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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila

On March 5, 1981, the Magpayos mortgaged the land to the


Philippine Bank of Communications (PBCom) to secure a loan,
Five Hundred Sixty Four Thousand (P564,000.00) Pesos
according to them, One Million Two Hundred Thousand
(P1,200,000.00) Pesos according to PBCom.1wphi1.nt

FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 133140

On March 9, 1981, Atty. Garcia's Title was cancelled and in its


stead Transfer Certificate of Title No. S-108412/545 was issued
in the name of the Magpayos.

August 10, 1999

JOSE MA. T. GARCIA, petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, SPS. LUISITO & MA. LUISA
MAGPAYO
AND
PHILIPPINE
BANK
OF
COMMUNICATIONS, respondents.

The Deed of Real Estate Mortgage was registered at the Makati


Register of Deeds and annotated on the Magpayos title.
The Magpayos failed to pay their loan upon its maturity, hence,
the mortgage was extrajudicially foreclosed and at the public
auction sale, PBCom which was the highest bidder bought the
land.

PUNO, J.:
This is a petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court
to set aside the decision rendered by the Court of Appeals in CAG.R. No. 44707 entitled "Jose Ma. T. Garcia, Plaintiff-Appellee
versus Spouses Luisito and Ma. Luisa Magpayo and Sheriff of
Makati, Defendants, Philippine Bank of Communications,
Defendant-Appellant".1

The redemption period of the foreclosed mortgage expired


without the Magpayos redeeming the same, hence, title over the
land was consolidated in favor of PBCom which cancelled the
Magpayo's title and Transfer Certificate of Title No. 138233 was
issued in its name.

The facts are as succinctly summarized by the appellate court,


viz.:

On October 4, 1985, the Magpayos filed at the RTC of Makati a


complaint seeking the nullification of the extrajudicial
foreclosure of mortgage, public auction sale, and PBCom's title
docketed as Civil Case No. 11891. This complaint was
dismissed for failure to prosecute.

Atty. Pedro V. Garcia, in whose name TCT No. S-31269


covering a parcel of land identified as Lot 17 situated at Bel Air
II Village, Makati, was registered, sold with the consent of his
wife Remedios T. Garcia, the same to their daughter Ma. Luisa
Magpayo and her husband Luisito Magpayo (the Magpayos).

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On October 15, 1985, PBCom filed at the Regional Trial Court


(RTC) of Makati a petition for the issuance of a writ of
possession over the land, docketed as LRC Case No. M-731,
1

which Branch 148 thereof granted.

The court a quo, however, later issued a summary judgment.2

Upon service of the writ of possession, Mrs. Magpayo's brother,


Jose Ma. T. Garcia (Garcia), who was in possession of the land,
refused to honor it and filed a motion for Intervention in the
above-said PBCom petition, which motion was denied.

In its summary judgment, the lower court held that the mortgage
executed by the Magpayo spouses in favor of PBCom was void.
It found that:

In its answer, PBCom averred, inter alia, that Garcia's claim


over the land is belied by the fact that it is not among the
properties owned by his mother listed in the Inventory of Real
Estate filed at the then CFI of Pasay City, Branch 27, in SP Proc.
No. 2917-P, "In the Matter of the Intestate Estate of Remedios T.
Garcia Petition for Letters of Administration, Pedro V. Garcia
Petitioner-Administrator.

. . . [A]t the time that the defendants Magpayo spouses executed


the mortgage in favor of the defendant PBCom on March 5,
1981, the said spouses were not yet the owners of the property.
This finding is evident from the other undisputed fact that a new
Torrens title was issued to the defendants Magpayo spouses only
on March 9, 1981 . . . . The Magpayo spouses could not have
acquired the said property merely by the execution of the Deed
of Sale because the property was in the possession of the
plaintiff. The vendor, Pedro V. Garcia, was not in possession and
hence could not deliver the property merely by the execution of
the document (MANALILI V. CESAR, 39 PHIL. 134). The
conclusion is therefore inescapable that the said mortgage is null
and void for lack of one of the essential elements of a mortgage
as required by Art. 2085 of our Civil Code . . . .3

The Magpayos, on the other hand, asserted that title over the
land was transferred to them by Mrs. Magpayo's parents to
enable them (Magpayos) to borrow from PBCom.

Thus, it invalidated the foreclosure sale and nullified TCT No.


138233 issued to PBCom. Dissatisfied, PBCom appealed. In
reversing the trial court, the Court of Appeals held:

Garcia filed a Motion for Summary Judgment praying that


judgment be rendered in his favor to which PBCom countermotioned that judgment should be rendered in its favor.

(P)laintiff-appellee's assertion that ownership over the disputed


property was not transmitted to his sister and her husbandMagpayo spouses at the time of the execution of the Deed of
Sale as he was still in actual and adverse possession thereof does
not lie.

Garcia thereupon filed against PBCom, the Magpayos, and the


RTC Sheriff the instant suit for recovery of realty and damages
wherein he alleged, inter alia, that he inherited the land as one of
the heirs of his mother Remedios T. Garcia, and that PBCom
acquired no right thereover.

The court a quo denied the motion for summary judgment on the
ground that PBCom raised in its answer both factual and legal
issues which could only be ventilated in a full-blown trial.

LTD

For in his complaint, plaintiff-appellee alleged that he entered


into possession of the disputed property only upon the demise of

his mother, from whom he alleges to have inherited it but who


was not the registered owner of the property, that is, on October
31, 1980 (Certificate of Death, p. 17, Records), by which
admission he is bound. Since the execution of the deed of sale
by Atty. Pedro V. Garcia in favor of the Magpayos took place
earlier or on August 1, 1980, then contrary to his claim, plaintiffappellee was not in possession of the property at the time of the
execution of said public instrument.

I
The respondent Court of Appeals has departed from the accepted
and usual course of proceedings when it decided the appeal
subject of this case based on issues which were raised neither in
the trial court nor in the appellant's brief.

Furthermore, it appearing that the vendor Atty. Garcia had


control of the property which was registered in his name and that
the deed of sale was likewise registered, then the sale was
consummated and the Magpayos were free to exercise the
attributes of ownership including the right to mortgage the land.

The Court of Appeals decided the appeal in a manner not in


accord with applicable jurisprudence when it disregarded the
admissions of the private respondents and, despite ruling that
Summary Judgment was proper, made its own findings of facts
which were contrary to the said admissions.

When the land is registered in the vendor's name, and the public
instrument of sale is also registered, the sale may be considered
consummated and the buyer may exercise the actions of an
owner (Tolentino, Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil
Code of the Philippines, 1992 Ed., p. 55).

III

II

The Decision of the respondent Court of Appeals was not in


accord with established jurisprudence and even contradicts itself,
as far as the issue of the propriety of the Summary Judgment is
concerned.

That the Magpayos' title, TCT No. S-108412, was issued four (4)
days following the execution of the deed of real estate mortgage
is of no moment, for registration under the Torrens system does
not vest ownership but is intended merely to confirm and
register the title which one may already have on the land
(Municipality of Victorias v. Court of Appeals, 149 SCRA 32,
44-45 [1987]).

The petition has no merit.


Anent the first assignment of error, petitioner alleged that the
Court of Appeals resolved the issues "ownership" and
"possession" though they were not raised by PBCom in its
appellant's brief. The allegation is belied by page 17 of PBCom's
appellate brief, viz.:

Petitioner Garcia moved for a reconsideration of above decision


which was denied. He now comes before us raising the
following errors committed by the Court Appeals:

LTD

Due to the wrong cited case, the trial court opined erroneously
that "Magpayo Spouses could not have acquired the property

merely by the execution of the deed of sale because the property


was in the possession of the plaintiff" (Order, p. 10).

the time of the alleged sale to the Magpayo spouses, petitioner


was in possession of the property;

Again, the trial court could not distinguish ownership from


possession. Ownership and possession are two entirely different
legal concepts.

4. When his mother Remedios Tablan (sic) Garcia died,


sometime in October, 1980, he became, by operation of law, a
co-owner of the property;

Plaintiff-appellee's possession as found by the trial court, started


only "at the time of the filing of the complaint in this present
case up to the present." (page 2, Summary Judgment).

5. Atty. Pedro V. Garcia, at the time of the execution of the


instrument in favor of the Magpayo spouses was not in
possession of the subject property.4

Assuming that to be true, plaintiff-appellee's possession which


started only in 1986 could not ripen into ownership. He has no
valid title thereto. His possession in fact was that of an intruder,
one done in bad faith (to defeat PBCom's Writ of Possession).
His possession is certainly not in the concept of an owner. This
is so because as early as 1981, title thereto was registered in the
name of the Magpayo Spouses which title was subsequently
cancelled when the property was purchased by PBCom in a
public auction sale resulting in the issuance of title in favor of
the latter in 1985.

