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Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 168773

October 27, 2006

ELIZA ABUAN, petitioner,


vs.
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondent.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR, J.:
Before the Court is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CR
No. 25726 and Resolution2 denying the motion for reconsideration thereof. The CA affirmed the Decision3 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 41, Dagupan City in Criminal Case No. 98-02337-D, convicting Eliza T. Abuan of
violating Section 16, Article III of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6425, as amended, otherwise known as The Dangerous
Drugs Act of 1972.
The Antecedents
A criminal complaint was filed in the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Calasiao, Pangasinan charging Abuan with
violating R.A. No. 6425, as amended. On May 8, 1998, she filed a motion to quash the criminal complaint, praying
that pending the resolution of her motion, she be allowed to post bail without waiving her right to question her
arrest and assail Search Warrant No. 98-62.4 The public prosecutor conformed to the motion. Thus, the motion was
granted and bail was fixed at P60,000.00.5
The MTC found probable cause against Abuan for violation of Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended,
and recommended the filing of an Information against her. It ordered the elevation of the records to the RTC for
further proceedings.
On November 12, 1998, an Amended Information was filed in the RTC of Dagupan City, charging Abuan with
violating Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended. The inculpatory portion of the Information reads:
That on or about 8:45 oclock in the morning of May 6, 1998 at Brgy, Lasip, [M]unicipality of Calasiao, [P]rovince of
Pangasinan, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused did then and
there, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously has in her possession, custody and control of the following to wit:
Fifty seven (57) small heat-sealed plastic sachets of met[h]aphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) weighing 5.67
grams.
one (1) roll aluminum foil and assorted plastic (luminous) sachets.
without authority to possess the same.
CONTRARY to Art. III, Section 16 of R.A. 6425, as amended.6
During the arraignment on November 12, 1998, the accused, assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty to the
charge.7 During the pre-trial on November 19, 1998, Abuan rejected the prosecutions proposal for her to admit
the validity of Search Warrant No. 98-62, and that, in the enforcement thereof, 57 sachets of shabu were found in
her house and later confiscated by the policemen.8 She maintained that the warrant was invalid and that any
material allegedly confiscated from her house was inadmissible in evidence.
The court set the initial presentation of evidence by the prosecution on December 3, 1998. However, on said date,
accused filed a Motion to Suppress Evidence, alleging that there was no probable cause for the issuance of Search
Warrant No. 98-62; the applicant, Cesar Ramos, had no personal knowledge of his claim that she had in her
possession methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) and other drug paraphernalia; Marissa Gorospe was a
fictitious person, and her testimony was fabricated to convince the Executive Judge to make a finding of probable
cause required for the issuance of a search warrant; and the Executive Judge failed to ask searching questions and
elicit from "Gorospe" the particularity of the alleged paraphernalia in Abuans possession. Abuan asserted that
since the search warrant is void, whatever evidence was discovered as a result of the search conducted based on
the warrant was inadmissible in evidence.9
Instead of allowing the accused to present her evidence in support of her motion, the court declared that any such
evidence may be adduced at the trial.10
The Case for the Prosecution

At around 8:30 a.m. on May 5, 1998, SPO2 Marcelino Gamboa and SPO2 Beliguer de Vera of the Calasiao Police
Station received information from a confidential informant that Abuan was conducting illegal drug activities in her
house at Barangay Lasip, Calasiao, Pangasinan. Acting on the said information, Gamboa and de Vera conducted
surveillance-monitoring operations on her residence, three times for more than an hour. They saw more or less 20
people who were coming in and out of Abuans house. According to the informant, these people were drug
addicts,11and Abuan was a known drug pusher.12 On the same day, the officers, through SPO3 Cesar Ramos,
applied for a warrant13 with Executive Judge Eugenio G. Ramos of the RTC in Lingayen, Pangasinan, to search the
house of Abuan for violation of Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended, and the seizure of
methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), weighing scale, aluminum foil, and burner.
The application was docketed as Search Warrant No. 98-62. To establish probable cause for the issuance of a
search warrant, Ramos presented their informant, Marissa Gorospe, who was subjected to searching questions by
the Executive Judge.14
Gorospe testified that she was a resident of Barangay Sapang, Manaoag, Pangasinan. She knew Abuan because
they were employed as dealers of Avon Cosmetics. Abuan was a prominent personality in Barangay Lasip.15 Her
unnumbered house is a green bungalow-type, cemented and decorated with ornamental plants up front. She
visited Abuan in her house at least three to four times a week.16 She first came upon the drugs in Abuans house
when the latter invited her to a "jamming" and drinking session. She refused because she had to go home to
Barangay Sapang, Manaoag, Pangasinan, a place of considerable distance from Calasiao.17 Abuan then suggested
that they use the shabu that she kept inside her bedroom instead. Abuan kept a substantial amount of shabu in her
house and sold it.18 The informant further narrated that several people, including teenagers, arrived in the house
of Abuan and bought the substance.19 During her visits, she observed that Abuan placed shabu inside plastic
bags. She also saw weighing scales and paraphernalias used in sniffing shabu. Being a mother herself, she did not
want teenagers and her children to become drug addicts.20 Gorospe identified and affirmed the truth of the
contents of her deposition.21
The Executive Judge found probable cause and issued Search Warrant No. 98-62 which reads:
TO ANY OFFICER OF THE LAW:
GREETINGS:
It appearing to the satisfaction of the undersigned after examining under oath thru searching questions on
the applicant, SPO3 Cesar
A. Ramos, PNP, and his witnesses that there is probable cause to believe that the
respondent is in possession without any authority to
do so in violation of R.A. 6425 of the following:
Met[h]amphetamine Hydrochloride (shabu)
Tooter
Weighing Scale
Aluminum Foil
Burner
which she keeps and conceals in her house premises at Brgy. Lasip, Calasiao, Pangasinan, which should be
seized and brought to the
undersigned.
YOU ARE HEREBY COMMANDED to make an immediate search at any time of the day or night and take
possession of the abovedescribed properties and bring them to the undersigned to be dealt with as the law
directs.
This Search Warrant shall be valid only for ten (10) days from its issuance, thereafter, the same shall be
void.
On May 6, 1998, police operatives composed of Col. Fidel Posadas, Major Froilan Perez, SPO2 Gamboa, SPO2
Madrid, SPO2 de Vera, PO2 Tomelden, PO2 Rosario, PO3 Ubando, PO1 Moyano and PO3 Vallo went to Barangay
Lasip to enforce the search warrant. However, before proceeding to Abuans residence, the policemen invited
Barangay Captain Bernardo Mangaliag and Kagawad Miguel Garcia of Barangay Lasip to witness the search.
Upon arriving at the premises, Officers De Vera, Gamboa and Garcia and Mangaliag entered the house; the rest of
the policemen remained outside. Mangaliag introduced the police officers to Abuan who presented Search Warrant
No. 98-62 to her. Abuan read the warrant and permitted the officers to conduct the search.23
De Vera, Mangaliag, Gamboa and Garcia entered the bedroom and found 57 sachets of suspected shabu, one roll
of aluminum foil and assorted luminous plastic sachets in the drawer just beside Abuans bed.24 The police officers
confiscated all these and brought them, along with Abuan, to the police station where an inventory of the items
was made. Mangaliag and Garcia affixed their signatures on the inventory/receipt,25 but Abuan refused to sign
it.26

The police officers prepared a certification of orderly search which Garcia and Mangaliag also signed. Abuan
likewise refused to sign the certification.27 The police officers requested the PNP Crime Laboratory Unit of
Lingayen, Pangasinan to conduct a laboratory examination on the confiscated substance.28 According to the
laboratory examination conducted by P/Supt. Theresa Ann Bugayong CID, Regional Chief Chemist, the 57 sachets
of the suspected shabu weighing 5.67 grams gave positive results for the presence of methamphetamine
hydrochloride, a regulated drug.29
After presenting its witnesses, the prosecution offered in evidence Search Warrant No. 98-62, the Receipt of the
Property Seized, the Physical Science Report and the articles confiscated from Abuans house.30 However, Abuan
objected to the admission of the search warrant and the articles confiscated based thereon on the ground that the
warrant was issued without probable cause.31 The court admitted the documentary evidence of the prosecution
subject to the comment or objection interposed by accused and the eventual determination of their probative
weight.32
The Case for the Accused
Abuan testified that she was jobless in 1998. Her parents and her sister Corazon Bernadette sent her money from
Canada once or twice a month to support her and her daughters. It was her father who spent for the education of
her daughters.33 She was married to Crispin Abuan, a policeman, but they separated in 1997.34 She did not know
any person by the name of Marissa Gorospe. She did not work for Avon Cosmetics nor used any of its products.35
At around 8:30 a.m. on May 6, 1998, she was with her two daughters, 21-year old Ediliza Go and 9-year old Mae
Liza Abuan.36 They were still in bed inside their room. Suddenly, four armed men barged into their house and
declared a raid.37 About eight to ten others were outside her house. She inquired if they had a search warrant but
she was not shown any.38 The men searched her house for about 10 to 15 minutes and turned up with nothing.39
Some of the men went out of the house and boarded a jeepney. The men outside again went into the bedroom and
came out with "powder placed in a plastic."40 At this instance, Barangay Captain Bernardo Mangaliag was brought
to the scene and was shown the "powder substance" recovered from her bedroom. She refused to sign the
inventory and receipt of the property seized and the certification of orderly search. However, Mangaliag signed the
same.41
She declared that the sachets/substances which the policemen claimed to have found in her house were merely
"planted" to implicate her. The raid as well as the charge against her were instigated by her brother Arsenio Tana,
who was enraged when she refused his demand to entrust the properties of the family to the care of his son. It
appears that Tana carried out his threat to have her house raided since the policemen did come to her house on
May 6, 1998.42 Her brother was by the gate of her house at the time of the raid.
Abuan also testified that, during the raid, she saw Tana talking to the police officers who arrested her. Abuan also
declared that the money kept inside a box in her room amounting to P25,000.00 (US$1,100.00) given by her sister
Corazon Bernardino had gone missing after the raid.43 She did not file any charge for the loss of her money
because she was scared. She did not know who took it.
Barangay Captain Robert Calachan of Barangay Sapang, Manaoag, Pangasinan and Mercedes Carvajal, an
employee of Avon Cosmetics in Dagupan holding the position of team leader, testified for accused.
Calachan declared that he was born in Barangay Sapang and never left the place. He was familiar with the
residents of the small barangay.44 He issued a certification45 stating that "as per record of this barangay, a certain
Marissa Gorospe is not a resident of this barangay." Before he signed the certification, he inquired from the
barangay members if they knew a Marissa Gorospe, and he was told that no one by that name was a transient.46
Carvajal, for her part, testified that, based on the certification dated November 12, 1998 of Dagupan City Avon
Branch Manager Gigi dela Rosa, "Marissa Gorospe is not a registered dealer of Avon Dagupan Branch based on our
records." She did not know any Avon Cosmetics employee or dealer named Marissa Gorospe in Pangasinan. She
further testified that she had been a team leader/dealer of Avon Cosmetics for 21 years already, and that Abuan
was not such a dealer/employee. On cross-examination, she declared that she was a team leader of Avon
Cosmetics (Dagupan Branch), and thus had no participation in the preparation of the certification of Gigi dela Rosa
and was not in a position to know if the certification was correct.
On March 28, 2001, the trial court rendered a decision finding accused guilty of the charge. The dispositive portion
reads:
WHEREFORE, finding accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt of a violation of Section 15 (sic), Article
6425, she is hereby sentenced to suffer an imprisonment of TWO (2) YEARS, FOUR (4) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY
to FOUR (4) YEARS and TWO (2) MONTHS of PRISION
CORRECTIONAL.
The prohibited drug and paraphernalia seized from the accused are hereby confiscated in favor of the
government and should be
turned over to the Dangerous Drugs Board for disposition in accordance with law.
SO ORDERED.
The trial court declared that the testimonies of police officers Gamboa and de Vera should be accorded great
weight and credence as they testified positively regarding what transpired during the raid. In contrast, the
testimony of accused was self-serving, negative and feeble. She failed to prove that it was her brother who

manipulated the unfortunate events. Neither was she able to prove ill motive on the part of the police officers who
conducted a search in her house; hence, the presumption is that they regularly performed their duties. The failure
of the accused to present her two daughters as witnesses amounted to suppression of evidence, giving rise to the
presumption that if they had been presented, their testimonies would be adverse to her.
On the issue of the validity of the search warrant, the court ruled that there was probable cause for its issuance.
The proceedings conducted by the Execute Judge relative to the application of the police for a search warrant, its
issuance and implementation were valid, regular, and in accordance with the requirements of the law and
Constitution.48 The trial court declared that Gorospe may have lied about her address and being a dealer of Avon
Cosmetics; however, it does not necessarily mean that she was a fictitious person. It explained that Gorospe may
have lied "a little" in order to conceal herself for her protection, but the rest of her testimony constituted sufficient
evidence of probable cause.
Abuan filed her motion for reconsideration dated April 16, 2001, which the court denied in an Order49 dated May
10, 2001. She appealed the decision to the CA, where she averred that:

I
THE LOWER COURT GRAVELY ERRED WHEN IT CONSIDERED THE ALLEGED SHABU AND OTHER
PARAPHERNALIA AS ADMISSIBLE
EVIDENCE AGAINST THE ACCUSED THEREBY DISREGARDING THE
CONSTITUTIONAL PROHOBITION AGAINST "FRUITS" OF THE
POISONOUS TREE.
II
THE LOWER COURT ERRED AND GRAVELY MISAPPRECIATED THE EVIDENCE AGAINST THE ACCUSED WHEN
IT OVERLOOKED THE
GLARING DISCREPANCIES IN THE TESTIMONIES OF THE SUPPOSED EYEWITNESSES.
Abuan insisted that the applicant failed to show probable cause for the issuance of Search Warrant No. 98-62.
"Marissa Gorospe" is a fictitious person whose alleged testimony is fabricated and was used by the police officers
to convince the Executive Judge that there was probable cause for the issuance of the search warrant when, in fact,
there was none. The Executive Judge failed to ask Gorospe searching questions. Consequently, Search Warrant No.
98-62 is void and the substances and paraphernalia confiscated by the policemen are inadmissible in evidence.
She further claimed that the testimonies of De Vera and Gamboa were pockmarked with inconsistencies and as
such, the trial court should not have given them probative weight.
For its part, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) averred that the trial court merely confirmed Executive Judge
Ramos finding of probable cause. Besides, appellant failed to file a motion to quash Search Warrant No. 98-62,
hence, was estopped from assailing it and the search and seizure conducted thereafter. The OSG cited the ruling of
this Court in Demaisip v. Court of Appeals. It likewise claimed that the inconsistencies adverted to by appellant
pertained merely to collateral matters and were not determinative of her guilt or innocence. As gleaned from the
evidence of the prosecution, her defenses could not prevail over the evidence adduced by the prosecution.
The CA rendered judgment affirming the RTC decision. The fallo of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, for lack of merit, the appeal is DISMISSED. The assailed Decision dated March 28, 1001 in
Criminal Case No. 98-02337-D of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 41, Dagupan City convicting Eliza T. Abuan of
violation of Section 16, Article III of Republic Act No.
6425, as amended, is AFFIRMED. Costs against the
accused-appellant.
SO ORDERED.
The appellate court ruled that the prosecution adduced proof beyond reasonable doubt of Abuans guilt for the
crime charged. The alleged discrepancies in the testimonies of Gamboa and de Vera were peripheral matters.
Moreover, Abuans failure to assail the legality of the search and seizure conducted by the policemen before her
arraignment was equivalent to a waiver of her right to assail the search warrant. The CA cited the ruling of this
Court in Malaloan v. Court of Appeals.
Abuan filed a motion for reconsideration,53 reiterating her argument that the search warrant is not valid. She also
argued that she did not waive her right to assail the validity of the search warrant at her arraignment and during
the trial. She maintained that the CA should not rely on the evaluation by the RTC of the witnesses credibility, and
that the inconsistencies in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses were on material relevant details.
The appellate court denied the motion in a Resolution54 dated May 26, 2005 on its finding that no new and
substantial matter was presented to warrant reconsideration thereof.55
In the instant petition, Abuan, now petitioner, asserts that
I

THE CA GRAVELY ERRED IN FINDING THE SEARCH WARRANT VALID DESPITE FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THE
REQUIREMENTS
MANDATED BY THE CONSTITUTION.
II
THE CA ERRED IN FINDING THAT THE ISSUE OF THE VALIDITY OF THE SEARCH WARRANT WAS DEEMED
WAIVED AFTER ARRAIGNMENT.
III
THE CA ERRED IN CONSIDERING THE SHABU AND OTHER PARAPHERNALIA ALLEGEDLY TAKEN FROM THE
PETITIONER AS ADMISSIBLE
IN EVIDENCE.
IV
THE CA ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE CONVICTION OF THE PETITIONER.

Petitioner avers that the search warrant issued by the Executive Judge was void because the circumstances leading
to its issuance were not based on probable cause but on mere fabrications. She points out that according to
Gorospe, she became acquainted with petitioner and visited her in her house because of their employment with
Avon Cosmetics. However, considering that she and Gorospe were never employed by Avon Cosmetics and were
not even acquainted, such testimony is false. Thus, the search warrant should be declared invalid as it is based on
the testimony of a fictitious person, a "planted witness" with a fabricated testimony and, consequently, any
evidence discovered on the basis thereof should be suppressed and excluded in accordance with Section 3(2),
Article III of the Constitution. Petitioner points out that with the inadmissibility of the shabu and other
paraphernalia, the appellate court should have acquitted her of the charges by reason of the prosecutions failure
to prove the commission of the crime beyond reasonable doubt.
Petitioner insists that, based on the records, she sought to suppress the search warrant throughout the entire
proceedings in the trial court. She rejected the prosecutions offer to admit the validity of the search warrant and
even filed a motion to suppress the search. She was thus not proscribed from filing her motion to suppress the
search warrant even after the arraignment.
In its Comment,57 the OSG maintains that the search warrant is valid. It insists that the CA correctly ruled that the
requisites of a valid search warrant were present, noting that the Executive Judge conducted searching questions
and answers on the person of Marissa Gorospe. It asserts that, in applying for a search warrant, a police officer
need not possess personal knowledge regarding an illegal activity; it is the witness who should possess such
personal knowledge, and upon whose testimony under oath probable cause may be established. In this case, it was
Gorospe who narrated, under oath and before the judge, her personal knowledge of (petitioners) criminal
activities.58
The OSG maintains that petitioner in effect waived whatever objections she had regarding the validity of the search
warrant. It points out that she never questioned the warrant before the court which issued the same, never
questioned nor moved for the quashal of the warrant before her arraignment. And while petitioner was allowed to
present evidence on the alleged invalidity of the search warrant, this did not cure her omission or inaction in
raising the issue at the proper time.
In her Reply,59 petitioner declares that a close scrutiny of the judges investigation of Gorospe would reveal that
her personal circumstances are pivotal in her acquisition of personal knowledge regarding the alleged possession
of shabu by petitioner. If these personal circumstances are fabricated, then such "personal knowledge" regarding
the possession bears no credit.
Petitioner likewise maintains that contrary to the allegations of the OSG, she did not waive her right to question the
validity of the warrant. She could not have done any better under the circumstances at that time because all the
evidence against Gorospe was made known and available to her only after her arraignment.
The Court is tasked to resolve the following threshold issues: (a) whether petitioner waived her right to question
Search Warrant No. 98-62 and the admissibility of the substances and paraphernalia and other articles confiscated
from her house based on said warrant; and (b) whether the prosecution adduced evidence to prove her guilt
beyond reasonable doubt for violation of Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended.
The Ruling of the Court
Petitioner Did not Waive Her Right to File a Motion
To Quash Search Warrant No. 98-62 and for the
Suppression of the Evidence Seized by the Police Officers

Section 14, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules of Criminal Procedure reads:
Sec. 14. Motion to quash a search warrant or to suppress evidence; where to file. A motion to quash a
search warrant and/or to
suppress evidence obtained thereby may be filed in and acted upon only by the
court where the action has been instituted. If no
criminal action has been instituted, the motion may be filed
in and resolved by the court that issued the search warrant. However, if
such court failed to resolve the
motion and a criminal case is subsequently filed in another court, the motion shall be resolved by the latter court.
The Court ruled in the Malaloan case that the motion to quash the search warrant which the accused may file shall
be governed by the omnibus motion rule, provided, however, that objections not available, existent or known
during the proceedings for the quashal of the warrant may be raised in the hearing of the motion to suppress the
resolution of the court not on the motion to quash the search warrant and to suppress evidence shall be subject to
any proper remedy in the appropriate higher court.60 A motion to quash a search warrant may be based on
grounds extrinsic of the search warrant, such as (1) the place searched or the property seized are not those
specified or described in the search warrant; and (2) there is no probable cause for the issuance of the search
warrant.61 Section 7, Rule 133 of the Rules of Court provides that the court may hear the motion, as follows:
When a motion is based on facts not appearing of record, the court may hear the matter on affidavits or
depositions presented by the respective parties, but the court may direct that the matter be heard wholly or
partly on oral testimony or depositions.
In the present case, petitioner reserved her right to question Search Warrant No. 98-62 when she filed her motion
for bail in the RTC. The public prosecutor conformed to the motion. During pre-trial in the RTC, petitioner rejected
the prosecutions proposal for her to admit the validity of Search Warrant No. 98-62, insisting that it was void. In
her motion to suppress, petitioner averred that the search warrant is void for the following reasons: lack of
probable cause; failure of the Executive Judge to ask searching questions on Gorospe; and the evidence seized by
the police officers on the basis of the search warrant are inadmissible in evidence. She likewise prayed that the
search warrant be nullified, and that the evidence seized by the policemen on the basis of said warrant be
suppressed.
Petitioner was ready to adduce evidence in support of her motion, but the court declared that this should be done
during the trial. Petitioner thus no longer assailed the ruling of the trial court and opted to adduce her evidence at
the trial. She likewise objected to the admission of the search warrant and the evidence confiscated by the police
officers after the search was conducted. It bears stressing that the trial court admitted the same and she objected
thereto. It cannot, therefore, be said that petitioner waived her right to assail the search warrant and object to the
admissibility of the regulated drugs found in her house.
On the second issue, the trial courts ruling (which the appellate court affirmed) that the prosecution adduced
evidence to prove petitioners guilt of crime charged beyond reasonable doubt is correct.
Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended by R.A. No. 7659 reads:
SEC. 16. Possession or Use of Regulated Drugs. The penalty of reclusion perpetua to death and a fine
ranging from five hundred
thousand pesos to ten million pesos shall be imposed upon any person who shall
possess or use any regulated drug without the corresponding license or prescription, subject to the provisions of
Section 20 hereof.
The elements of the crime of illegal possession of dangerous drugs are as follows: (a) the accused was in
possession of the regulated drugs; (b) the accused was fully and consciously aware of being in possession of the
regulated drug; and (c) the accused had no legal authority to possess the regulated drug.63 Possession may be
actual or constructive. In order to establish constructive possession, the People must prove that petitioner had
dominion or control on either the substance or the premises where found.64 The State must prove adequate nexus
between the accused and the prohibited substance.65 Possession of dangerous drugs constitutes prima facie
evidence of knowledge or aminus possidendi sufficient to convict an accused in the absence of any satisfactory
explanation of such possession. The burden of evidence is shifted to petitioner to explain the absence of aminus
possidendi.66
We agree with the trial courts finding that, indeed, petitioner had in her possession and control 57 small, heatsealed sachets of shabu weighing 5.67 gm when Search Warrant No. 98-62 was served on her. As testified to by
the witnesses of the prosecution, the police officers, in the presence of Garcia and Mangaliag, found the said
substances in a drawer in her bedroom. Petitioner likewise failed to present any legal authority to justify her
possession of the regulated drug found in her bedroom.
The mere denial by petitioner of the crime charged and her bare claim of being the victim of a frame-up by de Vera
and Gamboa cannot prevail over the positive and steadfast testimonies of the police officers. Their testimonies
were corroborated by the inventory/receipt of property, stating that, indeed, 57 small heat-sealed plastic sachets
containing methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) weighing 5.67 grams were found in a drawer in petitioners
bedroom. The police officers are presumed to have performed their duties in good faith, in accordance with law.
Absent any clear and convincing evidence that such officers had ill or improper motive or were not performing their
duties, their testimonies with respect to the surveillance operation, the implementation of search warrant, and the
seizure of the regulated drug in the house of petitioner must be accorded full faith and credence.67 Like alibi, the
defense of denial and frame-up had been invariably viewed by the courts with disfavor. Denial is a negative of selfserving defense, while frame-up is as easily concocted and is a common and standard defense ploy in most

prosecutions for violation of R.A. No. 6425, as amended.68 For the defense of frame-up to prosper, the evidence
must be clear and convincing.69
It bears stressing that the policemen saw to it that the search of petitioners house was conducted with the
assistance and in the presence of Barangay Captain Mangaliag and Kagawad Garcia. They testified that the
regulated drugs confiscated by the policemen were found in the searched premises. Petitioner failed to present
clear and convincing evidence that the policemen and the barangay officials had any improper motive to frame her
and falsely ascribe to her the crime of violating R.A. No. 6425, as amended.
Except for her bare testimony, petitioner failed to prove that her brother Arsenio Tana instigated the policemen to
secure Search Warrant No. 98-62, conducted a search in her house, "planted" the drugs in her bedroom and stole
money from her. Petitioner failed to make such a claim when she was arrested and brought to the MTC for
preliminary investigation. She also failed to file any criminal complaint against the policemen and her brother
Arsenio Tana for filing the fabricated charge against her and for "planting" evidence in her house. It was only when
she testified in her defense in the trial court that she alleged, for the first time, that the charge against her was
instigated by her brother, in cahoots with the policemen. We quote with approval the disquisitions of the OSG on
this matter:
SECOND: The police officers who testified had not proven bad or ill motive to testify against accused.
The suspicion of accused that it was her brother who manipulated the events in her life is unsubstantiated
and too far-fetched to happen and is, therefore, unbelievable.
The presumption, therefore, is that said police officers performed their official duties regularly (People v.
Cuachon, 238 SCRA 540).
THIRD: The testimony of accused is too self-serving. It is uncorroborated.
According to her, the intrusion into her house by the police was witnessed by her two daughter (sic).
However, she did not present them as witnesses.
In the case of her daughter Ediliza, she was already twenty years old at the time so that she was already
mature for all legal intents
and purposes. In the case of her daughter Mae Liza, who was nine years old, there
was no reason why she could not articulate what
she personally saw and experienced, if what she would be
made to state was true.
The inability of the said accused, therefore, to present her two daughters is tantamount to a suppression of
evidence, thus raising the
presumption that if they were presented, their testimonies would have been
adverse to her.
Furthermore, it has been [the] consistent ruling of the Supreme Court that a plain denial or negative
testimony, if unsubstantiated by
a clear and convincing testimony, cannot prevail over the positive
testimonies of prosecution witnesses (People v. Amaguin, 229 SCRA
155).
FOURTH: The other defense of accused is that it was unlikely for her to have engaged in pushing or
peddling drugs for a living because
she had to set a good example of decent living for the sake of her two
beautiful daughters and good neighbors. Furthermore, she did not have financial problems which could have
pushed her into the drug business because her sister Corazon Bernardino had been
regularly
sending
her
money.
The aforecited unlikelihood perceived by accused could not prevail over the affirmative testimonies of
policemen Gamboa and de Vera
who positively declared that they found 57 sachets of shabu in her room.
Search Warrant No. 98-62
Is Valid; the Articles, Paraphernalia and Regulated
Drugs Found in Petitioners Bedroom and Confiscated
by the Police Officers are Admissible in Evidence
We agree with the ruling of the CA affirming, on appeal, the findings of the trial court that based on the deposition
and testimony of Gorospe, there was probable cause for the issuance of Search Warrant No. 98-62 for violation of
Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended.
Section 2, Article III of the Constitution provides:
SEC. 2. The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against
unreasonable searches and seizures
of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search
warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon
probable cause to be determined personally by the judge
after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the
witnesses he may produce, and
particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Thus, any evidence obtained in violation of this provision is inadmissible for any purpose in any proceeding.
Sections 4 and 5, Rule 126 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure enumerate the requisites for the issuance of
a search warrant, thus:
SEC. 4. Requisites for issuing search warrant. A search warrant shall not issue except upon probable
cause in connection with one specific offense to be determined personally by the judge after examination under
oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witness he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be
searched and the things to be seized which may be anywhere in
the Philippines.
SEC. 5. Examination of complainant, record. The judge must, before issuing the warrant, personally
examine in the form of searching questions and answers, in writing and under oath, the complainant and the
witnesses he may produce on facts personally known to them and attach to the record their sworn statements,
together with the affidavits submitted.
The requisites for the issuance of a search warrant are: (1) probable cause is present; (2) such probable cause
must be determined personally by the judge; (3) the judge must examine, in writing and under oath or affirmation,
the complainant and the witnesses he or she may produce; (4) the applicant and the witnesses testify on the facts
personally known to them; and (5) the warrant specifically describes the place to be searched and the things to be
seized.
Probable cause is defined as such facts and circumstances which would lead a reasonably discreet and prudent
man to believe that an offense has been committed and that the objects sought in connection with the offense are
in the place sought to be searched. Reasonable minds may differ on the question of whether a particular
affidavit/deposition or testimony of the affiant/deponent establishes probable cause. However, great deference is
to be accorded to the Judges determination. The affidavit/deposition supporting an application for a search warrant
is presumed to be valid.74
Affidavits/depositions for search warrants must be tested and interpreted by Judges in a common-sense and
realistic fashion. They are normally drafted by non-lawyers in the midst and haste of a criminal investigation.
Technical requisites of elaborate specificity have no place in this area.75 The Judge in determining probable cause
is to consider the totality of the circumstances made known to him and not by a fixed and rigid formula,76 and
must employ a flexible, totality of the circumstances standard.77 Probable cause exists if a practical, commonsense evaluation of the facts and circumstances show a fair possibility that dangerous drugs will be found in the
asserted location.78 There must be a factual showing sufficient to comprise probable cause of particular facts and
circumstances so as to allow the Judge to make an independent evaluation of the matter. It is sufficient if the
information put forth in the affidavit/deposition or testimony of the affiant/deponent are believed or appropriately
accepted by the affiant/deponent as true.79 Sufficient information must be presented to allow a Judge to determine
probable cause; his action cannot be a mere ratification of the bare/unsubstantiated contention of others.
The general rule is that the task of a reviewing court is not to conduct a de novo determination of probable cause
but only to determine whether there is substantial evidence in the records supporting the Judges decision to issue
the search warrant.80 The reviewing court is simply to ensure that the Judge had a substantial basis for concluding
that probable cause existed,81 and once ascertained that the Judge had substantial basis for concluding that a
search would unearth evidence of a wrongdoing, the determination of probable cause must be upheld. In the
absence of any showing that the Judge was recreant of his duties in connection with the personal examination he
so conducted on the affiants/deponent before him, there is no basis for doubting the reliability and correctness of
his findings and impressions.82
However, the finding of probable cause of the Judge may be set aside and the search warrant issued by him based
on his finding may be quashed; the evidence seized by the police officers based on said search warrant may be
suppressed if the accused presents clear and convincing evidence that the police officers and/or a government
informant made a deliberate falsehood or reckless disregard for the truth in said affidavit/deposition or testimony
which is essential or necessary to a showing of probable cause. Such evidence must focus on the state of mind of
the affiants/deponents that he was conscious of the falsity of his assertion or representation.83 The requirement
that a search warrant not issue but upon probable cause would be reduced to a nullity if a police officer and his
informant are able to use deliberately falsehood allegations to demonstrate probable cause and, having misled the
Judge, was able to remain confident that the ploy succeeded.84 However, innocent and negligent omissions or
misrepresentation of a police officer or government informant will not invalidate a search warrant. And even if the
police officer or government informant may have deliberately made a falsehood or reckless disregard for the truth
in his or her affidavit/deposition but the remaining portions thereof are sufficient to establish probable cause, the
search warrant will not be quashed for lack of probable cause.
The evidence presented by petitioner that Gorospe was not a resident or transient of Barangay Sapang, even if
true and credible, is not at all material or necessary to the determination of probable cause. Whether petitioner
and Gorospe were dealers of Avon Cosmetics as of May 5, 1998 may be relevant to the issue of whether there was
factual basis for the finding of probable cause by the Executive Judge against petitioner; however, petitioners
evidence to prove his claim is tenuous and does not warrant the quashal of Search Warrant No. 98-62 and the
suppression of the evidence seized after the enforcement of the search warrant.

