant case, respondent was still legally married to another
when she and Jambrich lived together. In such an adulterous relationship, no co-
ownership exists between the parties. It is necessary for each of the partners to
prove his or her actual contribution to the acquisition of property in order to be able
to lay claim to any portion of it. Presumptions of co-ownership and equal
contribution do not apply.
20

Second, we dispose of the issue of registration of the properties in the name of
respondent alone. Having found that the true buyer of the disputed house and lots
was the Austrian Wilhelm Jambrich, what now is the effect of registration of the
properties in the name of respondent?
It is settled that registration is not a mode of acquiring ownership.
21
It is only a
means of confirming the fact of its existence with notice to the world at
large.
22
Certificates of title are not a source of right. The mere possession of a title
does not make one the true owner of the property. Thus, the mere fact that
respondent has the titles of the disputed properties in her name does not
necessarily, conclusively and absolutely make her the owner. The rule on
indefeasibility of title likewise does not apply to respondent. A certificate of title
implies that the title is quiet,
23
and that it is perfect, absolute and
indefeasible.
24
However, there are well-defined exceptions to this rule, as when the
transferee is not a holder in good faith and did not acquire the subject properties
for a valuable consideration.
25
This is the situation in the instant case. Respondent
did not contribute a single centavo in the acquisition of the properties. She had no
income of her own at that time, nor did she have any savings. She and her two
sons were then fully supported by Jambrich.
Respondent argued that aliens are prohibited from acquiring private land. This is
embodied in Section 7, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution,
26
which is basically a
reproduction of Section 5, Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution,
27
and Section 14,
Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution.
28
The capacity to acquire private land is
dependent on the capacity "to acquire or hold lands of the public domain." Private
land may be transferred only to individuals or entities "qualified to acquire or hold
lands of the public domain." Only Filipino citizens or corporations at least 60% of
the capital of which is owned by Filipinos are qualified to acquire or hold lands of
the public domain. Thus, as the rule now stands, the fundamental law explicitly
prohibits non-Filipinos from acquiring or holding title to private lands, except only
by way of legal succession or if the acquisition was made by a former natural-born
citizen.
29

Therefore, in the instant case, the transfer of land from Agro-Macro Development
Corporation to Jambrich, who is an Austrian, would have been declared invalid if
challenged, had not Jambrich conveyed the properties to petitioner who is a Filipino
citizen. In United Church Board for World Ministries v. Sebastian,
30
the Court
reiterated the consistent ruling in a number of cases
31
that if land is invalidly
transferred to an alien who subsequently becomes a Filipino citizen or transfers it to
a Filipino, the flaw in the original transaction is considered cured and the title of the
transferee is rendered valid. Applying United Church Board for World Ministries, the
trial court ruled in favor of petitioner, viz.:
[W]hile the acquisition and the purchase of (sic) Wilhelm Jambrich of the properties
under litigation [were] void ab initio since [they were] contrary to the Constitution
of the Philippines, he being a foreigner, yet, the acquisition of these properties by
plaintiff who is a Filipino citizen from him, has cured the flaw in the original
transaction and the title of the transferee is valid.
The trial court upheld the sale by Jambrich in favor of petitioner and ordered the
cancellation of the TCTs in the name of respondent. It declared petitioner as owner
in fee simple of the residential house of strong materials and three parcels of land
designated as Lot Nos. 1, 3 and 5, and ordered the Register of Deeds of Mandaue
City to issue new certificates of title in his name. The trial court likewise ordered
respondent to pay petitioner P25,000 as attorneys fees and P10,000 as litigation
expenses, as well as the costs of suit.
We affirm the Regional Trial Court.
The rationale behind the Courts ruling in United Church Board for World Ministries,
as reiterated in subsequent cases,
32
is this since the ban on aliens is intended to
preserve the nations land for future generations of Filipinos, that aim is achieved
by making lawful the acquisition of real estate by aliens who became Filipino
citizens by naturalization or those transfers made by aliens to Filipino citizens. As
the property in dispute is already in the hands of a qualified person, a Filipino
citizen, there would be no more public policy to be protected. The objective of the
constitutional provision to keep our lands in Filipino hands has been achieved.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals
in C.A. G.R. CV No. 42929 dated April 10, 2002 and its Resolution dated July 8,
2003 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court of
Mandaue City in Civil Case No. MAN-1148 is REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED.





SECOND DIVISION
[G.R. No. 119682. January 21, 1999]
FRANCISCO BAGUIO, petitioner, vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
RICARDO T. MICHAEL, in his capacity as Heir-Successor of WILLIAM
MICHAEL, SR., and as President of MICHAEL SLIPWAYS, INC., and
COURT OF APPEALS, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
MENDOZA, J.:
This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals
[1]
affirming
the decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 28, of Mandaue City, nullifying Free
Patent No. 7757 and Original Certificate of Title No. 0-15457 issued in the name of
petitioner Francisco Baguio.
The patent and certificate of title cover a parcel of land, consisting of 5,870 sq.
m., in Catarman, Liloan, Cebu. Known as Lot 1426, Case 2, Pls. 823, the land was
declared by the government public land in 1963.
The evidence shows that, on August 2, 1963, private respondent Ricardo
Michaels predecessor-in-interest, William Michael, filed with the Bureau of Lands an
application for foreshore lease of the land. The application was recommended for
approval by the land investigator who also recommended that the applicant be
granted a provisional permit to occupy the land for one year from October 4, 1963
to October 3, 1964.
On October 8, 1963, by virtue of a permit granted to him by the Bureau of
Lands, William Michael made some reclamation on the land, built a fence around
the premises, and constructed a bridge over a portion which was under water. Upon
the expiration of the permit on October 4, 1964, the Highways District Engineer
recommended to the Director of Lands that the land be leased to Michael. On the
other hand, the land investigator recommended granting Michael the authority to
survey the foreshore land in view of the completion of the reclamation made by him
on the premises. On February 25, 1968, Michael filed a miscellaneous sales
application covering the reclaimed foreshore land.
On November 9, 1976, petitioner Baguio applied to the Bureau of Lands for a
free patent covering the same land. In his application, petitioner stated that the
land was agricultural land and not claimed or occupied by any other person and
that he had been in actual and continuous possession and cultivation of the same.
On the basis of these representations, a free patent was issued to him and, on
January 10, 1978, Original Certificate of Title No. 0-15457 was issued in his name
by the Register of Deeds of Cebu.
On April 6, 1978, petitioner demanded payment of rentals from William Michael
for the use of the land occupied by Michael Slipways, Inc.. On August 4, 1981,
petitioner filed an opposition to Michaels miscellaneous sales application covering
the land on the ground that he was the registered owner thereof.
William Michael in turn protested the issuance by the Bureau of Lands of a free
patent to petitioner. He claimed that he had been in actual possession of the land
since 1963 and that he had introduced substantial improvements thereon.
On February 16, 1989, upon the recommendation of the Land Management
Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the government,
represented by the Director of Lands, filed a petition for cancellation of title and/or
reversion of land against petitioner Baguio and the Register of Deeds of Cebu. The
case was filed in the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City which granted private
respondent Ricardo Michael leave to intervene as heir and successor-in-interest of
William Michael and as president of Michael Slipways, Inc.
On July 20, 1992, the trial court rendered a decision canceling the free patent
and the certificate of title of petitioner Baguio, ordering the reversion of the land to
the public domain, and declaring private respondent Michael the true and lawful
occupant of the land. The trial court ruled that the false statements made by
petitioner Baguio in his application for free patent had the effect of ipso
facto canceling the free patent and the title of petitioner.
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which, on February 28, 1995,
affirmed the decision of the trial court. Hence, this petition for review.
Petitioner contends that
1. The public respondent erred in not declaring that respondent Republic of
the Philippines action was already barred by prescription.
2. Granting arguendo that respondents action was not barred by
prescription, nonetheless, the Regional Trial Court, erred in finding that
petitioner acted in bad faith and procured the issuance of the Free
Patent (VII-I)-7757 and the Original Certificate of Title No. 0-15457
through fraud and misrepresentation.
3. Granting arguendo that respondent Republics action should prosper,
nonetheless, the Regional Trial Court erred in (d)eclaring intervenor
(private respondent herein) as the true and lawful possessor and
occupant of the land subject of the intervention.
4. The Regional Trial court erred in finding that the land in question is a
foreshore land.
We find these contentions to be without merit.
First. It is true that, once a patent is registered and the corresponding
certificate of title is issued, the land covered by them ceases to be part of the public
domain and becomes private property, and the Torrens Title issued pursuant to the
patent becomes indefeasible upon the expiration of one year from the date of
issuance of such patent.
[2]
However, as held in Director of Lands v. De
Luna,
[3]
even after the lapse of one year, the State may still bring an action under
101
[4]
of Commonwealth Act No. 141 for the reversion to the public domain of land
which has been fraudulently granted to private individuals.
[5]
Such action is not
barred by prescription, and this is settled law.
[6]