We reject the contention of petitioner for a perusal of the records


shows that these alleged admitted facts are his own paraphrased
portions of the findings of fact listed by the trial court in the
summary judgment.5 Indeed petitioner did not cite any page
number of the records or refer to any documentary Exhibit to
prove how and who admitted the said facts.
Petitioner's third assignment of error that he alone as plaintiff in
the trial court is entitled to a summary judgment merits scant
attention. A summary judgment is one granted by the court, upon
motion by either party, for an expeditious settlement of the case,
there appearing from the pleadings, depositions, admissions, and
affidavits that no important questions or issues of fact are
involved (except the determination of the amount of damages)
and that therefore the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a
matter of law.6 Under Rule 34, either party may move for a
summary judgment the claimant by virtue of Section 1 and
the defending party by virtue of Section 2, viz.:

Anent the second-assignment of error, petitioner contends that


the following facts were admitted by the parties in the trial court:
1. The petitioner is a compulsory heir of the late spouses Atty.
Pedro V. Garcia and Remedios Tablan Garcia;
2. The property subject of this dispute was previously the
conjugal property of the said spouses;

Sec. 1. Summary judgment for claimant. A party seeking to


recover upon a claim, counter-claim, or cross-claim or to obtain
a declaratory relief may, at any time after the pleading in answer

3. The petitioner and his family have been and are continuously
to the present in actual physical possession of the property. At
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thereto has been served, move with supporting affidavits for a


summary judgment in his favor upon all or any part thereof.

We stress again that possession and ownership are distinct legal


concepts. Ownership exists when a thing pertaining to one
person is completely subjected to his will in a manner not
prohibited by law and consistent with the rights of others. 8
Ownership confers certain rights to the owner, one of which is
the right to dispose of the thing by way of sale. 9 Atty. Pedro
Garcia and his wife Remedios exercised their right to dispose of
what they owned when they sold the subject property to the
Magpayo spouses. On the other hand, possession is defined as
the holding of a thing or the enjoyment of a right. 10 Literally, to
possess means to actually and physically occupy a thing with or
without right. Possession may be had in one of two ways:
possession in the concept of an owner and possession of a
holder.11 "A possessor in the concept of an owner may be the
owner himself or one who claims to be so." 12 On the other hand,
"one who possesses as a mere holder acknowledges in another a
superior right which he believes to be ownership, whether his
belief be right or wrong."13 The records show that petitioner
occupied the property not in the concept of an owner for his stay
was merely tolerated by his parents. We held inCaniza v. Court
of Appeals 14 that an owner's act of allowing another to occupy
his house, rent-free does not create a permanent and indefeasible
right of possession in the latter's favor. Consequently, it is of no
moment that petitioner was in possession of the property at the
time of the sale to the Magpayo spouses. It was not a hindrance
to a valid transfer of ownership. On the other hand, petitioner's
subsequent claim of ownership as successor to his mother's share
in the conjugal asset is belied by the fact that the property was
not included in the inventory of the estate submitted by his
father to the intestate court. This buttresses the ruling that indeed
the property was no longer considered owned by petitioner's
parents. We also uphold the Court of Appeals in holding that the
mortgage to PBCom by the Magpayo spouses is valid

Sec. 2. Summary judgment for defending party. A party


against whom a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim is asserted
or a declaratory relief is sought may, at any time, move with
supporting affidavits for a summary judgment in his favor as to
all or any part thereof.
It is true that petitioner made the initial move for summary
judgment. Nonetheless, PBCom likewise moved for a summary
judgment with supporting affidavit and documentary exhibits, to
wit:
COUNTER-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
PBCom Is Entitled To A Summary Judgment
The procedure for summary judgment may be availed of also by
the defending parties who may be the object of unfounded
claims as clearly shown in Sections 1 and 2 of Rule 34.
xxx

xxx

xxx

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court


to render summary judgment in PBCom's favor by
DISMISSING plaintiff's Complaint as well as Sps. Magpayo's
Cross-Claim for being sham and frivolous.7
Needless to state, there was no error on the part of the appellate
court in resorting to summary judgment as prayed for by both
parties.

LTD

notwithstanding that the transfer certificate of title over the


property was issued to them after the mortgage contract was
entered into. Registration does not confer ownership, it is merely
evidence of such ownership over a particular property.15 The
deed of sale operates as a formal or symbolic delivery of the
property sold and authorizes the buyer to use the document as
proof of ownership.16 All said, the Magpayo spouses were
already the owners when they mortgaged the property to
PBCom.17

possession of the land, refused to honor it and filed a motion for


intervention. He alleged that he inherited the land as one of the
heirs of his mother.

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision of the Court of Appeals in


CA-G.R. No. 44707 is AFFIRMED. Costs against
petitioner.1wphi1.nt

Issue: Did the Court of Appeals err in resolving the issues of


ownership and possession?

The lower court held that the mortgage was void but, upon
appeal, CA reversed its decision. Petitioner appealed to the SC
and raised, as one of the errors, that CA decided the case based
on issues not raised in the trial court nor in the appellants brief.

Held: No. PBComs appellate brief alleged that the trial court
could not distinguish ownership from possession; that plaintiffappellees possession could not ripen into ownership; that he
was an intruder in bad faith and his possession is certainly not in
the concept of an owner.

SO ORDERED.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Kapunan, Pardo and Ynares-Santiago, JJ.,
concur.

We stress again that the possession and ownership are distinct


legal concepts. Ownership exists when a thing pertaining to one
person is completely subjected to his will in a manner not
prohibited by law and consistent with the rights of others.
Ownership confers certain rights to the owner, one of which is
the right to dispose of the thing by way of sale. Pedro Garcia and
his wife exercised their right to dispose of what they owned
when they sold the subject property to the Magpayo spouses.

GARCIA vs. COURT OF APPEALS


G.R. NO. 133140, AUGUST 10, 1999
Facts: In 1981, a lot was registered and sold by Pedro Garcia
to the Magpayo spouses. The Magpayos mortgaged the land to
the Philippine Bank of Commerce (PBCom). The spouses failed
to pay, hence, the mortgage was extra-judicially closed. The
petition filed by PBCom for the issuance of the writ of
possession was granted, however, upon service of the writ of
possession, Mrs. Magpayos brother, Jose Garcia, who was in

LTD

On the other hand, possession is defined as the holding of a


thing or the enjoyment of a right. Literally, to possess means to
actually and physically occupy a thing with or without right.
6

THIRD DIVISION

Possession may be had in one of two ways: possession in the


concept of an owner and possession of a holder. A possessor in
the concept of an owner may be the owner himself or one who
claims to be so. On the other hand, one who possesses as a
mere holder acknowledges in another a superior right which he
believes to be ownership, whether his belief is right or wrong.
The records show that petitioner occupied the property not in the
concept of an owner for his stay was merely tolerated by his
parents.

G.R. No. 178411

June 23, 2010

OFFICE OF THE CITY MAYOR OF PARAAQUE CITY,


OFFICE OF THE CITY ADMINISTRATOR OF
PARAAQUE CITY, OFFICE OF THE CITY ENGINEER
OF PARAAQUE CITY, OFFICE OF THE CITY
PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR,
OFFICE OF THE BARANGAY CAPTAIN AND
SANGGUNIANG PAMBARANGAY OF BARANGAY
VITALEZ,
PARAAQUE
CITY,
TERESITA
A.
GATCHALIAN, ENRICO R. ESGUERRA, ERNESTO T.
PRACALE, JR., MANUEL M. ARGOTE, CONRADO M.
CANLAS, JOSEPHINE S. DAUIGOY, ALLAN L.
GONZALES, ESTER C. ASEHAN, MANUEL A.
FUENTES, and MYRNA P. ROSALES, Petitioners,
vs.
MARIO D. EBIO AND HIS CHILDREN/HEIRS namely,
ARTURO V. EBIO, EDUARDO V. EBIO, RENATO V.
EBIO, LOURDES E. MAGTANGOB, MILA V. EBIO, and
ARNEL V. EBIO, Respondents.
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of
the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, assailing the
January 31, 2007 Decision1 and June 8, 2007 Resolution2 of the
Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP No. 91350 allegedly for
being contrary to law and jurisprudence. The CA had reversed
the Order3 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Paraaque City,

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila

LTD

Branch 196, issued on April 29, 2005 in Civil Case No. 05-0155.

construction of an access road along Cut-cut Creek located in the


said barangay. The proposed road, projected to be eight (8)
meters wide and sixty (60) meters long, will run from Urma
Drive to the main road of Vitalez Compound11 traversing the lot
occupied by the respondents. When the city government advised
all the affected residents to vacate the said area, respondents
immediately registered their opposition thereto. As a result, the
road project was temporarily suspended.12

Below are the facts.