The evidence petitioner presented to disprove the testimony of Gorospe that they were dealers of Avon Cosmetics
are her (petitioners) testimony and that of Carvajal. The certification purportedly signed by dela Rosa, the Branch
Manager of Avon Cosmetics Dagupan Branch, is hearsay because she did not testify. Carvajal admitted that she
was not in a position to confirm the veracity of the contents of the certification:
PROSECUTOR JAIME DOJILLO
ON CROSS-EXAMINATION
q What is your position at Dagupan Avon Cosmetics?
a Team Leader, Sir.
q Do you have any participation in the preparation of this certification?
a None, Sir.
q So, you had not in position to know the truth of this certification, hence, you were not the one who
prepared the same?
a Yes, Sir.
Carvajal was merely one of many team leaders of Avon Cosmetics in Dagupan City. She did not testify nor did
petitioner adduce evidence that Gorospe was not such a dealer in places other than Dagupan City or Pangasinan
for that matter. In fine, petitioner failed to adduce competent and credible evidence that Gorospe was not a dealer
of Avon products in the branches of Avon Cosmetics other than Pangasinan. Other than the denial of petitioner and
the testimony of Carvajal, petitioner failed to present evidence that she was not a dealer of Avon Cosmetics. On
the other hand, the testimony of Gorospe before the Executive Judge was corroborated by the testimonies of police
officers Gamboa and de Vera.
In the present case, the Executive Judge found probable cause after conducting the requisite searching questions
on Gorospe for violation of Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended. The trial court reviewed the
testimony of Gorospe before the Executive Judge87 and confirmed that, indeed, there was probable cause against
petitioner for violation of said crime. The finding of the Executive Judge was corroborated by the testimony of
police officers de Vera and Gamboa, who, in their surveillance operation, partially confirmed Gorospes claim that,
indeed, people had been going to the house of petitioner to buy shabu. The findings of the trial court were, in turn,
affirmed by the CA.
The well-entrenched rule is that the findings of the trial court affirmed by the appellate court are accorded high
respect, if not conclusive effect, by this Court, absent clear and convincing evidence that the tribunals ignored,
misconstrued or misapplied facts and circumstances of substances such that, if considered, the same will warrant
the modification or reversal of the outcome of the case. In this case, petitioner failed to establish any such
circumstance.
The trial and appellate courts ruled that petitioner possessed 5.67 gm of methamphetamine hydrochloride and
sentenced her to an indeterminate penalty of two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day to four (4) years and
two (2) months of prision correccional. The penalty imposed by the trial court and affirmed by the CA is incorrect.
As the Court ruled in People v. Tira:
Under Section 16, Article III of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, the imposable penalty of possession of a
regulated drug, less than 200 grams, in this case, shabu, is prision correccional to reclusion perpetua. Based on
the quantity of the regulated drug subject of the
offense, the imposable penalty shall be as follows:

QUANTITY

IMPOSABLE PENALTY

Less than one (1) gram to 49.25 grams

prision correccional

49.26 grams to 98.50 grams

prision mayor

98.51 grams to 147.75 grams

reclusion temporal

147.76 grams to 199 grams

reclusion perpetua

Considering that the regulated drug found in the possession of the appellants is only 1.001 grams, the
imposable penalty for the crime
is prision correccional. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the
appellants are sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of from four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto

mayor in its medium period as minimum, to three (3) years of prision correccional in
maximum, for violation of Section 16 of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended.

its

medium

period

as

The penalty imposed in the Tira case is the correct penalty, which should likewise be imposed against petitioner
herein.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CR No.
25726 is AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATION as to penalty. Petitioner is hereby sentenced to an indeterminate penalty
of from four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor in its medium period as minimum to three (3) years of
prision correccional in its medium period as maximum.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 151334

February 13, 2013

CAROLINA (CARLINA) VDA. DE FIGURACION, HEIRS OF ELENA FIGURACION-ANCHETA, namely: LEONCIO ANCHETA,
JR., and ROMULO ANCHETA, HEIRS OF HILARIA A. FIGURACION, namely: FELIPA FIGURACION-MANUEL, MARY
FIGURACION-GINEZ, and EMILIA FIGURACION-GERILLA, AND HEIRS OF QUINTIN FIGURACION, namely: LINDA M.
FIGURACION, LEANDRO M. FIGURACION, II, and ALLAN M. FIGURACION, Petitioners,
vs.
EMILIA FIGURACION-GERILLA, Respondent.
DECISION

REYES, J.:
At bar is a Petition for Review on Certiorari1 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing the Decision2 dated
December 11, 2001 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 58290, which reversed and set aside the
Decision3 dated June 26, 1997 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Urdaneta, Pangasinan, Branch 49. The RTC
decision (1) dismissed respondent Emilia Figuracion-Gerillas (Emilia) complaint for partition, annulment of
documents, reconveyance, quieting of title and damages, and (2) annulled the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication
executed by petitioner Carolina (Carlina) Vda. De Figuracion (Carolina).
The Facts
The parties are the heirs of Leandro Figuracion (Leandro) who died intestate in May 1958. Petitioner Carolina is the
surviving spouse. The other petitioners Elena Figuracion-Ancheta, Hilaria A. Figuracion (Hilaria), Felipa FiguracionManuel (Felipa), Quintin Figuracion, and Mary Figuracion-Ginez and respondent Emilia were Carolina and
Leandros children.4
Subject of the dispute are two parcels of land both situated in Urdaneta, Pangasinan, which were acquired by
Leandro during his lifetime. These properties were: (1) Lot No. 2299 with a land area of 7,547 square meters
originally covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 4221-P;5 and (2) Lot No. 705 measuring 2,900 square
meters and covered by TCT No. 4220-P. Both lands were registered in the name of "Leandro Figuracion married to
Carolina Adviento". Leandro executed a Deed of Quitclaim over the above real properties in favor of his six (6)
children on August 23, 1955. Their shares, however, were not delineated with particularity because spouses
Leandro and Carolina reserved the lots and its fruits for their expenses.
Also involved in the controversy is Lot No. 707 of the Cadastral Survey of Urdaneta, Pangasinan, with an area of
3,164 square meters originally owned by Eulalio Adviento (Eulalio), covered by Original Certificate of Title (OCT)
No. 15867 issued in his name on August 21, 1917. Eulalio begot Agripina Adviento (Agripina) with his first wife
Marcela Estioko (Marcela), whom Eulalio survived. When he remarried, Eulalio had another daughter, herein
petitioner Carolina, with his second wife, Faustina Escabesa (Faustina).6
On November 28, 1961, Agripina7 executed a Deed of Quitclaim8 over the eastern half of Lot No. 707 in favor of
her niece, herein respondent Emilia.
Soon thereafter or on December 11, 1962, petitioner Carolina executed an Affidavit of Self-Adjudication9
adjudicating unto herself the entire Lot No. 707 as the sole and exclusive heir of her deceased parents, Eulalio and
Faustina.10 On the same date, Carolina also executed a Deed of Absolute Sale11 over Lot No. 707 in favor of
petitioners Hilaria and Felipa, who in turn immediately caused the cancellation of OCT No. 15867 and the issuance
of TCT No. 42244 in their names.12
In 1971, Emilia and her family went to the United States and returned to the Philippines only in 1981. Upon her
return and relying on the Deed of Quitclaim, she built a house on the eastern half of Lot No. 707.13
The legal debacle of the Figuracions started in 1994 when Hilaria and her agents threatened to demolish the house
of Emilia who, in retaliation, was prompted to seek the partition of Lot No. 707 as well as Lot Nos. 2299 and 705.
The matter was initially brought before the Katarungang Pambarangay, but no amicable settlement was reached
by the parties.14 On May 23, 1994, respondent Emilia instituted the herein Complaint15 for the partition of Lot
Nos. 2299, 705 and 707, annulment of the Affidavit of Self- Adjudication, Deed of Absolute Sale and TCT No. 42244,
reconveyance of eastern half portion of Lot No. 707, quieting of title and damages.
In opposition, the petitioners averred the following special and affirmative defenses: (1) the respondents cause of
action had long prescribed and that she is guilty of laches hence, now estopped from bringing the suit; (2) TCT No.
42244 in the name of Felipa and Hilaria have already attained indefeasibility and conclusiveness as to the true
owners of Lot No. 707; and (3) an action for partition is no longer tenable because Felipa and Hilaria have already
acquired rights adverse to that claimed by respondent Emilia and the same amount to a repudiation of the alleged
co-ownership.16
During pre-trial conference, the issues were simplified into: (1) whether or not Lot Nos. 2299 and 705 are the
exclusive properties of Leandro; and (2) whether or not respondent Emilia is the owner of the eastern half of Lot
No. 707.17
On the basis of the evidence adduced by the parties, the RTC rendered its Decision dated June 26, 1997 disposing
as follows:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the complaint for partition, reconveyance, quieting of title and damages is
hereby ordered dismissed whereas the affidavit of self-adjudication[,] deed of sale and the transfer certificate of
title involving Lot 707 are hereby declared null and void.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.

The RTC ruled that a partition of Lot Nos. 2299 and 705 will be premature since their ownership is yet to be
transmitted from Leandro to his heirs whose respective shares thereto must still be determined in estate
settlement proceedings. Anent Lot No. 707, the RTC held that petitioner Carolina transferred only her one-half ()
share to Felipa and Hilaria and any conveyance of the other half pertaining to Agripina was void. While the RTC
nullified the Affidavit of Self-Adjudication, Deed of Absolute Sale and TCT No. 42244, it refused to adjudicate the
ownership of the lots eastern half portion in favor of respondent Emilia since a settlement of the estate of Eulalio is
yet to be undertaken.19
Respondent Emilia appealed to the CA, which, in its Decision dated December 11, 2001, ruled that the RTC erred in
refusing to partition Lot No. 707. The CA explained that there is no necessity for placing Lot No. 707 under judicial
administration since Carolina had long sold her pro indiviso share to Felipa and Hilaria. Thus, when Carolina sold
the entire Lot No. 707 on December 11, 1962 as her own, the sale affected only her share and not that belonging
to her co-owner, Agripina. The proper action in such case is not the nullification of the sale, or for the recovery of
possession of the property owned in common from the third person, but for a division or partition of the entire lot.
Such partition should result in segregating the portion belonging to the seller and its delivery to the buyer.
The CA, however, agreed with the RTC that a partition of Lot Nos. 2299 and 705 is indeed premature considering
that there is a pending legal controversy with respect to Lot No. 705 and the accounting of the income from Lot No.
2299 and of the expenses for the last illness and burial of Leandro and Carolina, for which the lots appear to have
been intended.
Accordingly, the decretal portion of the CA decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the present appeal is hereby GRANTED and the decision appealed from in Civil
Case No. U-5826 is hereby VACATED and SET ASIDE. A new judgment is hereby rendered declaring Lot No. 707
covered by TCT No. 42244 to be owned by appellant Emilia Figuracion-Gerilla [herein respondent], pro indiviso
share, appellee Felipa Figuracion [herein petitioner], pro indiviso share, and appellee Hilaria Figuracion [herein
petitioner], pro indiviso share, who are hereby directed to partition the same and if they could not agree on a
partition, they may petition the trial court for the appointment of a commissioner to prepare a project of partition,
in accordance with the procedure as provided in Rule 69 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.20
Respondent Emilia appealed the CAs decision to the Court, docketed as G.R. No. 154322. In a Decision
promulgated on August 22, 2006, the Court denied the appeal, concurring with the CAs ruling that a partition of
Lot Nos. 2299 and 705 would be inappropriate considering that: (1) the ownership of Lot No. 705 is still in dispute;
and (2) there are still unresolved issues as to the expenses chargeable to the estate of Leandro.
The present petition involves the appeal of the petitioners who attribute this sole error committed by the CA:
THE DECISION RENDERED BY THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS IS CONTRARY TO LAW AND EXISTING
JURISPRUDENTIAL DICTA LAID DOWN BY THE HONORABLE SUPREME COURT.21
In view of the Courts ruling in G.R. No. 154322, the ensuing discussion shall concern only Lot No. 707.
The Arguments of the Parties
The petitioners argue that respondent Emilia has no valid basis for her claim of ownership because the Deed of
Quitclaim executed in her favor by Agripina was in fact a deed of donation that contained no acceptance and thus,
void. The petitioners attached a copy of the Deed of Quitclaim and stressed on the following portions, viz:
I, AGRIPINA ESTIOKO ADVIENTO, of le[ga]l age, Filipino citizen, single and a resident [of] San Vicenter (sic),
Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, for and in consideration of the sum of ONE PESO ([P]1.00), Philippine Currency and the
services rendered by my niece EMILIA FIGURACION, 20 years old, single, Filipino citizen and a resident of San
Vicente, Urdaneta City, Pangasinan, do hereby by these presentsw (sic) RENOUNCE, RELEASE and forever
QUITCLAIM in favor of EMILIA FIGURACION, her heirs, and assigns the ONE[-]HALF (1/2) eastern portion of the
following parcel of land more particularly described and bounded as follows to wit[.]22
They further aver that the Deed of Quitclaim is riddled with defects that evoke questions of law, because: (a) it has
not been registered with the Register of Deeds, albeit, allegedly executed as early as 1961; (b) a certification dated
June 3, 2003 issued by the Office of the Clerk of Court (OCC) of the RTC of Urdaneta, Pangasinan, shows that it does
not have a copy of the Deed of Quitclaim; (c) the Office of the National Archives which is the depository of old and
new notarized documents has no record of the Deed of Quitclaim as evidenced by a certification dated May 19,
2003;23 and (d) Atty. Felipe V. Abenojar, who supposedly notarized the Deed of Quitclaim was not commissioned to
notarize in 1961 per the certification dated June 9, 2003 from the OCC of the RTC of Urdaneta, Pangasinan.24
Respondent Emilia, on the other hand, contends that the Deed of Quitclaim should be considered an onerous
donation that requires no acceptance as it is governed by the rules on contracts and not by the formalities for a
simple donation.25
The Courts Ruling

Issues not raised before the courts a quo cannot be raised for the first time in a petition filed under Rule 45
Records show that there is a palpable shift in the defense raised by the petitioners before the RTC and the CA.
In the Pre-Trial Order26 of the RTC dated April 4, 1995, the parties agreed to limit the issue with regard to Lot No.
707 as follows: whether or not respondent Emilia is the owner of the eastern half portion of Lot No. 707. The
petitioners supporting theory for this issue was that "the Deed of Quitclaim dated November 28, 1961 was
rendered ineffective by the issuance of [TCT No. 42244] in the name of Felipa and Hilaria."27 On appeal to the CA,
however, the petitioners raised a new theory by questioning the execution and enforceability of the Deed of
Quitclaim. They claimed that it is actually a donation that was not accepted in the manner required by law.28
The inconsistent postures taken by the petitioners breach the basic procedural tenet that a party cannot change
his theory on appeal as expressly adopted in Rule 44, Section 15 of the Rules of Court, which reads:
Sec. 15. Questions that may be raised on appeal. Whether or not the appellant has filed a motion for new trial in
the court below, he may include in his assignment of errors any question of law or fact that has been raised in the
court below and which is within the issues framed by the parties.
Fortifying the rule, the Court had repeatedly emphasized that defenses not pleaded in the answer may not be
raised for the first time on appeal. When a party deliberately adopts a certain theory and the case is decided upon
that theory in the court below, he will not be permitted to change the same on appeal, because to permit him to do
so would be unfair to the adverse party.29 The Court had likewise, in numerous times, affirmed that points of law,
theories, issues and arguments not brought to the attention of the lower court need not be, and ordinarily will not
be, considered by a reviewing court, as these cannot be raised for the first time at such late stage. Basic
considerations of due process underlie this rule. It would be unfair to the adverse party who would have no
opportunity to present further evidence material to the new theory, which it could have done had it been aware of
it at the time of the hearing before the trial court.30
While a party may change his theory on appeal when the factual bases thereof would not require presentation of
any further evidence by the adverse party in order to enable it to properly meet the issue raised in the new
theory,31 this exception does not, however, obtain in the case at hand.
Contrary to the petitioners assertion, the Court finds that the issues on the supposed defects and actual nature of
the Deed of Quitclaim are questions of fact that require not only a review or re-evaluation of the evidence already
adduced by the parties but also the reception of new evidence as the petitioners themselves have acknowledged
when they attached in the petition several certifications32 in support of their new argument. It is settled that
questions of fact are beyond the province of a Rule 45 petition since the Court is not a trier of facts.33
Accordingly, the Court will not give due course to the new issues raised by the petitioners involving the nature and
execution of the Deed of Quitclaim. For their failure to advance these questions during trial, the petitioners are now
barred by estoppel34 from imploring an examination of the same.
The respondent can compel the
partition of Lot No. 707
The first stage in an action for partition is the settlement of the issue of ownership. Such an action will not lie if the
claimant has no rightful interest in the subject property. In fact, the parties filing the action are required by the
Rules of Court to set forth in their complaint the nature and the extent of their title to the property. It would be
premature to effect a partition until and unless the question of ownership is first definitely resolved.35
Here, the respondent traces her ownership over the eastern half of Lot No. 707 from the Deed of Quitclaim
executed by Agripina, who in turn, was the co-owner thereof being one of the legitimate heirs of Eulalio. It is well to
recall that the petitioners failed to categorically dispute the existence of the Deed of Quitclaim. Instead, they
averred that it has been rendered ineffective by TCT No. 42244 in the name of Felipa and Hilariathis contention
is, of course, flawed.
Mere issuance of a certificate of title in the name of any person does not foreclose the possibility that the real
property may be under coownership with persons not named in the certificate, or that the registrant may only be a
trustee, or that other parties may have acquired interest over the property subsequent to the issuance of the
certificate of title.36 Stated differently, placing a parcel of land under the mantle of the Torrens system does not
mean that ownership thereof can no longer be disputed. The certificate cannot always be considered as conclusive
evidence of ownership.37 In this case, co-ownership of Lot No. 707 was precisely what respondent Emilia was able
to successfully establish, as correctly found by the RTC and affirmed by the CA.
The status of Agripina and Carolina as the legitimate heirs of Eulalio is an undisputed fact. As such heirs, they
became co-owners of Lot No. 707 upon the death of Eulalio on July 20, 1930. Since Faustina was predeceased by
Eulalio, she likewise became a co-owner of the lot upon Eulalios death. Faustinas share, however, passed on to
her daughter Carolina when the former died on October 18, 1949. The Affidavit of Self-Adjudication executed by
Carolina did not prejudice the share of Agripina because it is not legally possible for one to adjudicate unto himself
an entire property he was not the sole owner of. A co-owner cannot alienate the shares of her other co-owners
nemo dat qui non habet.38

Hence, Lot No. 707 was a co-owned property of Agripina and Carolina. As co-owners, each of them had full
ownership of her part and of the fruits and benefits pertaining thereto. Each of them also had the right to alienate
the lot but only in so far as the extent of her portion was affected.39
Thus, when Carolina sold the entire Lot No. 707 on December 11, 1962 to Hilaria and Felipa without the consent of
her co-owner Agripina, the disposition affected only Carolinas pro indiviso share, and the vendees, Hilaria and
Felipa, acquired only what corresponds to Carolinas share. A co-owner is entitled to sell his undivided share;
hence, a sale of the entire property by one co-owner without the consent of the other co-owners is not null and
void and only the rights of the co-owner/seller are transferred, thereby making the buyer a co-owner of the
property.40
Accordingly, the deed of sale executed by Carolina in favor of Hilaria and Felipa was a valid conveyance but only
insofar as the share of Carolina in the co-ownership is concerned. As Carolinas successors-in-interest to the
property, Hilaria and Felipa could not acquire any superior right in the property than what Carolina is entitled to or
could transfer or alienate after partition.
In a contract of sale of co-owned property, what the vendee obtains by virtue of such a sale are the same rights as
the vendor had as co-owner, and the vendee merely steps into the shoes of the vendor as co-owner.41 Hilaria and
Felipa did not acquire the undivided portion pertaining to Agripina, which has already been effectively bequeathed
to respondent Emilia as early as November 28, 1961 thru the Deed of Quitclaim. In turn, being the successor-ininterest of Agripinas share in Lot No. 707, respondent Emilia took the formers place in the co-ownership and as
such co-owner, has the right to compel partition at any time.42
The respondents right to demand
for partition is not barred by
acquisitive prescription or laches
The petitioners posit that the issuance of TCT No. 42244 in the name of Hilaria and Felipa over Lot No. 707 on
December 11, 1962 was an express repudiation of the co-ownership with respondent Emilia. Considering the period
of time that has already lapsed since then, acquisitive prescription has already set in and the respondent is now
barred by laches from seeking a partition of the subject lot.
The contention is specious.
Co-heirs or co-owners cannot acquire by acquisitive prescription the share of the other co-heirs or co-owners
absent a clear repudiation of the co ownership.43 The act of repudiation, as a mode of terminating co-ownership, is
subject to certain conditions, to wit: (1) a co-owner repudiates the co-ownership; (2) such an act of repudiation is
clearly made known to the other co-owners; (3) the evidence thereon is clear and conclusive; and (4) he has been
in possession through open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession of the property for the period required
by law.44
The petitioners failed to comply with these conditions. The act of Hilaria and Felipa in effecting the registration of
the entire Lot No. 707 in their names thru TCT No. 42244 did not serve to effectively repudiate the co-ownership.
The respondent built her house on the eastern portion of the lot in 1981 without any opposition from the
petitioners. Hilaria also paid realty taxes on the lot, in behalf of the respondent, for the years 1983-1987.45 These
events indubitably show that Hilaria and Felipa failed to assert exclusive title in themselves adversely to Emilia.
Their acts clearly manifest that they recognized the subsistence of their co-ownership with respondent Emilia
despite the issuance of TCT No. 42244 in 1962. Their acts constitute an implied recognition of the co-ownership
which in turn negates the presence of a clear notice of repudiation to the respondent. To sustain a plea of
prescription, it must always clearly appear that one who was originally a joint owner has repudiated the claims of
his co-owners, and that his co-owners were apprised or should have been apprised of his claim of adverse and
exclusive ownership before the alleged prescriptive period began to run.46
In addition, when Hilaria and Felipa registered the lot in their names to the exclusion of Emilia, an implied trust was
created by force of law and the two of them were considered a trustee of the respondents undivided share.47 As
trustees, they cannot be permitted to repudiate the trust by relying on the registration. In Ringor v. Ringor,48 the
Court had the occasion to explain the reason for this rule:
A trustee who obtains a Torrens title over a property held in trust for him by another cannot repudiate the trust by
relying on the registration. A Torrens Certificate of Title in Joses name did not vest ownership of the land upon him.
The Torrens system does not create or vest title. It only confirms and records title already existing and vested. It
does not protect a usurper from the true owner. The Torrens system was not intended to foment betrayal in the
performance of a trust. It does not permit one to enrich himself at the expense of another. Where one does not
have a rightful claim to the property, the Torrens system of registration can confirm or record nothing. Petitioners
cannot rely on the registration of the lands in Joses name nor in the name of the Heirs of Jose M. Ringor, Inc., for
the wrong result they seek. For Jose could not repudiate a trust by relying on a Torrens title he held in trust for his
co-heirs.1wphi1 The beneficiaries are entitled to enforce the trust, notwithstanding the irrevocability of the
Torrens title. The intended trust must be sustained.49 (Citations omitted and emphasis ours)
Further, records do not reflect conclusive evidence showing the manner of occupation and possession exercised by
Hilaria and Felipa over the lot from the time it was registered in their names. The only evidence of possession
extant in the records dates back only to 1985 when Hilaria and Felipa declared the lot in their names for taxation
purposes.50 Prescription can only produce all its effects when acts of ownership, or in this case, possession, do not

evince any doubt as to the ouster of the rights of the other co-owners. Hence, prescription among co-owners
cannot take place when acts of ownership exercised are vague or uncertain.51
Moreover, the evidence relative to the possession, as a fact upon which the alleged prescription is based, must be
clear, complete and conclusive in order to establish said prescription without any shadow of doubt; and when upon
trial it is not shown that the possession of the claimant has been adverse and exclusive and opposed to the rights
of the others, the case is not one of ownership, and partition will lie.52 The petitioners failed to muster adequate
evidence of possession essential for the reckoning of the 10-year period for acquisitive prescription.
The express disavowal of the co-ownership did not happen on December 11, 1962 when TCT No. 42244 was issued
but in 1994 when Hilaria attempted to demolish Emilias house thus explicitly excluding her from the co-ownership.
It was the only time that Hilaria and Felipa made known their denial of the co-ownership. On the same year, the
respondent instituted the present complaint for partition; hence, the period required by law for acquisitive period
to set in was not met.
Anent laches, the Court finds it unavailing in this case in view of the proximity of the period when the co-ownership
was expressly repudiated and when the herein complaint was filed. Laches is the negligence or omission to assert
a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it has abandoned it or
declined to assert it.53 More so, laches is a creation of equity and its application is controlled by equitable
considerations. It cannot be used to defeat justice or perpetrate fraud and injustice. Neither should its application
be used to prevent the rightful owners of a property from recovering what has been fraudulently registered in the
name of another.54
Partition of Lot No. 707
Under the Old Civil Code55 which was then in force at the time of Eulalio and Marcelas marriage, Lot No. 707 was
their conjugal property.56 When Marcela died, one-half of the lot was automatically reserved to Eulalio, the
surviving spouse, as his share in the conjugal partnership.57 Marcelas rights to the other half, in turn, were
transmitted to her legitimate child, Agripina and surviving spouse Eulalio.58 Under Article 834 of the Old Civil
Code, Eulalio was entitled only to the usufruct of the lot while the naked ownership belonged to Agripina. When he
remarried, Eulalios one half portion of the lot representing his share in the conjugal partnership and his
usufructuary right over the other half were brought into his second marriage with Faustina.59
When Eulalio died on July 20, 1930, portion of the lot was reserved for Faustina as her share in the conjugal
partnership.60 The remaining were transmitted equally to the widow Faustina and Eulalios children, Carolina
and Agripina.61 However, Faustina is only entitled to the usufruct of the third available for betterment.62
The usufructuary of Eulalio over the portion inherited by Agripina earlier was merged with her naked
ownership.63 Upon the death of Faustina, the shares in Lot No. 707 which represents her share in the conjugal
partnership and her inheritance from Eulalio were in turn inherited by Carolina64 including Faustinas usufructuary
rights which were merged with Carolinas naked ownership.65
Consequently, Agripina is entitled to 5/8 portion of Lot No. 707 while the remaining 3/8 pertains to Carolina. Thus,
when Carolina sold Lot No. 707 to Hilaria and Felipa, the sale affected only 3/8 portion of the subject lot. Since the
Deed of Quitclaim, bequeathed only the eastern portion of Lot No. 707 in favor of Emilia instead of Agripinas
entire 5/8 share thereof, the remaining 1/8 portion shall be inherited by Agripinas nearest collateral relative,66
who, records show, is her sister Carolina.
In sum, the CA committed no reversible error in holding that the respondent is entitled to have Lot No. 707
partitioned. The CA judgment must, however, be modified to conform to the above-discussed apportionment of the
lot among Carolina, Hilaria, Felipa and Emilia.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 58290 dated
December 11, 2001, is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATIONS as follows: (1) 3/8 portion of Lot No. 707 shall pertain in
equal shares to Hilaria Figuracion and Felipa Figuracion-Manuel; (2) portion of Lot. No. 707 shall pertain to Emilia
Figuracion-Gerilla; and (3) 1/8 portion of Lot No. 707 shall pertain to the estate of Carolina (Carlina) Vda. De
Figuracion. The case is REMANDED to the Regional Trial Court of Urdaneta, Pangasinan, Branch 49, who is directed
to conduct a PARTITION BY COMMISSIONERS and effect the actual physical partition of the subject property, as well
as the improvements that lie therein, in the foregoing manner. The trial court is DIRECTED to appoint not more
than three (3) competent and disinterested persons, who should determine the technical metes and bounds of the
property and the proper share appertaining to each co-owner, including the improvements, in accordance with Rule
69 of the Rules of Court. When it is made to appear to the commissioners that the real estate, or a portion thereof,
cannot be divided without great prejudice to the interest of the parties, the court a quo may order it assigned to
one of the parties willing to take the same, provided he pays to the other parties such sum or sums of money as
the commissioners deem equitable, unless one of the parties interested ask that the property be sold instead of
being so assigned, in which case the court shall order the commissioners to sell the real estate at public sale, and
the commissioners shall sell the same accordingly, and thereafter distribute the proceeds of the sale appertaining
to the just share of each co-owner. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 157954

March 24, 2006

PAZ GALVEZ, CARLOS TAM, and TYCOON PROPERTIES, INC., Petitioners,


vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and PORFIRIO GALVEZ, Respondents.
DECISION
CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:
The factual antecedents of this case reveal that Timotea F. Galvez died intestate on 28 April 1965.1 She left behind
her children Ulpiano and Paz Galvez. Ulpiano, who died on 24 July 1959,2 predeceased Timotea and was survived
by his son, Porfirio Galvez. Timotea left a parcel of land situated at Pagdaraoan, San Fernando, La Union, covered
by Tax Declaration No. 396453 and more particularly described as follows:
A parcel of unirrigated riceland situated at Brgy. Pagdaraoan, San Fernando, La Union under Tax Declaration No.
39645, series of 1957, with an area of 4,304.5 square meters, more or less bounded on the North by Valentin and
Isidoro Sobrepea; on the East by Nicolas Ducusin; on the South by Victor Ducusin; and on the West by the
National Highway.4
Considering that all the other compulsory heirs of Timotea already received their respective shares,5 the property
passed by succession, both to Timoteas daughter, Paz Galvez, and to the formers grandson, Porfirio, the latter
succeeding by right of representation as the son of Ulpiano.
Porfirio Galvez was surprised to discover that on 4 May 1970,6 Paz Galvez executed an affidavit of adjudication
stating that she is the true and lawful owner of the said property. Tax Declarations No. 157497 and No. 123428
were then issued in the name of Paz Galvez. On 22 June 1992, without the knowledge and consent of Porfirio
Galvez, Paz Galvez sold the property to Carlos Tam for a consideration of Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) by way
of a Deed of Absolute Sale.9 Carlos Tam thereafter filed an application for registration of said parcel of land under
Land Registration Case No. 2278 before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of San Fernando, La Union. On 21 January
1994, Original Certificate of Title No. 0-2602 of the Registry of Deeds of San Fernando, La Union, was issued in the
name of Carlos Tam.10 Subsequently, on 27 September 1994, Carlos Tam sold the property to Tycoon Properties,
Inc. through a Deed of Absolute Sale executed by the former in favor of the latter.11 As a result, the title of Carlos
Tam over the property was cancelled and a new one, Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-4039012 was issued in
favor of Tycoon Properties, Inc.
On 12 May 1994, Porfirio Galvez filed Civil Case No. 4895 before the RTC, Branch 26, of San Fernando, La Union, for
Legal Redemption with Damages and Cancellation of Documents13 against Paz Galvez and Carlos Tam. The
Complaint was later amended to implead as additional defendant, Tycoon Properties, Inc.14 When Tycoon
Properties, Inc. filed its Answer, it also filed a cross-claim against Carlos Tam. In a decision15 dated 15 December
1999, the trial court held:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:
1. declaring null and void the Affidavit of Adjudication executed by defendant PAZ GALVEZ dated May 4,
1970;