Indeed, the indefeasibility of a certificate of title cannot be invoked by one who
procured the title by means of fraud.
[7]
Public policy demands that one who obtains
title to public land through fraud should not be allowed to benefit therefrom.
[8]

Second. Petitioner contends that the trial court erred in finding that he was
guilty of fraud in procuring the issuance of the free patent and the corresponding
certificate of title. He insists that what he stated in his application for free patent
(that the subject land is agricultural land not claimed or occupied by persons other
than himself and that he had been in actual and continuous possession and
cultivation of the same) were all true. He also assails the finding of the trial court
that the subject land is foreshore land.
Petitioner puts in issue the findings of fact of the trial court. But the only errors
which are reviewable by this Court in a petition for review on certiorari of a decision
of the Court of Appeals are those allegedly committed by the latter court and not
those of the trial court. Petitioners assignment of errors is thus misplaced, and for
this reason, the petition should be dismissed. Furthermore, only questions of law
may be raised in a petition for review on certiorari. In the absence of any showing
of lack of basis for the conclusions made by the Court of Appeals, this Court will not
disturb the factual findings of the appellate court.
[9]
In this case, petitioner has not
shown that the decision of the Court of Appeals is not supported by substantial
evidence so as to justify this Court in departing from the general rule which regards
the findings of the appellate court as final.
At any rate, we have decided to consider the issues raised insofar as they are
pertinent to the appellate courts decision in order to put them to rest once and for
all.
In his free patent application, petitioner declared under oath that the land in
question was an agricultural land not claimed or occupied by any other person; that
he had continuously possessed and occupied it; and that he had introduced
improvements thereon. These declarations constitute fraud and
misrepresentation. The government has proven that, contrary to these allegations,
as early as September 2, 1963, i.e., thirteen (13) years before the alleged entry of
petitioner on the land, private respondents predecessor-in-interest, William
Michael, had already filed a foreshore lease application over the same; that on
February 25, 1968, William Michael filed a miscellaneous sales application over the
land; that since 1963 up to the present, private respondent has been continuously
in possession of the land on which he has been operating a drydocking service
under the style of Michael Slipways, Inc.; and that private respondent Ricardo
Michael had made improvements thereon consisting of the reclamation of a portion
of the land, the construction of the fence thereon, and the construction of a bridge
over a portion under water. In addition, it has been duly established that the land
in question is foreshore land, not agricultural. The fact that the land is being used
by private respondent Ricardo Michael in his drydocking operations is evidence that
the land is foreshore land. Moreover, there would have been no need to reclaim a
portion of the land if it had not been under seawater.
Petitioner is guilty of making false statements in his application for a free patent
thus justifying the annulment of his title. Sec. 91 of C.A. No. 141 (Public Land Act)
provides:
The statements made in the application shall be considered as essential conditions
and parts of any concession, title, or permit issued on the basis of such application,
and any false statement therein or omission of facts altering, changing or
modifying the consideration of the facts set forth in such statements, and any
subsequent modification, alteration, or change of the material facts set forth in the
application shall ipso facto produce the cancellation of the concession, title or
permit granted. It shall be the duty of the Director of Lands, from time to time and
whenever he may deem it advisable, to make the necessary investigations for the
purpose of ascertaining whether the material facts set out in the application are
true, or whether they continue to exist and are maintained and preserved in good
faith, and for the purpose of such investigation, the Director of Lands is hereby
empowered to issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum and, if necessary, to
obtain compulsory process from the courts. In every investigation made in
accordance with this section, the existence of bad faith, fraud, concealment, or
fraudulent and illegal modification of essential facts shall be presumed if the
grantee or possessor of the land shall refuse or fail to obey a subpoena or subpoena
duces tecum lawfully issued by the Director of Land or his authorized delegates or
agents, or shall refuse or fail to give direct and specific answers to pertinent
questions, and on the basis of such presumption, an order of cancellation may issue
without further proceedings.
As already stated, the indefeasibility of a title does not attach to titles secured
by fraud and misrepresentation. The registration of a patent under the Torrens
System merely confirms the registrants title. It does not vest title where there is
none because registration under this system is not a mode of acquiring
ownership.
[10]

Third. Petitioner assails the trial courts finding, as affirmed by the appellate
court, that private respondent Michael is the true and lawful possessor of the
subject land. He argues that private respondent, being a mere heir and successor-
in-interest of William Michael and not the person who filed the foreshore lease and
the miscellaneous sales applications, has no right to the land in dispute.
Suffice it to state that it was clearly proven that William Michael had already
been in possession of the land under a provisional permit to occupy the same in
1963. Petitioner applied for a free patent only in 1976, thirteen (13) years later. In
addition, William Michael had filed a sales application covering the land in
1968, i.e., eight (8) years before petitioner filed his free patent application. The
trial court and the Court of Appeals, therefore, correctly held William Michael and
private respondent Ricardo Michael to be the true and rightful possessors of the
land in question. The fact that private respondent Michael is merely the successor
of the original foreshore lease and sales applicant, William Michael, does not make
him any less entitled to the possession of the land. Sec. 105 of the Public Land Act
provides that, in case of his death, the original applicant shall be succeeded in his
rights and obligations by his legal heirs with respect to the land applied for or
leased.
[11]

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.




