Respondents claim that they are the absolute owners of a parcel
of land consisting of 406 square meters, more or less, located at
9781 Vitalez Compound in Barangay Vitalez, Paraaque City
and covered by Tax Declaration Nos. 01027 and 01472 in the
name of respondent Mario D. Ebio. Said land was an accretion
of Cut-cut creek. Respondents assert that the original occupant
and possessor of the said parcel of land was their great
grandfather, Jose Vitalez. Sometime in 1930, Jose gave the land
to his son, Pedro Vitalez. From then on, Pedro continuously and
exclusively occupied and possessed the said lot. In 1966, after
executing an affidavit declaring possession and occupancy,4
Pedro was able to obtain a tax declaration over the said property
in his name.5Since then, respondents have been religiously
paying real property taxes for the said property.6

In January 2003, however, respondents were surprised when


several officials from the barangay and the city planning office
proceeded to cut eight (8) coconut trees planted on the said lot.
Respondents filed letter-complaints before the Regional Director
of the Bureau of Lands, the Department of Interior and Local
Government and the Office of the Vice Mayor.13 On June 29,
2003, the Sangguniang Barangay of Vitalez held a meeting to
discuss the construction of the proposed road. In the said
meeting, respondents asserted their opposition to the proposed
project and their claim of ownership over the affected property.14
On November 14, 2003, respondents attended another meeting
with officials from the city government, but no definite
agreement was reached by and among the parties.15

Meanwhile, in 1961, respondent Mario Ebio married Pedros


daughter, Zenaida. Upon Pedros advice, the couple established
their home on the said lot. In April 1964 and in October 1971,
Mario Ebio secured building permits from the Paraaque
municipal office for the construction of their house within the
said compound.7 On April 21, 1987, Pedro executed a notarized
Transfer of Rights8 ceding his claim over the entire parcel of
land in favor of Mario Ebio. Subsequently, the tax declarations
under Pedros name were cancelled and new ones were issued in
Mario Ebios name.9

On March 28, 2005, City Administrator Noli Aldip sent a letter


to the respondents ordering them to vacate the area within the
next thirty (30) days, or be physically evicted from the said
property.16 Respondents sent a letter to the Office of the City
Administrator asserting, in sum, their claim over the subject
property and expressing intent for a further dialogue. 17 The
request remained unheeded.1avvphi1

On March 30, 1999, the Office of the Sangguniang Barangay of


Vitalez passed Resolution No. 08, series of 199910 seeking
assistance from the City Government of Paraaque for the

LTD

Threatened of being evicted, respondents went to the RTC of


Paraaque City on April 21, 2005 and applied for a writ of

preliminary injunction against petitioners.18 In the course of the


proceedings, respondents admitted before the trial court that they
have a pending application for the issuance of a sales patent
before the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR).19

April 1966. There is no evidence however, when RL 8 has been


intended as a road lot.
On the other hand, the evidentiary records reveal that PEDRO
VITALEZ possessed the accreted property since 1930 per his
Affidavit dated 21 March 1966 for the purpose of declaring the
said property for taxation purposes. The property then became
the subject of Tax Declaration No. 20134 beginning the year
1967 and the real property taxes therefor had been paid for the
years 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1978,
1980, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003,
and 2004. Sometime in 1964 and 1971, construction permits
were issued in favor of Appellant MARIO EBIO for the subject
property. On 21 April 1987, PEDRO VITALEZ transferred his
rights in the accreted property to MARIO EBIO and his
successors-in-interest.

On April 29, 2005, the RTC issued an Order 20 denying the


petition for lack of merit. The trial court reasoned that
respondents were not able to prove successfully that they have
an established right to the property since they have not instituted
an action for confirmation of title and their application for sales
patent has not yet been granted. Additionally, they failed to
implead the Republic of the Philippines, which is an
indispensable party.
Respondents moved for reconsideration, but the same was
denied.21

Applying [Article 457 of the Civil Code considering] the


foregoing documentary evidence, it could be concluded that
Guaranteed Homes is the owner of the accreted property
considering its ownership of the adjoining RL 8 to which the
accretion attached. However, this is without the application of
the provisions of the Civil Code on acquisitive prescription
which is likewise applicable in the instant case.

Aggrieved, respondents elevated the matter to the Court of


Appeals. On January 31, 2007, the Court of Appeals issued its
Decision in favor of the respondents. According to the Court of
Appeals-The issue ultimately boils down to the question of ownership of
the lands adjoining Cutcut Creek particularly Road Lot No. 8
(hereinafter RL 8) and the accreted portion beside RL 8.

xxxx
The subject of acquisitive prescription in the instant case is the
accreted portion which [was] duly proven by the Appellants. It is
clear that since 1930, Appellants together with their predecessorin-interest, PEDRO VITALEZ[,] have been in exclusive
possession of the subject property and starting 1964 had
introduced improvements thereon as evidenced by their

The evidentiary records of the instant case, shows that RL 8


containing an area of 291 square meters is owned by Guaranteed
Homes, Inc. covered by TCT No. S-62176. The same RL 8
appears to have been donated by the Guaranteed Homes to the
City Government of Paraaque on 22 March 1966 and which
was accepted by the then Mayor FLORENCIO BERNABE on 5

LTD

construction permits. Thus, even by extraordinary acquisitive


prescription[,] Appellants have acquired ownership of the
property in question since 1930 even if the adjoining RL 8 was
subsequently registered in the name of Guaranteed Homes. x x
x.

assignment of errors:
I. WHETHER OR NOT THE DECISION AND RESOLUTION
OF THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS THAT
RESPONDENTS HAVE A RIGHT IN ESSE IS IN ACCORD
WITH THE LAW AND ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE[;]

xxxx
II. WHETHER OR NOT THE DECISION AND RESOLUTION
OF THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS THAT THE
SUBJECT LOT IS AVAILABLE FOR ACQUISITIVE
PRESCRIPTION IS IN ACCORD WITH THE LAW AND
ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE[;] AND

Further, it was only in 1978 that Guaranteed Homes was able to


have RL 8 registered in its name, which is almost fifty years
from the time PEDRO VITALEZ occupied the adjoining
accreted property in 1930. x x x.
xxxx

III. WHETHER OR NOT THE STATE IS AN


INDISPENSABLE PARTY TO THE COMPLAINT FILED
BY RESPONDENTS IN THE LOWER COURT.23

We likewise note the continuous payment of real property taxes


of Appellants which bolster their right over the subject property.
x x x.

The issues may be narrowed down into two (2): procedurally,


whether the State is an indispensable party to respondents action
for prohibitory injunction; and substantively, whether the
character of respondents possession and occupation of the
subject property entitles them to avail of the relief of prohibitory
injunction.

xxxx
In sum, We are fully convinced and so hold that the Appellants
[have] amply proven their right over the property in question.

The petition is without merit.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is


hereby GRANTED. The challenged Order of the court a quo is
REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

An action for injunction is brought specifically to restrain or


command the performance of an act. 24 It is distinct from the
ancillary remedy of preliminary injunction, which cannot exist
except only as part or as an incident to an independent action or
proceeding. Moreover, in an action for injunction, the auxiliary
remedy of a preliminary prohibitory or mandatory injunction
may issue.25

SO ORDERED.22
On June 8, 2007, the appellate court denied petitioners motion
for reconsideration. Hence, this petition raising the following

LTD

10

In the case at bar, respondents filed an action for injunction to


prevent the local government of Paraaque City from proceeding
with the construction of an access road that will traverse through
a parcel of land which they claim is owned by them by virtue of
acquisitive prescription.

belong the accretion which they gradually receive from the


effects of the current of the waters.
It is therefore explicit from the foregoing provisions that alluvial
deposits along the banks of a creek do not form part of the
public domain as the alluvial property automatically belongs to
the owner of the estate to which it may have been added. The
only restriction provided for by law is that the owner of the
adjoining property must register the same under the Torrens
system; otherwise, the alluvial property may be subject to
acquisition through prescription by third persons.28

Petitioners, however, argue that since the creek, being a tributary


of the river, is classified as part of the public domain, any land
that may have formed along its banks through time should also
be considered as part of the public domain. And respondents
should have included the State as it is an indispensable party to
the action.

In contrast, properties of public dominion cannot be acquired by


prescription. No matter how long the possession of the
properties has been, there can be no prescription against the
State regarding property of public domain. 29Even a city or
municipality cannot acquire them by prescription as against the
State.30

We do not agree.
It is an uncontested fact that the subject land was formed from
the alluvial deposits that have gradually settled along the banks
of Cut-cut creek. This being the case, the law that governs
ownership over the accreted portion is Article 84 of the Spanish
Law of Waters of 1866, which remains in effect,26 in relation to
Article 457 of the Civil Code.

Hence, while it is true that a creek is a property of public


dominion,31 the land which is formed by the gradual and
imperceptible accumulation of sediments along its banks does
not form part of the public domain by clear provision of law.