2. declaring null and void the Deed of Absolute Sale over the property originally covered by Tax Declaration
No. 39645 executed by PAZ GALVEZ in favor of CARLOS TAM;
3. the Original Certificate of Title No. 0-2602, in the name of CARLOS TAM be considered cancelled;
4. The Deed of Sale between CARLOS TAM and TYCOON PROPERTIES, Inc. is hereby ordered cancelled with
Transfer Certificate of Title
No. T-40390, being null and void;
5. That CARLOS TAM shall receive from the Clerk of Court, San Fernando City, La Union the amount of Ten
Thousand (P10,000.00)
pesos, as redemption of the property pursuant to law;
6. That the property covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-40390, be reconveyed (whole property) to
PORFIRIO GALVEZ, he having redeemed one-half () of the property from CARLOS TAM and other half of the
property belongs to him as co-heir of TIMOTEA FLORES GALVEZ.
7. Defendant PAZ GALVEZ and CARLOS TAM shall be liable solidarily for the actual damages of the plaintiff
in the amount of Ten
Thousand (P10,000.00) pesos as well as moral damages in the amount of Fifty Thousand
(P50,000.00) Pesos, together with attorney's
fees in the amount of Ten Thousand (P10,000.00) Pesos acceptance
fee and Five Hundred (P500.00) per appearance fee.
Petitioners Paz Galvez, Carlos Tam and Tycoon Properties, Inc. appealed the decision to the Court of Appeals.17 In a
decision of the Court of Appeals dated 28 August 2002,18 the appellate court resolved to affirm the decision of the
trial court. Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration which was denied in a resolution dated 14 April 2003.19
Not contented with the decision of the Court of Appeals, petitioners are now before this Court via Petition for
Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court.
Petitioners Carlos Tam and Tycoon Properties, Inc. separately filed their Memorandum20 but raised the same issues
to wit:
I
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT REFUSED TO HOLD THAT RESPONDENT'S CLAIM OVER THE
SUBJECT PROPERTY, WHICH IS BASED ON AN IMPLIED TRUST, HAS ALREADY PRESCRIBED BECAUSE THE ACTION
WAS FILED 24 YEARS AFER PETITIONER REPUDIATED THE SAID TRUST.
II
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT FAILED TO RECOGNIZE THAT RESPONDENT'S CLAIM IS
ALREADY BARRED BY LACHES BECAUSE HE FAILED TO ASSERT HIS ALLEGED RIGHT FOR ALMOST TWENTY FOUR
(24) YEARS.
III
THE HONORABLE COURT ERRED IN FAILING TO RECOGNIZE THAT PETITIONERS [CARLOS TAM AND] TYCOON
PROPERTIES ARE BUYERS IN GOOD FAITH AND FOR VALUE AND HAS THE RIGHT TO RELY ON THE FACE OF THE
TITLE.
In assailing the decisions of the trial and appellate courts, petitioners cite Article 145122 of the Civil Code and
claim that an implied or constructive trust which prescribes in ten years, was established between Paz Galvez and
Porfirio Galvez. It is petitioners unflinching stand that the implied trust was repudiated when Paz Galvez executed
an Affidavit of Self-Adjudication on 4 May 1970, registered the same before the Register of Deeds of La Union on 4
June 1970 and secured a new tax declaration in her name. From 4 May 1970 to the time the complaint was filed on
12 May 1994, 24 years have passed, hence, the action is clearly barred both by prescription and laches.
We find the petition bereft of merit.
Ostensibly, this case is governed by the rules on co-ownership23 since both Paz Galvez and Porfirio Galvez are
obviously co-owners of the disputed property having inherited the same from a common ancestor. Article 494 of
the Civil Code provides that "[a] prescription shall not run in favor of a co-owner or co-heir against his co-owners or
co-heirs as long as he expressly or impliedly recognizes the co-ownership."
It is a fundamental principle that a co-owner cannot acquire by prescription the share of the other co-owners,
absent any clear repudiation of the co-ownership.24 In Santos v. Santos,25 citing the earlier case of Adille v. Court
of Appeals,26 this Court found occasion to rule that:
Prescription, as a mode of terminating a relation of co-ownership, must have been preceded by repudiation (of the
co-ownership). The act of repudiation, in turn, is subject to certain conditions: (1) a co-owner repudiates the coownership; (2) such an act of repudiation is clearly made known to the other co-owners; (3) the evidence thereon is

clear and conclusive; and (4) he has been in possession through open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious
possession of the property for the period required by law.
For title to prescribe in favor of a co-owner there must be a clear showing that he has repudiated the claims of the
other co-owners and the latter has been categorically advised of the exclusive claim he is making to the property
in question. The rule requires a clear repudiation of the co-ownership duly communicated to the other coowners.27 It is only when such unequivocal notice has been given that the period of prescription will begin to run
against the other co-owners and ultimately divest them of their own title if they do not seasonably defend it.28
To sustain a plea of prescription, it must always clearly appear that one who was originally a joint owner has
repudiated the claims of his co-owners, and that his co-owners were apprised or should have been apprised of his
claim of adverse and exclusive ownership before the alleged prescriptive period began to run.29
In Salvador v. Court of Appeals,30 it was held that the possession of a co-owner is like that of a trustee and shall
not be regarded as adverse to the other co-owner but in fact beneficial to all of them.
The case of Huang v. Court of Appeals31 is instructive on the creation of trust relationships.
Trust is a fiduciary relationship with respect to property which involves the existence of equitable duties imposed
upon the holder of the title to the property to deal with it for the benefit of another. A person who establishes a
trust is called the trustor; one in whom confidence is reposed as regards property for the benefit of another person
is known as the trustee; and the person for whose benefit the trust has been created is referred to as the
beneficiary or cestui que trust. Trust is either express or implied. Express trust is created by the intention of the
trustor or of the parties. Implied trust comes into being by operation of law. The latter kind is either constructive or
resulting trust. A constructive trust is imposed where a person holding title to property is subject to an equitable
duty to convey it to another on the ground that he would be unjustly enriched if he were permitted to retain it. The
duty to convey the property arises because it was acquired through fraud, duress, undue influence or mistake, or
through breach of a fiduciary duty, or through the wrongful disposition of anothers property. On the other hand, a
resulting trust arises where a person makes or causes to be made a disposition of property under circumstances
which raise an inference that he does not intend that the person taking or holding the property should have the
beneficial interest in the property. It is founded on the presumed intention of the parties, and as a general rule, it
arises where, and only where such may be reasonably presumed to be the intention of the parties, as determined
from the facts and circumstances existing at the time of the transaction out of which it is sought to be established.
Acts which may be considered adverse to strangers may not be considered adverse insofar as co-owners are
concerned. Thus, Salvador v. Court of Appeals reiterated what acts constitute proof of exclusive ownership
amounting to repudiation, emphasizing that the act must be borne out of clear and convincing evidence of acts of
possession which unequivocably amounts to an ouster or deprivation of the right of the other co-owner. The case
of Pangan v. Court of Appeals32 enumerated the following as constituting acts of repudiation:
Filing by a trustee of an action in court against the trustor to quiet title to property, or for recovery of ownership
thereof, held in possession by the former, may constitute an act of repudiation of the trust reposed on him by the
latter.
The issuance of the certificate of title would constitute an open and clear repudiation of any trust, and the lapse of
more than 20 years, open and adverse possession as owner would certainly suffice to vest title by prescription.
An action for the reconveyance of land based on implied or constructive trust prescribes within 10 years. And it is
from the date of the issuance of such title that the effective assertion of adverse title for purposes of the statute of
limitation is counted.
The prescriptive period may only be counted from the time petitioners repudiated the trust relation in 1955 upon
the filing of the complaint for recovery of possession against private respondents so that the counterclaim of the
private respondents contained in their amended answer wherein they asserted absolute ownership of the disputed
realty by reason of the continuous and adverse possession of the same is well within the 10-year prescriptive
period.
There is clear repudiation of a trust when one who is an apparent administrator of property causes the cancellation
of the title thereto in the name of the apparent beneficiaries and gets a new certificate of title in his own name.
It is only when the defendants, alleged co-owners of the property in question, executed a deed of partition and on
the strength thereof obtained the cancellation of the title in the name of their predecessor and the issuance of a
new one wherein they appear as the new owners of a definite area each, thereby in effect denying or repudiating
the ownership of one of the plaintiffs over his alleged share in the entire lot, that the statute of limitations started
to run for the purposes of the action instituted by the latter seeking a declaration of the existence of the coownership and of their rights thereunder.
In this case, we find that Paz Galvez effected no clear and evident repudiation of the co-ownership. The execution
of the affidavit of self-adjudication does not constitute such sufficient act of repudiation as contemplated under the
law as to effectively exclude Porfirio Galvez from the property. This Court has repeatedly expressed its disapproval
over the obvious bad faith of a co-heir feigning sole ownership of the property to the exclusion of the other heirs
essentially stating that one who acts in bad faith should not be permitted to profit from it to the detriment of
others. In the cases of Adille33 and Pangan34 where, as in this case, a co-heir was excluded from his legal share by

the other co-heir who represented himself as the only heir, this Court held that the act of exclusion does not
constitute repudiation.
On the issue of prescription, while admittedly prescription operates as a bar to recovery of property, the ten-year
period commenced to run from date of registration. In this case, Carlos Tam obtained his title to the property on 21
January 1994. Since the complaint of Porfirio Galvez was filed on 12 May 1994, the same was well within the tenyear period to file the action.
On the matter of laches, it is hornbook doctrine that laches is a creation of equity and its application is controlled
by equitable considerations. Laches cannot be used to defeat justice or perpetrate fraud and injustice.35 Neither
should its application be used to prevent the rightful owners of a property from recovering what has been
fraudulently registered in the name of another.36 The equitable remedy of laches is, therefore, unavailing in this
case.
Finally, petitioners claim that if the sale would be nullified, the nullification should extend only to the one-half share
of Porfirio Galvez37 but not to the share of Paz Galvez, who, by her overt act of selling the property, manifested her
intention to dispose of her part.
Notably, Porfirio Galvezs complaint was captioned "legal redemption with damages, cancellation of documents and
reconveyance of share."38 In his prayer, he sought for the reconveyance of his one-half share in the property and
at the same time be subrogated to the other half pertaining to Paz Galvez and sold to Carlos Tam after
reimbursement of the amount which the latter paid for the property.
The pertinent provisions of the Civil Code on legal redemption are as follows:
ART. 1619. Legal redemption is the right to be subrogated, upon the same terms and conditions stipulated in the
contract, in the place of one who acquires a thing by purchase or dation in payment, or by any other transaction
whereby ownership is transmitted by onerous title.
ART. 1620. A co-owner of a thing may exercise the right of redemption in case the shares of all the other co-owners
or of any of them, are sold to a third person. If the price of the alienation is grossly excessive, the redemptioner
shall pay only a reasonable one.
Should two or more co-owners desire to exercise the right of redemption, they may only do so in proportion to the
share they may respectively have in the thing owned in common.
In the case of Hermoso v. Court of Appeals,39 this Court, in interpreting the provision of the law on legal
redemption, held:
The purpose of Article 1067 (of the old Civil Code, now Article 1088 of the present Civil Code) is to keep strangers
to the family out of a joint ownership, if, as is often the case, the presence of outsiders be undesirable and the
other heir or heirs be willing and in a position to repurchase the share sold (De Jesus vs. Manlapus, 81 Phil. 144).
While there should be no question that an heir may dispose his right before partition (Rivero vs. Serrano [CA] 46
O.G. 642; Wenceslao vs. Calimon, 46 Phil. 906; Hernaez vs. Hernaez, 32 Phil. 214), a co-heir would have had to pay
only the price for which the vendee acquired it (Hernaez vs. Hernaez, Ibid.).
It is a one-way street. It is always in favor of the redemptioner since he can compel the vendee to sell to him but
he cannot be compelled by the vendee to buy the alienated property.
In another case, 40 this Court reiterated that:
Legal redemption is in the nature of a privilege created by law partly for reasons of public policy and partly for the
benefit and convenience of the redemptioner, to afford him a way out of what might be a disagreeable or [an]
inconvenient association into which he has been thrust. (10 Manresa, 4th Ed., 317.) It is intended to minimize coownership. The law grants a co-owner the exercise of the said right of redemption when the shares of the other
owners are sold to a "third person."
The rule on redemption is liberally construed in favor of the original owner of the property and the policy of the law
is to aid rather than defeat him in the exercise of his right of redemption.41
Thus, petitioners cannot be accommodated in this respect and we agree with the trial court when it held:
The provision of Art. 1088 of the Civil Code of the Philippines is very clear on the matter.
Art. 1088, provides: "Should any of the heirs sell his hereditary rights to a stranger before the partition, any or all
the co-heirs may be subrogated to the rights of the purchaser by reimbursing him for the price of the sale,
provided they do so within the period of one (1) month from the time they were notified in writing of the sale by
the vendor."
There was no written notice sent to Porfirio Galvez by Paz Galvez when she sold her share over the land to Carlos
Tam. Porfirio Galvez only discovered on May 12, 1994 that the land was sold to Carlos Tam. Art. 1620, Civil Code of
the Philippines, provides:

Art. 1620. "A co-owner of a thing may exercise the right of redemption in case the share of all the other co-owners
or any of them are sold to a third person. If the price of the alienation is grossly excessive, the redemptioner shall
pay only a reasonable one."
No written notice of the sale was given by Paz Galvez (vendor) to Porfirio Galvez, the co-owner as required under
Art. 1623 of the Civil Code. The written notice is mandatory. Hence, the right to redeem commenced when plaintiff
sought to exercise it by instituting the complaint in the instant case on June 12, 1994. The complaint of legal
redemption may be filed even several years after the consummation of sale (Zosima Verdad vs. Court of Appeals,
et al.; G.R. No. 10972, April 29, 1996).42
As to petitioners Carlos Tam and Tycoon Properties, Inc.s claim that they are buyers in good faith, same fails to
persuade.
A purchaser in good faith and for value is one who buys the property without notice that some other person has a
right to or interest in such property and pays its fair price before he has notice of the adverse claims and interest of
another person in the same property. So it is that the "honesty of intention" which constitutes good faith implies a
freedom from knowledge of circumstances which ought to put a person on inquiry.43
Suffice it to state that both the trial and appellate courts found otherwise as "Tam did not exert efforts to determine
the previous ownership of the property in question"44 and relied only on the tax declarations in the name of Paz
Galvez.45 It must be noted that Carlos Tam received a copy of the summons and the complaint on 22 September
1994. This notwithstanding, he sold the property to Tycoon Properties, Inc. on 27 September 1994. Significantly,
Carlos Tam is also an owner of Tycoon Properties, Inc. to the extent of 45%.46 A notice of lis pendens dated 8 July
1997 filed with the Registry of Deeds of the Province of La Union was inscribed on TCT No. T- 40390.47 Despite the
inscription, Tycoon Properties, Inc. mortgaged the land to Far East Bank and Trust Company for the sum of
P11,172,600.48 All these attendant circumstances negate petitioners claim of good faith.
Wherefore, premises considered, the decision of the Court of Appeals dated 28 August 2002 and its Resolution
dated 14 April 2003 are Affirmed. Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 175542

June 5, 2013

GREEN ACRES HOLDINGS, INC., Petitioner,


vs.
VICTORIA P. CABRAL, SPS. ENRIQUE T. MORAGA and VICTORIA SORIANO, FILCON READY MIXED, INC., DEPARTMENT
OF AGRARIAN REFORM ADJUDICATION BOARD (DARAB), and REGISTRY OF DEEDS OF BULACAN, MEYCAUA YAN
BRANCH, Respondents.
x-----------------------x
G.R. No. 183205
VICTORIA P. CABRAL, Petitioner,
vs.
PROVINCIAL ADJUDICATOR, JOSEPH NOEL C. LONGBOAN I OFFICE OF THE AGRARIAN REFORM ADJUDICATOR, GREEN
ACRES HOLDINGS, INC., SPOUSES ENRIQUE T. MORAGA and VICTORIA SORIANO and FILCON READY MIXED, INC.,
Respondents.

DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:
Before us are two consolidated petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
as amended.
In G.R. No. 175542, petitioner Green Acres Holdings, Inc. (hereafter, Green Acres) assails the November 24, 2006
Decision1 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 85766 dismissing its appeal from the November 3, 2004
Order2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) while in G.R. No. 183205, petitioner Victoria Cabral seeks to set aside the
February 27, 2008 Decision3 and May 29, 2008 Resolution4 of the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 99651.
The facts are as follows:
Victoria Cabral was the original owner of a parcel of land in Barangay Pandayan, Meycauayan, Bulacan with an area
of 11,432 square meters and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. T-73737 (M). The land was placed
under the coverage of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 27, and on March 23, 1993, three Emancipation Patents were
issued to the spouses Enrique Moraga and Victoria Soriano (Spouses Moraga) as follows: EP No. 496039 with an
area of 861 square meters; EP No. 496040 with an area of 2,159 square meters; and EP No. 496041 with an area of
8,941 square meters. The Spouses Moraga thereafter caused the cancellation of EP No. 496041 and its conversion
to TCT No. 256260 (M).
On August 29, 1994, Cabral filed a complaint before the Provincial Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (PARAD) seeking
the cancellation of the Emancipation Patents issued to the Spouses Moraga on the grounds that these were
obtained through fraud and that the land is not suitable for rice and corn production and has long been classified
as residential, commercial, industrial and nonagricultural land by the Zoning Administrator of the Housing and Land
Use Regulatory Board. The case was docketed as Reg. Case No. 739-Bul-94.
On December 15, 1995, the PARAD rendered a decision denying the petition for cancellation of the Emancipation
Patents and dismissing the complaint for lack of merit. Cabral appealed the decision to the Department of Agrarian
Reform Adjudication Board (DARAB).5
While the appeal was pending, the Spouses Moraga subdivided the lot covered by TCT No. 256260 (M) into three
smaller lots, the properties subject of this case. TCT Nos. T-270125 (M) covering 3,511 square meters, T-270126
(M) covering 2,715 square meters, and T-270127 (M) covering 2,715 square meters were thereafter issued in their
names on May 29, 1996. On June 19, 1996, the Spouses Moraga sold the lots to Filcon Ready Mixed Inc. (Filcon for
brevity) and TCT Nos. T-274486 (M),6 T-274487 (M)7 and T-274488 (M)8 were issued in the name of Filcon on June
24, 1996.
On April 29, 1999, Green Acres purchased9 five lots from Filcon including the three subject properties covered by
TCT Nos. T-274486 (M), T-274487 (M) and T-274488 (M) in the name of Filcon. Except for an already cancelled
annotation of a real estate mortgage in favor of Philippine Commercial International Bank (PCI Bank),10 the titles
were free from any annotations, liens, notices, claims or encumbrances.
On April 30, 1999, the titles of Filcon were cancelled by the Register of Deeds of Meycauayan, Bulacan and new
titles were issued in the name of Green Acres including TCT Nos. T-345660 (M),11 T-345661 (M)12 and T-345662
(M)13 covering the subject properties. Green Acres then constructed a warehouse building complex on the said
lots.
On January 17, 2001, the DARAB resolved Cabrals appeal and rendered judgment ordering the cancellation of the
titles issued in the names of the Spouses Moraga and those of Filcon for having been illegally acquired. The
dispositive portion of the DARAB decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a NEW JUDGMENT is
rendered disposing as follows:

1. Ordering the cancellation of TCT No. EP-051 (M) (EP No. 496039; TCT No. EP-052 (M) (EP No. 496040);
TCT No. EP-052 (M) (EP No.
496041); TCT No. T-270125 (M); TCT No. T-270126 (M); and TCT No. T-270127 (M)
all in the names of defendants spouses Moraga;
TCT No. 274486 (M); TCT No. T-[2]74487 (M), and TCT No. T274488 (M) all in the name of FILCO[N] READY MIXED INC;
2. Directing the Register of Deeds of Bulacan to restore TCT No. T-73737 (M) in the name of plaintiff Victoria
P. Cabral;
3. Ordering defendants Moraga and their assign, FILCON READY MIXED INC., to vacate the premises of the
lands in question and turn
over their possession to herein plaintiff; and,
4. All claims and counterclaims of both parties are hereby dismissed for insufficiency of evidence.
SO ORDERED.

When Green Acres learned about the DARAB decision, it sent a Letter15 to Filcon on March 15, 2001 advising the
latter that it learned that the properties it bought from Filcon were the subject of an adverse decision of the DARAB.
Fearing that its titles and possession might be disturbed by the DARAB decision, Green Acres reminded Filcon of its
warranties under the deed of sale.
In a letter16 dated March 30, 2001, Filcon replied that it was also an innocent purchaser for value since at the time
it purchased the subject property, it had no knowledge of any legal infirmity in the title of the Spouses Moraga. In
fact, it was able to secure a loan from PCI Bank in the amount of P12 million with the subject property as collateral.
Filcon assured Green Acres that it is coordinating with its predecessor, the Spouses Moraga, to make sure that
Green Acres interest over the property is protected.
On April 19, 2001, Green Acres filed a Complaint17 for Quieting of Title, Damages with Application for Preliminary
Injunction and Writ of Preliminary Attachment before the RTC of Malolos, Bulacan against Cabral, the Spouses
Moraga, Filcon, the DARAB and the Registry of Deeds of Meycauayan, Bulacan. The case was docketed as Civil Case
No. 279-M-2001. Green Acres sought to quiet its title and alleged that it is a purchaser in good faith and for value,
claiming that it had no notice or knowledge of any adverse claim, lien, or encumbrance on the properties. Neither
was it a party to the DARAB proceedings nor did it have notice of the said proceedings where the DARAB Decision
of January 17, 2001 was issued. Green Acres claimed that the DARAB decision casts a cloud on its titles.
Cabral, in her Answer,18 denied all the material allegations in the complaint and alleged that Green Acres never
acquired valid title to the subject property, much less, can it claim to be an innocent purchaser for value. She
further averred that a declaratory judgment in a petition to quiet title will effectively subject the DARAB decision to
review.
After Green Acres presented its evidence, Cabral filed a Demurrer to Plaintiffs Evidence19 arguing that Green
Acres failed to prove that it is a purchaser in good faith and for value. She maintains that the complaint is not
appropriate for quieting of title since it omitted to assail her titles over the subject property but instead questioned
the proceedings held at the DARAB. She likewise insisted that the trial court has no jurisdiction over the subject
property since the same is still within the coverage of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law and thus under the
jurisdiction of the DARAB.
In an Order20 dated November 3, 2004, the trial court granted the demurrer and ordered the case dismissed.
Green Acres motion for reconsideration having been denied, Green Acres filed with the CA an appeal which was
docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 85766.
In the meantime, the DARAB decision became final and executory on April 13, 200521 as no further recourse was
sought by the Spouses Moraga from the denial of their motion for reconsideration on February 24, 2005.22On July
8, 2005, Cabral filed with the PARAD a Motion for Issuance of Writ of Execution23 of the DARAB decision.
On January 25, 2006, the PARAD issued a Resolution denying the Motion for Issuance of Writ of Execution for lack of
merit. It ruled:
Only the decision of the Board as embodied in the dispositive portion of the decision can be implemented by virtue
of a writ of execution. The January 17, 2001 decision merely orders the cancellation of the Emancipation Patent and
Transfer Certificate of Titles issued by the Registry of Deeds of Bulacan in favor of Sps. MORAGA and FILCON.
Hence, if ever a Writ of Execution will be issued, it will be up to the FILCON which was included in the dispositive
portion of the Decision that has become final and executory. Nothing in the body of the decision as well as the
dispositive portion thereof directs the cancellation of the title issued in favor of GREEN ACRES. If we subscribe to
the prayer of the movant, we will be in effect amending the aforementioned decision because we will be inserting
something that has not been directed to be done. x x x
xxxx
Aside from amending the final and executory decision in this case, this Forum will also be violating the generally
accepted principle of due process. It is already settled that even the administrative arm of the government
exercising quasi-judicial functions are not exempt from observing due process. x x x
xxxx
It is clear as the sun rises from the east that GREEN ACRES was never made a party in the case at bar. Much less
was it mentioned in the decision sought to be executed itself. GREEN ACRES can not be made to suffer the
consequences of a case where it did not participate.
xxxx
Lastly, to allow movants contention will also render the pending case of quieting of title filed by GREEN ACRES
against herein plaintiff movant on April 18, 2001 before the Regional Trial Court, Third Judicial Region, Branch 84
and docketed as Civil Case 279-M-2001 which was appealed to the Court of Appeals, moot and academic.
All told, the titles of Sps. MORAGA and FILCON sought to be cancelled in the decision have already been cancelled.
Therefore, there is nothing to be done anymore, as the relief prayed for has become fait accompli.24

Cabral filed a Motion for Recusation25 and a Motion for Reconsideration.26 The PARAD, however, denied Cabrals
motions on September 11, 2006.27 Thus, on November 7, 2006, Cabral filed with the PARAD a Notice of Appeal.28
In the meantime, the CA, on November 24, 2006, rendered a decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 85766 dismissing Green
Acres appeal. Citing the case of Foster-Gallego v. Spouses Galang,29 the appellate court held that the trial court
had no authority to interfere with the proceedings of a court of equal jurisdiction, much less to annul the final
judgment of a co-equal court. The appellate court further held that the only issue in an action to quiet title is
whether there is a cloud in a title to real property because of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or a
proceeding that has a prima facie appearance of validity and the DARAB decision does not fall within said
enumeration.
On February 27, 2007, the PARAD issued an Order30 denying due course to Cabrals Notice of Appeal and held that
the resolution denying the motion for execution is an interlocutory order against which the remedy is a petition for
certiorari under Rule 65, and not an appeal to the DARAB. The PARAD further ruled that Cabrals act of impleading
Green Acres as additional defendant only in the execution stage is highly irregular and that to enforce the decision
against Green Acres would violate the latters right to due process.
On June 18, 2007, Cabral filed with the CA a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 seeking to annul the January 25,
2006 and September 11, 2006 Resolutions, as well as the February 27, 2007 Order of the PARAD.
On February 27, 2008, the CA denied Cabrals petition. The appellate court ratiocinated as follows:
An execution can only be issued against a party and not against one who did not have his day in court x x x. Green
Acres was never a party to the case nor it was (sic) mentioned in the decision sought to be executed, hence, Green
Acres cannot be made to suffer the consequences of a case where it did not participate. To maintain otherwise
would be to ignore the constitutional prohibition against depriving a person of his property without due process of
law x x x.
Moreover, to apply the decision against Green Acres will amount to collateral attack against its titles because
nowhere in the case or decision that it was considered or passed upon. Under the Property Registration Decree,
titles issued under the Torrens system can only be altered, modified or cancelled in direct proceeding in accordance
with law
x x x.
Even assuming that spouses Moraga and Filcon fraudulently acquired the disputed lots, still, Green Acres has valid
and legitimate titles over the same since it is a purchaser in good faith and for value when it acquired the
properties from Filcon. A buyer in good faith is one who buys the property of another without notice that some
other person has a right to or interest in such property x x x.31 (Citations omitted.)
Both Green Acres and Cabral are now before this Court seeking the reversal of the CA decisions adverse to them.
In G.R. No. 175542, Green Acres contends that the CA erred in:
x x x RULING THAT THE DARAB DECISION IS NOT A SOURCE OF A CLOUD THAT IS SUSCEPTIBLE TO AN ACTION FOR
QUIETING OF TITLE.
x x x HOLDING THAT THE COURT DOES NOT HAVE AUTHORITY TO QUIET TITLES TO REAL PROPERTY AND REMOVE A
CLOUD PRODUCED BY A DARAB DECISION.
x x x AFFIRMING THE ORDER OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT DATED NOVEMBER 3, 2004 THEREBY IMPLIEDLY
HOLDING THAT GREEN ACRES IS NOT A PURCHASER IN GOOD FAITH FOR VALUE; THUS, ITS TITLE CAN NOT BE
QUIETED.32
In G.R. No. 183205, Cabral, on the other hand, argues that the CA erred when it:
x x x FAILED TO CORRECTLY APPLY THE PERTINENT PROVISIONS OF THE DARAB 2003 RULES OF PROCEDURE, P.D.
1529 AND THE CIVIL CODE, AMONG OTHERS, AS WELL AS THE APPLICABLE JURISPRUDENCE.
x x x DISMISSED PETITIONERS PETITION FOR CERTIORARI.
x x x FAILED TO RULE THAT THERE WAS GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OF OR ABUSE OF
DISCRETION ON THE PART OF PUBLIC RESPONDENT PROVINCIAL ADJUDICATOR LONGBOAN.
x x x DECLARED THAT THE DECISION PROMULGATED ON JANUARY 17, 2001 CANNOT BE MADE TO APPLY TO
RESPONDENT GREEN ACRES.
x x x DECLARED THAT (SIC) RESPONDENT GREEN ACRES TO BE AN "INNOCENT PURCHASER FOR VALUE."33
Simply put, the issues raised in the two petitions are essentially as follows: (1) Whether the January 17, 2001
DARAB decision may be enforced against Green Acres; and (2) Whether the said DARAB decision in favor of Cabral
constitutes a cloud on Green Acres title over the subject properties.