THIRD DIVISION
[G.R. No. 140243. December 14, 2000]
MARILYN C. PASCUA, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, THE PEOPLE
OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
MELO, J.:
What constitutes a valid promulgation in absentia? In case of such
promulgation, when does the accused's right to appeal accrue?
Before us is a petition that calls for a ruling on the aforestated issues,
particularly seeking the reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals dated June
17, 1999 and its order dated September 28, 1999 denying reconsideration. The
Court of Appeals dismissed the petition for certiorari under Rule 65 filed by
petitioner which questioned the legality of the orders dated June 22, 1998 and
October 8, 1998 issued by Branch 153 of the Regional Trial Court of the National
Capital Judicial Region stationed in Pasig City.
The antecedent facts may be briefly chronicled as follows:
Petitioner was charged under 26 Informations for violation of Batas Pambansa
Blg. 22. The Informations alleged that in 1989, petitioner issued 26 Philippine
National Bank (PNB) checks to apply on account or for value in favor of Lucita
Lopez with the knowledge that at the time of issue, petitioner did not have
sufficient funds in or credit with the drawee bank for the payment of the face value
of the checks in full. Upon presentment of the subject checks, they were
dishonored by the drawee bank for having been drawn against insufficient funds
and against a closed account.
After trial, a judgment of conviction was rendered on February 17, 1998,
disposing:
WHEREFORE, the Court finds the accused, MARILYN C. PASCUA, GUILTY beyond
reasonable doubt of twenty six (26) counts of Violation of Batas Pambansa Bilang
22, and hereby sentences her to suffer ONE (1) YEAR imprisonment in each case
and to pay the private complainant, LUCITA LOPEZ in the sum of SIX HUNDRED
FIVE THOUSAND PESOS (P605,000.00), Philippine Currency without subsidiary
imprisonment in case of insolvency.
SO ORDERED.
(p. 41, Rollo.)
The judgment was initially scheduled for promulgation on March 31,
1998. However, considering that the presiding judge was on leave, the
promulgation was reset to May 5, 1998.
When the case was called on May 5, 1998, Public Prosecutor Rogelio C. Sescon
and defense counsel Atty. Marcelino Arias appeared and manifested their readiness
for the promulgation of judgment, although the latter intimated that petitioner
would be late. Hence, the case was set for second call. After the lapse of two
hours, petitioner still had not appeared. The trial court again asked the public
prosecutor and the defense counsel if they were ready for the promulgation of
judgment. Both responded in the affirmative. The dispositive portion of the
decision was thus read in open court. Afterwards, the public prosecutor, the
defense counsel, and private complainant Lucita Lopez, acknowledged receipt of
their respective copies of the subject decision by signing at the back of the original
copy of the decision on file with the record of the case.
Forthwith, the public prosecutor moved for the forfeiture of the cash bond
posted by petitioner as well as for the issuance of a warrant for her arrest. Acting
on the motion, the trial court issued, also on May 5, 1998, the following order:
When this case was called for the promulgation of judgment, the accused failed to
appear despite due notice. Upon motion of the Public Prosecutor, that the cash
bond posted for her provisional liberty be forfeited in favor of the government,
being well-taken, the same is hereby granted. Likewise, let a warrant of arrest be
issued against her.
SO ORDERED.
(p. 42, Rollo.)
No motion for reconsideration or notice of appeal was filed by petitioner within
15 days from May 5, 1998.
On June 8, 1998, a notice of change of address was filed by petitioner with the
trial court, sent through a private messengerial firm. On the same date, without
terminating the services of her counsel of record, Atty. Marcelino Arias, the one
who received the copy of the judgment of conviction, petitioner, assisted by
another counsel, Atty. Rolando Bernardo, filed an urgent omnibus motion to lift
warrant of arrest and confiscation of bail bond, as well as to set anew the
promulgation of the subject decision on the following allegations: that petitioner
failed to appear before the trial court on the scheduled date of promulgation (May
5, 1998) because she failed to get the notices sent to her former address at No. 21
La Felonila St., Quezon City; that she had no intention of evading the processes of
the trial court; that in February 1998, she transferred residence to Olongapo City
by reason of an ejectment case filed against her by her landlord concerning her
former residence in Quezon City; and that due to the abrupt dislocation of their
family life as a result of the transfer of their residence to Olongapo City, there were
important matters that she overlooked such as the filing of a notice of change of
address to inform the trial court of her new place of residence.
The motion was set for hearing on June 11, 1998 but on said date, neither
petitioner nor assisting counsel was present. On June 22, 1998, petitioner filed a
notice of appeal. The Office of the City Prosecutor of Pasig filed its comment on the
motion for reconsideration arguing that: the promulgation of the subject decision
was made by the trial court on May 5, 1998 in the presence of the accused's
(herein petitioner's) counsel; that the subject decision is already final and
executory, there having been no appeal interposed by the accused within the
reglementary period; that there is no such thing as repromulgation of a decision;
that before the accused could ask for relief from the trial court, she, being a
convict, should submit herself first to the lawful order thereof, that is, to surrender
to the police authorities.
On June 22, 1998, the trial court issued an order denying petitioner's urgent
omnibus motion and notice of appeal for lack of merit, mentioning that its February
17, 1998 decision had already become final and executory. Petitioner moved for
reconsideration, this time assisted by another lawyer, Atty. Romulo San Juan. The
motion was set for hearing on July 8, 1998 but on said hearing date, neither
petitioner nor Atty. San Juan appeared. Instead, Atty. Porfirio Bautista appeared as
collaborating counsel of Atty. San Juan. When asked if he knew petitioner's counsel
of record, Atty. Bautista could not answer.
On July 17, 1998, Attys. San Juan and Bautista as counsel for petitioner, filed a
motion for inhibition of the presiding judge. The motion was set for hearing on July
28, 1998. Once again, petitioner failed to appear although Atty. Bautista did. On
October 8, 1998, the trial court denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration and
inhibition.
On December 14, 1998, petitioner filed a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of
the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure with the Court of Appeals praying for the
nullification of the June 22, 1998 and October 8, 1998 orders of the trial court. At
first, the Court of Appeals issued a resolution dated December 29, 1998 dismissing
the petition for certiorari, for failure to contain an explanation why the respondent
therein was not personally served a copy of the petition. However, upon
reconsideration, said petition was reinstated.
After an exchange of pleadings, on June 17, 1999, the Court of Appeals issued
the decision assailed herein. Petitioner moved for reconsideration, but to no avail.
Hence, the instant petition on the basis of the following grounds: (1) that
petitioner was not properly notified of the date of promulgation and therefore, there
was no valid promulgation; hence petitioner's period to appeal has not commenced;
(2) that the promulgation in absentia of the judgment against petitioner was not
made in the manner set out in the last paragraph of Section 6, Rule 120 of the
1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure which then provided that promulgation in
absentia shall consist in the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket and a
copy thereof shall be served upon the accused or counsel; (3) that the decision of
the trial court is contrary to applicable laws and that it disregarded factual evidence
and instead resorted to make a conclusion based on conjectures, presumptions, and
misapprehension of facts.
The resolution of the instant petition is dependent on the proper interpretation
of Section 6, Rule 120 of the 1985 Rules on Criminal Procedure, which provides:
Section 6. Promulgation of judgment --The judgment is promulgated by reading
the same in the presence of the accused and any judge of the court in which it was
rendered. However, if the conviction is for a light offense, the judgment may be
pronounced in the presence of his counsel or representative. When the judge is
absent or outside of the province or city, the judgment may be promulgated by the
clerk of court.
If the accused is confined or detained in another province or city, the judgment
may be promulgated by the executive judge of the Regional Trial Court having
jurisdiction over the place of confinement or detention upon request of the court
that rendered the judgment. The court promulgating the judgment shall have
