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Land Ownership in the Philippines

Valenton vs Marciano 3 Phil. Reports 537, 2 Off. Gaz., 434, March 30, 1904
Cansino vs Valdez
G.R. No. L-2468, July 16, 1906
The decision in this case was announced on the 30th of April, 1906. The grounds of that decision are
as follows:
The case is almost identical with the case of Valenton vs. Murciano (which resolved the question of
which is the better basis for ownership of land: long-time occupation or paper title. Plaintiffs had entered into
peaceful occupation of the subject land in 1860. Defendant's predecessor-in-interest, on the other hand,
purchased the land from the provincial treasurer of Tarlac in 1892. The lower court ruled against the plaintiffs
on the ground that they had lost all rights to the land by not objecting to the administrative sale. Plaintiffs
appealed the judgment, asserting that their 30-year adverse possession, as an extraordinary period of
prescription in the Partidas and the Civil Code, had given them title to the land as against everyone,
including the State; and that the State, not owning the land, could not validly transmit it.)
Magdalena Cansino, bought the property in question, as public lands of the State from the Spanish
Government and received a deed therefor on the 27th of October, 1893. In the former case of Valenton vs.
Murciano , the plaintiffs went into possession of the land in 1860 and claimed ownership thereof by the
extraordinary prescription of thirty years. In this case some of the defendants testified that they went into
possession in 1862 and they claimed the ownership of this land by the same extraordinary prescription.
Whether or not the lands occupied and possessed by Cansino for almost three decades could ripen
into adverse possession by virtue of extraordinary prescription.
In Valenton vs. Murciano, the court decided that title to lands such as were involved in that case
could not be acquired by prescription while they were the property of the State. The decision in that case
governs and controls this case and upon its authority judgment in this case was affirmed.

Cario vs Insular Government

212 U. S., 449
On June 23, 1903, Mateo Cario went to the Court of Land Registration (CLR) to petition his
inscription as the owner of a 146 hectare land hes been possessing in the then municipality of Baguio.
Mateo only presented possessory information and no other documentation. The application was granted by
the court on March 4, 1904. An appeal was taken to the court of first instance of the province of Benguet, on
behalf of the government of the Philippines, and also on behalf of the United States, those governments
having taken possession of the property for public and military purposes. The court of first instance found the
facts and dismissed the application upon grounds of law. The State opposed the petition averring that the
land is part of the US military reservation. The CLR ruled in favor of Mateo. The State appealed. Mateo lost.
Mateo averred that a grant should be given to him by reason of immemorial use and occupation as in the
previous casesCansino vs ValdezandTiglao vs Government;and that the right of the State over said land
has prescribed.
ISSUE:Whether or not Mateo is the rightful owner of the land by virtue of his possession of it for some time.
No. The statute of limitations did not run against the government. The government is still the
absolute owner of the land (regalian doctrine). Further, Mateos possession of the land has not been of such
a character as to require the presumption of a grant. No one has lived upon it for many years. It was never
used for anything but pasturage of animals, except insignificant portions thereof, and since the insurrection
against Spain it has apparently not been used by Cariofor any purpose.
In view of these provisions of the law, it seems to us impossible to say that as to the public
agricultural lands in the Philippines there existed a conclusive presumption after a lapse of thirty or any other
number of years that the Government of Spain had granted to the possessor thereof a legal title thereto.

While the State has always recognized the right of the occupant to a deed if he proves a possession
for a sufficient length of time, yet it has always insisted that he must make that proof before the proper
administrative officers, and obtain from them his deed, and until he did the State remained the absolute

4. Jones vs. Insular Government, G.R. No. L-2506 April 16, 1906, 6 Phil.122
5. Susi vs. Razon and Director of Lands, G.R. No. L-24066, December 9, 1925
6. Mapa vs. Insular Government, G.R. No. L-3793, February 19, 1908, 10 Phil.,1753

Cornelio Ramos vs. Director of Lands

(G.R. No. 13298 November 19, 1918)
Restituo Romero gained possession of a considerable tract of land located in Nueva Ecija. He took
advantage of the Royal Decree to obtain a possessory information title to the land and was registered as
such. Parcel No. 1 included within the limits of the possessory information title of Romero was sold to
Cornelio Ramos, herein petitioner.
Ramos instituted appropriate proceedings to have his title registered. Director of Lands opposed on the
ground that Ramos had not acquired a good title from the Spanish government. Director of Forestry also
opposed on the ground that the first parcel of land is forest land. It has been seen however that the
predecessor in interest to the petitioner at least held this tract of land under color of title.
Whether or not the actual occupancy of a part of the land described in the instrument giving color of title
sufficient to give title to the entire tract of land?
The general rule is that possession and cultivation of a portion of a tract of land under the claim of
ownership of all is a constructive possession of all, if the remainder is not in the adverse possession of
another. The claimant has color of title; he acted in good faith and he has open, peaceable, and notorious
possession of a portion of the property, sufficient to apprise the community and the world that the land was
for his enjoyment.
Possession in the eyes of the law does not mean that a man has to have his feet on every square
meter of ground before it can be said that he is in possession. Ramos and his predecessor in interest fulfilled
the requirements of the law on supposition that the premises consisted of agricultural public land.
On the issue of forest land, Forest reserves of public land can be established as provided by law.
When the claim of the citizen and the claim of the government as to a particular piece of property collide, if
the Government desires to demonstrate that the land is in reality a forest, the Director of Forestry should
submit to the court convincing proof that the land is not more valuable for agricultural than for forest
In this case, the mere formal opposition on the part of the Attorney-General for the Director of
Forestry, unsupported by satisfactory evidence will not stop the courts from giving title to the claimant.
Petitioner and appellant has proved a title to the entire tract of land for which he asked for registration.
Registration in the name of the petitioner is hereby granted. The general rule is that possession and
cultivation of a portion of a tract of land under the claim of ownership of all is a constructive possession of all,
if the remainder is not in the adverse possession of another.