First Issue: Whether the January 17,


2001 DARAB decision may be
enforced against Green Acres.
Cabral contends that the PARAD committed grave abuse of discretion in not issuing the writ of execution to enforce
the January 17, 2001 DARAB decision in her favor. She argues that the issuance of a writ of execution is ministerial
under Section 1, Rule XX of the 2003 DARAB Rules of Procedure which provides that the execution of a final order
or decision shall issue as a matter of course.
Cabral also argues that contrary to the PARADs ruling, she is not seeking the amendment of the final decision
sought to be executed. She contends that the directive to the Register of Deeds to restore TCT No. T-73737 (M) in
her name means that it should be done regardless of who holds title to the property at the time of execution. In
this case, it is Green Acres. She also points out that the transfer from the Spouses Moraga to Filcon in 1996 and
eventually to Green Acres in 1999 transpired after she filed a case with the DARAB in 1994. Therefore, under
Section 12.2, Rule XX of the DARAB Rules, Green Acres is considered a successor in interest by title subsequent to
the commencement of the action upon whom the final judgment or order of the DARAB is conclusive. Cabral also
insists that Green Acres cannot be considered an innocent purchaser for value because the transfers were made to
defeat the DARAB ruling.
Green Acres, for its part, submits that the CA did not err in denying Cabrals petition for certiorari. Green Acres
contends that Cabral, through her motion for execution, sought the amendment of the DARAB decision and did not
move merely for its execution. Green Acres points out that Cabrals motion for execution specifically sought the
cancellation of Green Acres titles even though the DARAB decision neither included Green Acres or its titles. Green
Acres points out that if the issuance of a writ of execution that conforms to the decision may be denied on the
ground that it will be inequitable, moreso should it be denied in the case where the writ of execution prayed for
goes beyond the decision. Hence, even if the issuance of a writ of execution to enforce a final and executory
decision is a ministerial duty, the PARAD may not issue a writ of execution against Filcon and Green Acres as
prayed for by Cabral.
Green Acres also argues that it cannot be bound by the DARAB decision since a writ of execution of a decision can
only be issued against a party to the case and not against one who did not have his day in court. Moreover, if
granted, the execution sought will constitute a collateral attack against the titles of Green Acres since nowhere in
the DARAB decision sought to be executed were they mentioned. Green Acres also adds that Cabral misinterpreted
Section 12.2 of the DARAB Rules to mean that a judgment issued in a case is binding upon, and can be executed,
even against those parties not impleaded in the case. Green Acres submits that Section 12 is a mere reproduction
of Section 47, Rule 39 of the Rules of Court on the principle of res judicata. Thus, the cited DARAB rule does not
operate to bind Green Acres, either presently or in the future, to the DARAB decision which does not mention Green
Acres either in the body or the dispositive portion. Green Acres likewise argues that impleading it as an additional
defendant in the execution stage aggravates the violation of its right to due process.
Green Acres further contends that Cabrals argument that it is not a purchaser in good faith and for value may not
be considered in the resolution of her petition before this Court as her argument goes into the merits of the case
and said matters were not raised in her motion for execution. But even if the argument could be considered, Green
Acres claims that the merits of the case show that it is a purchaser in good faith and for value. Green Acres points
out that when it purchased the properties from Filcon, the properties were covered by transfer certificates of title,
not Emancipation Patents, without any indication that the titles had their origins from the application of any
agrarian law. Green Acres also adds that the occupancy or possession of the properties of both Filcon and Green
Acres were not clandestine as Cabral claims. Neither can it be true, as Cabral claimed, that its acquisition of the
titles to the properties was made through "surreptitious and illegal transfers." Green Acres argues that Cabral must
have known about the alleged illegal subdivision of the property and issuance of the transfer certificates of titles or
Emancipation Patents, or if she did not know, she is nonetheless deemed to have received constructive notice of
the same because the properties were registered under the Torrens System. Yet, despite said notice, Cabral, with
gross negligence, failed to annotate a notice of lis pendens on said titles.
We find in favor of Green Acres.
The principle that a person cannot be prejudiced by a ruling rendered in an action or proceeding in which he was
not made a party conforms to the constitutional guarantee of due process of law.34 In Muoz v. Yabut, Jr.,35 this
Court ruled:
An action for declaration of nullity of title and recovery of ownership of real property, or re-conveyance, is a real
action but it is an action in personam, for it binds a particular individual only although it concerns the right to a
tangible thing. Any judgment therein is binding only upon the parties properly impleaded.
Since they were not impleaded as parties and given the opportunity to participate in Civil Case No. Q-28580, the
final judgment in said case cannot bind BPI Family and the spouses Chan. The effect of the said judgment cannot
be extended to BPI Family and the spouses Chan by simply issuing an alias writ of execution against them. No man
shall be affected by any proceeding to which he is a stranger, and strangers to a case are not bound by any
judgment rendered by the court. In the same manner, a writ of execution can be issued only against a party and
not against one who did not have his day in court. Only real parties in interest in an action are bound by the
judgment therein and by writs of execution issued pursuant thereto.36 (Emphasis supplied.)

It is beyond dispute that Green Acres was not made a party in the DARAB case. Consequently, the January 17, 2001
DARAB decision cannot bind Green Acres. Likewise, the binding effect of the DARAB decision cannot be extended to
Green Acres by the mere issuance of a writ of execution against it. No one shall be affected by any proceeding to
which he is a stranger, and strangers to a case are not bound by any judgment rendered by the court. In the same
manner, a writ of execution can be issued only against a party and not against one who did not have his day in
court. Only real parties in interest in an action are bound by the judgment therein and by writs of execution and
demolition issued pursuant thereto.37
Moreover, a Torrens title, as a general rule, is irrevocable and indefeasible, and the duty of the court is to see to it
that this title is maintained and respected unless challenged in a direct proceeding. Section 48 of P.D. No. 1529
provides:
SEC. 48. Certificate not subject to collateral attack. A certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack. It
cannot be altered, modified, or cancelled except in a direct proceeding in accordance with law. (Emphasis
supplied.)
In Sps. Sarmiento v. Court of Appeals,38 this Court explained when an action is a direct attack on a title and when
it is collateral:
An action is deemed an attack on a title when the object of the action or proceeding is to nullify the title, and thus
challenge the judgment pursuant to which the title was decreed. The attack is direct when the object of the action
is to annul or set aside such judgment, or enjoin its enforcement. On the other hand, the attack is indirect or
collateral when, in an action to obtain a different relief, an attack on the judgment is nevertheless made as an
incident thereof.39
In the instant case, Cabral seeks the execution of a final and executory DARAB decision that directs the
cancellation of the TCTs in the name of the Spouses Moraga and Filcon. Nowhere in the said decision is Green Acres
or its TCTs mentioned. Nonetheless, in her Motion for Issuance of Writ of Execution, Cabral alleged that Green
Acres, like Filcon, "also never acquired valid title to the subject land" and "hence, its present TCTs thereto should
likewise be cancelled (together with the respective Emancipation Patents and TCTs of Sps. Moraga and Filcon Ready
Mixed, Inc. mentioned in the DARAB Decision) and reverted back to her TCT."40 She prayed for the issuance of a
writ of execution against the Spouses Moraga and "their subsequent assigns/successors in interest Filcon Ready
Mixed, Inc. and Green Acres Holdings, Inc."41 Clearly, seeking the cancellation of the titles of Green Acres by a
mere Motion for Issuance of Writ of Execution of a decision rendered in a case where said titles were not in issue
constitutes a collateral attack on them which this Court cannot allow.
Furthermore, as correctly ruled by the PARAD and upheld by the appellate court, only the decision of the DARAB as
embodied in the dispositive portion of the decision can be implemented by a writ of execution. As held in Ingles v.
Cantos:42
A writ of execution should conform to the dispositive portion of the decision to be executed, and the execution is
void if it is in excess of and beyond the original judgment or award, for it is a settled general principle that a writ of
execution must conform strictly with every essential particular of the judgment promulgated. It may not vary the
terms of the judgment it seeks to enforce. Nor may it go beyond the terms of the judgment sought to be executed.
Where the writ of execution is not in harmony with and exceeds the judgment which gives it life, the writ has pro
tanto no validity.43
A reading of the fallo of the DARAB decision would show that nothing in it directs the cancellation of the titles
issued in favor of Green Acres. To subscribe to Cabrals prayer in her motion is tantamount to modifying or
amending a decision that has already attained finality in violation of the doctrine of immutability of judgment.
It is also worth noting that the fact that the DARAB by final judgment ordered the cancellation of the titles of the
Spouses Moraga and Filcon does not automatically make the titles of Green Acres null and void. It is settled that a
void title may be the source of a valid title in the hands of an innocent purchaser for value.44 An innocent
purchaser for value is one who, relying on the certificate of title, bought the property from the registered owner,
without notice that some other person has a right to, or interest in such property and pays a full and fair price for
the same at the time of such purchase or before he has notice of the claim or interest of some other person in the
property.45 The rationale therefor was expressed by this Court in the earlier case of Republic v. Court of Appeals,46
thus:
Where innocent third persons, relying on the correctness of the certificate of title thus issued, acquire rights over
the property the court cannot disregard such rights and order the total cancellation of the certificate. The effect of
such an outright cancellation would be to impair public confidence in the certificate of title, for everyone dealing
with property registered under the Torrens system would have to inquire in every instance whether the title has
been regularly or irregularly issued. This is contrary to the evident purpose of the law. Every person dealing with
registered land may safely rely on the correctness of the certificate of title issued therefor and the law will in no
way oblige him to go behind the certificate to determine the condition of the property. x x x47
Green Acres is considered an innocent purchaser for value. It relied on the certificates of title of Filcon, free from
any liens and encumbrances. The only annotation on them was a cancelled real estate mortgage in favor of PCI
Bank. Thus, as held by the CA, Green Acres was under no obligation to investigate beyond Filcons titles as Green
Acres had all the reason to believe that said titles were free from any lien, claim or encumbrance.

We also agree with the CA that Cabrals allegation that the Spouses Moraga, Filcon and Green Acres were parties to
illegal contracts cannot be given weight as such goes into the merits of the case and may not be considered in the
execution stage.
If there is anyone to be blamed for Cabrals failure to recover the subject properties, it is Cabral herself, who, due
to her own negligence, failed to annotate a notice of lis pendens on the titles of the Spouses Moraga and Filcon and
thus give notice to future transferees. She cannot claim that she was clueless that the subject properties were
being transferred. As Green Acres correctly pointed out, the transfers to Filcon and eventually to Green Acres were
made through public documents and procedures. Also, considering the significant size of the properties, occupation
of the same cannot be made clandestinely. In fact, the properties were fenced by concrete walls and Filcon had
constructed a batch plant while Green Acres erected a warehouse and building on it. Had her adverse claim been
annotated on said titles, said notice would have served as a warning to Green Acres or other purchasers of the
properties that any right they acquire would be subject to the outcome of the litigation before the DARAB. Having
failed to make such annotation, this Court has no choice but to uphold the titles of Green Acres, an innocent
purchaser for value.
Whether the DARAB Decision in
favor of Cabral constitutes a cloud
on Green Acres title over the subject
properties
Green Acres argues that the DARAB decision is among those enumerated in Article 47648 of the Civil Code as a
possible source of a cloud on title to real property. It contends that there can hardly be any doubt that the DARAB
Decision is an "instrument," or if not, a "record" and reflects a "claim" on the properties, while the proceedings
before the DARAB are "proceedings" directed at the real properties now owned by Green Acres which are
"apparently valid or effective" but "unenforceable" against the titles of Green Acres. It also contends that the
appellate courts reliance on Foster-Gallego v. Spouses Galang49 is misplaced since nothing in said case supports
the proposition that a decision of a coordinate court cannot be a source of cloud under Article 476 of the Civil Code.
Green Acres submits that Foster-Gallego is not applicable because the ruling there was that an action to quiet title
is not the proper remedy when to remove a cloud on a title, a final and executory decision of the court need to be
reviewed or vacated. In the present case, Green Acres does not seek a review or reversal of the DARAB decision.
Cabral, for her part, insists that the DARAB decision is not among those enumerated in Article 476 which may cast
a cloud on title to real property. As to the applicability of Foster-Gallego, she argues that assuming that the ruling
on the main issue in said case is not directly germane, the pronouncements therein on the nature, function,
purpose and limitations of a case for quieting of title and the power of the courts in such proceedings are
applicable.
Green Acres arguments are meritorious.
Article 476 of the Civil Code provides:
Art. 476. Whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest therein, by reason of any instrument,
record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding which is apparently valid or effective but is in truth and in fact invalid,
ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title, an action may be brought to remove
such cloud or to quiet the title.
An action may also be brought to prevent a cloud from being cast upon title to real property or any interest therein.
Quieting of title is a common law remedy for the removal of any cloud upon, doubt, or uncertainty affecting title to
real property. Whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest in real property by reason of any
instrument, record, claim, encumbrance, or proceeding that is apparently valid or effective, but is in truth and in
fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title, an action may be brought
to remove such cloud or to quiet the title. In such action, the competent court is tasked to determine the respective
rights of the complainant and the other claimants, not only to place things in their proper places, and make the
claimant, who has no rights to said immovable, respect and not disturb the one so entitled, but also for the benefit
of both, so that whoever has the right will see every cloud of doubt over the property dissipated, and he can
thereafter fearlessly introduce any desired improvements, as well as use, and even abuse the property.50
For an action to quiet title to prosper, two indispensable requisites must concur: (1) the plaintiff or complainant has
a legal or equitable title or interest in the real property subject of the action; and (2) the deed, claim,
encumbrance, or proceeding claimed to be casting a cloud on his title must be shown to be in fact invalid or
inoperative despite its prima facie appearance of validity or legal efficacy.51
There is no dispute as to the first requisite since Green Acres has legal title over the subject properties. The issue
lies in the second requisite.
A cloud on title consists of (1) any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance or proceeding; (2) which is apparently
valid or effective; (3) but is in truth and in fact invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable; and (4) may be
prejudicial to the title sought to be quieted.52
This Court holds that the DARAB decision in favor of Cabral satisfies all four elements of a cloud on title.

As Green Acres correctly points out, the DARAB decision, a final one at that, is both an "instrument" and a "record."
Blacks Law Dictionary defines an instrument as a document or writing which gives formal expression to a legal act
or agreement, for the purpose of creating, securing, modifying or terminating a right.53 A record, on the other
hand, is defined as a written account of some act, court proceeding, transaction or instrument drawn up under
authority of law, by a proper officer, and designed to remain as a memorial or permanent evidence of the matters
to which it relates.54 It is likewise a "claim" which is defined as a cause of action or a demand for money or
property55 since Cabral is asserting her right over the subject lots. More importantly, it is a "proceeding" which is
defined as a regular and orderly progress in form of law including all possible steps in an action from its
commencement to the execution of judgment and may refer not only to a complete remedy but also to a mere
procedural step that is part of a larger action or special proceeding.56
Also, the DARAB decision is apparently valid and effective.1wphi1 It is a final decision that has not been reversed,
vacated or nullified. It is likewise apparently effective and may be prejudicial to Green Acres titles since it orders
the cancellation of the titles of the Spouses Moraga and Filcon all from which Green Acres derived its titles.
However, as discussed above, it is ineffective and unenforceable against Green Acres because Green Acres was not
properly impleaded in the DARAB proceedings nor was there any notice of lis pendens annotated on the title of
Filcon so as to serve notice to Green Acres that the subject properties were under litigation. As such, Green Acres is
an innocent purchaser for value.
Furthermore, in the case of Dare Adventure Farm Corporation v. Court of Appeals,57 this Court had the occasion to
rule that one of the proper remedies of a person who was not impleaded in the proceedings declaring null and void
the title from which his title to the property had been derived, is an action for quieting title. In said case, Dare
Adventure Farm Corporation purchased property from the Goc-ongs. Dare later discovered that said property was
previously mortgaged by the Goc-ongs to the Ngs. When the Goc-ongs failed to pay their obligation, the mortgage
was foreclosed and the Ngs were declared owners of the property. Dare, who was not impleaded in the foreclosure
case, filed a petition for annulment of the judgment of the trial court with the appellate court. The Court upheld the
appellate courts dismissal of the petition since such remedy may be availed only when other remedies are
wanting. We further ruled that Dares resort to annulment of judgment was unnecessary since it cannot be
prejudiced by the judgment as it was not impleaded. Two remedies were suggested to Dare as proper recourse, one
of which is an action for quieting of title:
We agree with the CA's suggestion that the petitioner's proper recourse was either an action for quieting of title or
an action for reconveyance of the property. It is timely for the Court to remind that the petitioner will be better off if
it should go to the courts to obtain relief through the proper recourse; otherwise, it would waste its own time and
effort, aside from thereby unduly burdening the dockets of the courts.
The petitioner may vindicate its rights in the property through an action for quieting of title, a common law remedy
designed for the removal of any cloud upon, or doubt, or uncertainty affecting title to real property. The action for
quieting of title may be brought whenever there is a cloud on title to real property or any interest in real property
by reason of any instrument, record, claim, encumbrance, or proceeding that is apparently valid or effective, but is,
in truth and in fact, invalid, ineffective, voidable, or unenforceable, and may be prejudicial to said title. In the
action, the competent court is tasked to determine the respective rights of the plaintiff and the other claimants,
not only to put things in their proper places, and make the claimant, who has no rights to the immovable, respect
and not disturb the one so entitled, but also for the benefit of both, so that whoever has the right will see every
cloud of doubt over the property dissipated, and he can thereafter fearlessly introduce any desired improvements,
as well as use, and even abuse the property.58
WHEREFORE, the petition in G.R. No. 175542 is GRANTED. The Decision dated November 24, 2006 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 85766 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. TCT Nos. T-345660 (M), T-345661 (M) and T -345662
(M) registered in the name of Green Acres Holdings, Inc. are declared VALID and any cloud over such titles which
may have been created by the Decision dated January 17, 2001 of the Department of Agrarian Reform Adjudication
Board in DARAB Case No. 5129 (Reg. Case No. 739-Bul-94) is hereby REMOVED.
The petition in G.R. No. 183205 is DENIED for lack of merit. The Decision dated February 27, 2008 and Resolution
dated May 29, 2008 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 99651 are AFFIRMED.
With costs against the petitioner in G.R. No. 183205.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 176858

September 15, 2010

HEIRS OF JUANITA PADILLA, represented by CLAUDIO PADILLA, Petitioners,


vs.
DOMINADOR MAGDUA, Respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari1 assailing the Orders dated 8 September 20062 and 13 February 20073 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tacloban City, Branch 34, in Civil Case No. 2001-10-161.
The Facts
Juanita Padilla (Juanita), the mother of petitioners, owned a piece of land located in San Roque, Tanauan, Leyte. After Juanitas
death on 23 March 1989, petitioners, as legal heirs of Juanita, sought to have the land partitioned. Petitioners sent word to their
eldest brother Ricardo Bahia (Ricardo) regarding their plans for the partition of the land. In a letter dated 5 June 1998 written by
Ricardo addressed to them, petitioners were surprised to find out that Ricardo had declared the land for himself, prejudicing their
rights as co-heirs. It was then discovered that Juanita had allegedly executed a notarized Affidavit of Transfer of Real
Property4 (Affidavit) in favor of Ricardo on 4 June 1966 making him the sole owner of the land. The records do not show that the
land was registered under the Torrens system.
On 26 October 2001, petitioners filed an action with the RTC of Tacloban City, Branch 34, for recovery of ownership, possession,
partition and damages. Petitioners sought to declare void the sale of the land by Ricardos daughters, Josephine Bahia and Virginia
Bahia-Abas, to respondent Dominador Magdua (Dominador). The sale was made during the lifetime of Ricardo.

Petitioners alleged that Ricardo, through misrepresentation, had the land transferred in his name without the consent and
knowledge of his co-heirs. Petitioners also stated that prior to 1966, Ricardo had a house constructed on the land. However, when
Ricardo and his wife Zosima separated, Ricardo left for Inasuyan, Kawayan, Biliran and the house was leased to third parties.
Petitioners further alleged that the signature of Juanita in the Affidavit is highly questionable because on 15 May 1978 Juanita
executed a written instrument stating that she would be leaving behind to her children the land which she had inherited from her
parents.
Dominador filed a motion to dismiss on the ground of lack of jurisdiction since the assessed value of the land was within the
jurisdiction of the Municipal Trial Court of Tanauan, Leyte.
In an Order dated 20 February 2006,5 the RTC dismissed the case for lack of jurisdiction. The RTC explained that the assessed
value of the land in the amount of P590.00 was less than the amount cognizable by the RTC to acquire jurisdiction over the case.6
Petitioners filed a motion for reconsideration. Petitioners argued that the action was not merely for recovery of ownership and
possession, partition and damages but also for annulment of deed of sale. Since actions to annul contracts are actions beyond
pecuniary estimation, the case was well within the jurisdiction of the RTC.
Dominador filed another motion to dismiss on the ground of prescription.
In an Order dated 8 September 2006, the RTC reconsidered its previous stand and took cognizance of the case. Nonetheless, the
RTC denied the motion for reconsideration and dismissed the case on the ground of prescription pursuant to Section 1, Rule 9 of
the Rules of Court. The RTC ruled that the case was filed only in 2001 or more than 30 years since the Affidavit was executed in
1966. The RTC explained that while the right of an heir to his inheritance is imprescriptible, yet when one of the co-heirs
appropriates the property as his own to the exclusion of all other heirs, then prescription can set in. The RTC added that since
prescription had set in to question the transfer of the land under the Affidavit, it would seem logical that no action could also be
taken against the deed of sale executed by Ricardos daughters in favor of Dominador. The dispositive portion of the order states:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the order of the Court is reconsidered in so far as the pronouncement of the Court that it has
no jurisdiction over the nature of the action. The dismissal of the action, however, is maintained not by reason of lack of jurisdiction
but by reason of prescription.
SO ORDERED.7
Petitioners filed another motion for reconsideration which the RTC denied in an Order dated 13 February 2007 since petitioners
raised no new issue.
Hence, this petition.
The Issue
The main issue is whether the present action is already barred by prescription.
The Courts Ruling
Petitioners submit that the RTC erred in dismissing the complaint on the ground of prescription. Petitioners insist that the Affidavit
executed in 1966 does not conform with the requirement of sufficient repudiation of co-ownership by Ricardo against his co-heirs in
accordance with Article 494 of the Civil Code. Petitioners assert that the Affidavit became part of public records only because it was
kept by the Provincial Assessors office for real property tax declaration purposes. However, such cannot be contemplated by law
as a record or registration affecting real properties. Petitioners insist that the Affidavit is not an act of appropriation sufficient to be
deemed as constructive notice to an adverse claim of ownership absent a clear showing that petitioners, as co-heirs, were notified
or had knowledge of the Affidavit issued by their mother in Ricardos favor.
Respondent Dominador, on the other hand, maintains that Juanita, during her lifetime, never renounced her signature on the
Affidavit or interposed objections to Ricardos possession of the land, which was open, absolute and in the concept of an owner.
Dominador contends that the alleged written instrument dated 15 May 1978 executed by Juanita years before she died was only
made known lately and conveys the possibility of being fabricated. Dominador adds that the alleged highly questionable signature
of Juanita on the Affidavit was only made an issue after 35 years from the date of the transfer in 1966 until the filing of the case in
2001. As a buyer in good faith, Dominador invokes the defense of acquisitive prescription against petitioners.
At the outset, only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. The
factual findings of the lower courts are final and conclusive and may not be reviewed on appeal except under any of the following
circumstances: (1) the conclusion is grounded on speculations, surmises or conjectures; (2) the inference is manifestly mistaken,
absurd or impossible; (3) there is grave abuse of discretion; (4) the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) the
findings of fact are conflicting; (6) there is no citation of specific evidence on which the factual findings are based; (7) the finding of

absence of facts is contradicted by the presence of evidence on record; (8) the findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to
those of the trial court; (9) the Court of Appeals manifestly overlooked certain relevant and undisputed facts that, if properly
considered, would justify a different conclusion; (10) the findings of the Court of Appeals are beyond the issues of the case; and
(11) such findings are contrary to the admissions of both parties.8
We find that the conclusion of the RTC in dismissing the case on the ground of prescription based solely on the Affidavit executed
by Juanita in favor of Ricardo, the alleged seller of the property from whom Dominador asserts his ownership, is speculative. Thus,
a review of the case is necessary.
Here, the RTC granted the motion to dismiss filed by Dominador based on Section 1, Rule 9 of the Rules of Court which states:
Section 1. Defenses and objections not pleaded. Defenses and objections not pleaded either in a motion to dismiss or in the
answer are deemed waived. However, when it appears from the pleadings or the evidence on record that the court has no
jurisdiction over the subject matter, that there is another action pending between the same parties for the same cause, or that the
action is barred by a prior judgment or by statute of limitations, the court shall dismiss the case. (Emphasis supplied)
The RTC explained that prescription had already set in since the Affidavit was executed on 31 May 1966 and petitioners filed the
present case only on 26 October 2001, a lapse of more than 30 years. No action could be taken against the deed of sale made in
favor of Dominador without assailing the Affidavit, and the action to question the Affidavit had already prescribed.
After a perusal of the records, we find that the RTC incorrectly relied on the Affidavit alone in order to dismiss the case without
considering petitioners evidence. The facts show that the land was sold to Dominador by Ricardos daughters, namely Josephine
Bahia and Virginia Bahia-Abas, during the lifetime of Ricardo. However, the alleged deed of sale was not presented as evidence
and neither was it shown that Ricardos daughters had any authority from Ricardo to dispose of the land. No cogent evidence was
ever presented that Ricardo gave his consent to, acquiesced in, or ratified the sale made by his daughters to Dominador. In its 8
September 2006 Order, the RTC hastily concluded that Ricardos daughters had legal personality to sell the property:
On the allegation of the plaintiffs (petitioners) that Josephine Bahia and Virginia Bahia-Abas had no legal personality or right to [sell]
the subject property is of no moment in this case. It should be Ricardo Bahia who has a cause of action against [his] daughters and
not the herein plaintiffs. After all, Ricardo Bahia might have already consented to or ratified the alleged deed of sale.9
Also, aside from the Affidavit, Dominador did not present any proof to show that Ricardos possession of the land had been open,
continuous and exclusive for more than 30 years in order to establish extraordinary acquisitive prescription.10 Dominador merely
assumed that Ricardo had been in possession of the land for 30 years based on the Affidavit submitted to the RTC. The petitioners,
on the other hand, in their pleading filed with the RTC for recovery of ownership, possession, partition and damages, alleged that
Ricardo left the land after he separated from his wife sometime after 1966 and moved to another place. The records do not
mention, however, whether Ricardo had any intention to go back to the land or whether Ricardos family ever lived there.
Further, Dominador failed to show that Ricardo had the land declared in his name for taxation purposes from 1966 after the Affidavit
was executed until 2001 when the case was filed. Although a tax declaration does not prove ownership, it is evidence of claim to
possession of the land.
Moreover, Ricardo and petitioners are co-heirs or co-owners of the land. Co-heirs or co-owners cannot acquire by acquisitive
prescription the share of the other co-heirs or co-owners absent a clear repudiation of the co-ownership, as expressed in Article
494 of the Civil Code which states:
Art. 494. x x x No prescription shall run in favor of a co-owner or co-heir against his co-owners or co-heirs as long as he expressly
or impliedly recognizes the co-ownership.
Since possession of co-owners is like that of a trustee, in order that a co-owners possession may be deemed adverse to the cestui
que trust or other co-owners, the following requisites must concur: (1) that he has performed unequivocal acts of repudiation
amounting to an ouster of the cestui que trust or other co-owners, (2) that such positive acts of repudiation have been made known
to the cestui que trust or other co-owners, and (3) that the evidence thereon must be clear and convincing.11
In the present case, all three requisites have been met. After Juanitas death in 1989, petitioners sought for the partition of their
mothers land. The heirs, including Ricardo, were notified about the plan. Ricardo, through a letter dated 5 June 1998, notified
petitioners, as his co-heirs, that he adjudicated the land solely for himself. Accordingly, Ricardos interest in the land had now
become adverse to the claim of his co-heirs after repudiating their claim of entitlement to the land. In Generosa v. PranganValera,12 we held that in order that title may prescribe in favor of one of the co-owners, it must be clearly shown that he had
repudiated the claims of the others, and that they were apprised of his claim of adverse and exclusive ownership, before the
prescriptive period begins to run.
However, in the present case, the prescriptive period began to run only from 5 June 1998, the date petitioners received notice of
Ricardos repudiation of their claims to the land. Since petitioners filed an action for recovery of ownership and possession, partition
and damages with the RTC on 26 October 2001, only a mere three years had lapsed. This three-year period falls short of the 10-

year or 30-year acquisitive prescription period required by law in order to be entitled to claim legal ownership over the land. Thus,
Dominador cannot invoke acquisitive prescription.
Further, Dominadors argument that prescription began to commence in 1966, after the Affidavit was executed, is erroneous.
Dominador merely relied on the Affidavit submitted to the RTC that Ricardo had been in possession of the land for more than 30
years. Dominador did not submit any other corroborative evidence to establish Ricardos alleged possession since 1966. In Heirs of
Maningding v. Court of Appeals,13 we held that the evidence relative to the possession, as a fact, upon which the alleged
prescription is based, must be clear, complete and conclusive in order to establish the prescription. Here, Dominador failed to
present any other competent evidence to prove the alleged extraordinary acquisitive prescription of Ricardo over the land. Since
the property is an unregistered land, Dominador bought the land at his own risk, being aware as buyer that no title had been issued
over the land. As a consequence, Dominador is not afforded protection unless he can manifestly prove his legal entitlement to his
claim.
With regard to the issue of the jurisdiction of the RTC, we hold that the RTC did not err in taking cognizance of the case.
Under Section 1 of Republic Act No. 7691 (RA 7691),14 amending Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, the RTC shall exercise exclusive
jurisdiction on the following actions:
Section 1. Section 19 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, otherwise known as the "Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980", is hereby
amended to read as follows:
"Sec. 19. Jurisdiction in civil cases. Regional Trial Courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction.
"(1) In all civil actions in which the subject of the litigation is incapable of pecuniary estimation;
"(2) In all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein, where the assessed value of
the property involved exceeds Twenty Thousand Pesos (P20,000.00) or, for civil actions in Metro Manila, where such value
exceeds Fifty Thousand Pesos (P50,000.00) except actions for forcible entry into and unlawful detainer of lands or buildings,
original jurisdiction over which is conferred upon the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial
Courts; x x x
On the other hand, Section 3 of RA 7691 expanded the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and
Municipal Circuit Trial Courts over all civil actions which involve title to or possession of real property, or any interest, outside Metro
Manila where the assessed value does not exceed Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00). The provision states:
Section 3. Section 33 of the same law is hereby amended to read as follows:
"Sec. 33. Jurisdiction of Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Civil Cases. Metropolitan Trial Courts, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Trial Circuit Trial Courts shall exercise:
xxx
"(3) Exclusive original jurisdiction in all civil actions which involve title to, or possession of, real property, or any interest therein
where the assessed value of the property or interest therein does not exceed Twenty thousand pesos (P20,000.00) or, in civil
actions in Metro Manila, where such assessed value does not exceed Fifty thousand pesos (P50,000.00) exclusive of interest,
damages of whatever kind, attorneys fees, litigation expenses and costs: Provided, That in cases of land not declared for taxation
purposes, the value of such property shall be determined by the assessed value of the adjacent lots."
In the present case, the records show that the assessed value of the land was P590.00 according to the Declaration of Property as
of 23 March 2000 filed with the RTC. Based on the value alone, being way below P20,000.00, the MTC has jurisdiction over the
case. However, petitioners argued that the action was not merely for recovery of ownership and possession, partition and damages
but also for annulment of deed of sale. Since annulment of contracts are actions incapable of pecuniary estimation, the RTC has
jurisdiction over the case.151avvphi1
Petitioners are correct. In Singson v. Isabela Sawmill,16 we held that:
In determining whether an action is one the subject matter of which is not capable of pecuniary estimation this Court has adopted
the criterion of first ascertaining the nature of the principal action or remedy sought. If it is primarily for the recovery of a sum of
money, the claim is considered capable of pecuniary estimation, and whether jurisdiction is in the municipal courts or in the courts
of first instance would depend on the amount of the claim. However, where the basic issue is something other than the right to
recover a sum of money, where the money claim is purely incidental to, or a consequence of, the principal relief sought, this Court
has considered such actions as cases where the subject of the litigation may not be estimated in terms of money, and are
cognizable by courts of first instance (now Regional Trial Courts).