authority to accept the notice of appeal and to approve the bail bond pending
appeal.
The proper clerk of court shall give notice to the accused personally or through his
bondsman or warden and counsel, requiring him to be present at the promulgation
of the decision. In case the accused fails to appear thereat the promulgation shall
consist in the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket and a copy thereof
shall be served upon the accused or counsel. If the judgment is for conviction and
the accuseds failure to appear was without justifiable cause, the court shall further
order the arrest of the accused, who may appeal within fifteen (15) days from
notice of the decision to him or his counsel. (Italics supplied)
Incidentally, Section 6, Rule 120 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure
which took effect December 1, 2000 adds more requirements but retains the
essence of the former Section 6, to wit:
Section 6. Promulgation of judgment. The judgment is promulgated by reading it
in the presence of the accused and any judge of the court in which it was
rendered. However, if the conviction is for a light offense the judgment may be
pronounced in the presence of his counsel or representative. When the judge
is absent or outside the province or city, the judgment may be promulgated by the
clerk of court.
If the accused is confined or detained in another province or city the judgment may
be promulgated by the executive judge of the Regional Trial Court having
jurisdiction over the place of confinement or detention upon request of the court
which rendered the judgment. The court promulgating the judgment shall have
authority to accept the notice of appeal and to approve the bail bond pending
appeal; provided, that if the decision of the trial court convicting the accused
changed the nature of the offense from non-bailable to bailable, the application for
bail can only be filed and resolved by the appellate court.
The proper clerk of court shall give notice to the accused personally or through his
bondsman or warden and counsel, requiring him to be present at the promulgation
of the decision. If the accused was tried in absentiabecause he jumped bail or
escaped from prison, the notice to him shall be served at his last known address.
In case the accused fails to appear at the scheduled date of promulgation of
judgment despite notice, the promulgation shall be made by recording the
judgment in the criminal docket and serving him a copy thereof at his last known
address or thru his counsel.
If the judgment is for conviction and the failure of the accused to appear was
without justifiable cause, he shall lose the remedies available in these Rules against
the judgment and the court shall order his arrest. Within fifteen (15) days from
promulgation of judgment however, the accused may surrender and file a motion
for leave of court to avail of these remedies. He shall state the reasons for his
absence at the scheduled promulgation and if he proves that his absence was for a
justifiable cause, he shall be allowed to avail of said remedies within fifteen (15)
days from notice. (Italics supplied)
Promulgation of judgment is an official proclamation or announcement of the
decision of the court (Jacinto, Sr., Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Revised
Rules of Court [Criminal Procedure], 1994 ed., p. 521). In a criminal case,
promulgation of the decision cannot take place until after the clerk receives it and
enters it into the criminal docket. It follows that when the judge mails a decision
through the clerk of court, it is not promulgated on the date of mailing but after the
clerk of court enters the same in the criminal docket (Ibid., citingPeople v. Court of
Appeals, 52 O.G. 5825 [1956]).
According to the first paragraph of Section 6 of the aforesaid Rule (of both the
1985 and 2000 versions), the presence in person of the accused at the
promulgation of judgment is mandatory in all cases except where the conviction is
for a light offense, in which case the accused may appear through counsel or
representative. Under the third paragraph of the former and present Section 6, any
accused, regardless of the gravity of the offense charged against him, must be
given notice of the promulgation of judgment and the requirement of his
presence. He must appear in person or in the case of one facing a conviction for a
light offense, through counsel or representative. The present Section 6 adds that if
the accused was tried in absentia because he jumped bail or escaped from prison,
notice of promulgation shall be served at his last known address.
Significantly, both versions of said section set forth the rules that become
operative if the accused fails to appear at the promulgation despite due notice: (a)
promulgation shall consist in the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket
and a copy thereof shall be served upon the accused at his last known address or
through his counsel; and (b) if the judgment is for conviction, and the accused's
failure to appear was without justifiable cause, the court shall further order the
arrest of the accused.
Here lies the difference in the two versions of the section. The old rule
automatically gives the accused 15 days from notice (of the decision) to him or his
counsel within which to appeal. In the new rule, the accused who failed to appear
without justifiable cause shall lose the remedies available in the Rules against the
judgment. However, within 15 days from promulgation of judgment, the accused
may surrender and file a motion for leave of court to avail of these remedies. He
shall state in his motion the reasons for his absence at the scheduled promulgation
and if he proves that his absence was for a justifiable cause, he shall be allowed to
avail of said remedies within 15 days from notice.
It thus appears that the judgment in a criminal case must be promulgated in
the presence of the accused, except where it is for a light offense, in which case it
may be pronounced in the presence of his counsel or representative (Dimson v.
Elepao, 99 Phil. 733 [1956]), and except where the judgment is for acquittal, in
which case the presence of the accused is not necessary (Cea, etc., et al. v. Cinco,
et al., 96 Phil. 31 [1954]). Notably, one of the conditions of the bail given for the
provisional liberty of an accused in a criminal case is that he shall surrender himself
(or the bondsman shall surrender the accused) for execution of the final judgment
(Section 2[d], Rule 114, Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure). Thus, it follows that
it is the responsibility of the accused to make himself available to the court upon
promulgation of a judgment of conviction, and such presence is secured by his bail
bond. This amplifies the need for the presence of the accused during the
promulgation of a judgment of conviction, especially if it is for a grave
offense. Obviously, a judgment of conviction cannot be executed --and the
sentence meted to the accused cannot be served --without his presence. Besides,
where there is no promulgation of the judgment, the right to appeal does not
accrue(People v. ]aranilla, 55 SCRA 565 [1974]).
Jurisprudence further dictates that the absence of counsel during the
promulgation will not result in a violation of any substantial right of the accused,
and will not affect the validity of the promulgation of the judgment(Bernardo v.
Abeto, CA-G. R. No. 6076, 31 January 1940; Gonzales v. Judge, 186 SCRA 101
[1990]).
In the vintage case of Cea, etc., et al. v. Cinco, et al (supra), the Court citing U.
S. v. Beecham, (28 Phil. 258 [1914]), stated the reasons for requiring the
attendance of the accused in case of conviction for a grave or less grave offense, to
wit:
...The common law required, when any corporal punishment was to be inflicted
on the defendant, that he should be personally present before the court at the
time of pronouncing the sentence. (1 Chitty's Crim. Law [5th Am. ed.], 693,
696.) Reasons given for this are, that the defendant may be identified by the
court as the real party adjudged to be punished (Holt, 399); that the defendant
may have a chance to plead or move in arrest of judgment (King vs. Speke, 3
Salk., 358); that he may have an opportunity to say what he can say why
judgment should not be given against him (2 Hale's Pleas of the Crown, 401,
402); and that the example of the defendants, who have been guilty of
misdemeanors of a gross and public kind, being brought up for the
animadversion of the court and the open denunciation of punishment, may tend
to deter others from the commission of similar offenses (Chitty's Crim. Law [5th
ed.], 693, 696) ***.
Nevertheless, as mentioned above, regardless of the gravity of the offense,
promulgation of judgment in absentia is allowed under the Rules. The only
essential elements for its validity are: (a) that the judgment be recorded in the
criminal docket; and (b) that a copy thereof shall be served upon the accused or
counsel.
Let us examine the validity of the May 5, 1998 promulgation which took place in
the case at bar. The dispositive portion of the decision convicting petitioner was
read in open court, after which the public prosecutor, the defense counsel Atty.