Government of the Philippine Islands vs. Abella

G.R. No. L-25010 October 27, 1926, (49 Phil. 49)
This is a petition for the registration of a certain parcel or tract of land located in the municipality of San Jose,
Province of Nueva Ecija, Philippine Islands. It appears from the record that on the 21st day of September,
1915, the appellant Maria del Rosario presented a petition in the Court of First Instance for the registration
under the Torrens system, of the very land now in question by virtue of her appeal.
On the 26th day of April, 1921, when the Acting Director of Lands presented the petition in the present case
for the registration, under the cadastral survey, of a portion of land located in the municipality of San Jose,
which included the very land claimed by Maria del Rosario in the former action.

Upon the issue and the proof adduced in the present case the Honorable C. Carballo, Auxiliary Judge of the
Sixth Judicial District, ordered registered in the name of Maria del Rosario, under the cadastral survey, lots
3238, 3240, 3242 and 3243, which are the very lots which had been ordered registered in her name in the
former action. From that judgment she appealed to this court upon the ground that the lower court committed
an error in not registering all of the land included in her opposition in her name. She then presented a motion
for rehearing and in support thereof presents some proof to show that the northern portion of the land in
question is not forestry land but that much of it is agricultural land.
Whether or not there is an error in registering the lands
It was held that no error has been committed. Whether particular land is more valuable for forestry purposes
than for agricultural purposes, or vice-versa, is a question of fact and must be established during the trial of
the cause. Whether the particular land is agricultural, forestry, or mineral is a question to be settled in each
particular case, unless the Bureau of Forestry has, under the authority conferred upon it, prior to the
intervention of private interest, set aside for forestry or mineral purposes the particular land in question.
(Ankron vs. Government of the Philippine Islands, 40 Phil., 10.) During the trial of the present cause the
appellant made no effort to show that the land which she claimed, outside of that which had been decreed in
her favor, was more valuable for agricultural than forestry purposes.

Oh Cho vs Director of Lands

75 Phil. 890
Oh Cho, the applicant, is an alien, and his predecessors in interest have been in open, continuous,
exclusive and notorious possession of the lot from 1880 to filing of the application for registration on January
17, 1940. The lower court declared that the sale of the lot to the applicant was valid. Hence this appeal from
a judgment declaring the registration of a residential lot located in the municipality of Guinayangan, Province
of Tayabas in the name of the applicant,
Whether or not Oh Cho is entitled to decree of registration of the lot, because he is alien, therefore is
disqualified from acquiring lands of the public domain.
No. The court ruled that the applicant failed to show title to the lot that may be confirmed under the
Land Registration Act. Moreover, he failed to show that he or any of his predecessors in interest have
acquired the lot from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, under the laws, orders and decrees
promulgated by the Spanish Government in the Philippines, or by possessory information under the
Mortgage Law (Sec.19, Act 496). Nor does the applicant come under the exception, for the earliest
possession of the lot by his predecessors in interest begun in 1880. It may be argued that under the
provisions of the Public Land Act the applicant immediate predecessor in interest would have been entitled to
a decree of registration of the lot had they applied for its registration; and that he having purchased or
acquired it, the right of his immediate predecessor in interest to a decree of registration must be deemed
also to have been acquired by him. The benefits provided in the Public Land Act for applicant;s immediate
predecessors in interest should comply with the condition precedent for the grant of such benefits. The
condition precedent is to apply for the registration of the land of which they had been i possession at least
since July 26, 1894. The applican;t immediate predecessors in interest have failed to do so. They did not
have any vested right in the lot amounting to the title which was transmissible to the applicant. The only right,
if it may thus be called, is their possession of the lot which, tacked to that of their predecessor in interest,
may be availed of by a qualified person to apply for its registration but not by a person as the applicant who
is disqualified. Thus, it is urged that the sale of the lot to the applicant should have been declared null and
void. Accordingly, judgment is reversed and the applicant for registration dismissed.