When petitioners filed the action with the RTC they sought to recover ownership and possession of the land by questioning (1) the
due execution and authenticity of the Affidavit executed by Juanita in favor of Ricardo which caused Ricardo to be the sole owner of
the land to the exclusion of petitioners who also claim to be legal heirs and entitled to the land, and (2) the validity of the deed of
sale executed between Ricardos daughters and Dominador. Since the principal action sought here is something other than the
recovery of a sum of money, the action is incapable of pecuniary estimation and thus cognizable by the RTC. Well-entrenched is
the rule that jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law and is determined by the allegations in the complaint
and the character of the relief sought, irrespective of whether the party is entitled to all or some of the claims asserted. 17
In sum, we find that the Affidavit, as the principal evidence relied upon by the RTC to dismiss the case on the ground of
prescription, insufficiently established Dominadors rightful claim of ownership to the land. Thus, we direct the RTC to try the case
on the merits to determine who among the parties are legally entitled to the land.
WHEREFORE, we GRANT the petition. We REVERSE AND SET ASIDE the Orders dated 8 September 2006 and 13 February
2007 of the Regional Trial Court of Tacloban City, Branch 34 in Civil Case No. 2001-10-161.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 139615

May 28, 2004

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,


vs.
AMADEO TIRA and CONNIE TIRA, appellants.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
This is an appeal of the Decision1 of the Regional Trial Court of Pangasinan, Branch 46, finding appellants Amadeo Tira and Connie
Tira guilty beyond reasonable doubt of violating Section 16, in relation to Section 20, Article III of Republic Act No. 6425, known as
the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by Rep. Act No. 7659, sentencing each of them to suffer the penalty of reclusion
perpetua and ordering each of them to pay a fine of P1,000.000.2
The Indictment
The appellants Amadeo Tira and Connie Tira were charged in an Information which reads:

That on or about March 9, 1998, in the Municipality of Urdaneta, province of Pangasinan and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring together, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in
their possession, control and custody the following:
- Three (3) (sic) sachets of shabu
- Six (6) pieces opened sachets of shabu residue
- One (1) brick of dried marijuana leaves weighing 721 grams
- Six disposable lighter
- One (1) roll Aluminum Foil
- Several empty plastics (tea bag)
- Cash money amounting to P12,536.00 in different denominations believed to be proceeds of the contraband.
without first securing the necessary permit/license to possess the same.
CONTRARY to SEC. 8 in relation to Sec. 20 of RA 6425, as amended.3
The Case for the Prosecution4
In the evening of February 24, 1998, SPO3 Asidelio Manibog received a verbal instruction from the Chief of Police Superintendent
Wilson R. Victorio to conduct surveillance operations on the house of Amadeo Tira and Connie Tira at Perez Extension Street
because of reported rampant drug activities in the said area. Manibog formed a team composed of SPO1 Renato Cresencia, PO3
Reynaldo Javonilla, Jr. and PO3 Efren Abad de Vera to conduct the ordered surveillance.
At around 8:00 p.m., the group, clad in civilian clothes, arrived at Perez Extension Street. As they stationed themselves in the
periphery of a store, they observed that more than twenty persons had gone in and out of the Tira residence. They confronted one
of them, and asked what was going on inside the house. The person revealed that Amadeo Tira sold shabu, and that he was a
regular customer. The group went closer to the house and started planning their next move. They wanted to pose as buyers, but
hesitated, for fear of being identified as PNP members. Instead, they stayed there up to 12:00 midnight and continued observing
the place. Convinced that illegal activities were going on in the house, the policemen returned to the station and reported to P/Supt.
Wilson R. Victorio. After hearing their report, P/Supt. Victorio instructed his men to make an affidavit of surveillance preliminary to
an application for a search warrant.5
On March 6, 1998, SPO3 Asidelio Manibog, PO3 Efren Abad de Vera, SPO1 Renato Cresencia and PO2 Reynaldo Soliven
Javonilla, Jr. executed an Affidavit of Surveillance, alleging, inter alia, that they were members of the Drug Enforcement Unit of
Urdaneta, Pangasinan, and that in the evening of February 24, 1998, they confirmed reports of illegal drug-related activities in the
house of the spouses Amadeo and Connie Tira.6 On March 6, 19987 Police Chief Inspector Danilo Bumatay Datu filed an
Application for a Search Warrant in the Municipal Trial Court of Urdaneta, Pangasinan, attaching thereto the affidavit of surveillance
executed by his men and a sketch of the place to be searched.8
Satisfied with the testimonies of SPO3 Manibog, PO3 de Vera, SPO1 Cresencia and PO2 Javonilla, Jr., Judge Aurora A. Gayapa
issued a search warrant commanding the applicants to make an immediate search of the Tira residence at anytime of the day or
night, particularly the first room on the right side, and the two rooms located at Perez south, and forthwith seize and take
possession of the following items:
1. Poor Mans Cocaine known as Shabu;
2. Drug-Usage Paraphernalia; and
3. Weighing scale.9
P/Sr. Inspector Ludivico Bravo, and as head of the team, with SPO3 Cariaga, PO3 Concepcion, Cario, Galima, Villaroya, Andaya,
SPO1 Mario Tajon, SPO1 Asterio Dismaya, SPO1 Renato Cresencia, and PO3 Reynaldo Javonillo were directed to implement the
search warrant.10 They responded and brought Barangay Kagawad Mario Conwi to witness the search.11 At 2:35 p.m. on March 9,
1998, the team proceeded to the Tira residence. The men found Ernesto Tira, the father of Amadeo, at the porch of the house.
They introduced themselves and told Ernesto that they had a warrant authorizing them to search the premises. Ernesto led them
inside. The policemen found the newly awakened Amadeo inside the first room12 of the house.13 With Barangay Kagawad Conwi
and Amadeo Tira, the policemen proceeded to search the first room to the right (an inner room) and found the following under the
bed where Amadeo slept:14

1. 9 pcs. suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride placed in heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets


2. roll aluminum foil
3. several empty plastic transparent
4. used and unused aluminum foil15
5. disposable lighters
6. 1 sachet of shabu confiscated from Nelson Tira16
They also found cash money amounting to P12,536 inside a shoulder bag placed on top of the television, in the following
denominations:
1 pc. -P1,000.00 bill
4 pcs. - 500.00 bill
52 pcs. - 100.00 bill
36 pcs. - 50.00 bill
100 pcs. - 20.00 bill
53 pcs. - 10.00 bill
1 pc. - 5.00 bill
1 pc. - 1.00 coin17
The policemen listed the foregoing items they found in the house. Amadeos picture was taken while he was signing the said
certification.18 Ernesto (Amadeos father), also witnessed the certification.
A joint affidavit of arrest was, thereafter, executed by SPO3 Asidelio Manibog, SPO1 Mario C. Tajon, SPO1 Asterio T. Dismaya,
SPO1 Renato M. Cresencia and PO3 Reynaldo S. Javonilla, Jr. for the apprehension of Amadeo Tira and Nelson Tira who were
brought to the police station for custodial investigation. The articles seized were turned over to the PNP Crime Laboratory,
Urdaneta Sub-Office, for examination.19 In turn, a laboratory examination request was made to the Chief of the Philippine National
Police Service-1, Sub-Office, Urdaneta, Pangasinan for the following:
a. Three (3) sachets of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride approximately 0.5 grams;
b. Six (6) opened sachets of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride (SHABU) residue;
c. Twenty-four (4) pieces of dried marijuana leaves sachet; and
d. One (1) heat-sealed plastic sachet of suspected methamphetamine hydrochloride confiscated from the possession of
Nelson Tira.20
On March 10, 1998, P/Supt. Wilson R. Victorio executed a Compliance/Return of Search Warrant.21
On March 17, 1998, the PNP Crime Laboratory Group in Physical Science Report No. DT-057-98 reported that the test conducted
by Police Superintendent/Chemist Theresa Ann Bugayong-Cid,22 yielded positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) and
marijuana. The report contained the following findings:
"A1 to A3, "B1 to B6," "E" POSITIVE to the test for methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu), a regulated drug.
"C" and "D1 to D4" POSITIVE to the test for marijuana, a prohibited drug.
CONCLUSION:

Specimens A1 to A3, B1 to B6 and E contain methamphetamine hydrochloride (Shabu) and specimens C and D1 to D24 contain
marijuana.23
A criminal complaint was filed by P/Supt. Wilson R. Victorio against Amadeo Tira and Connie Tira on March 10, 1998 for violation of
Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended.24 After finding probable cause, Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Rufino A. Moreno filed an
Information against the Tira Spouses for illegal possession of shabu and marijuana, in violation of Section 8, in relation to Section
20 of Rep. Act No. 6425.25 A warrant of arrest was issued against Connie Tira on May 13, 1998. However, when the policemen tried
to serve the said warrant, she could not be found in the given address.26 She was arrested only on October 6, 1998.27
During the trial, the court conducted an ocular inspection of the Tira residence.28
The Case for Accused Amadeo Tira29
Amadeo Tira denied the charge. He testified that he was a furniture delivery boy30 who owned a one-storey bungalow house with
two bedrooms and one masters bedroom. There was also another room which was divided into an outer and inner room; the latter
room had no windows or ventilation. The house stood twenty meters away from Perez Extension Street in Urdaneta, Pangasinan,
and could be reached only by foot.31 He leased the room located at the western portion to his nephew Chris Tira32 and the latters
live-in-partner Gemma Lim for four hundred pesos a month.33 Chris and Gemma were engaged in the buying and selling of
bananas. He denied that there were young men coming in and out of his house.34
In the afternoon of March 6, 1998, he was in his house sleeping when the policemen barged into his house. He heard a commotion
and went out of the room to see what it was all about, and saw police officers Cresencia, Javonilla and Bergonia, searching the
room of his nephew, Chris Tira. He told them to stop searching so that he could contact his father, Ernesto, who in turn, would call
the barangay captain. The policemen continued with their search. He was then pulled inside the room and the policemen showed
him the items they allegedly found.35
Barangay Kagawad Mario Conwi testified that on March 9, 1998, while he was at Calle Perez, Urdaneta, Pangasinan, Capt.
Ludivico Bravo asked to be accompanied to the Tira residence. Capt. Bravo was with at least ten other policemen. As they parked
the car at Calle Perez, the policemen saw a man running towards the direction of the ricefields. Kagawad Conwi and some of the
policemen chased the man, who turned out to be Nelson Tira. One of the policemen pointed to a sachet of shabu which fell to the
ground near Nelson. The policemen arrested him and proceeded to the house of Amadeo Tira to serve the warrant.36 When they
reached the house, the other policemen were waiting. He saw Amadeo and Connie Tira sitting by the door of the house in the sala.
Thereafter, he and the policemen started the search.37 They searched the first room located at the right side (if facing south),38 and
found marijuana, shabu, money and some paraphernalia.39 An inventory of the items seized was made afterwards, which was
signed by Capt. Bravo and Ernesto Tira.40
Alfonso Gallardo, Amadeos neighbor, testified that he was the one who constructed the Tira residence and that the house initially
had two rooms. The first room was rented out, while the second room was occupied by the Spouses Amadeo and Connie
Tira.41 Subsequently, a divider was placed inside the first room.42 He also testified that his house was only three (3) meters away
from that of the Tiras, and that only a toilet separated their houses.43 He denied that there were many people going in and out of the
Tira residence.44
The Ruling of the Trial Court
The trial court rendered judgment on September 24, 1998, finding Amadeo Tira guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal
possession of 807.3 grams of marijuana and 1.001 gram of shabu. The decretal portion of its decision is herein quoted:
WHEREFORE, JUDGMENT is hereby rendered CONVICTING beyond reasonable doubt accused AMADEO TIRA for Illegal
Possession of Marijuana weighing 807.3 grams and shabu weighing 1.001 gram penalized under Article III, Sections 16 and 20, of
Republic Act 6425, known as [the] Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by Republic Act 7659. The Court sentences Amadeo
Tira to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and a fine of P1,000,000.00.
The amount of P12,536.00 is hereby forfeited in favor of the government which forms part of the fine; the marijuana weighing 807.3
grams and shabu weighing 1.001 gram are hereby forfeited in favor of the government; the disposable lighter and the aluminum foil
are likewise forfeited in favor of the government.
The Branch Clerk of Court of this Court is hereby ordered to prepare the mittimus.
The Warden, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) is hereby ordered to transmit the person of Amadeo Tira to the
National Bilibid Prison with proper escort within fifteen (15) days upon receipt of this Order.45
The trial court upheld the validity of Search Warrant No. 3 issued by Judge Aurora Gayapa. It found Amadeos defense, that the
room where the items were seized was rented out to the couple Cris Tira and Gemma Lim, unsubstantiated. It held that Amadeo,
as owner of the house, had control over the room as well as the things found therein and that the inner room was a secret and
practical place to keep marijuana, shabu and related paraphernalia.46

Amadeo appealed the decision.47


The Case Against Connie Tira
After her arrest, Connie filed a motion to quash search warrant,48 alleging that the police officers who applied for the said warrant
did not have any personal knowledge of the reported illegal activities. She contended that the same was issued in violation of
Section 4, Rule 126 of the Rules of Court, as the judge issued the search warrant without conducting searching questions and
answers, and without attaching the records of the proceedings. Moreover, the search warrant issued was in the nature of a general
warrant, to justify the "fishing expedition" conducted on the premises.
On October 26, 1998, the presiding judge ordered Judge Aurora A. Gayapa to forward the stenographic notes of the applicant and
the witnesses.49 Connie was arraigned on November 9, 1998, pending the resolution of the motion. She pleaded not guilty to the
charge of illegal possession of shabu and marijuana.50 The trial court thereafter issued an Order on November 11, 1998, denying
the motion to quash.51 It did not give credence to the allegations of Connie Tira, and found that Judge Gayapa issued the search
warrant after conducting searching questions, and in consideration of the affidavit of witness Enrique Milad.
Connie testified that she was engaged in the business of buying and selling of fruits, while her husband was employed at the
Glasshouse Trading. One of the rooms in their house was occupied by their three boarders, two male persons and one female.
In the afternoon of March 9, 1998, she and her husband Amadeo were in their house, while their boarders were in their respective
rooms. At 2:30 p.m., she was in the kitchen taking care of her one-year-old child. She had other three children, aged eight, four,
and three, respectively, who were watching television. Her husband Amadeo was sleeping in one of the rooms. Suddenly, five
policemen barged into their house and searched all the rooms. The policemen found and seized articles in the room occupied by
one of their boarders. They arrested Amadeo, and her brother-in-law, Nelson Tira, and brought them to the police station. The
boarders, however, were not arrested.
Joy Fernandez, a neighbor of the Tiras, lived approximately ten meters away from the latter. Since they had no television, she
frequently went to her neighbors house to watch certain programs. In the afternoon of March 9, 1998, she was at the Tira
residence watching "Mirasol," while Connie was in the kitchen nursing her baby. Suddenly, about five or ten persons ran inside the
house and handcuffed Amadeo Tira.52
The Ruling of the Trial Court
The trial court found Connie Tira guilty beyond reasonable doubt of illegal possession of 807.3 grams of marijuana and 1.001 gram
of shabu. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, JUDGMENT is hereby rendered CONVICTING beyond reasonable doubt accused CONNIE TIRA for Illegal
Possession of Marijuana weighing 807.3 grams and shabu weighing 1.001 gram penalized under Article III, Section 16 and 20, of
Republic Act 6425, known as [the] Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, as amended by Republic Act 7659, the Court sentences Connie
Tira to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and a fine of P1,000,000.00.
The amount of P12,536.00 is hereby forfeited in favor of the government which forms part of the fine; the marijuana weighing 807.3
grams and shabu weighing 1.001 gram are hereby forfeited in favor of the government; the disposable lighter and the aluminum foil
are, likewise, forfeited in favor of the government.
The Warden, Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) is hereby ordered to transmit the person of Connie Tira to the
National Bilibid Prisons with proper escort within fifteen (15) days upon receipt of his Order.53
The trial court did not believe that Connie Tira had no knowledge, control and possession of the shabu and marijuana found in the
first or inner room of their house. It stressed that Connie and Amadeo Tira jointly controlled and possessed the shabu and
marijuana that the policemen found therein. It ratiocinated that it was unusual for a wife not to know the existence of prohibited
drugs in the conjugal abode. Thus, as husband and wife, the accused conspired and confederated with each other in keeping
custody of the said prohibited articles.54 The court also held that Connie Tiras flight from their house after the search was an
indication of her guilt. Connie, likewise, appealed the decision.55
The Present Appeal
In their brief, the appellants Amadeo and Connie Tira assigned the following errors committed by the trial court:
I
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN CONVICTING ACCUSED-APPELLANTS DESPITE FAILURE ON THE PART OF THE
PROSECUTION TO PROVE THEIR GUILT BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT.

II
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE SEARCH WAS ILLEGALLY MADE.
III
ASSUMING THAT ACCUSED-APPELLANT AMADEO TIRA IS GUILTY AS CHARGED, THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING
THAT THERE WAS A CONSPIRACY BETWEEN HIM AND HIS WIFE CONNIE TIRA.56
The Court shall resolve the assigned errors simultaneously as they are interrelated.
The appellants contend that the search conducted by the policemen in the room occupied by Chris and Gemma Lim, where the
articles and substances were found by the policemen, was made in their absence. Thus, the search was made in violation of
Section 7, Rule 126 of the Rules of Criminal Procedure, which provides:
SEC. 7. Search of house, room, or premise, to be made in presence of two witnesses. No search of house, room, or any other
premise shall be made except in the presence of the lawful occupant thereof or any member of his family or in the absence of the
latter, in the presence of two witnesses of sufficient age and discretion residing in the same locality.
The appellants posit that the articles and substances found by the policemen in their house are inadmissible in evidence, being the
fruits of a poisonous tree. Hence, they contend, they should have been acquitted of the crime charged. The appellants further
assert that the prosecution failed to prove that they owned the prohibited drugs, and that the same were in their possession and
control when found by the policemen. They insist that it cannot be presumed that they were in control and possession of the said
substances/articles simply because they owned the house where the same were found, considering that the room was occupied by
Chris Tira and his live-in partner, Gemma Lim.
The appellant Connie Tira avers that she never fled from their house after the policemen had conducted the search. Neither was
she arrested by the policemen when they arrested her husband.
The appeals have no merit.
Contrary to the appellants claim, appellant Amadeo Tira was present when the policemen searched the inner room of the house.
The articles and substances were found under the bed on which the appellant Amadeo Tira slept. The policemen did not find the
said articles and substances in any other room in the house:
Q So when you reached the house of Amadeo Tira at the Tiras compound, you saw the father and you told him you are
implementing the Search Warrant and your group was allowed to enter and you are allowed to search in the presence of
Amadeo Tira?
A Yes, Sir.
PROS. DUMLAO
Q In the course of your search, what did you find?
WITNESS:
A We found out suspected marijuana leaves, Sir.
Q Where, in what particular place did you find?
A Under the bed inside the room of Amadeo Tira, Sir
Q What else did you find aside from marijuana leaves?
A We also find suspected sachet of shabu, Sir.
Q What else?
A Lighter, Sir.
COURT:

Q If that shabu will be shown to you, could you identify the same?
WITNESS:
A Yes, Sir.
Q About the marijuana leaves, if shown to you could you identify the same?
A Yes, Sir.
PROS. DUMLAO:
Q What else did you find out aside from the marijuana leaves, shabu and lighter?

A I have here the list, Sir.


One (1) brick of marijuana
24 pcs. tea bag of marijuana
9 pcs. sachets of suspected "shabu"
6 disposable lighters
1 roll of aluminum foil
several empty plastic; several used
and unused aluminum foil
one (1) sachet of shabu confiscated from Nelson Tira; and
P12,536.00 cash in different denominations proceeds of the contrand (sic).
COURT:
Q Where did you find the money?

A Near the marijuana at the bag, Sir.


Q About the money, could you still identify if shown to you?
A Yes, Sir.
Q When you found shabu, lighter, marijuana, and money, what did you do?
A We marked them, Sir.
Q All of the items?
A Only the marijuana, Sir.
Q What mark did you place?
A My signature, Sir.57

PROS. TOMBOC:

Q And when you were allowed to enter the house, did you notice who was present?
A I noticed the presence of Connie Tira, Sir.
Q When you said Connie Tira, is she the same Connie Tira the accused in this case?
A Yes, Sir, she was taking care of the baby.
Q Who else?
A We also noticed the presence of Amadeo Tira, Sir.
Q What was he doing there?
A He was newly awake, Sir.
Q Upon entering the house, what did you do?
A We entered and searched the first room, Sir.
Q What did you find out?
A Shabu and Marijuana and paraphernalia, Sir.
Q Are you one of those who entered the house?
A Yes, Sir.
Q Can you mention to the Honorable Court those items that you searched in the house of Connie Tira and Amadeo Tira?
A As per in (sic) our records, we found three (3) sachets containing suspected Methamphetamine Hydrochloride "Shabu"
residue; one (1) brick of suspected dried marijuana leaves weighing more or less 750 grams; twenty-four (24) tea bags
containing dried marijuana leaves; six (6) disposable lighter; one (1) roll aluminum foil; several empty plastics (tea bag);
several used and unused aluminum foil; and cash money amounting to P12,536.00 in different denominations believe[d] to
be proceeds of the contraband, Sir.
Q You said you recovered one (1) brick of marijuana leaves, showing to you a (sic) one (1) brick suspected to be
marijuana leaves, is this the one you are referring to?
A Yes, Sir, this is the one.58
Appellant Amadeo Tira was not the only witness to the search; Kagawad Mario Conwi and Ernesto Tira, Amadeos father, were also
present. Ernesto Tira even led the policemen inside the house. This is evidenced not only by the testimony of Kagawad Conwi, but
also by the certification signed by the appellant himself, along with Kagawad Conwi and Ernesto Tira.59
The trial court rejected the testimony of appellant Amadeo Tira that the inner room searched by the policemen was occupied by
Chris Tira and his girlfriend Gemma Lim with the following encompassing disquisition:
The defense contention that a couple from Baguio City first occupied the first room, the Court is not persuaded because they did
not present said businessmen from Baguio City who were engaged in vegetable business. Secondly, the same room was rented by
Chris Tira and Gemma Lim. Chris Tira and Gemma Lim, engaged in banana business, were not presented in Court. If it were true
that Chris Tira and Gemma Lim were the supposed lessees of the room, they should have been apprehended by the searching
party on March 9, 1998, at about 2:30 p.m. There was no proof showing that Chris Tira and Gemma Lim ever occupied the room,
like personal belongings of Chris Tira and Gemma Lim. The defense did not even show proof showing that Chris Tira reside in the
first room, like clothings, toothbrush, soap, shoes and other accessories which make them the residents or occupants of the room.
There were no kitchen plates, spoons, powder, or soap evidencing that the said room was occupied by Chris Tira and Gemma Lim.
Amadeo Tira contended that Chris Tira and Gemma Lim are engaged in banana business. There are no banana stored in the room
at the time of the search and both of them were out of the room at the time of the search. And why did not Amadeo Tira supply the

police officers of the personal identities and address where they could find Chris Tira and Gemma Lim at the time of the search. If
they were banana dealers, they must be selling their banana in the market and they could have pointed them in the market.60
We are in full accord with the trial court. It bears stressing that the trial court conducted an ocular inspection of the house of the
appellants, and thus, had first hand knowledge of the layout of the house. Besides, the testimony of the appellant Amadeo Tira, that
the inner room was occupied by Chris Tira and Gemma Lim who were not there when the search was conducted, is belied by the
testimony of the appellant Connie Tira that the room was occupied by two male and one female boarders who were in the room
when the policemen searched it. Thus:
Q You said that while taking care of your baby, several policemen barged [sic] your house?

A Yes, Sir.
Q And they proceeded to your room where your husband was sleeping at that time?
A Yes, Sir.
Q And it is in that room where your husband was sleeping and where those articles were taken?
A No, Sir.
Q Where are (sic) those things came (sic) from?
A At the room where my boarders occupied, Sir.
Q So, at that time where were those boarders?
A They were inside their room, Sir.
Q How many of them?
A Two (2) male persons and one woman, Sir.
Q And do you know their whereabout[s], Madam Witness?
A No more, Sir.
Q When did they leave, Madam Witness?
A At that time, they left the house, Sir.
Q They were not investigated by the police?
A No, Sir.61
We agree with the finding of the trial court that the only occupants of the house when the policemen conducted their search were
the appellants and their young children, and that the appellants had no boarders therein.
Before the accused may be convicted of violating Section 8 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by Rep. Act No. 7659, the
prosecution is burdened to prove beyond reasonable doubt the essential elements of the crime, viz: (1) the actual possession of an
item or object which is identified to be a prohibited drug; (2) such possession is not authorized by law; and, (3) the accused freely
or consciously possessed the said drug.62
The essential elements of the crime of possession of regulated drugs are the following: (a) the accused is found in possession of a
regulated drug; (b) the person is not authorized by law or by duly constituted authorities; and, (c) the accused has knowledge that
the said drug is a regulated drug. This crime is mala prohibita, and, as such, criminal intent is not an essential element. However,
the prosecution must prove that the accused had the intent to possess (animus posidendi) the drugs. Possession, under the law,
includes not only actual possession, but also constructive possession. Actual possession exists when the drug is in the immediate
physical possession or control of the accused.63 On the other hand, constructive possession exists when the drug is under the
dominion and control of the accused or when he has the right to exercise dominion and control over the place where it is

found.64 Exclusive possession or control is not necessary.65 The accused cannot avoid conviction if his right to exercise control and
dominion over the place where the contraband is located, is shared with another.66
Thus, conviction need not be predicated upon exclusive possession, and a showing of non-exclusive possession would not
exonerate the accused.67 Such fact of possession may be proved by direct or circumstantial evidence and any reasonable
inference drawn therefrom. However, the prosecution must prove that the accused had knowledge of the existence and presence of
the drug in the place under his control and dominion and the character of the drug.68 Since knowledge by the accused of the
existence and character of the drugs in the place where he exercises dominion and control is an internal act, the same may be
presumed from the fact that the dangerous drug is in the house or place over which the accused has control or dominion, or within
such premises in the absence of any satisfactory explanation.69
In this case, the prohibited and regulated drugs were found under the bed in the inner room of the house of the appellants where
they also resided. The appellants had actual and exclusive possession and control and dominion over the house, including the
room where the drugs were found by the policemen. The appellant Connie Tira cannot escape criminal liability for the crime
charged simply and merely on her barefaced testimony that she was a plain housewife, had no involvement in the criminal
actuations of her husband, and had no knowledge of the existence of the drugs in the inner room of the house. She had full access
to the room, including the space under the bed. She failed to adduce any credible evidence that she was prohibited by her
husband, the appellant Amadeo Tira, from entering the room, cleaning it, or even sleeping on the bed. We agree with the findings
and disquisition of the trial court, viz:
The Court is not persuaded that Connie Tira has no knowledge, control and possession of the shabu and marijuana (Exhibits "M,"
"N," "O" and "P") found in their room. Connie Tira and Amadeo Tira jointly control and possess the shabu (Exhibits "M" and "N") and
marijuana (Exhibits "O" and "P") found in the room of their house. It is unusual for a wife not to know the existence in their conjugal
abode, the questioned shabu and marijuana. The husband and wife (Amadeo and Connie) conspired and confederated with each
other the keeping and custody of said prohibited articles. Both of them are deemed in possession of said articles in violation of R.A.
6425, Section 8, in relation to Section 20.
The Crimes Committed by the Appellants
The trial court convicted the appellants of violating Section 16, in relation to Section 20, of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended. The
Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) asserts that the appellants should be convicted of violating Section 8 of Rep. Act No. 6425, as
amended. We do not agree with the trial court and the OSG. We find and so hold that the appellants are guilty of two separate
crimes: (a) possession of regulated drugs under Section 16, in relation to Section 20, of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, for their
possession of methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug; and, (b) violation of Section 8, in relation to Section 20 of the law,
for their possession of marijuana, a prohibited drug. Although only one Information was filed against the appellants, nevertheless,
they could be tried and convicted for the crimes alleged therein and proved by the prosecution. In this case, the appellants were
charged for violation of possession of marijuana and shabu in one Information which reads:
That on or about March 9, 1998, in the Municipality of Urdaneta, province of Pangasinan, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring together, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in
their possession, control and custody the following:
- Three (3) pieces (sic) sachets of shabu
- Six (6) pieces opened sachets of shabu residue
- One (1) brick of dried marijuana leaves weighing 721 grams
- Twenty-four (24) tea bags of dried marijuana leaves weighing 86.3 grams
- Six [6] disposable lighter
- One (1) roll Aluminum foil
- Several empty plastics (tea bag)
- Cash money amounting to P12,536.00 in different denominations believed to be proceeds of the contraband.
without first securing the necessary permit/license to posses[s] the same.
CONTRARY TO SEC. 8, in relation to Sec. 20 of R.A. 6425, as amended."70

The Information is defective because it charges two crimes. The appellants should have filed a motion to quash the Information
under Section 3, Rule 117 of the Revised Rules of Court before their arraignment. They failed to do so. Hence, under Rule 120,
Section 3 of the said rule, the appellants may be convicted of the crimes charged. The said Rule provides:
SEC. 3. Judgment for two or more offenses. - When two or more offenses are charged in a single complaint or information but the
accused fails to object to it before trial, the court may convict him of as many offenses as are charged and proved, and impose on
him the penalty for each offense, setting out separately the findings of fact and law in each offense.
The Proper Penalties On the Appellants
The crime of violation of Section 8, Article II of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, for illegal possession of 807.3 grams of marijuana,
a prohibited drug, is punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. Considering that there are no qualifying circumstances, the
appellants are sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, conformably to Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code and are
ordered to pay a fine of P500,000.00.
Under Section 16, Article III of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, the imposable penalty of possession of a regulated drug, less than
200 grams, in this case, shabu, is prision correccional to reclusion perpetua. Based on the quantity of the regulated drug subject of
the offense, the imposable penalty shall be as follows:
QUANTITY IMPOSABLE PENALTY
Less than one (1) gram to 49.25 grams prision correccional
49.26 grams to 98.50 grams prision mayor
98.51 grams to 147.75 grams reclusion temporal
147.76 grams to 199 grams reclusion perpetua
Considering that the regulated drug found in the possession of the appellants is only 1.001 grams, the imposable penalty for the
crime is prision correccional. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the appellants are sentenced to suffer an indeterminate
penalty of from four (4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor in its medium period as minimum, to three (3) years of prision
correccional in its medium period as maximum, for violation of Section 16 of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, appellants Amadeo and Connie Tira are found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of violating
Section 8, Article II of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, and are hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua, and
ORDERED to pay a fine of P1,000,000.00. The said appellants are, likewise, found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of violating
Section 16, Article III of Rep. Act No. 6425, as amended, and are sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of from Four (4)
Months and One (1) Day of arresto mayor in its medium period as minimum, to Three (3) years of prision correccional, in its
medium period, as maximum.
No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 170837