Article 84 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 specifically


covers ownership over alluvial deposits along the banks of a
creek. It reads:

Interestingly, Article 457 of the Civil Code states:

Moreover, an indispensable party is one whose interest in the


controversy is such that a final decree would necessarily affect
his/her right, so that the court cannot proceed without their
presence.32 In contrast, a necessary party is one whose presence
in the proceedings is necessary to adjudicate the whole
controversy but whose interest is separable such that a final
decree can be made in their absence without affecting them.33

Art. 457. To the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers

In the instant case, the action for prohibition seeks to enjoin the

ART. 84. Accretions deposited gradually upon lands contiguous


to creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes, by accessions or sediments
from the waters thereof, belong to the owners of such lands.27

LTD

11

city government of Paraaque from proceeding with its


implementation of the road construction project. The State is
neither a necessary nor an indispensable party to an action where
no positive act shall be required from it or where no obligation
shall be imposed upon it, such as in the case at bar. Neither
would it be an indispensable party if none of its properties shall
be divested nor any of its rights infringed.

government of Paraaque in its corporate or private capacity


sought to register the accreted portion. Undoubtedly, respondents
are deemed to have acquired ownership over the subject
property through prescription. Respondents can assert such right
despite the fact that they have yet to register their title over the
said lot. It must be remembered that the purpose of land
registration is not the acquisition of lands, but only the
registration of title which the applicant already possessed over
the land. Registration was never intended as a means of
acquiring ownership.37 A decree of registration merely confirms,
but does not confer, ownership.38

We also find that the character of possession and ownership by


the respondents over the contested land entitles them to the
avails of the action.
A right in esse means a clear and unmistakable right. 34 A party
seeking to avail of an injunctive relief must prove that he or she
possesses a right in esse or one that is actual or existing. 35 It
should not be contingent, abstract, or future rights, or one which
may never arise.36

Did the filing of a sales patent application by the respondents,


which remains pending before the DENR, estop them from filing
an injunction suit?

In the case at bar, respondents assert that their predecessor-ininterest, Pedro Vitalez, had occupied and possessed the subject
lot as early as 1930. In 1964, respondent Mario Ebio secured a
permit from the local government of Paraaque for the
construction of their family dwelling on the said lot. In 1966,
Pedro executed an affidavit of possession and occupancy
allowing him to declare the property in his name for taxation
purposes. Curiously, it was also in 1966 when Guaranteed
Homes, Inc., the registered owner of Road Lot No. 8 (RL 8)
which adjoins the land occupied by the respondents, donated RL
8 to the local government of Paraaque.

Confirmation of an imperfect title over a parcel of land may be


done either through judicial proceedings or through
administrative process. In the instant case, respondents admitted
that they opted to confirm their title over the property
administratively by filing an application for sales patent.

We answer in the negative.

Respondents application for sales patent, however, should not


be used to prejudice or derogate what may be deemed as their
vested right over the subject property. The sales patent
application should instead be considered as a mere superfluity
particularly since ownership over the land, which they seek to
buy from the State, is already vested upon them by virtue of
acquisitive prescription. Moreover, the State does not have any
authority to convey a property through the issuance of a grant or
a patent if the land is no longer a public land.39

From these findings of fact by both the trial court and the Court
of Appeals, only one conclusion can be made: that for more than
thirty (30) years, neither Guaranteed Homes, Inc. nor the local

LTD

12

Nemo dat quod dat non habet. No one can give what he does not
have. Such principle is equally applicable even against a
sovereign entity that is the State.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The
January 31, 2007 Decision, as well as the July 8, 2007
Resolution, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91350
are hereby AFFIRMED.
With costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
MARTIN S. VILLARAMA, JR.
Associate Justice

Paranaque vs Ebio
G.R. No. 178411 June 23, 2010
FACTS:

LTD

13

Respondents claim to be absolute owners of a 406 sqm. parcel of


land in Paraaque City covered by Tax in the name of
respondent Mario D. Ebio.Said land was an accretion of Cut-cut
creek.

property and expressing intent for a further dialogue. The


request remained unheeded.

Respondents assert that the original occupant and possessor land


was their great grandfather, Jose Vitalez, which was given to his
son, PedroValdez, in 1930. From then on, Pedro continuously
and exclusively occupied and possessed the said lot. In 1966,
after executing an affidavit declaring possession and occupancy.
He also paid taxes for the land.

Threatened of being evicted, respondents went to the RTC of


Paraaque City on April 21, 2005 and applied for a writ of
preliminary injunction against petitioners.

Meanwhile, in 1961, respondent Mario Ebio married Pedros


daughter, Zenaida. In April 1964 and in October 1971, Mario
Ebio secured building permits from the Paraaque municipal
office for the construction of their house within the land. On
April 21, 1987, Pedro transferred his rights over the land in
favor of Ebio.On March 30, 1999, the Office of the
Sangguniang Barangay of Vitalez passed Resolution No. 08,
series of 1990 seeking assistance from theCity Government of
Paraaque for the construction of an access road along Cut-cut
Creek located in the said barangay. The proposed road will run
from Urma Drive to the main road of Vitalez Compound
traversing the lot occupied by the respondents. Respondents
immediately opposed and the project was suspended.

HELD:No.

ISSUE: Whether or not the State may build on the land in


question.

It is an uncontested fact that the subject land was formed from


thealluvial deposits that have gradually settled along the banks
of Cut-cut creek.This being the case, the law that governs
ownership over the accreted portion is Article 84 of the Spanish
Law of Waters of 1866, which remainsin effect, in relation to
Article 457 of the Civil Code.
ART. 84. Accretions deposited gradually upon lands
contiguousto creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes, by accessions or
sedimentsfrom the waters thereof, belong to the owners of such
lands.

In January 2003, however, respondents were surprised when


severalofficials from the barangay and the city planning office
proceeded to cuteight (8) coconut trees planted on the said
lot.On March 28, 2005, the City Administrator sent a letter to
therespondents ordering them to vacate the area within the next
thirty (30) days,or be physically evicted from the said property.
Respondents sent a reply,asserting their claim over the subject

LTD

Art. 457. To the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers


belong the accretion which they gradually receive from the
effectsof the current of the waters.
It is therefore explicit from the foregoing provisions that
alluvialdeposits along the banks of a creek do not form part of

14

the public domain asthe alluvial property automatically belongs


to the owner of the estate towhich it may have been added. The
only restriction provided for by law is that the owner of the
adjoining property must register the same under the Torrens
system; otherwise, the alluvial property may be subject to
acquisition through prescription by third persons.

BARRERA, J.:
This is an appeal taken by petitioners Ignacio, Eulogia, Alfonso,
Eulalia, and Sofia Grande, from the decision of the Court of
Appeals (CA-G.R. No. 25169-R) reversing that of the Court of
First Instance of Isabela (Civil Case No. 1171), and dismissing
petitioners' action against respondents Domingo and Esteban
Calalung, to quiet title to and recover possession of a parcel of
land allegedly occupied by the latter without petitioners' consent.

In contrast, properties of public dominion cannot be acquired by


prescription. No matter how long the possession of the properties has
been,there can be no prescription against the State regarding property
of publicdomain. Even a city or municipality cannot acquire them by
prescription asagainst the State.

The facts of the case, which are undisputed, briefly are:


Petitioners are the owners of a parcel of land, with an area of
3.5032 hectares, located at barrio Ragan, municipality of
Magsaysay (formerly Tumauini), province of Isabela, by
inheritance from their deceased mother Patricia Angui (who
inherited it from her parents Isidro Angui and Ana Lopez, in
whose name said land appears registered, as shown by Original
Certificate of Title No. 2982, issued on June 9, 1934). Said
property is identified as Lot No. 1, Plan PSU-83342. When it
was surveyed for purposes of registration sometime in 1930, its
northeastern boundary was the Cagayan River (the same
boundary stated in the title). Since then, and for many years
thereafter, a gradual accretion on the northeastern side took
place, by action of the current of the Cagayan River, so much so,
that by 1958, the bank thereof had receded to a distance of about
105 meters from its original site, and an alluvial deposit of
19,964 square meters (1.9964 hectares), more or less, had been
added to the registered area (Exh. C-1).

Hence, while it is true that a creek is a property of public dominion,the


land which is formed by the gradual and imperceptible accumulation of
sediments along its banks does not form part of the public domain by
clear provision of law.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-17652

June 30, 1962

IGNACIO GRANDE, ET AL., petitioners,


vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, DOMINGO CALALUNG,
and ESTEBAN CALALUNG, respondents.

On January 25, 1958, petitioners instituted the present action in


the Court of First Instance of Isabela against respondents, to
quiet title to said portion (19,964 square meters) formed by
accretion, alleging in their complaint (docketed as Civil Case

Bartolome Guirao and Antonio M. Orara for petitioners.