10. Uy Un vs. Perez, 71 Phil. 508 "En Espaol

11. Mindanao vs. Director of Lands, L-19535, July 10, 1967

II. Land Classification

Agencies Involved

DENR vs Yap
(G.R. No. 167707, October 08, 2008)
Boracay Mayor Jose Yap et al filed for declaratory relief to have a judicial confirmation of imperfect title
or survey of land for titling purposes for the land theyve been occupying in Boracay. Yap et al alleged that
Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 raised doubts on their right to secure titles over their
occupied lands. They declared that they themselves, or through their predecessors-in-interest, had been in
open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation in Boracay since June 12, 1945, or
earlier since time immemorial. They declared their lands for tax purposes and paid realty taxes on them.
The Republic, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), opposed the petition for declaratory relief.
The OSG countered that Boracay Island was an unclassified land of the public domain. It formed part of the
mass of lands classified as public forest, which was not available for disposition pursuant to Section 3(a) of
Presidential Decree (PD) No. 705 or the Revised Forestry Code. Since Boracay Island had not been
classified as alienable and disposable, whatever possession they had cannot ripen into ownership. RTC
Ruled in favor of Yap et al. The OSG appealed.
G.R. No. 173775
During the pendency of G.R. No. 167707, in May 2006, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued
Proclamation No. 1064 classifying Boracay Island into four hundred (400) hectares of reserved forest land
(protection purposes) and six hundred twenty-eight and 96/100 (628.96) hectares of agricultural land
(alienable and disposable). The Proclamation likewise provided for a fifteen-meter buffer zone on each side
of the centerline of roads and trails, reserved for right-of-way and which shall form part of the area reserved
for forest land protection purposes.
Subsequently, Dr. Orlando Sacay, and other Boracay landowners in Boracay filed with the Supreme Court
(SC) an original petition for prohibition, mandamus, and nullification of Proclamation No. 1064. They alleged
that the Proclamation infringed on their prior vested rights over portions of Boracay. They have been in
continued possession of their respective lots in Boracay since time immemorial. They have also invested
billions of pesos in developing their lands and building internationally renowned first class resorts on their
The OSG again opposed Sacays petition. The OSG argued that Sacay et al do not have a vested right over
their occupied portions in the island. Boracay is an unclassified public forest land pursuant to Section 3(a) of
PD No. 705. Being public forest, the claimed portions of the island are inalienable and cannot be the subject
of judicial confirmation of imperfect title. It is only the executive department, not the courts, which has
authority to reclassify lands of the public domain into alienable and disposable lands. There is a need for a
positive government act in order to release the lots for disposition.
Whether Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 pose any legal obstacle for Yap et al and Sacay
et al, and all those similarly situated, to acquire title to their occupied lands in Boracay Island.
Yes. The SC ruled against Yap et al and Sacay et al. The Regalian Doctrine dictates that all lands of the
public domain belong to the State, that the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership of land and
charged with the conservation of such patrimony. All lands that have not been acquired from the government,
either by purchase or by grant, belong to the State as part of the inalienable public domain.
A positive act declaring land as alienable and disposable is required. In keeping with the presumption of
State ownership, there must be a positive act of the government, such as an official proclamation,
declassifying inalienable public land into disposable land for agricultural or other purposes. In the case at
bar, no such proclamation, executive order, administrative action, report, statute, or certification was
presented. The records are bereft of evidence showing that, prior to 2006, the portions of Boracay occupied

by private claimants were subject of a government proclamation that the land is alienable and disposable.
Absent such well-nigh incontrovertible evidence, the Court cannot accept the submission that lands occupied
by private claimants were already open to disposition before 2006. Matters of land classification or
reclassification cannot be assumed.
Also, private claimants also contend that their continued possession of portions of Boracay Island for the
requisite period of ten (10) years under Act No. 926 ipso facto converted the island into private ownership.
Private claimants continued possession under Act No. 926 does not create a presumption that the land is
alienable. It is plain error for petitioners to argue that under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Public Land Act
No. 926, mere possession by private individuals of lands creates the legal presumption that the lands are
alienable and disposable.
Private claimants are not entitled to apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under CA No. 141. Neither
do they have vested rights over the occupied lands under the said law. There are two requisites for judicial
confirmation of imperfect or incomplete title under CA No. 141, namely:
(1) open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the subject land by himself or
through his predecessors-in-interest under a bona fide claim of ownership since time immemorial or from
June 12, 1945; and
(2) the classification of the land as alienable and disposable land of the public domain.
The tax declarations in the name of private claimants are insufficient to prove the first element of possession.
The SC noted that the earliest of the tax declarations in the name of private claimants were issued in 1993.
Being of recent dates, the tax declarations are not sufficient to convince this Court that the period of
possession and occupation commenced on June 12, 1945.
Yap et al and Sacay et al insist that they have a vested right in Boracay, having been in possession of the
island for a long time. They have invested millions of pesos in developing the island into a tourist spot. They
say their continued possession and investments give them a vested right which cannot be unilaterally
rescinded by Proclamation No. 1064.
The continued possession and considerable investment of private claimants do not automatically give them a
vested right in Boracay. Nor do these give them a right to apply for a title to the land they are presently
occupying. The SC is constitutionally bound to decide cases based on the evidence presented and the laws
applicable. As the law and jurisprudence stand, private claimants are ineligible to apply for a judicial
confirmation of title over their occupied portions in Boracay even with their continued possession and
considerable investment in the island.