September 12, 2006

THE PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, appellee,


vs.
DEXTER TORRES y DELA CRUZ, appellant.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
Dexter Torres was charged with violation of Section 8, Article II of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 6425, as amended, for unlawful
possession of 831.91 grams of marijuana fruiting tops, a prohibited drug; as well as Section 16, Article III of the same law for illegal
possession of 0.26 grams of methamphetamine hydrochloride, a regulated drug commonly known as shabu.
The indictment in Criminal Case No. 08-1334 for violation of Section 8, Article II of R.A. No. 6425 reads:
That on or about August 13, 2001, in the Municipality of Gonzaga, province of Cagayan, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession
and under his control and custody one (1) brick of Marijuana fruiting tops weighing 831.91 grams wrapped in a newspaper
which gave POSITIVE results for the tests of marijuana, a prohibited drug, the said accused knowing fully well and aware
that it is prohibited for any person to, unless authorized by law, to possess or use any prohibited drug.
CONTRARY TO LAW.1
Upon the other hand, the accusatory portion of the Information in Criminal Case No. 08-1344 for violation of Section 16, Article III of
the same law reads:
That on or about August 13, 2001, in the Municipality of Gonzaga, province of Cagayan, and within the jurisdiction of this
Honorable Court, the above-named accused, did then and there willfully, unlawfully and feloniously have in his possession
and under his control and custody two (2) small heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets containing white crystalline
substances with a total weight of 0.26 gm. which substances gave POSITIVE results to the tests for Methamphetamine
Hydrochloride, a regulated drug, commonly known as Shabu, the said accused knowing fully well and aware that it is
prohibited for any person to possess or use any regulated drug without the corresponding license or prescription.
CONTRARY TO LAW.2
The two (2) criminal cases were jointly tried at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Aparri, Cagayan, Branch 8. Dexter pleaded not
guilty to both charges.3
The case for the prosecution is as follows:
In the early afternoon of August 13, 2001, operatives of the Second Regional Narcotics Office led by PSI Teodolfo M. Tannagan,
SPO4 Abelardo M. Lasam, SPO1 Jessie O. Liwag and PO2 Tirso T. Pascual, as members, and a back-up team from the Gonzaga
Police Station, armed with a search warrant issued by Executive Judge Jimmy Henry F. Lucson, Jr. of the RTC of Tuguegarao City,
Cagayan, raided the house of Dexter Torres located at Salvanera St., Barangay Paradise, Gonzaga, Cagayan. The team was
joined by the two barangay councilmen, Edward Sagnep and Ernesto Vivit.
Just before searching Dexter's house, SPO4 Lasam presented the search warrant and introduced the raiding team to Henny
Gatchalian, Dexter's sister, and Dexter's children. When asked where the owners of the house were, Henny responded that her
brother and his wife had just left. In their presence and that of the two kagawads, the team searched the master's bedroom and
found the following stashed inside the second deck of a wooden cabinet: 1) a brick of dried suspected marijuana wrapped inside
newsprint; 2) two plastic sachets of suspected shabu; 3) three pieces of aluminum foil; 4) a colored green plastic lighter; and 5) a
small transparent plastic bag. The raiders then prepared an inventory4 of the articles seized, a copy of which was handed to Henny.
After photos of the confiscated articles were taken, they were placed in a plastic bag and turned over to SPO4 Lasam, who
submitted the same to the Regional Crime Laboratory Office 2, Camp Alimanao, Tuguegarao, Cagayan, for forensic examination.5

That same afternoon, Kagawads Edward and Ernesto both signed a certification6 as to the conduct of the search, certifying, among
others, that it was conducted in an orderly and peaceful manner; no unnecessary force was employed; nobody was hurt; and
nothing was taken without proper receipt. Henny, however, refused to sign the certification.
PSI Forensic Chemist Maria Leonora C. Camarao examined the substance seized from Dexter's house which tested positive for
marijuana and shabu. On the witness stand, Maria confirmed her Physical Science Reports, hereunder reproduced as follows:
SPECIMEN SUBMITTED:
Exh "A" one (1) brick of suspected Marijuana fruiting tops with weight of 831.91 grams wrapped with
newspaper print and masking tape with markings and further placed in one (1) brown long envelope with
description. xxx
Exh "B-B1" Two (2) small heat-sealed transparent plastic sachets wrapped with masking tape with markings,
containing white crystalline substances with total weight of 0.26 gm and further placed in one (1) cellophane with
description. xxx
PURPOSE OF LABORATORY EXAMINATION:
To determine the presence of prohibited and/or regulated drugs. xxx
F I N D I N G S:
Qualitative examination conducted on the above-stated specimen gave the following results:
Exh "A" gave POSITIVE result to the test for Marijuana, a prohibited drug. xxx
Exh "B-B1" gave POSITIVE result to the test for Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, a regulated drug. xxx
C O N C L U S I O N:
Exh "A" contains Marijuana, a prohibited drug. xxx
Exh "B-B1" contains Methamphetamine Hydrochloride, a regulated drug. xxx7
On December 5, 2002, the prosecution formally offered its exhibits, which included the brick of marijuana leaves and fruiting tops
weighing 831.91 grams (Exhibit "A"); and the shabu which weighed 0.26 grams (Exhibits "B" and "B-1"). Thereafter, the prosecution
rested its case.8
Dexter, through counsel, objected to the offer of evidence on the ground that the same were "confiscated not from [his] possession
as he was then staying in Laoag City."9
The defense consists of the testimonies of Dexter himself, his sister Henny Gatchalian, and his relative, KagawadErnesto, are
predicated on denial and frame-up.
The defense version is as follows:
Thirty-eight-year old Dexter eked out a living as a carpenter. He averred that weeks before his house was searched, he was
already in Gabu, Laoag City, working in a house construction project of his sister-in-law Rema Pentigrado. He left for Gabu, Laoag
City on July 28, 2001 with his wife. After entrusting his children to the care of his father, and his sister Henny, he padlocked his
place and gave the key to his sister. He declared that he only came to know of the incident from Henny when he and his wife
arrived home from Gabu, Laoag City.10
Kagawad Ernesto, aged 65 years, Dexter's kin, narrated that on August 13, 2001 he was at his house. A policeman from the
Gonzaga Police Station arrived and asked him to be a witness in a raid that lawmen would conduct in Dexter's residence. He
acceded. However, upon reaching the premises, he found out that the search had already been conducted. He was informed that a
brick of marijuana had been found inside the house, but he did not see it. Later, upon the prodding of the police, he signed a
confiscation receipt without reading its contents.11
Henny, aged 35 years, recounted that at about 1:00 p.m. of August 13, 2001, she was at her father's house when a number of
policemen arrived. They asked her to open the door, and as she was forced to do so, she accompanied the police to the
neighboring house and unlocked the place. Inside, she was placed in one of the rooms and was ordered not to move a muscle.
Thereafter, the policemen ransacked the cabinets, chests and drawers. Meanwhile, she remained confined in the room, without a
clue as to what was taking place. After the search, the policemen brought her out of the house and showed to her the shabu and
marijuana which the police claimed to have found inside the house. She denied signing anything save the search warrant. Henny,
however, told the court that it was Dexter's mistress, not his wife, that her brother brought to Gabu, Laoag City.12

On November 14, 2003, the RTC rendered a joint decision convicting Dexter of the offenses charged. The falloreads
WHEREFORE, the Court finds accused Dexter Torres y De La Cruz "GUILTY" beyond reasonable doubt in both cases
and is hereby sentenced to suffer the penalty of Reclusion Perpetua and a fine of Five Hundred Thousand (P500,000.00)
Pesos in Criminal Case No. 08-1334 and, the indeterminate prison term of six (6) years, one (1) day of prision mayor, as
minimum, to twelve (12) years and one (1) day of reclusion temporal, as maximum, and a fine of Five Hundred Thousand
(P500,000.00) Pesos in Criminal Case No. 08-1344.
With costs.
SO ORDERED.13
The trial court rejected the defense of alibi cum frame-up of the accused and upheld in favor of the prosecution the presumption of
regularity in the performance of official duties.
Dexter appealed his conviction to this Court, docketed as G.R. Nos. 162542-43, praying for the reversal of the judgment. He
claimed that the search warrant had been unlawfully implemented and that the prosecution failed to prove his guilt beyond
reasonable doubt. He assigned the following errors purportedly committed by the trial court:
I
The court a quo gravely erred in finding that the search warrant issued against herein appellant was validly and lawfully
implemented.
II
The court a quo erred in finding that the guilt of the accused-appellant for the crime charged has been proven beyond
reasonable doubt.14
The appeal was transferred to the CA for appropriate action and disposition per Resolution15 of this Court dated April 6, 2005, in
accordance with the ruling in People v. Mateo.16
On July 28, 2005, the judgment of conviction was affirmed, but was modified as to the penalty imposed in Criminal Case No. 081344. In disposing the appeal, the CA gave short shrift to Dexter's claim that the two-witness rule under Sec. 8, Rule 126 of the
Revised Rules of Court was violated. Emphatically pointing out that at the time of the search, Henny was living in Dexter's house,
and therefore a lawful occupant, it held that the two-witness rule applies only in the absence of a lawful occupant of the searched
premises. Citing People v. Simon,17 and considering that only 0.26 grams of shabu was involved, the appellate court reduced
Dexter's sentence to an indeterminate penalty of six (6) months of arresto mayor to four (4) years and two (2) months of prison
correccional. The petitory portion of the CA decision reads
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the joint decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 08 of Aparri, Cagayan in
Criminal Cases Nos. 08-1334 and 08-1344 is hereby AFFIRMED WITH MODIFICATIONS. Accused-appellant Dexter
Torres y Dela Cruz is hereby found GUILTY of violating Sections 8 and 16 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended by
Republic Act No. 7659, and is hereby sentenced to suffer:
(1) the penalty of reclusion perpetua and a fine of Five Hundred Thousand Pesos (P500,000.00) in Criminal Case No. 081334; and
(2) an indeterminate sentence of 6 months of arresto mayor to 4 years and 2 months of prison correccional in Criminal
Case 08-1344.
SO ORDERED.18
Dexter sought reconsideration, which the CA denied.19
Unfazed, Dexter, now the appellant, appealed anew to this Court, adopting by way of manifestation the same arguments before the
CA.20
Appellant insists that the items seized from his house are inadmissible as evidence, being the fruits of an illegal search. He
maintains that the manner of search conducted in his residence had failed to comply with the mandatory provisions of Section 8
(formerly Section 7), Rule 126 of the 2000 Rules of Criminal Procedure, which provides:
SEC. 8. Search of house, room, or premises, to be made in presence of two witnesses. No search of a house, room, or
any other premise shall be made except in the presence of the lawful occupant thereof or any member of his family or in
the absence of the latter, two witnesses of sufficient age and discretion residing in the same locality.

Appellant argues that Henny is not a "lawful occupant" of the house as contemplated in the above section. And even if she is one,
her presence did not cure the illegality of the search since she was prevented by the police from actually witnessing the search as it
was being conducted. He points out that her sister was confined by the police in one of the rooms of the house while the
simultaneous search was going on in the other portion thereof. Moreover, though the raiding party had summoned two
barangay kagawads as witnesses, the police were already through searching the house when Kagawad Ernesto arrived. In other
words, the latter, too, had failed to witness the search.21
The appeal is not meritorious.
Contrary to appellant's claim, Henny and Barangay Kagawad Ernesto were present when the lawmen searched his house. The
illicit drugs and paraphernalia were found in the master's bedroom stashed inside the second deck of a wooden cabinet. This is
clear from the positive and categorical testimony of PO2 Tirso Pascual, a member of the raiding team:
FISCAL :
Q What did you do when you arrived at the house of the accused at Salvanera St. Paradise, Gonzaga, Cagayan?
A SPO4 Lasam, the officer on the case who was handling the Search Warrant, informed the persons present at that house
of the purpose of the members, Sir.
Q By the way, was the accused present?
A Dexter Torres was not present, Sir.
Q Who were in their house at that time?
A His sister, Henny Gatchalian and some of his children, Sir.
xxx
Q And after informing the sister of the accused of your purpose, that is to serve the search warrant against her brother,
what did you do?
A In the presence of the barangay kagawad and the sister of the accused, we began to search the house, Sir.
Q And were you able to discover anything inside the house of the accused?
A Yes, Sir.
Q What were you able to find out inside the house?
A During the conduct of the search, we were able to recover one brick form of dried marijuana wrapped in a newspaper,
placed inside a wooden cabinet particularly at the second deck of the wooden cabinet, Sir.
Q Aside from that, what did you see inside the house?
A While conducting the search, we recovered two transparent
plastic sachet containing, which we believe to be shabu and
some other materials such as lighter, aluminum foils, Sir.22
xxx
COURT:
Q Where was Henny Gatchalian at the time of the search?
A Always beside us, Your Honor.
Q You mean Henny Gatchalian was also inside the house?
A Yes, Your Honor.

FISCAL:
Q So there were five of you inside the house?
A Yes, Sir.
Q You, Liwag, councilmen Sagnep and Vivit and Gatchalian?
A Yes, Sir.23
PO2 Pascual's above testimony was corroborated by SPO1 Jessie Liwag, likewise a member of the raiding team that searched the
house of the appellant.24 Besides, Henny and Kagawad Ernesto, were not the only witnesses to the search; Kagawad Edward
Sagnep was also present during the entire search. This is evinced by the testimonies of PO2 Pascual and the certification signed
by the two Kagawads.
The RTC and the CA correctly rejected the testimonies of defense witnesses Henny and Kagawad Ernesto for being biased and
riddled with inconsistencies. We are in full accord with the following encompassing disquisition of the appellate court:
We note, however, that her credibility is adversely affected by the inconsistencies in her statements. She could not even
exactly say where she was staying before the police arrived to conduct the search. Thus, the transcript of her testimony
provides as follows:
FISCAL NELJOE CORTES: You do not own a house in Gonzaga?
Witness GATCHALIAN: We only stay in the house of my parents-in-law, Sir.
Q: You stated while ago that you were then in your house when they conducted the search?
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: And you likewise stated that your house is situated beside the house of Dexter Torres
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: The house of your father is situated about 200 meters away from the house of Dexter Torres, is it not?
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: And according to you at that time, you were staying in the house of your father-in-law?
A: I was not staying in the house of my father, Sir.
Q: Because you were then staying in the house of Dexter Torres?
A: Yes, Sir.
Q: And as a matter of fact, you were in the house of Dexter Torres when the police arrived, is it not?
A: I was in the house of my father, Sir.
Q: So you now agree with me that in August 2001, you were staying in the house of your brother Dexter Torres?
A: No, Sir.
Q: Did you not state a while ago that you are staying in your brother's house?
A: Yes, Sir, but when the police conducted the search, I was in the house of my father.
Q: Again, you seem not to be telling the truth?
A: Why not, Sir.
Q: A while ago also you stated that you are staying in the house of your father-in-law, which is about 200 meters away?

A: Yes, Sir.
Q: So at that time you were staying in three houses, in the house of your brother, in the house of your father-in-law and in
the house of your (father)?
A: I am not staying in the house my father-in-law, Sir.
Q: So your statement earlier that you are staying in your father-in- law's house is not correct?
A: No, Sir.
Q: So the house that you are referring to in your direct examination is actually the house of your father or the house of
Dexter?
A: (I) was only told by Dexter that I will just clean the house if he leaves the place, Sir.
Consistent with the trial court's own findings as between the testimony of Gatchalian and the testimonies of the police officers, this
Court finds the testimonies of the police officers more credible. Aside from the principle that testimonies of police officers deserve
full faith and credit given the presumption that they have performed their duties regularly, we note that the prosecution witnesses
gave consistent and straightforward narrations of what transpired on August 13, 2001. The police officers have consistently testified
that Gatchalian was then in the house of the accused-appellant when they arrived thereat, and that she was with them when they
conducted the search inside the house.
The presence of barangay council members Edward Sagnep and Ernesto Vivit during the search was also sufficiently established.
These barangay officials even affixed their signatures on the confiscation receipt issued by PO3 Jessie Liwag that contains a
statement that the seized properties were found in the presence of Brgy. Kag. Edward R. Sagnep and Brgy. Kag. Ernesto Q. Vivit.
Barangay kagawad Ernesto Vivit's retraction and assertion that he was not really present when the policemen searched the house
of the accused-appellant fail to persuade. During cross-examination, Vivit, a relative of the accused-appellant, even testified in
court:
FISCAL NELJOE CORTES: You were required to sign a confiscation receipt?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: You were told that the document that you were asked to sign is a Confiscation Receipt, meaning, the items you
enumerated therein were actually taken as a result of the search?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And you signed that document because you know for a fact that the items were actually recovered inside the house of
the accused?
A: Yes, sir.
Q: And that is the truth?
A: Yes, sir.
As correctly pointed out by the trial court:
The afore statements of this defense witness clearly established the fact that, there was nothing irregular in the execution
of the search warrant. It also establishes the material fact that, what was claimed to have been recovered, seized and
confiscated from the cabinet located in one of the rooms of Dexter's house, to wit: dried marijuana, two (2) plastic sachets
of shabu, lighter, match box, and aluminum foils are true. True, because Ernesto Vivit, a witness to the search and a
barangay councilman signed the confiscation receipt voluntarily because he knew for a fact that said items were actually
recovered from the house of the accused."
Even defense witness Henny Gatchalian mentioned in her testimony that Ernesto Vivit was with the policemen when they
conducted the search.25
More importantly, it is now too late in the day for appellant to object to the admissibility of the evidence seized pursuant to the
search warrant. Though he seasonably objected after the prosecution formally offered its evidence, his objection was not based on
constitutional grounds, but rather on the ground that he was not in actual possession of the premises at the time the search was
conducted.26

In the case of Demaisip v. Court of Appeals,27 we held:


At any rate, objections to the legality of the search warrant and to the admissibility of the evidence obtained thereby were
deemed waived when no objection to the legality of the search warrant was raised during the trial of the case nor to the
admissibility of the evidence obtained through said warrant.
Indeed, the right to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures, like any other right, can be waived and the waiver may be
made either expressly or impliedly.28
Hard to believe is appellant's insinuation that the evidence for the prosecution were planted. His very conduct following his arrest
would belie this allegation:
First. He failed to complain about this matter when he was apprehended nor bestirred himself to bring it up during his preliminary
investigation. He could not even identify the person, the policeman or policemen who allegedly planted the evidence. In fact, it was
only during this appeal that appellant accentuated this alleged frame-up.
Second. The appellant failed to inform his counsel of the alleged planting of evidence by the policemen; if he had done so, for sure,
the said counsel would have prepared his affidavit and filed the appropriate motion in court for the suppression of the things/articles
seized by the policemen.
Third. We find it incredible that the policemen planted said evidence in full view of Kagawad Edward, whose presence during the
search was undisputed. This is so because the policemen could be prosecuted for planting evidence and, if convicted, sentenced
to death under Section 19 of R.A. No. 7659:
SECTION 19. Section 24 of Republic Act No. 6425, as amended, known as the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1972, is hereby amended
to read as follows:
Sec. 24. Penalties for Government Officials and Employees and Officers and Members of Police Agencies and the Armed
Forces, 'Planting' of Evidence. The maximum penalties provided for [in] Sections 3, 4(1), 5(1), 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 13 of
Article II and Sections 14, 14-A, 15(1), 16 and 19 of Article III shall be imposed, if those found guilty of any of the said
offenses are government officials, employees or officers, including members of police agencies and the armed forces.
Any such above government official, employee or officer who is found guilty of "planting" any dangerous drugs punished in
Sections 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 13 of Article II and Sections 14, 14-A, 15 and 16 of Article III of this Act in the person or in the
immediate vicinity of another as evidence to implicate the latter, shall suffer the same penalty as therein provided.
The incantation of frame-up is nothing new. It is a common and standard line of defense in most prosecutions for violation of the
Dangerous Drugs Law. While such defense cannot and should not always be considered as contrived, nonetheless, it is generally
rejected for it can easily be concocted but is difficult to prove. Police officers are, after all, presumed to have acted regularly in the
performance of their official functions, in the absence of clear and convincing proof to the contrary, or that they are motivated by illwill.29
Appellant next submits that his absence during the search coupled with the fact that he was not caught in possession of the illicit
drugs and paraphernalia are circumstances sufficient enough to exonerate him.30
We are not persuaded.
The essential elements of the crime of illegal possession of regulated drugs are the following: (a) the accused is found in
possession of a regulated drug; (b) the person is not authorized by law or by duly constituted authorities; and (c) the accused has
knowledge that the said drug is a regulated drug.31
The elements of illegal possession of prohibited drugs are as follows: (a) the accused is in possession of an item or object which is
identified to be a prohibited drug; (b) such possession is not authorized by law; and (c) the accused freely or consciously
possessed the prohibited drug.32
The fact that appellant was not in his residence when it was searched nor caught in flagrante delicto possessing the illicit drugs and
paraphernalia does not dent the case of the prosecution. As a matter of law, when prohibited and regulated drugs are found in a
house or other building belonging to and occupied by a particular person, the presumption arises that such person is in possession
of such drugs in violation of law, and the fact of finding the same is sufficient to convict. Otherwise stated, the finding of the illicit
drugs and paraphernalia in the house owned by the appellant raised the presumption of knowledge and, standing alone, was
sufficient to convict.33
This Court, in People v. Tira,34 ruminated on the juridical concept of "possession" under Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as
amended, and the evidence necessary to prove the said crime. The same principle applies to prohibited drugs.
x x x This crime is mala prohibita, and as such, criminal intent is not an essential element. However, the prosecution must
prove that the accused had the intent to possess (animus posidendi) the drugs. Possession, under the law, includes not
only actual possession, but also constructive possession. Actual possession exists when the drug is in the immediate

physical possession or control of the accused. On the other hand, constructive possession exists when the drug is under
the dominion and control of the accused or when he has the right to exercise dominion and control over the place where it
is found. Exclusive possession or control is not necessary. The accused cannot avoid conviction if his right to exercise
control and dominion over the place where the contraband is located, is shared with another.
Thus, conviction need not be predicated upon exclusive possession, and a showing of non-exclusive possession would
not exonerate the accused. Such fact of possession may be proved by direct or circumstantial evidence and any
reasonable inference drawn therefrom. However, the prosecution must prove that the accused had knowledge of the
existence and presence of the drug in the place under his control and dominion and the character of the drug. Since
knowledge by the accused of the existence and character of the drugs in the place where he exercises dominion and
control is an internal act, the same may be presumed from the fact that the dangerous drugs is in the house or place over
which the accused has control or dominion, or within such premises in the absence of any satisfactory explanation.
In the instant case, appellant failed to present any evidence to rebut the existence of animus possidendi over the illicit drugs and paraphernalia
found in his residence. His claim that he was not aware that such illegal items were in his house is insufficient. We have time and again ruled that
mere denial cannot prevail over the positive testimony of a witness. Mere denial, just like alibi, is a self-serving negative evidence which cannot be
accorded greater evidentiary weight than the declaration of credible witnesses who testify on affirmative matters. As between a categorical
testimony that rings of truth on one hand, and a bare denial on the other, the former is generally held to prevail. 35 Moreover, his defense of frameup, as we said, is a common and standard line of defense which is invariably viewed with disfavor, it being capable of easy concoction and difficult
to prove.36 Considering that no clear and convincing evidence was presented to prove such allegation, the presumption of regularity in the
performance of official duty,37 as well as the principle that findings of the trial court on the credibility of witnesses, especially when affirmed by the
CA, are entitled to great respect and are accorded the highest consideration,38 must prevail over the appellant's imputation of ill-motive on the part
of the policemen who conducted the search.
The RTC and the CA, in Criminal Case No. 08-1334, correctly meted against appellant the penalty of reclusion perpetua and the P500,000.00 fine.
The crime of violation of Section 8, Article II of R.A. No. 6425, as amended, for illegal possession of 831.91 grams of marijuana, a prohibited drug, is
punishable by reclusion perpetua to death. Considering that there are no qualifying circumstances, the appellant is sentenced to suffer the penalty
of reclusion perpetua, conformably to Article 63 of the Revised Penal Code.
The Court, however, will modify the penalty the CA imposed upon the appellant in Criminal Case No. 08-1344.
Under Section 16, Article III of R.A. No. 6425, as amended, the imposable penalty of possession of less than 200 grams of regulated drug, in this
case shabu, is prision correccional to reclusion perpetua. Based on the quantity of the regulated drug subject of the offense, the imposable penalty
shall be as follows:

QUANTITY

IMPOSABLE PENALTY

Less than one (1) gram to 49.25 grams

prision correccional

49.26 grams to 98.50 grams

prision mayor

98.51 grams to 147.75 grams

reclusion temporal

147.76 grams to 199 grams

reclusion perpetua

Considering that the regulated drug found in the possession of the appellant is only 0.26 grams, the imposable penalty for the crime is prision
correccional. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the appellant should have been sentenced to suffer an indeterminate penalty of from four
(4) months and one (1) day of arresto mayor in its medium period, as minimum, to three (3) years of prision correccional in its medium period, as
maximum, for violation of Section 16 of R.A. No. 6425, as amended.
In view of the quantity of shabu confiscated in this case, the CA correctly deleted the penalty of fine imposed on appellant, as the second paragraph
of Section 20 of R.A. No. 6425, as amended by Section 17 of R.A. No. 7659, provides only for the penalty of imprisonment.
Republic Act No. 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, increased the penalty for illegal possession of less
than five (5) grams of shabu to imprisonment of twelve (12) years and one (1) day to twenty years and a fine ranging from three hundred thousand
(P300,000.00) to four hundred thousand pesos (P400,000.00). However, since this law is not favorable to appellant, it cannot be given retroactive
application in the instant case. This is the mandate of Article 22 of the Revised Penal Code, which reads:

ART. 22. Retroactive effect of penal laws. Penal laws shall have a retroactive effect insofar as they favor the persons guilty of felony,
who is not a habitual criminal, as this term is defined in Rule 5 of Article 62 of this Code, although at the time of the publication of such
laws a final sentence has been pronounced and the convict is serving the same.
The same law also changed the penalty for illegal possession of 500 grams or more of marijuana to life imprisonment to death, and a fine ranging
from P500,000.00 to P10,000,000.00. Obviously, the amendment of the penalty from reclusion perpetua to life imprisonment to death in R.A. No.
9165 cannot, likewise, be applied retroactively to the present case since it would also be unfavorable to appellant.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Decision appealed from is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION. Accordingly, judgment is hereby rendered
as follows:
(1) In Criminal Case No. 08-1334, the appellant is found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 8, Article II of Republic Act No.
6425, as amended, and is hereby SENTENCED to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua. He is also ORDERED to pay a fine of P500,000.00
without subsidiary imprisonment in case of insolvency;
(2) In Criminal Case No. 08-1344, the appellant is hereby found GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of violation of Section 16, Article III of Republic
Act No. 6425, as amended, and is SENTENCED to suffer an indeterminate penalty from Four (4) months and One (1) day of arresto mayor, in its
medium period, as minimum to Three (3) years ofprision correccional, in its medium period, as maximum. No costs.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. 36995

April 19, 1934

ALFREDO RAMIREZ and PAZ BAYOT DE RAMIREZ, applicants-appellees,


vs.
THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, ET AL., oppositors.
THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS and THE DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY, appellants.
Attorney-General Jaranilla for appellants.
Sumulong, Lavides and Mabanag for appellees.
DIAZ, J.:
In this case the spouses Alfredo Ramirez and Paz Bayot, who are Filipino citizens applied for the registration in their name of the
parcel of land situated at Liang, in the municipality of Siniloan, Province of Laguna, more particularly described in the plan Exhibit A
and annex Exhibit A-1, which is the technical description thereof. Said land has a total area of 203 hectares, 85 are and 44
centares. The Director of Lands, the Director of Forestry and the municipalities of Siniloan and Famy, of the Province of Laguna,
opposed the application of said spouses on the alleged ground that the parcel of land in question is public forestry land which was
granted by the Insular Government as communal forests to the above municipalities.
After due hearing which lasted two days according to the decision of the trial court, judgment was rendered therein declaring the
applicants the true owners thereof with the right to have the same registered in their name as conjugal partnership property under
the provisions of act No. 496, as amended, denying all the oppositions filed by the four oppositors aforementioned. Said oppositors
took exception to and appealed from the said judgment on the ground that the trial court committed the following six alleged errors,
to wit:
I. The lower court erred in admitting in evidence Exhibit D-2 and in not holding that the same is null and voidab initio.
II. The lower court erred in finding that the applicants and their predecessors in interest have been in the actual, material
and physical possession of the land openly, adversely, publicly and under a claim of ownership before 1888 up to this
time.
III. The lower court erred in not holding that the applicants failed to establish the identity of the land in question.