Gonzales and Fernandez for respondents.

LTD

15

No. 1171) that they and their predecessors-in-interest, were


formerly in peaceful and continuous possession thereof, until
September, 1948, when respondents entered upon the land under
claim of ownership. Petitioners also asked for damages
corresponding to the value of the fruits of the land as well as
attorney's fees and costs. In their answer (dated February 18,
1958), respondents claim ownership in themselves, asserting that
they have been in continuous, open, and undisturbed possession
of said portion, since prior to the year 1933 to the present.

accretion since 1933 do not only contradict the testimony of


defendants' witness Pedro Laman, but could not overthrow the
incontestable fact that the accretion with an area of 4 hectare
more or less, was formed in 1948, reason for which, it was only
declared in that same year for taxation purposes by the
defendants under Tax Dec. No. 257 (Exh. "2") when they
entered upon the land. We could not give credence to defendants'
assertion that Tax Dec. No. 257 (Exh. "2") cancelled Tax Dee.
No. 28226 (Exh. "1"), because Exh. "2" says that "tax under this
declaration begins with the year 1948. But, the fact that
defendants declared the land for taxation purposes since 1948,
does not mean that they become the owner of the land by mere
occupancy, for it is a new provision of the New Civil Code that
ownership of a piece of land cannot be acquired by occupation
(Art. 714, New Civil Code). The land in question being an
accretion to the mother or registered land of the plaintiffs, the
accretion belongs to the plaintiffs (Art. 457, New Civil Code;
Art. 366, Old Civil Code). Assuming arguendo, that the
accretion has been occupied by the defendants since 1948, or
earlier, is of no moment, because the law does not require any
act of possession on the part of the owner of the riparian owner,
from the moment the deposit becomes manifest (Roxas v.
Tuason, 9 Phil. 408; Cortez v. City of Manila, 10 Phil. 567).
Further, no act of appropriation on the part of the reparian owner
is necessary, in order to acquire ownership of the alluvial
formation, as the law does not require the same (3 Manresa,
C.C., pp. 321-326).

After trial, the Court of First Instance of Isabela, on May 4,


1959, rendered a decision adjudging the ownership of the
portion in question to petitioners, and ordering respondents to
vacate the premises and deliver possession thereof to petitioners,
and to pay to the latter P250.00 as damages and costs. Said
decision, in part, reads:
It is admitted by the parties that the land involved in this action
was formed by the gradual deposit of alluvium brought about by
the action of the Cagayan River, a navigable river. We are
inclined to believe that the accretion was formed on the
northeastern side of the land covered by Original Certificate of
Title No. 2982 after the survey of the registered land in 1931,
because the surveyors found out that the northeastern boundary
of the land surveyed by them was the Cagayan River, and not the
land in question. Which is indicative of the fact that the
accretion has not yet started or begun in 1931. And, as declared
by Pedro Laman, defendant witness and the boundary owner on
the northwest of the registered land of the plaintiffs, the
accretion was a little more than one hectare, including the stony
portion, in 1940 or 1941. Therefore, the declarations of the
defendant Domingo Calalung and his witness, Vicente C.
Bacani, to the effect that the land in question was formed by

LTD

This brings us now to the determination of whether the


defendants, granting that they have been in possession of the
alluvium since 1948, could have acquired the property by
prescription. Assuming that they occupied the land in September,
1948, but considering that the action was commenced on

16

January 25, 1958, they have not been in possession of the land
for ten (10) years; hence, they could not have acquired the land
by ordinary prescription (Arts. 1134 and 1138, New Civil Code).
Moreover, as the alluvium is, by law, part and parcel of the
registered property, the same may be considered as registered
property, within the meaning of Section 46 of Act No. 496: and,
therefore, it could not be acquired by prescription or adverse
possession by another person.

September, 1948, or less than the 10-year period required for


prescription before the present action was instituted.
As a legal proposition, the first ground relied upon by the trial
court, is not quite correct. An accretion to registered land, while
declared by specific provision of the Civil Code to belong to the
owner of the land as a natural accession thereof, does not ipso
jure become entitled to the protection of the rule of
imprescriptibility of title established by the Land Registration
Act. Such protection does not extend beyond the area given and
described in the certificate. To hold otherwise, would be
productive of confusion. It would virtually deprive the title, and
the technical description of the land given therein, of their
character of conclusiveness as to the identity and area of the land
that is registered. Just as the Supreme Court, albeit in a negative
manner, has stated that registration does not protect the riparian
owner against the erosion of the area of his land through gradual
changes in the course of the adjoining stream (Payatas Estate
Development Co. v. Tuason, 53 Phil. 55), so registration does
not entitle him to all the rights conferred by Land Registration
Act, in so far as the area added by accretion is concerned. What
rights he has, are declared not by said Act, but by the provisions
of the Civil Code on accession: and these provisions do not
preclude acquisition of the addition area by another person
through prescription. This Court has held as much in the case of
Galindez, et al. v. Baguisa, et al., CA-G.R. No. 19249-R, July
17, 1959.

Unsatisfied, respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals,


which rendered, on September 14, 1960, the decision adverted to
at the beginning of this opinion, partly stating:
That the area in controversy has been formed through a gradual
process of alluvium, which started in the early thirties, is a fact
conclusively established by the evidence for both parties. By
law, therefore, unless some superior title has supervened, it
should properly belong to the riparian owners, specifically in
accordance with the rule of natural accession in Article 366 of
the old Civil Code (now Article 457), which provides that "to the
owner of lands adjoining the banks of rivers, belongs the
accretion which they gradually receive from the effects of the
current of the waters." The defendants, however, contend that
they have acquired ownership through prescription. This
contention poses the real issue in this case. The Courta quo, has
resolved it in favor of the plaintiffs, on two grounds: First, since
by accession, the land in question pertains to the original estate,
and since in this instance the original estate is registered, the
accretion, consequently, falls within the purview of Section 46 of
Act No. 496, which states that "no title to registered land in
derogation to that of the registered owner shall be acquired by
prescription or adverse possession"; and, second, the adverse
possession of the defendant began only in the month of

LTD

We now proposed to review the second ground relied upon by


the trial court, regarding the length of time that the defendants
have been in possession. Domingo Calalung testified that he
occupied the land in question for the first time in 1934, not in
1948 as claimed by the plaintiffs. The area under occupancy

17

gradually increased as the years went by. In 1946, he declared


the land for purposes of taxation (Exhibit 1). This tax declaration
was superseded in 1948 by another (Exhibit 2), after the name of
the municipality wherein it is located was changed from
Tumauini to Magsaysay. Calalung's testimony is corroborated by
two witnesses, both owners of properties nearby. Pedro Laman,
72 years of age, who was Municipal president of Tumauini for
three terms, said that the land in question adjoins his own on the
south, and that since 1940 or 1951, he has always known it to be
in the peaceful possession of the defendants. Vicente C. Bacani
testified to the same effect, although, he said that the defendants'
possession started sometime in 1933 or 1934. The area thereof,
he said, was then less than one hectare.

The oral evidence for the defendants concerning the period of


their possession from 1933 to 1958 is not only
preponderant in itself, but is, moreover, supported by the fact
that it is they and not the plaintiffs who declared the disputed
property for taxation, and by the additional circumstance that if
the plaintiff had really been in prior possession and were
deprived thereof in 1948, they would have immediately taken
steps to recover the same. The excuse they gave for not doing so,
namely, that they did not receive their copy of the certificate of
title to their property until 1958 for lack of funds to pay the fees
of the surveyor Domingo Parlan, is too flimsy to merit any
serious consideration. The payment of the surveyor's fees had
nothing to do with their right to obtain a copy of the certificate.
Besides, it was not necessary for them to have it in their hands,
in order to file an action to recover the land which was legally
theirs by accession and of which, as they allege, they had been
illegally deprived by the defendants. We are convinced, upon
consideration of the evidence, that the latter, were really in
possession since 1934, immediately after the process of alluvion
started, and that the plaintiffs woke up to their rights only when
they received their copy of the title in 1958. By then, however,
prescription had already supervened in favor of the defendants.