Marcelino Arias, and private complainant Lucita Lopez, acknowledged receipt of
their respective copies of the decision by affixing their signatures at the back of the
original of the decision on file with the record of the case. Atty. Arias failed to file a
notice of appeal within fifteen days from receipt of the decision. Is it proper to rule
that the period within which to file an appeal has lapsed?
In Florendo v. Court of Appeals (239 SCRA 325 [1994]), the facts are parallel to
those of the instant case. We held -
In the case at bench, a copy of the judgment was served to the counsel of
petitioner on June 15, 1992; therefore, he had only up to June 30, 1992 within
which to appeal. The notice of appeal filed on July 6, 1992 was clearly out of time.
It is presumed that official duties are regularly performed and that the proceedings
are made of record. This serves as a substantial compliance with the procedural
requirement of the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket of the
court. At any rate, petitioner does not question non-compliance of the requirement
of the recording of the judgment in the criminal docket.
(At p. 329.)
Petitioner's first argument is devoid of merit. In the first place, her non- receipt
of the notice of promulgation was due to her own failure to immediately file a notice
of change of address with the trial court, which she clearly admitted. Besides,
promulgation could be properly done even in her absence, subject to the service of
a copy of the decision upon her or her counsel and the recording of the judgment in
the criminal docket.
However, in line with petitioner's second argument, petitioner has presented
evidence sufficient to controvert the presumption of regularity of performance of
official duty as regards the procedural requirement of the recording of the judgment
in the criminal docket of the court. Attached to the petition is a piece of evidence
that cannot be ignored by this Court -- a certification dated October 26, 1998
signed by the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, which reads:
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
THIS IS TO CERTIFY that this Office has not yet been furnished, as of this date,
with copies of the decisions in Criminal Cases Nos. 85283-306 and 86064-65,
entitled People of the Philippines versus Marilyn C. Pascua, which were assigned to
Branch 153 of this Court.
This certification is issued upon request of Romulo D. San Juan and Porfirio
Bautista, both counsels for the accused.
City of Pasig, October 26, 1998, 1:30 p.m.
(Sgd.) GREGORIO P. SUBONG, JR.
Administrative Officer I In-Charge
Criminal Cases Unit
(Sgd.) GRACE S. BELVIS
Clerk of Court
(p. 61, Record.)
We take judicial notice of said certification and hold that in view thereof, we
cannot presume substantial compliance with the requirement of recording a
judgment in the criminal docket. And in the absence of such compliance, there can
be no valid promulgation. Without the same, the February 17, 1998 decision could
not attain finality and become executory. This means that the 15-day period within
which to interpose an appeal did not even commence.
What is the significance of the recording of the judgment with the criminal
docket of the court? By analogy, let us apply the principles of civil law on
registration.
To register is to record or annotate. American and Spanish authorities are
unanimous on the meaning of the term to register as "to enter in a register; to
record formally and distinctly; to enroll; to enter in a list" (Po Sun Tun vs. Prize and
Provincial Government of Leyte, 54 Phil. 192 [1929]). In general, registration
refers to any entry made in the books of the registry, including both registration in
its ordinary and strict sense, and cancellation, annotation, and even the marginal
notes. In strict acceptation, it pertains to the entry made in the registry which
records solemnly and permanently the right of ownership and other real
rights (Ibid.). Simply stated, registration is made for the purpose
of notification (Paras, Civil Code of the Philippines, Vol. II, 1989 ed., p. 653,
citing Bautista vs. Dy Bun Chin, 49 O.G. 179 [1952]).
Registration is a mere ministerial act by which a deed, contract, or instrument
is sought to be inscribed in the records of the Office of the Register of Deeds and
annotated at the back of the certificate of title covering the land subject of the
deed, contract, or instrument. Being a ministerial act, it must be performed in any
case and, if it is not done, it may be ordered performed by a court of
justice (Cruz, The Law of Public Officers, 1997 ed., p. 102). In fact, the public
officer having this ministerial duty has no choice but to perform the specific action
which is the particular duty imposed by law. Its purpose is to give notice
thereof to all persons. It operates as a notice of the deed, contract, or
instrument to others, but neither adds to its validity nor converts an invalid
instrument into a valid one between the parties. If the purpose of registration is
merely to give notice, then questions regarding the effects or invalidity of
instruments are expected to be decided after, not before, registration. It must
follow as a necessary consequence that registration must first be allowed, and
validity or effect of the instruments litigated afterwards (Seron vs. Hon. Rodriguez,
etc., and Seron, 110 Phil.. 548 [1960];Gurbax Singh Pabla & Co., et al. vs. Reyes,
et al., 92 Phil. 177 [1952]; Register of Deeds of Manila vs. Tinoco Vda. De Cruz, 95
Phil. 818 [1954]; Samanilla vs. Cajucom, et al., 107 Phil. 432 [1960]).
Applying the above-mentioned principles to the instant case, we are prompted
to further examine the provisions on promulgation in absentia.
As held in Florendo vs. Court of Appeals (supra), the rules allow promulgation
of judgment in absentia to obviate the situation where juridical process could be
subverted by the accused jumping bail. But the Rules also provide measures to
make promulgation in absentia a formal and solemn act so that the absent accused,
wherever he may be, can be notified of the judgment rendered against him. As
discussed earlier, the sentence imposed by the trial court cannot be served in the
absence of the accused. Hence, all means of notification must be done to let the
absent accused know of the judgment of the court. And the means provided by the
Rules are: (1) the act of giving notice to all persons or the act of recording or
registering the judgment in the criminal docket (which Section 6 incidentally
mentions first showing its importance; and (2) the act of serving a copy thereof
upon the accused (at his last known address) or his counsel. In a scenario where
the whereabouts of the accused are unknown (as when he is at large), the
recording satisfies the requirement of notifying the accused of the decision
wherever he may be.
Thus, on May 5, 1998, although the second kind of notification was satisfied
when defense counsel Atty. Arias received a copy of the February 17, 1998
decision, the solemn and operative act of recording was not done, making the
promulgation in absentia invalid. This being so, the period to appeal did not begin
to run.
The next matter we have to consider is the effect of the service of a copy of the
judgment upon petitioner, who admits having received a copy thereof on June 17,
1998. Did the 15-day period to appeal begin to run on said date of receipt?
We rule in the negative. Petitioner's later receipt of the copy of the decision
does not in any way cure an invalid promulgation. And even if said decision be
recorded in the criminal docket later, such piece-meal compliance with the Rules
will still not validate the May 5, 1998 promulgation which was invalid at the time it
was conducted. The express mention in the provision of both requirements for a
valid promulgation in absentiaclearly means that they indeed must concur.
Finally, as regards the third argument, we agree with the Solicitor General that
matters of sufficiency of evidence may not be passed upon in the herein
proceedings. The instant petition assails the Court of Appeals' decision dated June
17, 1999 and its order dated September 28, 1999 both of which concern the orders
of the trial court dated June 22, 1998 and October 8, 1998, in essence ruling that
petitioner's notice of appeal dated June 19, 1998 was filed out of time. The petition
is not directed against February 17, 1998 decision of the trial court which convicted
petitioner on 26 counts of violation of Batas Pambansa Blg. 22. Hence, this is not
the proper time to rule on the merits of Criminal Cases No. 85283-306/86064-
65. There is, rather, a need to remand the matter to the trial court for proper
promulgation of its decision. Significantly, it is not what petitioner describes as
"repromulgation" since promulgation was not validly made, and hence, as if not
conducted. The requisites of the remedy of appeal shall then apply from that point.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The June 17, 1999
decision and the September 28, 1999 order of the Court of Appeals are hereby set
aside. The instant case is hereby remanded to the trial court for proper
promulgation of its decision in accordance with Section 6, Rule 120 of the Revised
Rules of Criminal Procedure.
SO ORDERED