IV. The lower court erred in applying section 45, paragraph (b), of Act No. 2874 and in not finding that the land in question
belongs to the class of inalienable public land.
V. The lower court erred in not finding that Tomas Ilao never existed.
VI. The lower court erred in denying the Government's motion for a new trial.
According to the applicants' evidence, the land in question constituted a third part of a piece of land which, for ten or eleven years
prior to the year 1897, belonged to one Tomas Ilao, also commonly known by the name of Tomas Apat, of the municipality of
Siniloan, Province of Laguna. The same evidence likewise shows that, after having been in possession of the said land for nearly
ten years, that is, on January 2, 1896, said party obtained from the Spanish Government the title, Exhibit D-2 of the record, wherein
it is stated that: Whereas said Tomas Ilao, who was then 52 years of age, married, farmer, and a resident of the municipality of
Siniloan, Laguna, had applied for the adjustment with the Government of a parcel of land which he had in the barrio of Liang in the
aforestated municipality and province, the provincial board for the adjustment of lands granted him the title in question on condition
that he register it in the registry of deeds within one year. It likewise appears on the third page of the document in question that on
April 27, 1896, the same was registered as realty No. 92, Santa Cruz, on page 36 of volume I of the records of Siniloan, which
indicates that the condition imposed by the aforesaid board was complied with.
It may be noted, however, that the so-called title (Exhibit D-2) does not bear the dry seal nor the rubric of the Inspector General of
Forests nor does it give the maiden name of Tomas Ilao's mother. Furthermore, the first paragraph of the title in question, which
refers to the cedula certificate of said person, reads in part as follows:
. . . whose personal data are attested to by a certificate issued by the "capitan municipal" thereof on the twenty-third
instant, in connection with the cedula certificate 10th class No. 1940344 exhibited to him by the grantee . . ." thereby
giving rise to discrepancy therein because the so-called title (Exhibit D-2), as herein-before stated, is dated January 2,
1896, while the certificate in question bears a very much later date. On the third page of the said document it may also be
noted that the two numbers "1896", which appear therein as the year when the proceedings therein mentioned were had,
have been plainly altered, to wit: the last two figures "96" of the former number and the figures "8" and "6" of the latter, and
that the stamped paper which forms said page does not bear the year "1896" but the years 1890-91. However, it is
stamped "VALID FOR 1896-97" in red ink. It is also very apparent that the land granted therein to Tomas Ilao has a total
area of 300 hectares.
The same evidence of the applicants-appellees likewise shows that twenty-two months and some days after Tomas Ilao had
obtained his said title (Exhibit D-2), he sold the land covered thereby to Pablo Villegas for the sum of two hundred Mexican pesos
(Exhibits D-1 and D). Thirty years later, that is, on January 7, 1928, said Pablo Villegas, in turn, sold the same land specified in
Exhibit D-2 to Teodoro Kalambakal, stating in Exhibit C that the price thereof was one thousand five hundred pesos. It was only
during the time said Teodoro Kalambakal was in possession thereof, that is, on November 8, 1928, that the land in question, which
had belonged to Tomas Ilao, was declared for purposes of taxation by the latter purchaser. In his declaration presented to that
effect it was stated that the cultivated portion thereof consisted of an area of only two hectares and the uncultivated potion, 298
hectares (Exhibit E). On January 8, 1929, that is, exactly one year and one day from the date he purchased it from Pablo Villegas,
Teodoro Kalambakal sold one-third of said property to the herein applicants-appellees, for the sum of four thousand pesos, having
executed Exhibit B to that effect, wherein it appears that the portion sold by him had a total area of 100 hectares, although he
stated in his testimony that it was 200 hectares. Subsequently, he sold the remaining portion thereof to Mauricio Cruz, which,
according to his testimony, had an area of 538 hectares.
On a certain portion of the land in question, there are around one thousand young coffee trees about two years old, which were
planted among and under the shade of timber-trees growing on the portion of lot No. 1 of the plan Exhibit A, indicated with the word
"coffee". At the points marked 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 with red pencil on the same plan, there are likewise traces of clearings (caigin)
made thereon, approximately five years prior to September 28, 1931, the date of the hearing of the case in the trial court.
On the other hand, the evidence of the oppositors shows that lots Nos. 1 and 2 of the aforesaid plan Exhibit A, which compose all
of the land in question, have always been thickly timbered forests and mountains (Exhibits 17 to 29), for which reason many
homestead applications have been turned down by the Director of Lands on the ground that, far from being agriculture in nature, it
was forestry land (Exhibits 52 to 62).
Said oppositors contend that instead of admitting Exhibit D-2, the trial court should rejected it on the ground that it was null and
void ab initio. In fact, when the document in question was executed, the Royal Decree of August 31, 1888, was in full force and
effect in the Philippine Islands. The decree in question classified public lands occupied by inhabitants, who were private individuals,
and which were subject to adjustment with the treasury, into two groups: the first comprised those which were bounded at any point
thereof by another lands belonging to the State, and those which, although entirely bounded by private lands, had a total area of
more than 30 hectares, and the second comprised those which had an area of less than 30 hectares and were entirely bounded by
lands of private ownership. The aforecited Royal Decree provided that adjustment of lands of the first group should continue to be
heard and determined by the General Directorate of Civil Administration with the intervention of the Inspector General of Forests.
The pertinent provisions thereof relative to the question under consideration, reads as follows:

ARTICLE 1. All public lands occupied by private individuals in the Philippine Islands, which are subject to adjustment in
accordance with the Regulation of June 25, 1888, shall be divided into two groups: The first shall comprise those which at
any point adjoin other lands belonging to the State, and those which, although entirely bounded by private lands, have a
total area of more than 30 hectares, and the second shall compromise those having an area of less than 30 hectares and
adjoining only lands of private ownership.
ART. 2. Adjustment of lands of the first group shall continue to be made in accordance with the proceeding prescribed in
the Regulation of June 25, 1880, that is, with the intervention of the Inspector General of Forests, under the supervision of
the General Directorate of Civil Administration.
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ART. 4. The different divisions of field personnel (brigadas facultativas) shall be under the immediate supervision and
control of the Inspector General of Forests, and the chief of each division shall forward to said Inspector General the
records of all cases and the plans drawn by the personnel directly in charged of the work on each piece of land,
accompanied by his report thereon. Said Inspector General, in turn, shall make his recommendation as to the action to be
taken in each case to the General Directorate of Civil Administration.
ART. 5. For the adjustment of lands of the second group, there shall be established in each provincial capital a "provincial
board for the adjustment of lands" composed of the Civil of Military-Civil Governor as president, the Judge of the Court of
First Instance, the Prosecuting Attorney, the provincial treasurer, if any, the Parish Priest, a continental Spanish freeholder
designated by the General Directorate of Civil Administration, the town head (Gobernadorcillo) and "Juez de Sementeras".
An officer of the Department of Agriculture (Fomento) shall act as Secretary thereof, without voice or vote. There shall be
no such provincial board in the City of Manila, and the disposal of cases for adjustment therein, whatever group they
belong to, shall devolve upon the General Inspector of Forests.
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ART. 7. There shall be established in every municipality a local commission composed of a "teniente de justicia" (in every
case designated by the "Gobernadorcillo" to act by turns in all the municipal districts), the "Juez de Sementeras", and
"Directorcillo" (town head's secretary) whose duty shall be to inspect the lands in question.
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ART. 10. The town head shall forward the record to the chief of the province on the day following the inspection of the land and the
provincial board shall be informed thereof within five days from the date of its receipt. If the record shows that the land under
consideration has a total area of more than 30 hectares or is not entirely bounded by private lands, the board shall refrain from
taking any cognizance thereof but shall only forward it to the General Directorate of Civil Administration. Otherwise, it shall
designate a day, within 8 days from the date of the session at which it was informed thereof, for the appearance of the owner of the
land in question and of those of the adjoining lands, upon whom summons to that effect shall be duly served. Upon their
appearance, they shall be requested to show the board whatever rights they may have to the land and the work performed thereon.
In the absence of any protest or adverse claim and if the board is convicted that the adjustment should be gratuitous on the ground
that the possessor has established his right thereto by prescription as provided in articles 4 and 5 of the Regulation of June 25,
1880, the record shall be approved and the chief of the province, in his capacity as deputy of the General Directorate of Civil
Administration, shall issue the corresponding title. Failure of the aforesaid persons to appear before the board for the purpose
above referred to, shall not prevent the resolution of the case.
If protests and claims are filed therein, the protestants and claimants as well as the possessor of the land in question shall
be requested to appear before the board which shall immediately pass upon the conflicting claims and render the decision
it deems just. The chief of the province shall issue the corresponding title to the property in accordance with such decision.
Pursuant to the provisions of article 17 of the aforecited Royal Decree, the Overseas Minister (Ministro de Ultramar) issued
instructions defining and determining the functions and powers of the provincial boards and local commissions referred to in articles
5 and 7 thereof. Said instructions, which were published in the "Gaceta de Manila" on December 20, 1888, read as follows:
ARTICLE 1. The provincial boards for the adjustment of public lands shall take charge of the adjustment of those which
are situated outside the communal lands and are entirely bounded by the private lands, the area of which is less than 30
hectares, whether they be possessed under a just title or not.
ART. 2. The provincial boards shall likewise take charge of the adjustment of those lands which, having an area of less
than 30 hectares, entirely bounded by private property and under cultivation, are situated within the communal lands,
whether the possessor thereof be a native or not.

ART. 3. Uncultivated lands shall not be admitted to adjustment, unless such adjustment had been applied for prior to
September 8, 1881, the date on which thee period for the filing of applications for lands of this kind expired, in accordance
with Royal Order of July 13, 1881.
ART. 4. If any of the lands, the adjustment of which devolves upon the provincial boards in accordance with the provisions
of articles 1 and 2 of these Instructions, is under cultivation, possessed under a just title, and happens to have an area in
excess of that specified in said title, the portion in excess thereof shall be admitted to adjustment if it is cultivated or, if
uncultivated, when the adjustment thereof had been applied for prior to September 8, 1881.
If under cultivation, the adjustment thereof shall be made in accordance with the provisions of paragraphs 1 and 2 of
article 6 of the Regulation of June 25, 1880, and if not, adjustment shall be made under paragraph 3 of the same article
and Regulation.
Adjustment of lands the area of which is in excess of the 30 hectares shall correspond to provincial boards only when the
area specified in the title together with that of the portion in excess does not exceed that area.
ART. 5. Adjustments shall be free only in the following cases:
1. When the land is under cultivation, and has been possessed for ten years under a just title, or for twenty years under no
title whatsoever.
2. When, possessed under just title and there being an excess in its area of not more than one-fifth of that specified in said
title, it has been under cultivation.
In all other cases, adjustment shall be onerous, and the amount which the possessor has to pay to the Treasury shall be
governed by the provisions of the Regulation of June 25, 1880.
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ART. 7. Provincial boards shall immediately remit to the General Directorate of Civil Administration all petitions for
adjustment of lands not within their jurisdiction, viz: Lands having an area of more than 30 hectares, such as are, or are
not entirely bounded by private lands; also all proceedings to be heard and determined by said department.
Judging from the area of the land in question and that of the two-third portions from which it had been segregated, upon the
supposition that the three-third portions above-mentioned constitute the whole tract of land which had originally passed from Tomas
Ilao, it is obvious that the same belonged to the first group, as defined in the aforesaid Royal Decree, on the ground that the area
thereof greatly exceeded thirty hectares and was not entirely bounded by private lands. Notwithstanding such facts, the title Exhibit
D-2 was not issued by the General Directorate of Civil Administration with the intervention of the Inspector General of Forests, but
merely by the provincial board, in open violation of the laws and regulations relative thereto.
During the period and on date of the issuance of the title Exhibit D-2 in question, the Maura law was also in force in the Philippine
Islands by virtue of the Royal Decree of February 13, 1894. Article 6 of said law, which prescribed the procedure for the hearing
and disposal of applications for adjustment, reads as follows:
ART. 6. All petition for adjustment, for which a second petition insisting thereon has been made within the prescribed time
limit, shall be disposed of in the shortest time practicable according to the laws in force prior to the present the General
Directorate of Civil Administration, assisted by the Inspector General of Forests, whenever such property adjoins lands
belonging to the State or contains more than 30 hectares; in all other cases they shall be disposed of by the provincial
boards established by Decree on Municipal Organization issued May 19, 1893.
"The provincial boards for the adjustment of lands established by Royal Decree of December 26, 1888, are hereby dissolved, as
are local commissions created by the latter decree. Municipal tribunals of towns shall assume the duties of said local commissions.
Before dissolving, boards of adjustment are hereby directed to deliver to their successors, the provincial boards, all records and
documents which they may hold in their possession." Articles 9, 12,13 and 40 of the Regulation for the enforcement of the aforesaid
Decree, provide as follows:
ART. 9. Lands subject to adjustment shall continue to be classified as heretofore into two groups: The first shall comprise
those which have an area of more than 30 hectares, or, if less, when bounded at any point by other state lands, and the
second shall comprise all others.
Proceedings for adjustment of lands of the first group shall be heard and determined by the General Directorate of Civil
Administration with the assistance of the Inspector General of Forests.
The adjustments of the second group shall be heard and determined by the provincial boards established by Royal
Decree of 19th of May, 1893, which shall take the place of the boards of adjustment existing up to the present time.

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ART. 12. When petitions referring to lands included in the second group mentioned in article 9 are received by the General
Directorate of Civil Administration they shall be referred to the presidents of the provincial boards for examination and
report, including records. The secretaries of said boards shall keep registers in which a record shall be entered of the
receipt of all petitions for adjustment.
ART. 13. Provincial boards shall immediately remit to the General Directorate of Civil Administration all petitions for
adjustment of lands not within their jurisdiction, viz: Lands having an area of more than 30 hectares, such as are, or are
not entirely bounded by private lands; also all proceedings to be heard and determined by said department.
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ART. 40. All title deeds shall bear the father's name in full and the mother's maiden name of the persons to whom they are
issued, also their age, civil status, profession, and residence, in compliance with the provisions of Royal Order of February
15, 1893, and article 2 of the Regulations for the manner of drafting public documents subject to registration in the
archipelago. Title deeds deficient in any of the requisite provisions of law shall not be admitted to registration. Said
personal data covering the grantee must compare with his personal cedula or certificate from the captain
or gobernadorcillo of his district, pursuant to circular dated August 9, 1893, issued by the General Directorate of Civil
Administration and punished on the 11th in the Gazette of said month. Such credential shall be attached to the record, and
the fact of its being so attached shall be entered in the instrument of title.
The circular of the General Directorate of Civil Administration on February 14, 1894, was likewise then in force. Said circular
declared null and void all titles issued after October 18, 1893, which did not comply with the requirement that they bear the dry seal
and rubric of the Inspector General of Forests. The circular in question reads as follows:
GENERAL DIRECTORATE OF CIVIL ADMINISTRATION OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS
CIRCULAR
Inasmuch as article 28 of the Instructions for the adjustment of public lands of the Philippine Islands expressly provides
that titles issued by the chiefs of provinces by virtue of such adjustments be drawn up on the printed forms which this
office shall furnish to the provincial boards for that purpose, in order to fully comply with the provisions of said article and
to facilitate the discovery of any violation thereof, this office has deemed it convenient to order that all printed forms of this
kind furnished to the said boards for the aforesaid purpose bear a dry seal in the form of mountains with the inscription
"Office of the Inspector General of Forests of the Philippine Islands-Adjustment of Lands" and the rubric of the said
Inspector General of Forests. All titles issued by my deputies after October 18, 1893, which do not comply with these
requirements are void. Furthermore each and every one of said papers shall be serially numbered.
Exhibit D-2 does not bear the serial number either printed or in handwriting as required by the aforecited circular. Neither is it amiss
to repeat herein that the so-called title (Exhibit D-2) does not bear the required dry seal and rubric of the office of the Inspector
General of Forests.
Similarly, the regulation to the effect that the maiden name of the grantee's mother should appear in the title issued to him was then
in force and strictly observed. The regulation in question which is dated May 10, 1893, and countersigned by the Inspector General
of Forests, is embodied in the circular of the Director General of Civil Administration of the Philippine Islands which was published
in the "Gaceta de Manila" on May 14th of the same year. Said circular reads as follows:
GENERAL DIRECTORATE OF CIVIL ADMINISTRATION OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS
CIRCULAR
Considering that the printed forms which were being used by the boards of adjustment in the issuance of titles to lands
adjusted with the State, do not conform stricly to the provisions of the Mortgage Law now in force, and in compliance with
the Royal Order relative thereto which was issued on February 15th last, this Directorate, at the instance of the Inspector
General of Forests, has resolved the following:
1. the boards of adjustment of lands shall discontinue issuing title from the date this resolution is published in the "Gaceta
de Manila".
2. The determination of adjustment cases pending hearing before said boards shall be suspended unless the interested
parties furnish their father's surname and their mother's maiden name, their age, civil status, profession and domicile, all
of which data must necessarily be stated in the titles to lands which may hence forth be issued.

3. Presidents of boards shall publish the requirements of the preceding paragraph by means of notices and town criers in
order to enable the interested parties to supply any omission in the above requisite data.
4. In order that the adjustment work may not be interrupted for any lenght of time, the presidents of boards shall remit all
printed forms used in the issuance of titles, which they may have in stock at the first opportunity, so that they may be
exchanged for others drawn up in accordance with the provisions of the Mortgage law in force in the Philippine Islands, as
expressly provided in the aforecited Royal Order of February 15th, last.
The circular of the General Directorate of Civil Administration of the Philippines, dated August 9, 1893, and published in the "Gaceta
de Manila" on the 11th of the same month and year, demanded the same requisite. Said circular reads as follows.
GENERAL DIRECTORATE OF CIVIL ADMINISTRATION OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS FORESTS
CIRCULAR
It being necessary, in conformity with the provisions of the Royal Orders of January 12th and February 15th last, to state in
the adjustment titles to public lands the personal circumstances of the grantees, as stated in their cedula certificates, and
deeming it improper to require the interested parties to send said cedula certificates either to the Inspector General of
Forests or to the presidents of provincial boards for adjustment of lands, for either guidance in drawing up said titles, both
for the reason that the interested parties to whom they may be indispensable would be deprived thereof for a long time
and because of the likelihood that they may be lost, this office, with the concurrence of the Inspector General of Forests,
has resolved that in all cases in which it is not possible to examine the cedula certificate of the interested party in drawing
up the titles to adjusted lands, the Inspector General of Forests as well as the presidents of provincial boards for the
adjustment of lands may demand a certificate in connection with such document through the chief of the province.
This certificate shall be drawn up de oficio at the municipal court of the town where the interested party resides, the
issuing officer having before him the cedula certificate in force, which the interested party shall be required to exhibit to
that effect.
The certificate shall contain a complete copy of the contents of the cedula certificate and shall further indicate the maiden
name of the grantee's mother, his age, civil status and profession, if such data have not been stated therein.
Said certificate shall be signed by the "gobernadorcillo" or captain, his assistants and the interested party, or by another
person of the same locality at his request if he does not know how to do so.
Your Honor will please have this circular published by means of town criers, in Spanish and in the local dialects, in all the
municipalities of the province under you, for the information of the general public.
The contents of the document Exhibit D-2 show that it did not comply with the requirements above stated.
Everything said thus far shows that the title in question was not valid. It follows, therefore, that it vested no title in Tomas Ilao.
If this should not be sufficient, it may be added that, in view of the provisions of article 3 of the aforesaid Decree of the Overseas
Minister (Ministro de Ultramar), dated October 20, 1888, which reads: "Uncultivated lands shall not be admitted for adjustment
unless such adjustment had been applied for prior to September 1, 1881, the date on which the period for the filing of applications
for lands of this kind expired, in accordance with Royal Order of July 13, 1881," the presumption is that the said interested party
obtained the aforesaid title Exhibit D-2 on the strength of his affirmation that the land covered thereby was under cultivation,
otherwise such title would not have been issued to him. Under such circumstances, it is clear that he obtained the title in question
not only through error but also through fraud, inasmuch as the evidence of record shows that, with the exception of a portion
thereof, the land covered thereby was never cultivated during the five years prior to September 28, 1931, when the case was heard
in the trial court, judging from clearings (caigin), which were in evidence in some portions thereof, and from the two-year old coffee
trees planted on the portion which is indicated with the word "coffee" on the plan Exhibit A. This is shown more clearly by the fact
that on the entire land and on the portion planted with young coffee trees, there are many timber-trees, some of which are more
than 40 years old according to the evidence of the oppositors.
Exhibit 4, which is an authentic and genuine title to property issued to Pablo Acero y Alcantara by the chief of the Province of
Laguna, seven months after the alleged issuance of Exhibit D-2, and which refers to a parcel of land having an area of 6 hectares,
54 are and 82 centares, serves not only to show how strictly the provisions of the aforecited decrees, laws, and regulations were
then observed and complied with, in connection with the manner in which titles were issued and the persons issuing them when the
land covered thereby did not exceed 30 hectares in area, and, when they exceeded 30 hectares, the dry seal and rubric which such
titles should bear and the statements or certificates which they should contain relative to the full name and surname together with
the maiden name of the mother of the person or persons in whose favor they were issued, but also proves that Exhibit D-2 in
question is fictitious and not genuine. Said Exhibit 4 was issued by the chief of the Province of Laguna because the land covered
thereby had an area of less than thirty hectares. It bears the dry seal and rubric of the Inspector General Directorate of Civil

Administration on February 14, 1894; indicates the maiden name of the mother of the grantee Pablo Acero y Alcantara, and has the
serial number relative to the issuance thereof printed at the top of the left margin.
Comparing the statements and certificates contained in the two documents above-mentioned, Exhibit D-2 and Exhibit 4, in
connection with the cedula certificates of their respective grantees, it is inconceivable how it was possible to issue Tomas Ilao a
cedula certificate date January 23, 1896, with a number (No. 1,940,344 10th class) which is very much higher than of the one
issued to Pablo Acero y Alcantara (No. 43,723 10th class) on a much later date, that is, on February 28, 1896. It should further be
noted that the two cedula certificates in question had been issued in the same municipality of Siniloan, Laguna.
Furthermore, the very contents of Exhibit D-2 indicate that it is fraudulent. The certificate referred to in its first paragraph states that
the cedula certificate of Tomas Ilao was issued on the "23d instant", that is, on January 23, 1896, while said exhibit was issued on
the 2d of the same month and year, according to the date appearing therein.
In the case the foregoing are deemed insufficient, it should be added that the evidence of the oppositors shows that no trace of the
issuance of the so-called title Exhibit D-2 of Tomas Ilao, or of the proceeding thereof, could be found in the National Library or
Division of Archives where the records of all titles to property issued during the Spanish regime, are kept.
It is therefore evident that the trial court committed the firs error alleged in the appellant's brief. Exhibit D-2 should have been
rejected not only because it is null and void but also because it is fictitious or forged and therefore not genuine.
Inasmuch as this court is convinced that Exhibit D-2 did not vest Tomas Ilao with any right, he could not therefore validly sell the
land which allegedly sold to Pablo Villegas on October 15, 1897, according to Exhibit D-1. With much less reason could the latter
sell it to Teodoro Kalambakal on the ground that he did not even take possession nor claim ownership thereof in spite of the alleged
execution of the aforesaid document in his favor. Exhibit 48, which is the record of the proceeding in the homestead application of
said Pablo Villegas, and particularly his application therein, prove that in 1918, long before he sold the land of which the parcel in
question was a portion, as claimed by the herein appellees, and long after he purchased it from Tomas Ilao, as also claimed, said
Pablo Villegas did not have any land, having so declared under oath in his application above-mentioned. Furthermore, he never
declared it as his property for taxation purposes at any place, much less in the municipalities of Siniloan at Famy where said land is
situated. All these circumstances show beyond doubt that he not only did not possessor occupy the land in question but was not
even aware of the existence of the deed of sale Exhibit D-1 which was allegedly executed by Tomas Ilao in his favor.
The foregoing likewise shows that Teodoro Kalambakal's alleged purchase of the land from Pablo Villegas is fictitious on the
ground that, if the latter had no land of his own he could not have sold what is now claimed to have been bought by the former. The
preponderance of evidence, more than anything else, leads as to the conviction that Teodoro Kalambakal was aware of the manner
in which the so-called title Exhibit D-2 was fabricated. Of this there is no doubt because when he went to the land in question on or
about the month of July, 1929, for the purpose of indicating the boundaries thereof to Forester Valentin Sajor, who was sent by the
Bureau of Forestry to inspect it in the connection with the former's application to the said bureau for the registration thereof, he
made the mistake of narrating how he became the owner of the land by means of some old documents scattered in the house of a
friend in Siniloan, who told him that he could have them because they might be of use to him.
If Teodolo Kalambakal neither acquired anything from Pablo Villegas nor actually possessed the land which he claimed to have
bought from the latter, transfer thereof which he made in favor of the appellees-spouses would serve them nothing on the ground
that it did not vest them with any right whatsoever. Said spouses, no doubt, were led to believe that Exhibit D-2 was valid. It should
be born in mind that, as before stated, the only acts Teodoro Kalambakal which may in some way serve as evidence of his claims
of ownership of the land in question were his having declared it as his property for taxation purposes in Laguna on November 8,
1928, and his occasional visits to the land about the same year. It cannot even be said that the clearings (caigin), of which there
were some traces thereon and which might have been made about five years prior to September 28, 1931, according to the
evidence, had been made by Kalambakal's order, because there is nothing of record to justify such conclusion. Neither is it
necessary to dwell upon the young coffee trees on the ground that their age (two years) clearly proves that they have been planted
during the time applicants-appellees were in possession thereof.
Granting that the applicants-appellees have been in possession of the land in question from the date on which they purchased it in
1929 and had planted it with young coffee trees, it may be inferred from the foregoing that their possession only commenced from
that year in view of the fact that Teodoro Kalambakal from whom they bought it did not possess it in the legal sense. The mere fact
of declaring uncultivated land for taxation purposes and visiting it every once in a while, as was done by him, does not constitute
acts of possession. (Evangelista vs. Tabayuyong, 7 Phil., 607; Casimiro vs. Fernandez, 9 Phil., 562.)
Therefore, there can be no doubt that the trial court committed the second error as alleged in the appellants brief.
With respect to the fourth alleged error which the appellants contend was committted by the trial court, this court, after examining
and studying the provisions of section 45, paragraph (b) of Act No. 2874 which amended section 54, paragraph 6 of Act No. 926, is
compelled to hold that the contention of said appellants is likewise correct.
The judgement of the trial court adjudicating the land in question to the appellees under the aforecited legal provisions, is based on
a false premise, to wit: that the land in the question is agricultural in nature. The evidence presented as well as that heretofore
stated shows that it is forestry land. This kind of land is not subject to registration on the ground that it has been occupied for the

period of time therein prescribed (Ankron vs. Government of the Philippine Islands, 40 Phil., 10), particularly when, as already
stated, neither the applicant-appellees nor Teodoro Kalambakal nor Pablo Villegas nor Tomas Ilao, in this case, possessed the land
in question jointly or separately, in succession, under the conditions prescribed by the law, that is, openly, continously, exclusively
and under a bona fide claim of ownership, from the year 1888, nothwithstanding the attempt of the applicants-appellees to prove
the contrary. The only thing that, in a way, seems certain is that the applicant-appellees cultivated the land in question for the first
time in 1929 or 1930, by means of laborers who planted young coffee trees thereon. However, that took place after the deed of sale
Exhibit B had been executed by Teodoro Kalambakal in their favor and this fact does not entitle them to register it in their name,
either under Act. No. 496 or under Act No. 926.
Having arrived at this conclusion, the court deems it unnecessary to pass upon the third, fifth and sixth alleged errors relied upon in
the appellants' brief.
Wherefore, finding that the judgment appealed from is not in the accordance with the law nor supported by the evidence presented
during the trial, it is hereby reversed. The petition of the applicant-appellees is hereby denied and the land in question is declared
forestry land, without special pronouncement, however, as to costs.
So ordered.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
EN BANC
G.R. No. L-13298

November 19, 1918

CORNELIO RAMOS, petitioner-appellant,


vs.
THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, objector-appellee.

Basilio Aromin for appellant.


Office of the Solicitor-General Paredes for appellee.

MALCOLM, J.:
This is an appeal by the applicant and appellant from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, denying the
registration of the larger portion of parcel No. 1 (Exhibit A of the petitioner), marked by the letters A, B, and C on the plan, Exhibit 1,
of the Government.
One Restituto Romero y Ponce apparently gained possession of a considerable tract of land located in the municipality of San
Jose, Province of Nueva Ecija, in the year 1882. He took advantage of the Royal Decree of February 13, 1894, to obtain a
possessory information title to the land, registered as such on February 8, 1896. Parcel No. 1, included within the limits of the
possessory information title of Restituto Romero, was sold in February, 1907, to Cornelio Ramos, the instant petitioner, and his wife
Ambrosia Salamanca.
Ramos instituted appropriate proceedings to have his title registered. Opposition was entered by the Director of Lands on the
ground that Ramos had not acquired a good title from the Spanish government and by the Director of Forestry on the ground that
the first parcel was forest land. The trial court agreed with the objectors and excluded parcel No. 1 from registration. So much for
the facts.
As to the law, the principal argument of the Solicitor-General is based on the provisions of the Spanish Mortgage Law and of the
Royal Decree of February 13, 1894, commonly known as the Maura Law. The Solicitor-General would emphasize that for land to
come under the protective gis of the Maura Law, it must have been shown that the land was cultivated for six years previously,
and that it was not land which pertained to the "zonas forestales." As proof that the land was, even as long ago as the years 1894
to 1896, forestal and not agricultural in nature is the fact that there are yet found thereon trees from 50 to 80 years of age.
We do not stop to decide this contention, although it might be possible, following the doctrine laid down by the United States
Supreme Court with reference to Mexican and Spanish grantes within the United States, where some recital is claimed to be false,
to say that the possessory information, apparently having taken cognizance of the requisites for title, should not now be disturbed.
(Hancock vs. McKinney [1851], 7 Tex., 192; Hornsby and Roland vs.United States [1869], 10 Wall., 224.) It is sufficient, as will later
appear, merely to notice that the predecessor in interest to the petitioner at least held this tract of land under color of title.
Subsection 6 of section 54, of Act No. 926, entitled The Public Land Law, as amended by Act No. 1908, reads as follows:
6. All persons who by themselves or their predecessors and 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 twenty-sixth day of July, nineteen hundred and four, 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.
There are two parts to the above quoted subsection which must be discussed. The first relates to the open, continuous, exclusive,
and notorious possession and occupation of what, for present purposes, can be conceded to be agricultural public land, under a
bona fide claim of ownership.
Actual possession of land consists in the manifestation of acts of dominion over it of such a nature as a party would naturally
exercise over his own property. Relative to actuality of possession, it is admitted that the petitioner has cultivated only about one
fourth of the entire tract. This is graphically portrayed by Exhibit 1 of the Government, following:

The question at once arises: Is that 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?lawphil.net
The doctrine of constructive possession indicates the answer. The general rule is that the possession and cultivation of a portion of
a tract under claim of ownership of all is a constructive possession of all, if the remainder is not in the adverse possession of
another. (Barr vs. Gratz's Heirs [1819], 4 Wheat., 213; Ellicott vs. Pearl [1836], 10 Pet., 412; Smith vs. Gale [1892], 144 U. S., 509.)
Of course, there are a number of qualifications to the rule, one particularly relating to the size of the tract in controversy with
reference to the portion actually in possession of the claimant. It is here only necessary to apply the general rule.
The claimant has color of title; he acted in good faith; and he has had 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. (See arts. 446, 448, Civil Code.)
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 the supposition that he
premises consisted of agricultural public land.
The second division of the law requires consideration of the term "agricultural public land." The law affirms that the phrase is denied
by the Act of Congress of July 1st, 1902, known as the Philippine bill. Turning to the Philippine Bill, we find in sections 13 to 18
thereof that three classes of land are mentioned. The first is variously denominated "public land" or "public domain," the second
"mineral land," and the third "timber land." Section 18 of the Act of Congress comes nearest to a precise definition, when it makes
the determination of whether the land is more valuable for agricultural or for forest uses the test of its character.
Although these sections of the Philippine Bill have come before the courts on numerous occasions, what was said in the case of
Jones vs. Insular Government ([1906], 6 Phil., 122), is still true, namely: "The meaning of these sections is not clear and it is difficult
to give to them a construction that will be entirely free from objection." In the case which gave most serious consideration to the
subject (Mapa vs. Insular Government [1908], 10 Phil., 175), it was found that there does exist in the Act of Congress a definition of
the phrase "agricultural public lands." It was said that the phrase "agricultural public lands" as used in Act No. 926 means "those
public lands acquired from Spain which are not timber or mineral lands."
The idea would appear to be to determine, by exclusion, if the land is forestal or mineral in nature and, if not so found, to consider it
to be agricultural land. Here, again, Philippine law is not very helpful. For instance, section 1820 of the Administrative Code of 1917
provides: "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." This definition of "public forest," it will be
noted, is merely "for the purposes of this chapter." A little further on, section 1827 provides: "Lands in public forests, not including
forest reserves, upon the certification of the Director of Forestry that said lands are better adapted and more valuable for
agricultural than for forest purposes and not required by the public interests to be kept under forest, shall be declared by the
Department Head to be agricultural lands." With reference to the last section, there is no certification of the Director of Forestry in
the record, as to whether this land is better adapted and more valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes.