We find the testimony of the said witnesses entitled to much


greater weight and credence than that of the plaintiff Pedro
Grande and his lone witness, Laureana Rodriguez. The first
stated that the defendants occupied the land in question only in
1948; that he called the latter's attention to the fact that the land
was his, but the defendants, in turn, claimed that they were the
owners, that the plaintiffs did not file an action until 1958,
because it was only then that they were able to obtain the
certificate of title from the surveyor, Domingo Parlan; and that
they never declared the land in question for taxation purposes or
paid the taxes thereon. Pedro Grande admitted that the
defendants had the said land surveyed in April, 1958, and that he
tried to stop it, not because he claimed the accretion for himself
and his co-plaintiffs, but because the survey included a portion
of the property covered by their title. This last fact is conceded
by the defendants who, accordingly, relinquished their
possession to the part thus included, containing an area of some
458 square meters.1wph1.t

LTD

It is this decision of the Court of Appeals which petitioners seek


to be reviewed by us.
The sole issue for resolution in this case is whether respondents
have acquired the alluvial property in question through
prescription.
There can be no dispute that both under Article 457 of the New
Civil Code and Article 366 of the old, petitioners are the lawful
owners of said alluvial property, as they are the registered

18

owners of the land which it adjoins. The question is whether the


accretion becomes automatically registered land just because the
lot which receives it is covered by a Torrens title thereby making
the alluvial property imprescriptible. We agree with the Court of
Appeals that it does not, just as an unregistered land purchased
by the registered owner of the adjoining land does not, by
extension, become ipso facto registered land. Ownership of a
piece of land is one thing, and registration under the Torrens
system of that ownership is quite another. Ownership over the
accretion received by the land adjoining a river is governed by
the Civil Code. Imprescriptibility of registered land is provided
in the registration law. Registration under the Land Registration
and Cadastral Acts does not vest or give title to the land, but
merely confirms and thereafter protects the title already
possessed by the owner, making it imprescriptible by occupation
of third parties. But to obtain this protection, the land must be
placed under the operation of the registration laws wherein
certain judicial procedures have been provided. The fact remain,
however, that petitioners never sought registration of said
alluvial property (which was formed sometime after petitioners'
property covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 2982 was
registered on June 9, 1934) up to the time they instituted the
present action in the Court of First Instance of Isabela in 1958.
The increment, therefore, never became registered property, and
hence is not entitled or subject to the protection of
imprescriptibility enjoyed by registered property under the
Torrens system. Consequently, it was subject to acquisition
through prescription by third persons.

analyzing the evidence, found that respondents-appellees were in


possession of the alluvial lot since 1933 or 1934, openly,
continuously and adversely, under a claim of ownership up to the
filing of the action in 1958. This finding of the existence of these
facts, arrived at by the Court of Appeals after an examination of
the evidence presented by the parties, is conclusive as to them
and can not be reviewed by us.
The law on prescription applicable to the case is that provided in
Act 190 and not the provisions of the Civil Code, since the
possession started in 1933 or 1934 when the pertinent articles of
the old Civil Code were not in force and before the effectivity of
the new Civil Code in 1950. Hence, the conclusion of the Court
of Appeals that the respondents acquired alluvial lot in question
by acquisitive prescription is in accordance with law.
The decision of the Court of Appeals under review is hereby
affirmed, with costs against the petitioners. So ordered.
Bengzon, C.J., Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Concepcion,
Paredes and Dizon, JJ., concur.
Reyes, J.B.L., Regala and Makalintal, JJ., took no part.

The next issue is, did respondents acquire said alluvial property
through acquisitive prescription? This is a question which
requires determination of facts: physical possession and dates or
duration of such possession. The Court of Appeals, after

LTD

19

likewise, inherited it from her parents. In the early 1930s, the


Grandes decided to have their land surveyed for registration
purposes. The land was described to have Cagayan River as the
northeastern boundary, as stated in the title.
By 1958, a gradual accretion took place due to the action of the
current of the river, and an alluvial deposit of almost 20,000
sq.m. was added to the registered area. The Grandes filed an
action for quieting of title against the Calalungs, stating that they
were in peaceful and continuous possession of the land created
by the alluvial deposit until 1948, when the Calalungs allegedly
trespassed into their property. The Calalungs, however, stated
that they were the rightful owners since prior to 1933.

The CFI found for the Grandes and ordered the Calalungs to
vacate the premises and pay for damages. Upon appeal to the
CA, however, the decision was reversed.
ISSUE:
Whether or not the alluvium deposited land automatically
belongs to the riparian owners?
GRANDE v. CA

HELD:

FACTS:

Art. 457 dictates that alluvium deposits on land belong to the


owners of the adjacent land. However, this does not ipso jure
become theirs merely believing that said land have become
imprescriptible. The land of the Grandes only specifies a specific
portion, of which the alluvial deposits are not included, and are

The Grandes are owners of a parcel of land in Isabela, by


inheritance from their deceased mother, Patricia Angui, who

LTD

20

THIRD DIVISION

thus, subject to acquisition by prescription. Since the Calalungs


proved that they have been in possession of the land since 1934
via two credible witnesses, as opposed to the Grandes single
witness who claims that the Calalungs only entered the land in
1948, the Calalungs have been held to have acquired the land
created by the alluvial deposits by prescription. This is because
the possession took place in 1934, when the law to be followed
was Act 190, and not the New Civil Code, which only took
effect in 1950.

G.R. No. 92161

March 18, 1991

SIMPLICIO BINALAY, PONCIANO GANNABAN,


NICANOR MACUTAY, DOMINGO ROSALES,
GREGORIO ARGONZA, EUSTAQUIO BAUA,
FLORENTINO ROSALES, TEODORO MABBORANG,
PATRICIO MABBORANG and FULGENCIO MORA,
petitioners
vs.
GUILLERMO MANALO and COURT OF APPEALS,
respondents.
Josefin De Alban Law Office for Petitioners.
FELICIANO, J.:
The late Judge Taccad originally owned a parcel of land situated
in Tumauini, Isabela having an estimated area of twenty (20)
hectares. The western portion of this land bordering on the
Cagayan River has an elevation lower than that of the eastern
portion which borders on the national road. Through the years,
the western portion would periodically go under the waters of
the Cagayan River as those waters swelled with the coming of
the rains. The submerged portion, however, would re-appear
during the dry season from January to August. It would remain
under water for the rest of the year, that is, from September to
December during the rainy season.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
LTD

The ownership of the landholding eventually moved from one


person to another. On 9 May 1959, respondent Guillermo
Manalo acquired 8.65 hectares thereof from Faustina Taccad,
21

daughter of Judge Juan Taccad. The land sold was described in


the Deed of Absolute Sale 1 as follows:

left unsurveyed and was not included in Lot 307.


The Sketch Plan 3 submitted during the trial of this case and
which was identified by respondent Manalo shows that the
Cagayan River running from south to north, forks at a certain
point to form two (2) branchesthe western and the eastern
branchesand then unites at the other end, further north, to
form a narrow strip of land. The eastern branch of the river cuts
through the land of respondent Manalo and is inundated with
water only during the rainy season. The bed of the eastern
branch is the submerged or the unsurveyed portion of the land
belonging to respondent Manalo. For about eight (8) months of
the year when the level of water at the point where the Cagayan
River forks is at its ordinary depth, river water does not flow
into the eastern branch. While this condition persists, the eastern
bed is dry and is susceptible to cultivation.

. . . a parcel of agricultural land in Balug, Tumauini, Isabela,


containing an area of 8.6500 hectares, more or less; bounded on
the North by Francisco Forto on the East by National Road; on
South by Julian Tumolva and on the West by Cagayan River;
declared for taxation under Tax Declaration No. 12681 in the
name of Faustina Taccad, and assessed at P 750.00. . . .
Later in 1964, respondent Manalo purchased another 1.80
hectares from Gregorio Taguba who had earlier acquired the
same from Judge Juan Taccad. The second purchase brought the
total acquisition of respondent Manalo to 10.45 hectares. The
second piece of property was more particularly described as
follows:

Considering that water flowed through the eastern branch of the


Cagayan River when the cadastral survey was conducted, the
elongated strip of land formed by the western and the eastern
branches of the Cagayan River looked very much like an island.
This strip of land was surveyed on 12 December 1969. 4

. . . a piece of agricultural land consisting of tobacco land, and


containing an area of 18,000 square meters, more or less,
bounded on the North by Balug Creek; on the South, by Faustina
Taccad (now Guillermo R. Manalo); on the East, by a Provincial
Road; and on the West, by Cagayan River assessed at P 440.00,
as tax Declaration No. 3152. . . . 2

It was found to have a total area of 22.7209 hectares and was


designated as Lot 821 and Lot 822. The area of Lot 822 is
10.8122 hectares while Lot 821 has an area of 11.9087 hectares.
Lot 821 is located directly opposite Lot 307 and is separated
from the latter only by the eastern branch of the Cagayan River
during the rainy season and, during the dry season, by the
exposed, dry river bed, being a portion of the land bought from
Faustina Taccad. Respondent Manalo claims that Lot 821 also
belongs to him by way of accretion to the submerged portion of
the property to which it is adjacent.