Agricultural Land
de Aldecoa vs Insular Government
(G.R. No. 3894. March 12, 1909)
Juan Ibaez de Aldecoa applied for the registration of his title to a parcel of land, situated in the town of
Surigao; a plan and technical description of said parcel was attached to his application.
After the formalities of the law were complied with, and an opinion of the examiner of titles opposing the
request of the applicant, had been rendered, the Attorney-General objected to the registration applied for,
alleging that the land in question was the property of the Government of the United States, and is now under
the control of the Insular Government.
Aldecoa, amended his former petition, and relying upon the provisions of paragraph 5 and 6 of section 54 of
Act No. 926, alleged that at the time he requested the registration of the land in question, comprised in the
plan then submitted, the aforesaid Act No. 926 was not yet in force, and as the latter affords better facilities
for securing titles to property unprovided with them, as in the case with the land in question, the applicant
availing himself of the benefits granted by the said Act, prayed that the same be applied to the inscription of
his land.

Whether or not a parcel of land that is susceptible of being cultivated, and, ceasing to be agricultural land,
was converted into a building lot, is subject to the legal provisions in force regarding Government public
lands which may be alienated in favor of private individuals or corporations.
Any parcel of land or building lot is susceptible of cultivation, and may be converted into a field, and planted
with all kind of vegetation; for this reason, where land is not mining or forestall in its nature, it must
necessarily be included within the classification of agricultural land, not because it is actually used for the
purposes of agriculture, but because it was originally agricultural and may again become so under other
The SC said in special cases like the present one, wherein is sought the registration of a lot situated within a
town created and acknowledged administratively, it is proper to apply thereto the laws in force and classify it
as agricultural land, inasmuch as it was agricultural prior to its conversion into a building lot, and is subject at
any time to further rotation and cultivation; moreover, it does not appear that it was ever mining or forest
Article 1 of the royal decree states: "Vacant lands, soils, grounds, and mountains in the Philippine Islands
shall be deemed to be alienable Crown lands, provided they are not included within the following exceptions:
(1) Those of private ownership; (2) those belonging to the forest zone; (3) those comprised in the communal
laws, or within zones reserved for the use in common by residents of the community; and (4) those lands
which are susceptible of private appropriation by means of composition or possessory information.
It is deduced that, with the exception of those comprised within the mineral and timber zone, all lands owned
by the State or by the sovereign nation are public in character, and per se alienable and, provided they are
not destined to the use of the public in general or reserved by the Government in accordance with law, they
may be acquired by any private or judicial person; and considering their origin and primitive state and the
general uses to which they were accorded, they are called agricultural lands, urban lands or building lots
being included in this classification for the purpose of distinguishing rural and urban estates from mineral and
timber lands; the transformation they may have undergone is no obstacle to such classification as the
possessors thereof may again convert them into rural estates.

Krivenko vs. Register of Deeds of Manila

(18 G.R. No. L-630. November 15, 1947)
Alexander Krivenko, an alien, bought a residential lot from Magdalena Estate Inc. in December 1941. The
registration was interrupted by the war. In May 1945, he sought to accomplish the said registration but was
denied by the Register of Deeds of Manila on the grounds that he is a foreigner and he cannot acquire a land
in this jurisdiction. Krivenko brought the case to the CFI of Manila. The CFI ruled that he cannot own a land,
being an alien. Hence, this petition.
Whether or not an alien may own private lands in the Philippines.
No. Sec. 1, Art 13 of the Constitution talks about the conservation and utilization of natural resources. The
said provision embraces all lands of any kind of the public domain. Its purpose is to establish a permanent
and fundamental policy for the conservation and utilization of all natural resources of the nation. Although it
mentions agricultural, timber, and mineral lands, the court held that in determining whether a parcel of land is
agricultural, the test is not only whether it is actually agricultural, but also its susceptibility to cultivation for
agricultural purposes. Hence, public agricultural land was construed as referring to those lands that were
not timber or mineral. Therefore, it includes residential lands.

Mineral Lands
Lepanto Consolidated Mining Co. vs. Dumyung
(GR No. L-31666, April 20, 1929)
The Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Director of Lands, commenced in the Court of
First Instance of Baguio City for annulment of Free Patents Nos. V-152242, V-155050 and V-152243, and of
the corresponding Original Certificates of Title Nos. P-208, P-210 and P-209, on the ground of
misrepresentation and false data and informations furnished by the defendants, Manuel Dumyung,
Fortunate Dumyung and Dumyung Bonayan, respectively. the land embraced in the patents and titles are
Identified as Lots 1, 2 and 3 of survey plan Psu-181763 containing a total area of 58.4169 hectares, more or
less, and situated in the Municipal District of Mankayan, Sub-province of Benguet, Mountain Province. The
Register of Deeds of Baguio City was made a formal party defendant.
The defendants filed a motion to dismiss the same on the ground that they had complied with all the
legal requirements in the acquisition of their patents which were duly issued by the Director of Lands and
that they are not guilty of the alleged falsification of public documents.
The Court of First Instance of Baguio, Branch I, dismissed the three (3) civil cases because the
same were duly registered with the office of the Register of Deeds of Baguio and Benguet, pursuant to the
provisions of Sec. 122 of Act 496, as amended, and consequently, these properties became the private
properties of the defendants, under the operation of Sec. 38 of said Act; hence, these titles enjoy the same
privileges and safeguards as Torrens titles (Director of Lands vs. Heirs of Ciriaco Carle, G. R. No. L-12485,
July 31, 1964). It is therefore clear that OCT Nos. P-208, P-209 and P-210 belonging to the defendants are
now indefeasible and this Court has no power to disturb such indefeasibility of said titles, let alone cancel the
The records of this case further disclose that the defendants are ignorant natives of Benguet
Province and are members of the so-called Cultural Minorities of Mountain Province.
Whether or not the Original Certificate of Title of private respondents were 'indefeasible' simply
because that they were issued pursuant to the registration of the free patents of the private respondents and
whether or not they are entitled to the benefit of R.A 3872.
Held: No!
Doctrine: A certificate of title is void when it covers property of the public domain classified as forest or
timber and mineral lands. Any title issued on non-disposable lots even in the hands of alleged innocent
purchaser for value, shall be cancelled.
Timber and mineral lands are not alienable or disposable. The pertinent provisions of the Public Land Act,
Commonwealth Act No. 141, provide:
Sec. 2. The provisions of this Act shall apply to the lands of the public domain; but timber and mineral lands
shag be governed by special laws and nothing in this Act provided shall be understood or construed to
change or modify the administration and disposition of the lands commonly called 'friar lands' and those
which being privately owned, have reverted to or become the property of the Commonwealth of the
Philippines, which administration and disposition shall be governed by the laws at present in force or which
may hereafter be enacted.
Sec. 6. The President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, shall from
time to time classify the lands of the public domain into
(a) Alienable or disposable,
(b) Timber, and
(c) Mineral lands,
and may at any time and in a like manner transfer such lands from one class to another, for the purposes of
their administration and disposition.

