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GR No. 168464




RTC of Roxas, Isabela, Br. 23

- Civil Case No. Br. 23-357 ruled in favor of Zenaida Ramos-Balilio had
a superior right to possess Lot No. 204, Pls-15 situated at Muos,
Roxas, Isabela
- Motion for Reconsideration for the same was also denied.
Court of Appeals
Reversed the Decision of the RTC, Dismissed the case so as



That they both have the right over the land question being heirs of
Susana Ramos (As for Zenaida Ramos-Balilio and Eusebio I.
That he has a right over the land in question as he purchased it to
Alexander Ramos, one of the heirs of Susana Ramos (As to respondent
Evangelisto Garcia)


To have possession as well as to be recognized as rightful
owners of the land in question


Petitioner Zenaida and her brother Alexander (now deceased) are the
children of spouses Susana Bueno and Abundio Ramos. The spouses started
occupying Lot No. 204 in 1938. Abundio died in 1944.
Susana met her second husband, respondent Eusebio Ramos in 1946, with
whom she had five children, one of whom is respondent Rolando.

Respondent Evanglisto Ramos bought his land to Alexander Ramos, one of

Susana Ramos heirs.
Prior to 1958, Susana discovered that Felimon Domingo applied for a Sales
patent over the subject parcel of land which she opposed. The Bureau of
Lands resolved the dispute in favour of Susana as she and her children has
established their right over the land on the basis of their continuous
occupation and cultivation and their valuable improvements thereon.
While the court decided in favour of Susana Ramos (rejecting the Sales
Application of Felimon Domingo and excluding a northwestern portion
of the land as the same will be reserved as a barrio cemetery), she was
directed to file a new application for homestead (which was never filed,
as to make the story short).
(Balik tayo pano napapunta ung lupa sa petitioner at sa respondent) Susana
always accompanies her husband, Eusebio (2 nd husband, who is a soldier
too),wherever he is assigned. So George Bueno, Susanas Fudra, and
Zenaida, the junakis, continued the cultivation and possession of the land.
Susana then sold the land to petitioner, who then partitioned the land to
herself, her brother Alexander and respondent Rolando and his siblings. The
partition was not registered but there was a Deed of Sale in favour of Rolando
and Alexander.
Zenaida mortgaged her part of the land in question, she then learned that
Rolando and Eusebio usurped her share, after settling the mortgage she filed
a case for recovery of inheritance, possession and damages with a petition
for preliminary mandatory injunction.
The court ruled in favour of Zenaida
The same was appealed to the CA
It was found out that neither Zenaida nor Alexander complied with the
homestead application requirement to acquire a superior right. So CA
reversed RTC ruling and DISMISSED the petition as well as the Answer in
Intervention of respondents.
Sabi ni CA
Considering that they (petitioner and respondent) have
no vested right over the subject parcel of land which is
still a part of the public domain, the contract dividing the
property cannot be enforced
Since Susana never filed a homesteads she has no
ownership of the land therefore ownership cannot be
transmitted to her heirs. (kaya wala mana si Eusebio, so
as si Alexander, kaya in effect wala kwenta ung bilihan ni
Alexander at ni Evangelisto)

1. W/N the subject land is still a public domain
2. W/N the petitioner has better right over the land in question due to her

open and continuous possession of the same


Holding/Ruling of The Court: Petition is partly meritorious.


Ratio Decidendi:

1. YES. Evidence shows that Zenaidas parent has not filed any homestead
patent. The decision of Bureau of Lands in 1958 only addressed Zenaidas
familys right of preference over the land, as to their possession and
cultivation. It bears stressing that the Bureau of Lands ordered the filing of an
appropriate application for its registration that indicates that as of that time
there is no valid application filed. So the purported between Zenaida and her
mother cannot be given effect, for reason that Susana cannot sell what does
not belong to her. Hence, nullifies the partition of the property among
Zenaida, Alexander and Rolando and his siblings because Zenaida could not
dispose the land she does not own, so as Eusebio and Rolando cannot claim
any right whatsoever as heirs of Susana. Thus, the land in question remains
to be part of public domain and belong to the State.
2. YES. Zenaida has proven prior possession of the portion of land she claims
as her share, which possession antedates the filing of the homestead
application. She produced evidence showing that she has filed a verified
application for the registration of the land with the Bureau of Lands on August
10, 1971 which is still pending. The documents remain uncontested and the
application has not been assailed by any of the parties to the case. She
alleged that during the lifetime of her mother, she and her maternal
grandfather cultivated and occupied the land. Moreover, Zenaida presented
tax declarations both in her name and that of her predecessor-in-interest
(mother Susana Bueno) covering the property. As held from previous cases,
that although tax declarations or realty tax payments of property are not
conclusive evidence of ownership, nevertheless, they are good indicia of
possession in the concept of owner for no one in his right mind would be
paying taxes for a property that is not in his actual or at least constructive
possession. They constitute at least proof that the holder has a claim of title
over the property. The voluntary declaration of a piece of property for taxation
purposes manifests not only ones sincere and honest desire to obtain title to
the property and announces his adverse claim against the State and all other
interested parties, but also the intention to contribute needed revenues to the
Government. Hence, petitioner Zenaidas uncontested and verified application
for a homestead patent coupled with her open and notorious occupation of
the land convinces us of her preferential right to possess the land claimed,
which entitles her to be protected by the law in such possession.


WHEREFORE, the petition is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The Decision of the

Court of Appeals dated February 16, 2005 is MODIFIED, insofar as to grant
petitioner Zenaida Ramos-Balalio preferential possession of the portion of Lot
204, Pls-15, situated in Muoz, Roxas, Isabela, as delineated in the Decision
of the Regional Trial Court of Roxas, Isabela, Branch 23, dated July 17, 1996.

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