SECOND DIVISION

CARMELITA FUDOT, G.R. No. 171008
Petitioner,
Present:

QUISUMBING, J.,
- versus - Chairperson,
CARPIO,
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA, and
CATTLEYA LAND, INC., VELASCO, JR., JJ.
Respondent.

Promulgated:

September 13, 2007

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------x


D E C I S I O N

TINGA, J.:

For resolution is a petition that seeks to nullify the Decision
[1]
and
Resolution
[2]
of the Court of Appeals dated 28 April 2005 and 11 January 2006,
respectively, in C.A.G.R. CV No. 73025 which declared respondent as having a
better right over a parcel of land located in Doljo, Panglao, Bohol.


The facts, as culled from the records, follow.

Sometime in July 1992, Cattleya Land, Inc. (hereinafter referred to as
respondent) asked someone to check, on its behalf, the titles of nine (9) lots, the
subject land included, which it intended to buy from the spouses Troadio and
Asuncion Tecson. Finding no defect on the titles, respondent purchased the nine
lots through a Deed of Conditional Sale on 6 November 1992. Subsequently, on 30
August 1993, respondent and the Tecsons executed a Deed of Absolute Sale over
the same properties. The Deed of Conditional Sale and the Deed of Absolute Sale
were registered with the Register of Deeds on 06 November 1992 and 04 October
1993, respectively.
[3]
The Register of Deeds, Atty. Narciso dela Serna, refused to
actually annotate the deed of sale on the titles because of the existing notice of
attachment in connection with Civil Case No. 3399 pending before the Regional Trial
Court of Bohol.
[4]
The attachment was eventually cancelled by virtue of a
compromise agreement between the Tecsons and their attaching creditor which
was brokered by respondent. Titles to six (6) of the nine (9) lots were issued, but
the Register of Deeds refused to issue titles to the remaining three (3) lots ,
because the titles covering the same were still unaccounted for.

On 23 January 1995, petitioner presented for registration before the Register
of Deeds the owners copy of the title of the subject property, together with the
deed of sale purportedly executed by the Tecsons in favor of petitioner on 19
December 1986. On the following day, respondent sent a letter of
protest/opposition to petitioners application. Much to its surprise, respondent
learned that the Register of Deeds had already registered the deed of sale in favor
of petitioner and issued a new title in her name.
[5]


On 5 May 1995, respondent filed its Complaint
[6]
for Quieting Of Title &/Or
Recovery Of Ownership, Cancellation Of Title With Damages before
the Regional Trial Court of Tagbilaran City.
[7]
On 26 June 1995, Asuncion filed a
complaint-in-intervention, claiming that she never signed any deed of sale covering
any part of their conjugal property in favor of petitioner. She averred that her
signature in petitioners deed of sale was forged thus, said deed should be declared
null and void.
[8]
She also claimed that she has discovered only recently that there
was an amorous relationship between her husband and petitioner.
[9]


Petitioner, for her part, alleged in her answer
[10]
that the spouses Tecson
had sold to her the subject property for P20,000.00 and delivered to her the
owners copy of the title on 26 December 1986. She claims that she
subsequently presented the said title to the Register of Deeds but the latter
refused to register the same because the property was still under attachment.

On 31 October 2001, the trial court rendered its decision:
[11]
(i) quieting the
title or ownership of the subject land in favor of respondent; (ii) declaring the deed
of sale between petitioner and spouses Tecson invalid; (iii) ordering the registration
of the subject land in favor of respondent; (iv) dismissing respondents claim for
damages against the Register of Deeds for insufficiency of evidence; (v) dismissing
Asuncions claim for damages against petitioner for lack of factual basis; and (vi)
dismissing petitioners counterclaim for lack of the required preponderance of
evidence.
[12]


According to the trial court, respondent had recorded in good faith the deed
of sale in its favor ahead of petitioner. Moreover, based on Asuncions convincing
and unrebutted testimony, the trial court concluded that the purported signature
of Asuncion in the deed of sale in favor of petitioner was forged, thereby rendering
the sale void.
[13]


Petitioner sought recourse to the Court of Appeals, arguing in the main that
the rule on double sale was applicable to the case. The appellate court, however,
dismissed her appeal, holding that there was no double sale because the
alleged sale to petitioner was null and void in view of the forgery ofAsuncions
purported signature in the deed. The appellate court noted that petitioner failed to
rebutAsuncions testimony despite opportunities to do so.
[14]
Moreover, even if
there was double sale, according to the appellate court, respondents claim would
still prevail since it was able to register the second sale in its favor in good faith,
had made inquiries before it purchased the lots, and was informed that the titles
were free from encumbrance except the attachment on the property due to Civil
Case No. 3399.
[15]


Petitioner sought reconsideration of the decision but the Court of Appeals
denied her motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.
[16]


Petitioner thus presents before this Court the following issues for resolution:

I.

BETWEEN 2 BUYERS OF REGISTERED LAND, WHO HAS THE BETTER
RIGHT-IS IT THE FIRST BUYER WHO WAS GIVEN THE OWNERS
DUPLICATE TCT TOGETHER WITH A DEED OF SALE IN 1986, OR
THE SECOND BUYER IN 1992 WITH ONLY A DEED OF SALE.

II.
IS A BUYER OF REGISTERED LAND WHO DID NOT DEMAND OR
REQUIRE THE DELIVERY OF THE OWNERS DUPLICATE TCT A
BUYER IN GOOD FAITH.

III.

II. IN SUBSEQUENT REGISTRATION OF REGISTERED LANDS, AS
BY SALE, WHICH LAW SHALL GOVERN, ARTICLE 1455 OF CIVIL
CODE OR P.D. 1529 OR TORRENS SYSTEM.
[17]



Petitioner avers that she was the first buyer in good faith and even had in
her possession the owners copy of the title so much so that she was able to
register the deed of sale in her favor and caused the issuance of a new title in her
name. She argues that the presentation and surrender of the deed of sale and the
owners copy carried with it the conclusive authority of Asuncion Tecson which
cannot be overturned by the latters oral deposition.
[18]


Petitioner claims that respondent did not demand nor require delivery of the
owners duplicate title from the spouses Tecson, neither did it investigate the
circumstances surrounding the absence of the title. These indicate respondents
knowledge of a defect in the title of the spouses and, thus, petitioner concludes
that respondent was not a buyer in good faith.
[19]


Finally, petitioner insists that the applicable law in this case is P.D. No. 1529,
a special law dealing precisely with the registration of registered lands or any
subsequent sale thereof, and not Article 1544 of the Civil Code which deals with
immovable property not covered by the Torrens System.
[20]


Respondent points out, on one hand, that petitioners first two issues which
present an inquiry on who has a better right or which one is a buyer in good faith,
are questions of fact not proper in a petition for review. The third issue, on the
other hand, is ostensibly a question of law which had been unsuccessfully raised
below.
[21]


Respondent maintains that there is no room to speak of petitioner as a buyer
in good faith since she was never a buyer in the first place, as her claim is based on
a null and void deed of sale, so the court a quo found. Respondent also asserts
that its status as a buyer in good faith was established and confirmed in the
proceedings before the two courts below.
[22]


Lastly, respondent argues that P.D. No. 1529 finds no application in the
instant case. The production of the owners duplicate certificate x x x being
conclusive authority from the registered owner is only true as between the
registration applicant and the register of deeds concerned, but never to third
parties. Such conclusive authority, respondent adds, is only for the Register of
Deeds to enter a new certificate or to make a memorandum of registration in
accordance with such instrument. It cannot cure the fatal defect that the
instrument from which such registration was effected is null and void ab initio,
respondent concludes.
[23]


The petition is bereft of merit.