Likewise, the trial court assumed without any factual basis that the private respondents are entitled to the
benefits of Republic Act 3872. The pertinent provision of Republic Act No, 3872 reads:
SECTION 1. A new paragraph is hereby added 1--o Section 44 of Commonwealth Act Numbered One
Hundred-d forty-one, to read as follows:
SEC. 44. Any natural-born citizen of the Philippines who is not the owner of more than twenty-four hectares
and who since July fourth, ninth hundred and twenty-six or prior thereto, has continuously occupied and
cultivated, either by, himself' or through his predecessors-in-interest. a tract or tracts of agricultural public
lands subject to disposition- or who shall have paid the real estate tax thereon while the same has, not been
occupied by any person shall be entitled, under the provision of this chapter, to have a free patent issued to
him for such tract or tracts of such land not to exceed twenty-four hectares.
A member of the national cultural minorities who has continuously occupied and cultivated, either by himself
or through his predecessors-in- interest, a tract or tracts of land, whether disposable or not since July 4,
1955, shall be entitled to the right granted in the preceding paragraph of this section: Provided, That at the
time he files his free patent application he is not the owner of any real property secured or disposable under
this provision of the Public Land Law.

Republic vs. Court of Appeals and dela Rosa

(GR No. L-43938, April 15, 1988)
These cases arose from the application for registration of a parcel of land filed on February 11, 1965,
by Jose de la Rosa on his own behalf and on behalf of his three children, Victoria, Benjamin and Eduardo.
The land, situated in Tuding, Itogon, Benguet Province, was divided into 9 lots and covered by plan
Psu-225009. According to the application, Lots 1-5 were sold to Jose de la Rosa and Lots 6-9 to his children
by Mamaya Balbalio and Jaime Alberto, respectively, in 1964. The application was separately opposed by
Benguet Consolidated, Inc. as to Lots 1-5, Atok Big Wedge Corporation, as to Portions of Lots 1-5 and all of
Lots 6-9, and by the Republic of the Philippines, through the Bureau of Forestry Development, as to lots 1-9.
In support of the application, both Balbalio and Alberto testified that they had acquired the subject
land by virtue of prescription Balbalio claimed to have received Lots 1-5 from her father shortly after the
Liberation. Benguet opposed on the ground that the June Bug mineral claim covering Lots 1-5 was sold to it
on September 22, 1934, by the successors-in-interest of James Kelly, who located the claim in September
1909 and recorded it on October 14, 1909. From the date of its purchase, Benguet had been in actual,
continuous and exclusive possession of the land in concept of owner, as evidenced by its construction of
adits, its affidavits of annual assessment, its geological mappings, geological samplings and trench side
cuts, and its payment of taxes on the land.
For its part, Atok alleged that a portion of Lots 1-5 and all of Lots 6-9 were covered by the Emma and
Fredia mineral claims located by Harrison and Reynolds on December 25, 1930, and recorded on January 2,
1931, in the office of the mining recorder of Baguio. These claims were purchased from these locators on
November 2, 1931, by Atok, which has since then been in open, continuous and exclusive possession of the
said lots as evidenced by its annual assessment work on the claims, such as the boring of tunnels, and its
payment of annual taxes thereon.
The Bureau of Forestry Development also interposed its objection, arguing that the land sought to be
registered was covered by the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve under Proclamation No. 217 dated
February 16, 1929. Moreover, by reason of its nature, it was not subject to alienation under the Constitutions
of 1935 and 1973.
The trial court denied the application, holding that the applicants had failed to prove their claim of
possession and ownership of the land sought to be registered. The applicants appealed to the respondent
court, which reversed the trial court and recognized the claims of the applicant, but subject to the rights of
Benguet and Atok respecting their mining claims. In other words, the Court of Appeals affirmed the surface
rights of the de la Rosas over the land while at the same time reserving the sub-surface rights of Benguet
and Atok by virtue of their mining claims. Both Benguet and Atok have appealed to this Court, invoking their
superior right of ownership.
Whether respondent courts decision, that the surface rights of the de la Rosas over the land while at
the same time reserving the sub-surface rights of Benguet and Atok by virtue of their mining claim is correct.