During the cadastral survey conducted at Balug, Tumauini,


Isabela on 21 October 1969, the two (2) parcels of land
belonging to respondent Manalo were surveyed and consolidated
into one lot, designated as Lot No. 307, Pls-964. Lot 307 which
contains 4.6489 hectares includes: (a) the whole of the 1.80
hectares acquired from Gregorio Taguba; and (b) 2.8489
hectares out of the 8.65 hectares purchased from Faustina
Taccad. As the survey was conducted on a rainy month, a portion
of the land bought from Faustina Taccad then under water was

LTD

22

Petitioners who are in possession of Lot 821, upon the other


hand, insist that they own Lot 821. They occupy the outer edges
of Lot 821 along the river banks, i.e., the fertile portions on
which they plant tobacco and other agricultural products. They
also cultivate the western strip of the unsurveyed portion during
summer. 5 This situation compelled respondent Manalo to file a
case for forcible entry against petitioners on 20 May 1969. The
case was dismissed by the Municipal Court of Tumauini, Isabela
for failure of both parties to appear. On 15 December 1972,
respondent Manalo again filed a case for forcible entry against
petitioners. The latter case was similarly dismissed for lack of
jurisdiction by the Municipal Court of Tumauini, Isabela.

1. That plaintiff, Guillermo Manalo, is declared the lawful owner


of the land in question, Lot No. 821, Pls-964 of Tumauini
Cadastre, and which is more particularly described in paragraph
2-b of the Complaint;
2. That the defendants are hereby ordered to vacate the premises
of the land in question, Lot No. 821, Pls-964 of Tumauini
Cadastre, and which is more particularly described in paragraph
2-b of the Complaint;
3. That the defendants are being restrained from entering the
premises of the land in question, Lot No. 821, Pls-964 of
Tumauini Cadastre, and which is more particularly described in
paragraph 2-b of the Complaint; and

On 24 July 1974, respondent Manalo filed a complaints 6 before


the then Court of First Instance of Isabela, Branch 3 for quieting
of title, possession and damages against petitioners. He alleged
ownership of the two (2) parcels of land he bought separately
from Faustina Taccad and Gregorio Taguba for which reason he
prayed that judgment be entered ordering petitioners to vacate
the western strip of the unsurveyed portion. Respondent Manalo
likewise prayed that judgment be entered declaring him as
owner of Lot 821 on which he had laid his claim during the
survey.

4. That there is no pronouncement as to attorney's fees and costs.


SO ORDERED. 8
Petitioners appealed to the Court of Appeals which, however,
affirmed the decision of the trial court. They filed a motion for
reconsideration, without success.
While petitioners insist that Lot 821 is part of an island
surrounded by the two (2) branches of the Cagayan River, the
Court of Appeals found otherwise. The Court of Appeals
concurred with the finding of the trial court that Lot 821 cannot
be considered separate and distinct from Lot 307 since the
eastern branch of the Cagayan River substantially dries up for
the most part of the year such that when this happens, Lot 821
becomes physically (i.e., by land) connected with the dried up
bed owned by respondent Manalo. Both courts below in effect
rejected the assertion of petitioners that the depression on the

Petitioners filed their answer denying the material allegations of


the complaint. The case was then set for trial for failure of the
parties to reach an amicable agreement or to enter into a
stipulation of facts. 7 On 10 November 1982, the trial court
rendered a decision with the following dispositive portion:
WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing premises, the Court
renders judgment against the defendants and in favor of the
plaintiff and orders:

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earth's surface which separates Lot 307 and Lot 821 is, during
part of the year, the bed of the eastern branch of the Cagayan
River.

The Court of Appeals adhered substantially to the conclusion


reached by the trial court, thus:
As found by the trial court, the disputed property is not an island
in the strict sense of the word since the eastern portion of the
said property claimed by appellants to be part of the Cagayan
River dries up during summer. Admittedly, it is the action of the
heavy rains which comes during rainy season especially from
September to November which increases the water level of the
Cagayan river. As the river becomes swollen due to heavy rains,
the lower portion of the said strip of land located at its
southernmost point would be inundated with water. This is
where the water of the Cagayan river gains its entry.
Consequently, if the water level is high the whole strip of land
would be under water.

It is a familiar rule that the findings of facts of the trial court are
entitled to great respect, and that they carry even more weight
when affirmed by the Court of Appeals. 9 This is in recognition
of the peculiar advantage on the part of the trial court of being
able to observe first-hand the deportment of the witnesses while
testifying. Jurisprudence is likewise settled that the Court of
Appeals is the final arbiter of questions of fact. 10 But whether a
conclusion drawn from such findings of facts is correct, is a
question of law cognizable by this Court. 11
In the instant case, the conclusion reached by both courts below
apparently collides with their findings that periodically at the
onset of and during the rainy season, river water flows through
the eastern bed of the Cagayan River. The trial court held:

In Government of the Philippine Islands vs. Colegio de San Jose,


it was held that

The Court believes that the land in controversy is of the nature


and character of alluvion (Accretion), for it appears that during
the dry season, the body of water separating the same land in
controversy (Lot No. 821, Pls-964) and the two (2) parcels of
land which the plaintiff purchased from Gregorio Taguba and
Justina Taccad Cayaba becomes a marshy land and is only six
(6) inches deep and twelve (12) meters in width at its widest in
the northern tip (Exhs. "W", "W-l", "W-2", "W-3" and "W-4"), It
has been held by our Supreme Court that "the owner of the
riparian land which receives the gradual deposits of alluvion,
does not have to make an express act of possession. The law
does not require it, and the deposit created by the current of the
water becomes manifest" (Roxas vs. Tuazon, 6 Phil. 408). 12

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According to the foregoing definition of the words "ordinary"


and "extra-ordinary," the highest depth of the waters of Laguna
de Bay during the dry season is the ordinary one, and the highest
depth they attain during the extra-ordinary one (sic); inasmuch
as the former is the one which is regular, common, natural,
which occurs always or most of the time during the year, while
the latter is uncommon, transcends the general rule, order and
measure, and goes beyond that which is the ordinary depth. If
according to the definition given by Article 74 of the Law of
Waters quoted above, the natural bed or basin of the lakes is the
ground covered by their waters when at their highest ordinary
depth, the natural bed or basin of Laguna de Bay is the ground
covered by its waters when at their highest depth during the dry
season, that is up to the northeastern boundary of the two parcels

24

of land in question.

Cagayan River occur with the annual coming of the rains as the
river waters in their onward course cover the entire depressed
portion. Though the eastern bed substantially dries up for the
most part of the year (i.e., from January to August), we cannot
ignore the periodical swelling of the waters ( i.e., from
September to December) causing the eastern bed to be covered
with flowing river waters.

We find the foregoing ruling to be analogous to the case at bar.


The highest ordinary level of the waters of the Cagayan River is
that attained during the dry season which is confined only on the
west side of Lot [821] and Lot [822]. This is the natural Cagayan
river itself. The small residual of water between Lot [821] and
307 is part of the small stream already in existence when the
whole of the late Judge Juan Taccad's property was still
susceptible to cultivation and uneroded. 13

The conclusion of this Court that the depressed portion is a river


bed rests upon evidence of record.1wphi1 Firstly, respondent
Manalo admitted in open court that the entire area he bought
from Gregorio Taguba was included in Lot 307. 15 If the 1.80
hectares purchased from Gregorio Taguba was included in Lot
307, then the Cagayan River referred to as the western boundary
in the Deed of Sale transferring the land from Gregorio Taguba
to respondent Manalo as well as the Deed of Sale signed by
Faustina Taccad, must refer to the dried up bed (during the dry
months) or the eastern branch of the river (during the rainy
months). In the Sketch Plan attached to the records of the case,
Lot 307 is separated from the western branch of the Cagayan
River by a large tract of land which includes not only Lot 821
but also what this Court characterizes as the eastern branch of
the Cagayan River.