Petitioners arguments, which rest on the assumption that there was a
double sale, must fail.

In the first place, there is no double sale to speak of. Art. 1544 of the Civil
Code,
[24]
which provides the rule on double sale, applies only to a situation where
the same property is validly sold to different vendees. In this case, there is only
one sale to advert to, that between the spouses Tecson and respondent.

In Remalante v. Tibe,
[25]
this Court ruled that the Civil Law provision on
double sale is not applicable where there is only one valid sale, the previous sale
having been found to be fraudulent. Likewise, in Espiritu and Apostol v.
Valerio,
[26]
where the same parcel of land was purportedly sold to two different
parties, the Court held that despite the fact that one deed of sale was registered
ahead of the other, Art. 1544 of the Civil Code will not apply where said deed is
found to be a forgery, the result of this being that the right of the other vendee
should prevail.

The trial court declared that the sale between the spouses Tecson and
petitioner is invalid, as it bears the forged signature of Asuncion. Said finding is
based on the unrebutted testimony ofAsuncion and the trial courts visual analysis
and comparison of the signatures in her Complaint-in-Intervention and the
purported deed of sale. This finding was upheld by the Court of Appeals, as it ruled
that the purported sale in petitioners favor is null and void, taking into
account Asuncions unrefuted deposition. In particular, the Court of Appeals noted
petitioners failure to attend the taking of the oral deposition and to give written
interrogatories. In short, she did not take the necessary steps to rebut Asuncions
definitive assertion.

The congruence of the wills of the spouses is essential for the valid
disposition of conjugal property.
[27]
Thus, under Article 166 of the Civil
Code
[28]
which was still in effect on 19 December 1986 when the deed of sale was
purportedly executed, the husband cannot generally alienate or encumber any real
property of the conjugal partnership without the wifes consent.

In this case, following Article 173
[29]
of the Civil Code, on 26 June 1995, or
eight and a half years (8 ) after the purported sale to petitioner, Asuncion filed
her Complaint-in-Intervention seeking the nullification thereof, and while her
marriage with Troadio was still subsisting. Both the Court of Appeals and the trial
court found Asuncions signature in the deed of sale to have been forged, and
consequently, the deed of sale void for lack of marital consent. We find no reason
to disturb the findings of the trial court and the Court of Appeals. Findings of fact
of lower courts are deemed conclusive and binding upon the Supreme Court subject
to certain exceptions,
[30]
none of which are present in this case. Besides, it has long
been recognized in our jurisprudence that a forged deed is a nullity and conveys no
title.
[31]


Petitioner argues she has a better right over the property in question, as
the holder of and the first one to present, the owners copy of the title for the
issuance of a new TCT. The Court is not persuaded.

The act of registration does not validate petitioners otherwise void contract.
Registration is a mere ministerial act by which a deed, contract, or instrument is
sought to be inscribed in the records of the Office of the Register of Deeds and
annotated at the back of the certificate of title covering the land subject of the
deed, contract, or instrument. While it operates as a notice of the deed, contract, or
instrument to others, it does not add to its validity nor converts an invalid
instrument into a valid one as between the parties,
[32]
nor amounts to a declaration
by the state that the instrument is a valid and subsisting interest in the
land.
[33]
The registration of petitioners void deed is not an impediment to a
declaration by the courts of its invalidity.

Even assuming that there was double sale in this case, petitioner would still
not prevail. The pertinent portion of Art. 1544 provides:

Art. 1544. x x x.

Should it be immovable property, the ownership shall belong to
the person acquiring it who in good faith first recorded it in the
Registry of Property.

x x x x.


In interpreting this provision, the Court declared that the governing principle
is primus tempore, potior jure (first in time, stronger in right). Knowledge gained
by the first buyer of the second sale cannot defeat the first buyers rights, except
where the second buyer registers in good faith the second sale ahead of the first as
provided by the aforequoted provision of the Civil Code. Such knowledge of the first
buyer does not bar him from availing of his rights under the law, among them to
register first his purchase as against the second buyer. However, knowledge gained
by the second buyer of the first sale defeats his rights even if he is first to register
the second sale, since such knowledge taints his prior registration with bad
faith.
[34]
It is thus essential, to merit the protection of Art. 1544, second
paragraph, that the second realty buyer must act in good faith in registering his
deed of sale.
[35]


We agree with the trial court and the Court of Appeals that respondent was a
buyer in good faith, having purchased the nine (9) lots, including the subject lot,
without any notice of a previous sale, but only a notice of attachment relative to a
pending civil case. In fact, in its desire to finally have the title to the properties
transferred in its name, it persuaded the parties in the said case to settle the same
so that the notice of attachment could be cancelled.

Relevant to the discussion are the following provisions of P.D. No. 1529:

Sec. 51. Conveyance and other dealings by registered owner. An
owner of registered land may convey, mortgage, lease, charge or
otherwise deal with the same in accordance with existing laws. He
may use such forms of deeds, mortgages, lease or other voluntary
instruments as are sufficient in law. But no deed, mortgage, lease or
other voluntary instrument, except a will purporting to convey or
affect registered land shall take effect as a conveyance or bind the
land, but shall operate only as a contract between the parties and as
evidence of authority to the Register of Deeds to make Registration.

The act of registration shall be the operative act to
convey or affect the land insofar as third persons are
concerned, and in all cases under this Decree, the registration shall
be made in the office of the Register of Deeds for the province or city
where the land lies. (Emphasis supplied)





Sec. 52. Constructive notice upon registration.Every conveyance,
mortgage, lease, lien attachment, order, judgment, instrument or
entry affecting registered land shall, if registered, filed or entered in
the office of the Register of Deeds for the province or city where the
land to which it relates lies, be constructive notice to all persons from
the time of such registering, filing or entering.


It has been held that between two transactions concerning the same parcel
of land, the registered transaction prevails over the earlier unregistered right. The
act of registration operates to convey and affect the registered land so that a bona
fide purchaser of such land acquires good title as against a prior transferee, if such
prior transfer was unrecorded.
[36]
As found by the courts a quo, respondent was
able to register its purchase ahead of petitioner. It will be recalled that respondent
was able to register its Deed of Conditional Sale with the Register of Deeds as early
as 6 November 1992, and its Deed of Absolute Sale on 14 October 1993. On the
other hand, petitioner was able to present for registration her deed of sale and
owners copy of the title only on 23 January 1995, or almost nine years after the
purported sale. Why it took petitioner nine (9) years to present the deed and the
owners copy, she had no credible explanation; but it is clear that when she finally
did, she already had constructive notice of the deed of sale in respondents
favor. Without a doubt, respondent had acquired a better title to the property.