No. The Courts holding is that Benguet and Atok have exclusive rights to the property in question by
virtue of their respective mining claims which they validly acquired before the Constitution of 1935 prohibited
the alienation of all lands of the public domain except agricultural lands, subject to vested rights existing at
the time of its adoption. The land was not and could not have been transferred to the private respondents by
virtue of acquisitive prescription, nor could its use be shared simultaneously by them and the mining
companies for agricultural and mineral purposes. It is true that the subject property was considered forest
land and included in the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve, but this did not impair the rights already vested in
Benguet and Atok at that time. Such rights were not affected either by the stricture in the Commonwealth
Constitution against the alienation of all lands of the public domain except those agricultural in nature for this
was made subject to existing rights. The perfection of the mining claim converted the property to mineral land
and under the laws then in force removed it from the public domain. By such act, the locators acquired
exclusive rights over the land, against even the government, without need of any further act such as the
purchase of the land or the obtention of a patent over it. As the land had become the private property of the
locators, they had the right to transfer the same, as they did, to Benguet and Atok. The Court of Appeals
justified this by saying there is no conflict of interest between the owners of the surface rights and the
owners of the sub-surface rights. This is rather doctrine, for it is a well-known principle that the owner of
piece of land has rights not only to its surface but also to everything underneath and the airspace above it up
to a reasonable height. Under the aforesaid ruling, the land is classified as mineral underneath and
agricultural on the surface, subject to separate claims of title. This is also difficult to understand, especially in
its practical application.

Ancestral Domain (RA No. 8371) "The Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997.
Cruz vs. DENR Secretary
(G.R. No. 135385, December 6, 2000)
Petitioners Isagani Cruz and Cesar Europa filed a suit for prohibition and mandamus as citizens and
taxpayers, assailing the constitutionality of certain provisions of Republic Act No. 8371, otherwise known as
the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA) and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR). The
petitioners assail certain provisions of the IPRA and its IRR on the ground that these amount to an unlawful
deprivation of the States ownership over lands of the public domain as well as minerals and other natural
resources therein, in violation of the regalian doctrine embodied in section 2, Article XII of the Constitution.
W/N Sec. 3 (a) and (b), 5,6,7,8, 57 and 58 of RA 8731 (IPRA) and its IRR are unconstitutional for
unlawfully depriving the State of its ownership over lands of the public domain, minerals and other natural
resources therein, violating the Regalian Doctrine enshrined in Sec. 2, Art. XII of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court deliberated upon the matter. After deliberation they voted and reached a 7-7
vote. They deliberated again and the same result transpired. Since there was no majority vote, Cruzs
petition was dismissed and the IPRA law was sustained. Hence, ancestral domains may include natural
SEPARATE OPINIONS: (NOTE: more important in this case)
Justice Kapunan: NO
Said provision affirming the ownership by indigenous people of their ancestral lands and domains
by virtue of native title do not diminish the States ownership of lands within the public domain,
because said ancestral lands and domains are considered as private land, and never to have
been part of the public domain, following the doctrine laid down in Cario vs. Insular Government.
Sec. 3(a) does not confer or recognise any right of ownership over the natural resources to the
ICCs/IPs. Its purpose is definitional and not declarative of a right or title.
Sec. 57 only grants priority rights to ICCs/IPs in the utilisation of natural resources and not
absolute ownership thereof. The State retains full control over the exploration, development and
utilisation of natural resources through the imposition requirements and conditions for the
utilisation of natural resources under existing laws, such as the Small-Scale Mining Act of 1991
and the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. Neither does the grant of said rights exclude non-

indigenous people from undertaking the same activities within the ancestral domains upon
authority granted by the proper government authority.

Justice Puno: NO
Ancestral lands and ancestral domains are not part of the lands of the public domain. They are
private and belong to the ICCs/IPs. The classification of lands in the public domain under Sec. 3,
Art. XII of the Constitution does not include ancestral lands nor ancestral domains. The rights of
ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains and ancestral lands may be acquired in two modes: (1) by
native title over both ancestral lands and ancestral domains; or (2) by torrens title under the Public
Land Act and the Land Registration Act with respect to ancestral land only. Both modes presume
or recognise the land as private and not public.
The right of ownership to ancestral domain under Sec. 7(a) involves lands,bodies of water
traditionally and actually occupied by ICCs/IPs, sacred places, traditional hunting and fishing
grounds, and all improvements made by them at any time within the domains, not waters,
minerals, coal, petroleum, and the mineral oils, all forces of potential energy fisheries, forests or
timbers, wildlife, flora and fauna and other natural resources enumerated in Sec. 2, Art. XII of the
constitution. Ownership therefore of natural resources remain with the State.
Small-scale utilisation of resources in Sec. 7(b) is also allowed under paragraph 3, Sec. 2, Art. XII
of the Constitution.
Finally, the large-scale utilisation of natural resources in Sec. 57 of RA 8731/IPRA is allowed under
paragraphs 1 and 4, section 2, Art. XII of the Constitution since only priority rights are given to
However, by including natural resources, Sec. 1, Part II, Rule III of the Implementing Rules goes
beyond Sec. 7(a) and therefore unconstitutional.