The Court is unable to agree with the Court of Appeals that


Government of the Philippine Islands vs. Colegio de San Jose 14
is applicable to the present case. That case involved Laguna de
Bay; since Laguna de Bay is a lake, the Court applied the legal
provisions governing the ownership and use of lakes and their
beds and shores, in order to determine the character and
ownership of the disputed property. Specifically, the Court
applied the definition of the natural bed or basin of lakes found
in Article 74 of the Law of Waters of 3 August 1866. Upon the
other hand, what is involved in the instant case is the eastern bed
of the Cagayan River.
We believe and so hold that Article 70 of the Law of Waters of 3
August 1866 is the law applicable to the case at bar:

Secondly, the pictures identified by respondent Manalo during


his direct examination depict the depressed portion as a river
bed. The pictures, marked as Exhibits "W" to "W-4", were taken
in July 1973 or at a time when the eastern bed becomes visible.
16
Thus, Exhibit "W-2" which according to respondent Manalo
was taken facing the east and Exhibit "W-3" which was taken
facing the west both show that the visible, dried up portion has a
markedly lower elevation than Lot 307 and Lot 821. It has dikelike slopes on both sides connecting it to Lot 307 and Lot 821

Art. 70. The natural bed or channel of a creek or river is the


ground covered by its waters during the highest floods.
(Emphasis supplied)
We note that Article 70 defines the natural bed or channel of a
creek or river as the ground covered by its waters during the
highest floods. The highest floods in the eastern branch of the

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that are vertical upward and very prominent. This topographic


feature is compatible with the fact that a huge volume of water
passes through the eastern bed regularly during the rainy season.
In addition, petitioner Ponciano Gannaban testified that one had
to go down what he called a "cliff" from the surveyed portion of
the land of respondent Manalo to the depressed portion. The
cliff, as related by petitioner Gannaban, has a height of eight (8)
meters. 17

(1) Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers,
torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State, banks,
shores, roadsteads, and others of similar character;
(2) Those which belong to the State, without being for public
use, and are intended for some public service or for the
development of the national wealth. (Emphasis supplied)
Although Article 420 speaks only of rivers and banks, "rivers" is
a composite term which includes: (1) the running waters, (2) the
bed, and (3) the banks. 19 Manresa, in commenting upon Article
339 of the Spanish Civil Code of 1889 from which Article 420
of the Philippine Civil Code was taken, stressed the public
ownership of river beds:

The records do not show when the Cagayan River began to


carve its eastern channel on the surface of the earth. However,
Exhibit "E" 18 for the prosecution which was the Declaration of
Real Property standing in the name of Faustina Taccad indicates
that the eastern bed already existed even before the sale to
respondent Manalo. The words "old bed" enclosed in
parenthesesperhaps written to make legitimate the claim of
private ownership over the submerged portionis an implied
admission of the existence of the river bed. In the Declaration of
Real Property made by respondent Manalo, the depressed
portion assumed the name Rio Muerte de Cagayan. Indeed, the
steep dike-like slopes on either side of the eastern bed could
have been formed only after a prolonged period of time.

La naturaleza especial de los rios, en punto a su disfrute general,


hace que sea necesario considerar en su relacion de dominio algo
mas que sus aguas corrientes. En efecto en todo rio es preciso
distinguir 1. esta agua corriente; 2. el alveo o cauce, y 3. las
riberas. Ahora bien: son estas dos ultimas cosas siempre de
dominio publico, como las aguas?
Realmente no puede imaginarse un rio sin alveo y sin ribera; de
suerte que al decir el Codigo civil que los rios son de dominio
publico, parece que debe ir implicito el dominio publico de
aquellos tres elementos que integran el rio. Por otra parte, en
cuanto a los alveos o cauces tenemos la declaracion del art. 407,
num 1, donde dice: son de dominion publico . . . los rios y sus
cauces naturales; declaracion que concuerda con lo que dispone
el art. 34 de la ley de [Aguas], segun el cual, son de dominion
publico: 1. los alveos o cauces de los arroyos que no se hallen
comprendidos en el art. 33, y 2. los alveos o cauces naturales de
los riosen la extension que cubran sus aguas en las mayores

Now, then, pursuant to Article 420 of the Civil Code, respondent


Manalo did not acquire private ownership of the bed of the
eastern branch of the river even if it was included in the deeds of
absolute sale executed by Gregorio Taguba and Faustina Taccad
in his favor. These vendors could not have validly sold land that
constituted property of public dominion. Article 420 of the Civil
Code states:
The following things are property of public dominion:

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crecidas ordinarias. 20 (Emphasis supplied)

directly opposite Lot 307 across the river.

The claim of ownership of respondent Manalo over the


submerged portion is bereft of basis even if it were alleged and
proved that the Cagayan River first began to encroach on his
property after the purchase from Gregorio Taguba and Faustina
Taccad. Article 462 of the Civil Code would then apply
divesting, by operation of law, respondent Manalo of private
ownership over the new river bed. The intrusion of the eastern
branch of the Cagayan River into his landholding obviously
prejudiced respondent Manalo but this is a common occurrence
since estates bordering on rivers are exposed to floods and other
evils produced by the destructive force of the waters. That loss is
compensated by, inter alia, the right of accretion acknowledged
by Article 457 of the Civil Code. 21 It so happened that instead of
increasing the size of Lot 307, the eastern branch of the Cagayan
River had carved a channel on it.

Assuming (arguendo only) that the Cagayan River referred to in


the Deeds of Sale transferring ownership of the land to
respondent Manalo is the western branch, the decision of the
Court of Appeals and of the trial court are bare of factual
findings to the effect that the land purchased by respondent
Manalo received alluvium from the action of the aver in a slow
and gradual manner. On the contrary, the decision of the lower
court made mention of several floods that caused the land to
reappear making it susceptible to cultivation. A sudden and
forceful action like that of flooding is hardly the alluvial process
contemplated under Article 457 of the Civil Code. It is the slow
and hardly perceptible accumulation of soil deposits that the law
grants to the riparian owner.
Besides, it is important to note that Lot 821 has an area of 11.91
hectares. Lot 821 is the northern portion of the strip of land
having a total area of 22.72 hectares. We find it difficult to
suppose that such a sizable area as Lot 821 resulted from slow
accretion to another lot of almost equal size. The total
landholding purchased by respondent Manalo is 10.45 hectares
(8.65 hectares from Faustina Taccad and 1.80 hectares from
Gregorio Taguba in 1959 and 1964, respectively), in fact even
smaller than Lot 821 which he claims by way of accretion. The
cadastral survey showing that Lot 821 has an area of 11.91
hectares was conducted in 1969. If respondent Manalo's
contention were accepted, it would mean that in a span of only
ten (10) years, he had more than doubled his landholding by
what the Court of Appeals and the trial court considered as
accretion. As already noted, there are steep vertical dike-like
slopes separating the depressed portion or river bed and Lot 821
and Lot 307. This topography of the land, among other things,

We turn next to the issue of accretion. After examining the


records of the case, the Court considers that there was no
evidence to prove that Lot 821 is an increment to Lot 307 and
the bed of the eastern branch of the river. Accretion as a mode of
acquiring property under Article 457 of the Civil Code requires
the concurrence of three (3) requisites: (a) that the deposition of
soil or sediment be gradual and imperceptible; (b) that it be the
result of the action of the waters of the river (or sea); and (c) that
the land where accretion takes place is adjacent to the banks of
rivers (or the sea coast). 22 The Court notes that the parcels of
land bought by respondent Manalo border on the eastern branch
of the Cagayan River. Any accretion formed by this eastern
branch which respondent Manalo may claim must be deposited
on or attached to Lot 307. As it is, the claimed accretion (Lot
821) lies on the bank of the river not adjacent to Lot 307 but

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precludes a reasonable conclusion that Lot 821 is an increment


to the depressed portion by reason of the slow and constant
action of the waters of either the western or the eastern branches
of the Cagayan River.

Court feels compelled to refrain from determining the ownership


and possession of Lot 821, adjudging neither petitioners nor
respondent Manalo as owner(s) thereof.
WHEREFORE, the Decision and Resolution of the Court of
Appeals in CA-GR CV No. 04892 are hereby SET ASIDE.
Respondent Manalo is hereby declared the owner of Lot 307.
The regularly submerged portion or the eastern bed of the
Cagayan River is hereby DECLARED to be property of public
dominion. The ownership of Lot 821 shall be determined in an
appropriate action that may be instituted by the interested parties
inter se. No pronouncement as to costs.

We turn finally to the issue of ownership of Lot 821. Respondent


Manalo's claim over Lot 821 rests on accretion coupled with
alleged prior possession. He alleged that the parcels of land he
bought separately from Gregorio Taguba and Faustina Taccad
were formerly owned by Judge Juan Taccad who was in
possession thereof through his (Judge Taccad's) tenants. When
ownership was transferred to him, respondent Manalo took over
the cultivation of the property and had it declared for taxation
purposes in his name. When petitioners forcibly entered into his
property, he twice instituted the appropriate action before the
Municipal Trial Court of Tumauini, Isabela. Against respondent
Manalo's allegation of prior possession, petitioners presented tax
declarations standing in their respective names. They claimed
lawful, peaceful and adverse possession of Lot 821 since 1955.

SO ORDERED.
Fernan, C.J., Gutierrez, Jr., Bidin and Davide, Jr., JJ., concur.

If respondent Manalo had proved prior possession, it was limited


physically to Lot 307 and the depressed portion or the eastern
river bed. The testimony of Dominga Malana who was a tenant
for Justina Taccad did not indicate that she was also cultivating
Lot 821. In fact, the complaints for forcible entry lodged before
the Municipal Trial Court of Tumauini, Isabela pertained only to
Lot 307 and the depressed portion or river bed and not to Lot
821. In the same manner, the tax declarations presented by
petitioners conflict with those of respondent Manalo. Under
Article 477 of the Civil Code, the plaintiff in an action for
quieting of title must at least have equitable title to or interest in
the real property which is the subject matter of the action. The
evidence of record on this point is less than satisfactory and the

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