Finally, anent petitioners claim that P.D. No. 1529 applies to registered
lands or any subsequent sale thereof, while Art. 1544 of the Civil Code applies only
to immovable property not covered by the Torrens System, suffice it to say that
this quandary has already been answered by an eminent former member of this
Court, Justice Jose Vitug, who explained that the registration contemplated under
Art. 1544 has been held to refer to registration under P.D. No. 1529, thus:

The registration contemplated under Art. 1544 has been
held to refer to registration under Act 496 Land Registration Act
(now PD 1529) which considers the act of registration as the
operative act that binds the land (see Mediante v. Rosabal, 1 O.G. [12]
900, Garcia v. Rosabal, 73 Phil 694). On lands covered by the Torrens
System, the purchaser acquires such rights and interest as they appear
in the certificate of title, unaffected by any prior lien or encumbrance
not noted therein. The purchaser is not required to explore farther than
what the Torrens title, upon its face, indicates. The only exception is
where the purchaser has actual knowledge of a flaw or defect in the
title of the seller or of such liens or encumbrances which, as to him, is
equivalent to registration (see Sec. 39, Act 496; Bernales v. IAC, G.R.
75336, 18 October 1988; Hernandez vs. Sales, 69 Phil 744; Tajonera
s. Court of Appeals, L-26677, 27 March 1981) (Emphasis supplied)
[37]



WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The assailed decision and resolution of
the Court of Appeals are affirmed. Costs against petitioner.


SO ORDERED.














Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-31346 December 28, 1929
PO SUN TUN, plaintiff-appellant,
vs.
W. S. PRICE and THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF LEYTE, defendants-
appellees.
Vicente Sotto for appellant.
Kapunan and Kapunan for appellee Price.
Attorney-General Jaranilla for the Provincial Government of Leyte.

MALCOLM, J.:
The undisputed facts in this case are the following:
On November 29, 1921, Gabino Barreto P. Po Ejap was the owner of a certain
parcel of land situated in the municipality of Tacloban, Province of Leyte. On the
date mentioned, he sold the land to Po Tecsi for the sum of P8,000. On June 21,
1923, Po mortgaged the land to W. S. Price in the amount of P17,000. The
mortgage was duly noted in the office of the register of deeds of Leyte on August
18th of the same year. On December 17, 1924, Po executed a deed of sale of the
land to Price in consideration of P17,000. This sale was recorded with the register of
deeds on January 22, 1925. Price in turn, with the consent of his wife, sold the land
on February 16, 1927, to the Province of Leyte for P20,570.
In connection with the above facts, it should further be stated that when the
Tacloban Cadastral Case was before the courts in 1918, this land was claimed by
Gabino Barreto P. Po Ejap acting through his agent, Po Tecsi, but subsequently on
motion the names of Mr. and Mrs. Price were substituted as claimants. On March
17, 1927, the original certificate of title was issued in the name of the spouses
Price. Later, the proper transfer certificate of title was provided for the Province of
Leyte.
Returning again to the original date of November 29, 1921, on that date Po Tecsi
gave a general power of attorney including the right to sell to Gabino Barreto P. Po
Ejap. Acting under this power, Gabino sold the land on November 22, 1923, for
P8,000 to Jose H. Katigbak. On this document there appears on the upper right-
hand margin the following: "Register of Deeds, Received, Dec. 15, 1923, Province
of Leyte." In turn Jose H. Katigbak transferred the property to Po Sun Tun on
October 12, 1927, for P8,000.
Further explaining the relationship of the parties, it should be taken into
consideration that Gabino Barreto P. Po Ejap and Po Tecsi, between whom was the
original transaction and between whom was the provision made for the power of
attorney, are brothers. Gabino Barreto P. Po Ejap and Po Sun Tun, the first the
original vendor, and the latter the person to whom the property eventually returned
pursuant to the power of attorney, are father and son. As to the possession of the
property, it has been under the control of Price and the Provincial Government of
Leyte and has not been under the material control of Po Sun Tun.
Predicated on these facts, Po Sun Tun began an action in the Court of First Instance
of Leyte to gain the possession of the property and to secure damages in the
amount of P3,600. Judge Causing sitting in first instance decided the case on the
pleadings and the evidence, absolving the defendants W. S. Prince and the Province
of Leyte from the complaint, with costs against the plaintiff. The principal error
assigned on appeal by the plaintiff in connection with this judgment is that the trial
judge erred in finding that the deed, Exhibit D, in favor of Jose H. Katigbak had not
been registered in the corresponding registry of property.
The provision of law relied upon by the trial judge as authority for his decision was
the second paragraph of article 1473 of the Civil Code, which provides that if the
same thing should have been sold to different vendees, "Si fuere inmueble, la
propiedad pertenecera al adquirente que antes la haya inscrito en el Registro," or,
as translated by Fisher, "Should it be real property, it shall belong to the purchaser
who first recorded it in the Registry of Deeds." Recalling that the deed of Po Tecsi
to Price was duly registered on January 22, 1925, and that thereafter a Torrens title
was obtained in the name of Price, and that the deed of Gabino Barreto P. Po Ejap
to Jose H. Katigbak has noted on it "Register of Deeds, Received, Dec. 15, 1923,
Province of Leyte," can it be said that within the meaning of the law this latter deed
was ever recorded?
We are clearly of the opinion that it was not. The law and the authorities are
overwhelmingly demonstrative of this statement. The mere presentation to the
office of the register of deeds of a document on which acknowledgment of receipt is
written is not equivalent to recording or registering the real property. Escriche says
that registration, in its juridical aspect, must be understood as the entry made in a
book or public registry of deeds. (See Altavas, Land Registration in the Philippine
Islands, 2d ed., p. 151.) Soler and Castello in their Diccionario de Legislacion
Hipotecaria y Notarial, vol. II, p. 185, state:
Registration in general, as the law uses the word, means any entry made in
the books of the Registry, including both registration in its ordinary and strict
sense, and cancellation, annotation, and even the marginal notes. In its
strick acceptation, it is the entry made in the Registry which records
solemnly and permanently the right of ownership and other real rights.
The American authorities conform in this respect to the Spanish authorities for the
term "To register" it has been said that it means to "enter in a register; to record
formally and distinctly; to enroll; to enter in a list" (Reck vs.Phoenix Ins. Co.
[1889], 7 N. Y. Suppl., 492; 54 Hun., 637; Harriman vs. Woburn Electric Light Co.
[1895], 163 Mass., 85). If any doubt remained on the subject, it would be dispelled
by turning to Act No. 2837 amendatory of section 194 of the Administrative Code,
and recalling that it is therein provided that "No instrument or deed establishing,
transmitting, acknowledging, modifying or extinguishing rights with respect to real
estate not registered under the provisions of Act Numbered Four hundred and
ninety-six, entitled "The Land Registration," and its amendments, shall be valid,
except as between the parties thereto, until such instrument or deed has been
registered, in the manner hereinafter prescribed, in the office of the register of
deeds for the province or city where the real estate lies." (There follows in the law
the requirements regarding the books which it is the duty of the register of deeds
to keep and use.)
It results as a matter of course since the deed made by Gabino Barreto P. Po Ejap
in favor of Jose H. Katigbak was not only not first recorded in the registry of deeds
but never legally so recorded, and since the purchaser who did record his deed was
Price, who secured a Torrens title and transferred the same to the Province of
Leyte, that Po Sun Tun, the holder of a defeasible title, has no legal rights as
against Price and the Province of Leyte, the holders of indefeasible titles. Also, if
necessary, it could be ruled that within the meaning of section 38 of the Land
Registration Law, Price and the Province of Leyte are innocent purchasers for value
of the disputed property.
Finding the judgment appealed from to be correct from all points of view, it will be
affirmed, with the costs of this instance against the appellant.

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