Justice Panganiban: YES

Sec. 3(a) [whose definition of ancestral domain encompasses natural resources found therein],
and 3(b) [defines ancestral lands as those possessed by ICCs/IPs since time immemorial]
contravenes Sec. 2, Art. XII of the constitution, which declares that the State owns all lands od the
public domain, minerals and natural resourcesnone of which, except agricultural lands, can be
alienated. In addition, mere possession or utilisation of land, however long, does not automatically
convert them into private properties.
IPRA/RA 8371 does not specify limits to ancestral lands and domains.
IPRA/RA 8731 relinquishes the States power under Sec. 2, Art. XII of the Constitution of full
control of natural resources in ancestral lands and ancestral domains in favor of ICCs/IPs, who
may exercise these rights without any time limit. In addition, they are also given the right to
negotiate directly the terms and conditions for the exploration of natural resources under Sec. 7(b),
a right vested by the Constitution only to the State.

Justice Vitug: YES

Sec. 7 and 57 go beyond to the context of the fundamental law and virtually amount amount to an
undue delegation, if not an acceptable abdication, of State authority over a significant area of the
country and its patrimony.

Survey Error
1. Republic vs. Peralta, et al., En Banc (G.R. No. 150327, June 18, 2003)

Lands declared by the courts as agricultural lands prior to the introduction of land classification;
Sta. Monica Industrial and Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals
(189 SCRA 792)
In 1912, the Court of Land Registration of Zambales, through Judge James Ostrand, confirmed the
title of Justo de Perio over two parcels of land in Zambales, namely Parcel No. 1, which consists of an area
of 11,697 sq.m., and Parcel No. 2, which consists of 340,820 sq.m.

In 1985, herein respondent Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor General, filed with the
Court of Appeals a complaint for the annulment of the decree, alleging that the decree in LRC No. 6431 was
null and void for lack of jurisdiction because the land was inside the U.S. naval reservation and that it was
still within the forest zone in 1912, having been released therefrom only in 1961, and as such, cannot be the
subject of disposition or alienation as private property.
ISSUE: Whether or not the parcels of land are forest land.
It was held that the lands are agricultural. Act No. 926, known as the Public Land Act, which was
enacted into law on October 7, 1903 but which took effect on July 26, 1904, was the law applicable to De
Perio's petition for confirmation of his title to the two parcels of land. A person who had been in open,
continuous, exclusive and notorious session and occupation of public agricultural land for a period of at least
ten years prior to July 24, 1904 could petition for the confirmation of his title over the land he had so
possessed and occupied.
*SEC. 54 OF ACT 926
SEC. 54. The following-described persons or their legal successors in right, occupying public lands
in the Philippine Islands, or claiming to own any such lands or an interest therein, but whose titles to
such lands have not been perfected, may apply to the Court of Land Registration of the Philippine
Islands for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor to wit:
xxx xxx xxx
6. All persons who by themselves or their predecessors in interest have been in the open,
continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural public lands, as defined by
said act of Congress of July first, nineteen hundred and two, under a bona fide claim of ownership except as
against the Government, for a period of ten years next preceding the taking effect of this Act, except when
prevented by war or force majeure shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions
essential to a government grant and to have received the same, and shall be entitled to a certificate of title to
such land under the provisions of this chapter.
xxx xxx xxx

Director of Forestry vs. Villareal

(G.R. No. L-32266 February 27, 1989)
Ruperto Villareal applied for its registration a land consisting of 178, 113 sq.m. mangrove swamps
located in Sapian, Capiz on January 25, 1945. He alleged that he and his predecessors in interest had been
in possession of the land for more than 40 years. Villeareal presented a tax declaration as his evidence.
He was opposed by several persons including the Director of Forestry. The Court of First Instance of
Capiz approved the application and was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. The Director of Forestry appealed
to the Supreme Court.
Whether or not mangrove swamps are public lands and are not alienable under the constitution.
Yes, under Section 1820 of the Administrative Code of 1917 which was not amended declares that
mangrove swamps form part of the public forest of the country.
SECTION 1820. Words and Phrases Defined. For the purposes of this chapter, public forest
includes, except as otherwise specially indicated, all unreserved public land including nipa and mangrove
swamps and all forest reserves of whatever character.
Hence, the land in dispute in not alienable under the Constitution and may not be the subject of
private ownership until and unless they are first released as forest land and classified as alienable
agricultural land.

Lands already registered by the Court as Private Lands


Republic vs. Court of Appeals (G.R. No. 155450, August 6, 2008)

Bureaucratic Constraints in Classification of Lands

Republic of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals, En Banc
(G.R. No. 127245, January 30, 2001)
The cases at bar involve a vast tract of land with an area of around ninety-nine (99) hectares
presumptively belonging to the Republic of the Philippines, which land had been adjudicated to private
individuals by a court alleged to be without jurisdiction. Since the validity of the said decision and the original
certificate of title as well as transfer certificates of title issued pursuant thereto hinges on the classification of
subject area at the time it was so adjudicated, determination of the validity of the disposition thereof is in
The assailed decision does not indicate the classification of the land in question, when the herein
private respondents obtained their decree of registration thereover.
Republic (Petitioner) contends that land not classified as alienable and disposable remain so and it is
the private claimant who bears the burden of showing that the Executive Department has in fact classified
the land as disposable and alienable; that under the regalian doctrine, all lands not otherwise appearing to
be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State, thus, whatever title issued before
such classification is considered null and voidab initio.
Margolles et al and Peltan (Private Respondents), on the other hand, contends that it is not correct
to say that no valid torrens title to land can be obtained by individuals and entities in a land registration case
unless the land was previously covered by an executive proclamation declaring the land as alienable and
disposable. Respondents claim that property that was already privately owned or under private ownership at
the time the Spanish crown ceded sovereignty over the Philippine Islands to the United States remained
private property, even if the owner had not obtained a muniment of title to his property; thus, such person
who has held the property under color of title may institute a land registration case to have the property
brought under the torrens system and have a title issue in his name. Private individuals or entities who held
"agricultural public land" openly, continuously, exclusively and notoriously, in the concept of owners "for a
period of ten years next preceding the twenty-sixth day of July 1904 were conclusively presumed to have
performed all the conditions essential to a "government grant" and to have received the same, and shall be
entitled to a certificate of title to such land
Whether or not land acquired by private parties were released from the classification as forestland.
Yes. The court is inclined to agree with the respondents that it is legally doubtful if the authority of the
Governor General to declare lands as alienable and disposable would apply to lands that have become
private property or lands that have been impressed with a private right authorized and recognized by Act
2874 or any valid law. By express declaration of section 45 (b) of Act 2874 which is quoted above, those who
have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of
the public-domain under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership since July 26, 1894 may file an
application with the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their
claims and these applicants shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to
a government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title. When the land registration court issued a
decision for the issuance of a decree which was the basis of an original certificate of title to the land, the
court had already made a determination that the land was agricultural and that the applicant had proven that
he was in open and exclusive possession of the subject land for the prescribed number of years. It was the
land registration court which had the jurisdiction to determine whether the land applied for was agricultural,
forest or timber
Due to bureaucratic constraints, vast tracts of land acquired by private parties in urbanized areas like
the city of Manila and Quezon City were released from classification as forestland belatedly, or long after
their residential character as private property had become a matter of judicial notice. It appears that the City
of Manila was declassified as forest land only in 1955and Quezon City only on October 24, 1989. As early
as 1961, this Court stated that an attorney-at-law "should have known that no property around the City of

Manila or in Quezon City is as yet not covered by torrens title". In this case defendant claimed that he was a
possessor in good faith From petitioners-movants' own submission. A part of Las Pias comprising 1200
hectares was declared as alienable and disposable on September 3, 1928, thus:
"The map showing the area included in the 1200 hectares was destroyed during the Second
World War, and it was in view of the loss of the map indicating the 1200 hectares that then Sec.
Arturo Tanco issued FAO 4-1141 declaring the entire Las Pias as well as part of the adjacent
municipalities as alienable and disposable on January 3, 1968."
The implication is that the 1968 order was meant to confirm or reiterate the earlier declaration and
serves to affirm that indeed parts of Las Pias, albeit the map indicating this area has been lost, were
already open to disposition to private claimants long before the issuance of FAO 4-1141. Since there are
extant numerous titles covering various portions of Las Pias.

III. Identifying Lands - surveying and mapping

1. Golloy v. Court of Appeals, (G.R. No. 47491, May 4, 1989)
2. Cambridge Realty and Resources Corporation vs. Eridanus Development, Inc. and Chiton Realty
Corp., (G.R. No. 152445, July 4, 2008)

Felipe de Guzman vs. Manuel de Santos

(G.R. No. 6609. December 2, 1911)
The appellant filed a petition in the Land Court, case no. 5706, asking for the registration of the
parcel of land situated in Calle Santa Maria, in Tondo, Manila bounded by the east by the said Calle Santa
Maria; on the north right side by the property of one Francisco Toribio and Lucio Buzon; on the South with
the Property of Isabel Tambueco and Miguel Gatpatan. The parties to this action are adjacent property
owners and from the record it appears that there is a strip of 154 sqm which is included within the alleged
boundaries of both litigants. This small parcel in dispute lies north of the land of Santos and south of that of
Guzman. The court then found that this disputed tract was not included within the lands of Guzman and was
the option that his southern line has been advanced over on to Santos. The courses of the boundary lines
are not given but only distances, with the bounding limit stated in general terms. The petitioner files as his
Exhibit D a certified transcript taken from the registrars book. From the descriptions provided it can be seen
that the land has the form of an irregular quadrilateral. There is a defect in the description and said defects
and erroneous statements with reference to the description of the petitioners of the land in the old deeds are
urged by the oppositor as making it impossible to know what is the true description of the land claimed and
hence impossible to register.
Whether the Land in dispute could not be registered because of error of description?
Errors of description which appear in an old recorded title and which have been successively
repeated in subsequent transfers do not affect the validity of the registered title when it is shown that the land
sought to be inscribed is exactly the same as that included in the old deeds. When according to an old
registered title, the land appears to be slightly greater in area than it actually is, such discrepancy does not
operate to vitiate or weaken the title this inscribed.