The lexicographers define "forest" as "a large tract of land covered with a natural growth of trees and underbrush; a large wood."
The authorities say that he word "forest" has a significant, not an insignificant meaning, and that it does not embrace land only
partly woodland. It is a tract of land covered with trees, usually of considerable extent. (Higgins vs. Long Island R. Co. [1908], 114
N. Y. Supp., 262; People vs. Long Island R. Co. [1908], 110 N. Y. Supp., 512.)
The foresters say that no legal definition of "forest" is practicable or useful. B. H. Baden-Powell, in his work on Forest Law of India,
states as follows:
Every definition of a forest that can be framed for legal purposes will be found either to exclude some cases to which the
law ought to apply, or on the other hand, to include some with which the law ought not to interfere. It may be necessary, for
example, to take under the law a tract of perfectly barren land which at present has neither trees, brushwood, nor grass on
it, but which in the course f time it is hoped will be "reboise;" but any definition wide enough to take in all such lands, would
also take in much that was not wanted. On the other hand, the definition, if framed with reference to tree-growth, might
(and indeed would be almost sure to) include a garden, shrubbery, orchard, or vineyard, which it was not designed to deal
with.
B. E. Fernow, in his work on the Economics of Forestry, states as follows:
A forest in the sense in which we use the term, as an economic factor, is by no means a mere collection of trees, but an
organic whole in which all parts, although apparently heterogeneous, jumbled together by accident as it were and
apparently unrelated, bear a close relation to each other and are as interdependent as any other beings and conditions in
nature.
The Director of Forestry of the Philippine Islands has said:
During the time of the passage of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, this question of forest and agricultural lands was
beginning to receive some attention and it is clearly shown in section 18 of the above mentioned Act; it leaves to the
Bureau of Forestry the certification as to what lands are for agricultural or forest uses. Although the Act states timber
lands, the Bureau has in its administration since the passage of this act construed this term to mean forest lands in the
sense of what was necessary to protect, for the public good; waste lands without a tree have been declared more suitable
for forestry in many instances in the past. The term 'timber' as used in England and in the United States in the past has
been applied to wood suitable for construction purposes but with the increase in civilization and the application of new
methods every plant producing wood has some useful purpose and the term timber lands is generally though of as
synonymous with forest lands or lands producing wood, or able to produce wood, if agricultural crops on the same land
will not bring the financial return that timber will or if the same land is needed for protection purposes.
xxx

xxx

xxx

The laws in the United States recognize the necessity of technical advice of duly appointed boards and leave it in the
hands of these boards to decide what lands are more valuable for forestry purposes or for agricultural purposes.
In the Philippine Islands this policy is follows to as great an extent as allowable under the law. In many cases, in the
opinion of the Bureau of Forestry, lands without a single tree on them are considered as true forest land. For instance,
mountain sides which are too steep for cultivation under ordinary practice and which, if cultivated, under ordinary practice
would destroy the big natural resource of the soil, by washing, is considered by this bureau as forest land and in time
would be reforested. Of course, examples exist in the Mountain Province where steep hillsides have been terraced and
intensive cultivation practiced but even then the mountain people are very careful not to destroy forests or other vegetative
cover which they from experience have found protect their water supply. Certain chiefs have lodged protests with the
Government against other tribes on the opposite side of the mountain cultivated by them, in order to prevent other tribes
from cutting timber or destroy cover guarding their source of water for irrigation.
Dr. M. S. Shaler, formerly Dean of the Lawrence Scientific School, remarked that if mankind could not devise and enforce
ways dealing with the earth, which will preserve this source of like "we must look forward to the time, remote it may be, yet
equally discernible, when out kin having wasted its great inheritance will fade from the earth because of the ruin it has
accomplished."
The method employed by the bureau of Forestry in making inspection of lands, in order to determine whether they are
more adapted for agricultural or forest purposes by a technical and duly trained personnel on the different phases of the
conservation of natural resources, is based upon a previously prepared set of questions in which the different characters
of the land under inspection are discussed, namely:
Slope of land: Level; moderate; steep; very steep.
Exposure: North; South; East; West.

Soil: Clay; sandy loam; sand; rocky; very rocky.


Character of soil cover: Cultivated, grass land, brush land, brush land and timber mixed, dense forest.
If cultivated, state crops being grown and approximate number of hectares under cultivation. (Indicate on sketch.)
For growth of what agricultural products is this land suitable?
State what portion of the tract is wooded, name of important timber species and estimate of stand in cubic meters per
hectare, diameter and percentage of each species.
If the land is covered with timber, state whether there is public land suitable for agriculture in vicinity, which is not covered
with timber.
Is this land more valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes? (State reasons in full.)
Is this land included or adjoining any proposed or established forest reserve or communal forest? Description and
ownership of improvements.
If the land is claimed under private ownership, give the name of the claimant, his place of residence, and state briefly (if
necessary on a separate sheet) the grounds upon which he bases his claim.
When the inspection is made on a parcel of public land which has been applied for, the corresponding certificate is
forwarded to the Director of Lands; if it is made on a privately claimed parcel for which the issuance of a title is requested
from the Court of Land Registration, and the inspection shows the land to be more adapted for forest purposes, then the
Director of Forestry requests the Attorney-General to file an opposition, sending him all data collected during the
inspection and offering him the forest officer as a witness.
It should be kept in mind that the lack of personnel of this Bureau, the limited time intervening between the notice for the
trial on an expediente of land and the day of the trial, and the difficulties in communications as well as the distance of the
land in question greatly hinder the handling of this work.
In the case of lands claimed as private property, the Director of Forestry, by means of his delegate the examining officer,
submits before the court all evidence referring to the present forest condition of the land, so that the court may compare
them with the alleged right by the claimant. Undoubtedly, when the claimant presents a title issued by the proper authority
or evidence of his right to the land showing that he complied with the requirements of the law, the forest certificate does
not affect him in the least as such land should not be considered as a part of the public domain; but when the alleged right
is merely that of possession, then the public or private character of the parcel is open to discussion and this character
should be established not simply on the alleged right of the claimant but on the sylvical condition and soil characteristics of
the land, and by comparison between this area, or different previously occupied areas, and those areas which still
preserve their primitive character.
Either way we look at this question we encounter difficulty. Indubitably, there should be conservation of the natural resources of the
Philippines. The prodigality of the spendthrift who squanders his substance for the pleasure of the fleeting moment must be
restrained for the less spectacular but surer policy which protects Nature's wealth for future generations. Such is the wise stand of
our Government as represented by the Director of Forestry who, with the Forester for the Government of the United States,
believes in "the control of nature's powers by man for his own good." On the other hand, the presumption should be, in lieu of
contrary proof, that land is agricultural in nature. One very apparent reason is that it is for the good of the Philippine Islands to have
the large public domain come under private ownership. Such is the natural attitude of the sagacious citizen.
If in this instance, we give judicial sanction to a private claim, let it be noted that the Government, in the long run of cases, has its
remedy. 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
purposes. Great consideration, it may be stated, should, and undoubtedly will be, paid by the courts to the opinion of the technical
expert who speaks with authority on forestry matters. But a 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.
We hold that the petitioner and appellant has proved a title to the entire tract of land for which he asked registration, under the
provisions of subsection 6, of section 54, of Act No. 926, as amended by Act No. 1908, with reference to the Philippine Bill and the
Royal Decree of February 13, 1894, and his possessory information.
Judgment is reversed and the lower court shall register in the name of the applicant the entire tract in parcel No. 1, as described in
plan Exhibit A, without special finding as to costs. So ordered.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. L-67399 November 19, 1985
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES (The Director of Lands), petitioner,
vs.
THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and AVELINO LEYCO, LEANDRO LEYCO, ZARA LEYCO, JUSTINA LEYCO and
FELIPA LEYCO, represented by LEANDRO LEYCO, respondents.
Solicitor General for petitioner.
Restituto L. Opis for respondents.

MAKASIAR, C.J.:
Petition to review a decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court which affirmed in toto that of the trial court.
In LRC No. N-173 of the then Court of First Instance of Marinduque, Avelino, Leandro, Justina, Zara and Felipa all surnamed
LEYCO applied for judicial confirmation of their title to two (2) parcels of land with a combined area of 138.5413 hectares (pp. 1-9,
ROA).
The Director of lands for the Republic of the Philippines opposed the petition.
Respondent applicants' alleged possession of Lots 1 and 2 of Psu-133612 (consisting of 138.5413 hectares) from 1962 up to the
filing of their application for registration in 1976 about 14 years only does not constitute possession under claim of ownership
so as to entitle them to a State grant under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act (Com. Act No. 141), as amended.
Respondent applicants failed to establish conclusively that they and their predecessor-in-interest were in continuous possession
and occupancy of the lots in question under bona fide claim of ownership. Even the alleged long-time possession by respondent
applicants' mother, Fausta de Jesus, who claimed to have entered into possession of the land in question in 1911 until her death in
1962, does not appear to be indubitable.
The tax declarations presented as evidence by respondent applicants are not by themselves conclusive proof of their alleged
possession under claim of ownership over the lots in question. The earliest tax declaration is dated 1927 while the others are
recent tax declarations.
Respondent applicants presented the following exhibits:
Exh. M-2" Tax Declaration No. 3431 (1966) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut (15.4182
has.) and cogon (40000 has.) lands. Planted to 1512 coconut bearing trees. Value of land assessed at P3,590.00
and value of improvements assessed at P9,070.00 or a total value of P12,660.00. This TD cancelled TD No. 664.
Exh. M-3" Tax Declaration No. 664 (1966) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut (15.4182
has.) and cogon (40000 has.) lands. Planted to 1512 coconut bearing trees. Value of land assessed at 114,360
and value of improvements assessed at P11,340 or a total value of P15,700. This TD cancelled TD No. 4023.
Exh. M-4" Tax Declaration No. 4023 (1958) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut and cogon
lands, with a total area of 19.4182 has. . Planted to 1,012 coconut fruit bearing trees. Total value of land

assessed at P 2,900.00 while value of improvements assessed at P 5,570.00 or a total assessed value of P
8,470.00. This TD cancelled TD No. 3480.
Exh. M-5" Tax Declaration No. 3480 (1958) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut land with a
total area of 19.4182 has. . Planted to 1364 coconut trees (fruit bearing). Value of land assessed at P 3,500.00
and value of improvements thereon assessed at P7,500.00 or a total value of P11,900.00. This declaration
cancelled TD No. 2778.
Exh. M-6" Tax Declaration No. 2778 (1955) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut land with a
total area of 19.4182 has. . Planted to 620 coconut trees fruit bearing. Value of land assessed at P2,330.00 and
value of improvements assessed at P2,920.00 or a total assessed value of P5,250.00. This declaration cancelled
TD No. 475.
Exh. M-7" Tax Declaration No. 475 (1949) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut (6.0000 has.)
and cogon (17.0000 has.) lands. Planted to 500 coconut trees bearing fruits and 120 coconut trees not bearing
fruits. Total value of land assessed at P940.00 and improvements at P1550.00 or a total value of P2490.00. This
TD cancelled TD No. 5319.
Exh. M-8" Tax Declaration No. 5319 (1928) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as"Cogonalos para
cocal, cogonalos para paste," with an area of 23.0000 has . . Planted to 150 "ponos de cocos frutales." Value of
land assessed at P690 and improvements thereon at P300 or a total assessed value of P990.00.
Exh. 0-2" Tax Declaration No. 3432 (1966) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut (19.1231
has.) and cogon (100.0000 has.) lands, or with a total area of 119.1231. Planted to 1685 coconut trees. Total
value of land assessed at P9210.00 while total value of improvements assessed at P10,110.00 or a total
assessed value of P19,320.00. This declaration cancelled TD No. 665.
Exh. 0-3" Tax Declaration No. 665 (1966) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut (19.1231 has.)
and cogon (100.0000 has.) lands. Planted to 1,685 coconut fruit bearing trees. Land assessed at P10,120 while
improvements thereon at P12,640 or a total assessed value of P22,760. This declaration cancelled TD No. 4022.
Exh. 0-4" Tax Declaration No. 4022 (1958) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut (19.1231
has.) and cogon (P100.00 has.) lands. Planted to 1,685 coconut trees bearing fruits. Land assessed at P5,840.00
and improvements thereon at P9,270.00. This declaration cancelled TD No. 3543.
Exh. 0-5" Tax Declaration No. 3543 (1958) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut land with a
total area of 119.1231 has. . Planted to 1843 coconut trees fruit bearing. Land assessed at P21,440.00 while
improvements thereon at P10,140.00 or a total value of P31,580.00. This declaration cancelled TD No. 2779.
Exh. 0-6" Tax Declaration No. 2779 (1955) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut land with a
total area of 119.1231 has. . Planted to 2,190 coconut trees fruit bearing and 200 coconut trees not bearing fruit
(3 years old). Land assessed at P14,290.00 while improvements thereon at P10,290.00 or a total value of
P24,590.00. This TD cancelled TD No. 4476
Exh. 0-7" Tax Declaration No. 476 (1949) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut (20.8595 has.)
and pasture (642042 has.) lands or a total area of 85.0637 has. . Planted to 2,190 coconut trees fruit bearing.
Land assessed at P3370.00 while improvements thereon valued at P660.00 or a total assessed value of
P10,030.00. This TD cancelled TD No. 5321.
Exh. 0-8" Tax Declaration No. 5321 (1941) on the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as "Llani cocal" with an
area of 88.0637 has. . Planted to "2191 cocos frutales." Land assessed at P2320 and improvements there at
P4380 or a total assessed value of P6700.00. This declaration cancelled TD No. 3231.
Likewise, respondent applicants herein presented the following tax declarations:
Exh. L" Tax Declaration No. 2485 (1974) in the name of Avelino Leandro, Justina, Zara & Felipe, all surnamed
Leyco. Classified as coconut land with an area of P5.0000 has. . Planted to 140 coconut bearing trees. Value of
land assessed at P5280 and value or improvements therein at P8020 or a total assessed value of P13,300.00.
This declaration cancelled TD No. 4166.
Exh. M" Tax Declaration No. 4166 (1970) in the name of Avelino, Leandro, Justina and Felipa Leyco. Declared
as coconut (15.4182 has.) and cogon (4.0000 has,) lands, or with a total area of has. . Planted to 1512 coconut
fruit bearing trees. Value of land is assessed at P3590 while value of improvements at P9070 or a total assessed
value of P12,660. This declaration cancelled TD No. 3431.

Exh. N" Tax Declaration No. 2484 (1974) in the name of Avelino, Leandro, Justina, Zara and Felipa Leyco.
Classified as coconut (19.0000 has.) and cogon (50.0000 has.) lands. Planted to 1425 coconut bearing
trees and 550 coconut not bearing fruits. Land assessed at P13.730 and improvements thereon assessed at
P9,860 or a total assessed value of P24,590. This declaration cancelled TD No. 4165.
Exh. O" Tax Declaration No. 4165 (1970) in the name of Avelino Alejandro, Justina, Zara and Felipa Leyco.
Declared as coconut (19.1231 has.) and cogon (100.0000 has.) lands. Planted to 1685 coconut trees fruit
bearing. Value of land assessed at P9,210 and thereon at P10,111 or a total assessed value of P19,320. This
declaration cancelled TD No. 3432.
A cursory look at the exhibits (tax declarations) presented by respondent applicants herein reveals a number of discrepancies that
cast serious doubts on respondents' claim over the lots in question:
1. Tax Declaration No. 5319 dated 1928 (Exh. M-8) declared in the name of Fausta de Jesus with an area of 23.0000 hectares,
specifies its boundaries as follows:
North: Sapa
East: Florencio Corral
South: Fausta de Jesus
West: Mar.
In 1949, Fausta de Jesus filed Tax Declaration No. 475 (Exh. M-7) which cancelled Tax Declaration 475 (Exh. M-7) which cancelled
Tax Declaration No. 5319 over the same parcel of land. A close examination, however, of Tax Declaration No. 475 shows that the
listing of the adjoining owners therein was at variance with what was previously stated in Tax Declaration No. 5319, thus:
North. Brook
East: Aurelia de Jesus
South: Seashore (before Fausta de Jesus)
West: Hrs. of Florencio Corral
This anomaly in the listing of adjoining owners in the two aforestated tax declarations over the same parcel of land only reveals the
flaw that apparently attended the acquisition of the lots in question by respondent applicants and their predecessor-in-interest.
2. Under Tax Declaration No. 5321 dated 1941 (Exh. 0-8), respondent applicants' predecessor-in-interest, Fausta de Jesus,
declared a parcel of land in her name with an area of 88.0637 hectares.
Later, in 1949, Fausta de Jesus filed Tax Declaration No. 476 (Exh. 0-7) which cancelled Tax Declaration No. 5321over the same
parcel of land. However, under Tax Declaration No. 476, the total area of the land declared was only 85.0637 hectares (84.0637 as
erroneously stated in Tax Declaration No. 476).
Again, the foregoing disparity in the size of the land as declared in the two tax declarations is a clear indication that respondent
applicants herein and their predecessor-in-interest were uncertain and contradictory as to the exact or actual size of the land they
purportedly possessed.
Likewise, it is noteworthy to mention that six years after Fausta de Jesus filed Declaration No. 476 in 1949, Tax Declaration No.
2779 was filed cancelling Tax Declaration No. 476 showing this time a whopping land area of119.1231 hectares. As to how
Fausta de Jesus managed to increase her landholdings in so short a span of time intrigues one no end, considering that from 1949
up to her death in 1962, she listed Manila as her place of residence.
3. Tax Declaration No. 3432 (1966), 665 (1966), and 4022 (1958) presented as Exhibits 0-2, 0-3, and 0-4, respectively, show that of
the total declared area of 119.1231 hectares, only about 19.1231 hectares were planted to coconuts and the remaining 100.000,00
hectares were cogonal or uncultivated lands.
The unjustifiable award of this vast tract of land which are cogon lands and therefore pasture lands still forming part of the public
domain and released by the Bureau of Lands for disposition to the respondent applicants herein, who are undeserving, is
tantamount to putting a premium on absentee landlordism.

The record shows that even the taxes due o the litigated lots were not paid regularly. As per certification of the municipal treasurer
of Buenavista, Marinduque, it was shown that the taxes due on the land registered in the name of Fausta de Jesus were paid only
from 1949 until 1957 an indication that respondent applicants and their predecessor-in-interest did not pay taxes to the
government from 1928 to 1940, and from 1958 until July 6, 1978 when the respondent applicants closed their evidence a total of
32 years. The respondent applicants presented their evidence on April 19, 1977, October 12, 1977, March 29, 1978 and July 6,
1978.
The testimonies of respondent applicants' alleged overseers and hired tenants should not be accorded weight and significance;
because it is only natural for the overseers and hired tenants to testify as they did in respondent applicants' favor as they stand to
benefit from a decision favorable to their supposed landlords and benefactors.
But even granting that the witnesses presented by herein respondent applicants were indeed bona fide overseers and tenants or
workers of the land in question, it appears rather strange why only about 3,000 coconut trees and some fruit trees were planted
(2,000 coconut trees on Lot 1 which is 119 hectares. and 1,000 coconut trees on Lot 2 which is 19 hectares) on the vast tract of
land subject of the instant petition. In a practical and scientific way of planting, a one- hectare land can be planted to about 144
coconut trees. In the instant case, if the hired tenants and workers of respondent applicants managed to plant only 3,000 coconut
trees, it could only mean that about only 25 hectares out of the 138 hectares claimed by herein respondent applicants were
cleared, cultivated and planted to coconut trees and fruit trees. Once planted, a coconut is left to grow and need not be tended or
watched. This is not what the law considers as possession under claim of ownership. On the contrary, it merely
showed casual oroccasional cultivation of portions of the land in question. In short, possession is not exclusive nor notorious, much
less continuous, so as to give rise to a presumptive grant from the government.
Moreover, respondent applicants herein have not shown nor clearly their right to inherit from their predecessor-in-interest. The
observation of the Solicitor General on this point is thus well taken:
Even assuming that applicants' deceased mother acquired registerable title over the parcels in question,
applicants cannot be said to have acquired the same right proper for registration. They have not presented any
evidence of value to prove that they have the right to inherit whatever portion of the properties left by Fausta de
Jesus. They have first to show their right to succeed Fausta, testate or intestate; to establish who Fausta's legal
heirs are or that applicants. and no other, are Fausta's sole heirs. But all these should be threshed out in a proper
proceeding, certainly not in a land registration case.
Finally, this is a clear case of land-grabbing of over 100 hectares of land, which could be divided among the landless and the poor
to defuse the seething unrest among the underprivileged. At this point in time in our country's history, land-grabbing by the
powerful, moneyed and influential absentee claimants should not be tolerated nor condoned if only to avoid fanning further the fires
of discontent, dissidence or subversion which menacingly threaten the very survival of our nation.
WHEREFORE, THE PETITION IS HEREBY GRANTED. THE DECISION OF THE RESPONDENT INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE
COURT IS HEREBY REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. NO COSTS.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 177384

December 8, 2009

JOSEPHINE WEE, Petitioner,


vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.
DECISION
DEL CASTILLO, J.:
In land registration cases, the applicant has the burden to show that he or she is the real and absolute owner in fee simple of the
land sought to be registered.1 It is also important to bear in mind that one who seeks registration of title must prove his or her claim
with "well-nigh incontrovertible" evidence.2 In this case, petitioner miserably failed to show that she is the real and absolute owner in
fee simple of the land sought to be registered.
Assailed in this Petition for Review on Certiorari3 under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court are the April 28, 2006 Decision4 of the Court
of Appeals (CA) and its subsequent Resolution5 dated April 3, 2007 in CA-G.R. CV No. 76519. Said Decision and Resolution
reversed and set aside the April 2, 2002 Judgment6 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Tagaytay City, Branch 18 and held that
petitioner was not entitled to the requested registration of title.
Proceedings before the Regional Trial Court
On December 22, 1994, petitioner filed an Application for Registration of Title7 over a 4,870-square meter parcel of land situated
in Barangay Puting Kahoy, Silang, Cavite, designated as Lot No. 8349 (Cadastral Lot. No. 452-D).
In brief, petitioner alleged in her application that she is the owner in fee simple of the subject property by virtue of a Deed of
Absolute Sale8 dated February 1, 1993 executed by Julian Gonzales in her favor. Petitioner claimed the benefits of the Property
Registration Decree9 or, should said Decree be inapplicable, the benefits of Chapter VIII of Commonwealth Act No. 141
(1936),10 because she and her predecessor-in-interest have been in open, continuous, public, peaceful and adverse possession of
the land since time immemorial.
On March 15, 1995, the Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed its Opposition 11 alleging
that neither the petitioner nor her predecessor-in-interest has been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and
occupation of Lot No. 8349 since June 12, 1945 or prior thereto. The OSG likewise averred that the muniments of title and tax
payment receipts submitted by the petitioner do not constitute competent or sufficient evidence of a bona fide acquisition of the

subject lot, or of the petitioners open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation thereof in the concept of
owner since June 12, 1945 or prior thereto. It asserted that Lot No. 8349 is part of the public domain and consequently prayed for
the dismissal of the application for registration.
Petitioner presented the following pieces of documentary evidence before the trial court:
1) Deed of Absolute Sale between Josephine Wee and Julian Gonzales dated February 1, 1993;12
2) Tax Declarations in the name of Julian Gonzales for the years 1957, 1961, 1967, 1980, and 1985;13
3) Tax Declarations in the name of Josephine Wee from 1993 onwards;14
4) Receipts for tax payments made by Josephine Wee from 1993-1999;15
5) Affidavit of Seller-Transferor executed by Julian Gonzales on February 10, 1993;16
6) Affidavit of Ownership, Aggregate Land Holding and Non-Tenancy executed by Julian Gonzales on February 10, 1993;17
7) Affidavit of Non-Tenancy executed by Julian Gonzales on February 10, 1993;18
8) Salaysay executed by Juana Macatangay Gonzales, Erlinda Gonzales Batingal and Remedios Gonzales Bayan;19
9) Certification dated March 2, 2000 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) stating that Lot
No. 8349 was shown to be within the Alienable or Disposable Land per Land Classification Map No. 3013 established
under FAO-4-1656 on March 15, 1982;20
10) Survey Plan of Lot No. 8349;21 and
11) Surveyors Certificate, Technical Description and Tracing Cloth.22
She also presented the testimonies of the following witnesses who were all cross-examined by the Republic through the public
prosecutor:
1) Josephine Wee, who testified that she purchased Lot No. 8349 from Julian Gonzales through a Deed of Absolute Sale
dated February 1, 1993 and immediately took possession thereof after the sale; that she did not cultivate it because it is
planted with coffee; that she paid for all the real property taxes subsequent to the sale; that she caused the preparation of
a survey plan; that the property is not part of the public domain or any river or military reservation; that there are no
adverse claimants and no cases were filed against her after the sale involving said lot and that she is not doing anything
with the property because it is not "productive".23
2) Juana Gonzales, the 75-year old widow of Julian Gonzales, who declared that she and her husband sold Lot No. 8349
to the petitioner and identified her husbands signature and her own thumbmark. She testified that she and her late
husband had been in possession of Lot No. 8349 prior to the sale to Josephine Wee; that her husband inherited the
property from his parents "a long time ago"; that her husband already had the property when they got married and that she
and Julian Gonzales began living together in 1946. She also identified and affirmed the due execution and authenticity of
her Salaysay, as well as the documents signed by her husband.24
3) Remedios Gonzales Bayan, the 39-year old daughter of Julian and Juana Gonzales, who testified that she witnessed
the execution of the Deed of Absolute Sale between her father whose signature she identified and the applicant in
February 1993. She also identified and affirmed the due execution and authenticity of herSalaysay.25
Ruling of the Regional Trial Court
On April 2, 2002, the RTC promulgated in favor of the petitioner a Judgment,26 pertinent portions of which read:
Culled from the evidence on record, both testimonial and documentary, are facts which satisfactorily establish applicants ownership
in fee simple of the parcel of land, subject matter of the instant proceedings, to wit: that by means of an appropriate deed of sale,
the applicant has acquired said property by purchase from Julian Gonzales on February 1, 1993; that the same parcel was
declared for taxation purposes; that all the realty taxes due thereon have been duly paid. Likewise, this Court could well-discern
from the survey plan covering the same property and other documents presented, more particularly the tracing cloth plan which
was presented as additional evidence in support of the application, that the land sought to be registered is agricultural and not
within any forest zone or the public domain; that the land is not covered by any public land application/patent, and that there is no
other adverse claimant thereof; and further, that tacking her predecessors-in-interests possession to applicants, the latter appears
to be in continuous and public possession thereof for more than thirty (30) years.

On the basis of the foregoing facts and considering that applicant is a Filipino citizen not otherwise disqualified from owning real
property, this Court finds that she has satisfied all the conditions essential to the grant of her application pursuant to the provisions
of the Land Registration Law, as amended.1avvphi1
WHEREFORE, this Court hereby approves this application for registration and thus places under the operation of Act 141, Act 496
and/or P.D. 1529, otherwise known as Property Registration Law, the lands described in Plan Ap-04-010262, Lot 8349 and
containing an area of Four Thousand Eight Hundred Seventy (4,870) Square Meters as supported by its technical description now
forming part of the record of this case, in addition to other proofs adduced in the name of JOSEPHINE WEE, who is of legal age,
single and with residence at 1345 Claro M. Recto Avenue, Sta, Cruz, Manila.
Once this Decision becomes final and executory, the corresponding decree of registration shall forthwith issue.
SO ORDERED.
Proceedings before the Court of Appeals
Unsatisfied, the Republic, through the OSG, filed its Notice of Appeal on April 26, 2002, alleging that the RTC erred in granting the
application for registration considering that petitioner failed to comply with all the legal requirements for judicial confirmation of her
alleged title. In particular, the OSG claimed that Lot No. 8349 was classified as alienable and disposable land only on March 15,
1982, as per Certification issued by the DENR. Thus, petitioner and her predecessor-in-interest could not have been in possession
of the property since June 12, 1945, or earlier. The OSG also pointed out that the tax declarations presented by petitioner are fairly
recent and do not show petitioner and her predecessor-in-interests nature of possession. Furthermore, the original tracing cloth
plan was not presented in evidence.
Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The CA reversed the RTC Judgment. It held that petitioner failed to prove that she and her predecessor-in-interest have been in
possession and occupation of the subject lot under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945. Thus:
In granting the application for registration of title, the court a quo merely relied on the deed of sale executed by Julian Gonzales, in
favor of applicant-appellee on February 1, 1993, the tax declarations and tax receipts. It is interesting to note that Juana Gonzales,
widow of Julian Gonzales, after identifying the deed of sale executed by her deceased husband in favor of applicant-appellee,
merely stated that the lot subject thereof was inherited by Julian from his parents a long time ago and that Julian was in possession
of the lot since 1946 when they started living together. For her part, applicant-appellee testified that she immediately took
possession of the subject lot, which was planted with coffee, after acquiring the same and that she is not doing anything on the lot
because it is not productive. As pointed out by the Republic, applicant-appellee and Juana Gonzales failed to specify what acts of
development, cultivation, and maintenance were done by them on the subject lot. x x x
xxxx
In the case at bar, applicant-appellee merely claimed that the subject lot is planted with coffee. However, no evidence was
presented by her as to who planted the coffee trees thereon. In fact, applicant-appellee admitted that she is not doing anything on
the subject lot because it is not productive, thereby implying that she is not taking care of the coffee trees thereon. Moreover, tax
declarations and tax receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership but are merely indicia of a claim of ownership, aside from
the fact that the same are of recent vintage.27
Hence, this petition.
Issues
Petitioners arguments
1) The testimony of Juana Gonzales proves that petitioners predecessor-in-interest, Julian Gonzales, occupied Lot No.
8349 even prior to 1946;
2) The fact that the property is planted with coffee, a fruit bearing tree, reveals that the lot is planted, cultivated and cared
for. Thus, there was not only effective and active possession and occupation but actual cultivation and tending of the
coffee plantation; and
3) The fact that the land was declared for tax purposes as early as 1957 shows that the land was actively possessed and
occupied by petitioner and her predecessor-in-interest.
Respondents arguments:

1) Since Lot No. 8349 became part of the alienable and disposable land only on March 15, 1982, petitioner could not have
been considered as having been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of subject
property under a bona fide claim of ownership; and
2) There is no proof that petitioner or Julian Gonzales undertook any clear act of dominion or ownership over Lot No.
8349, since there are no structures, improvements, or plantings on the property.
Our Ruling
The petition lacks merit.
Petitioner failed to prove open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the subject property.
In Director, Land Management Bureau v. Court of Appeals,28 we explained that
x x x The phrase "adverse, continuous, open, public, peaceful and in concept of owner," by which characteristics private respondent
describes his possession and that of his parents, are mere conclusions of law requiring evidentiary support and substantiation. The
burden of proof is on the private respondent, as applicant, to prove by clear, positive and convincing evidence that the alleged
possession of his parents was of the nature and duration required by law. His bare allegations without more, do not amount to
preponderant evidence that would shift the burden of proof to the oppositor.
Here, we find that petitioners possession of the lot has not been of the character and length of time required by law. The relevant
provision of the Property Registration Decree relied upon by petitioner reads
SEC. 14. Who may apply. The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title
to land, whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives:
(1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and
notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of
ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier.1avvphi1
(2) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws. x x x
Unfortunately, petitioner failed to prove that she and her predecessor-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and
notorious possession and occupation of the subject property under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945.
First, there is nothing in the records which would substantiate her claim that Julian Gonzales was in possession of Lot No. 8349
since 1945, other than the bare allegations of Juana Gonzales.29 Certainly, these unsubstantiated statements do not meet the
required quantum of evidence in land registration cases. In fact, contrary to her testimony that her late husband inherited the
property from his parents "a long time ago", or even prior to 1945, the earliest tax declaration that was presented in this case is one
declared by Julian Gonzales only in 1957 long after June 1945.
It bears stressing that petitioner presented only five tax declarations (for the years 1957, 1961, 1967, 1980 and 1985) for a claimed
possession and occupation of more than 45 years (1945-1993). This type of intermittent and sporadic assertion of alleged
ownership does not prove open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation. In any event, in the absence of
other competent evidence, tax declarations do not conclusively establish either possession or declarants right to registration of
title.30
Petitioner failed to prove possession in the concept of an owner.
Second, and more importantly, we agree with the CA that petitioner was unable to demonstrate that the alleged possession was in
the concept of an owner, since she could not point to any acts of occupation, development, cultivation or maintenance over the
property. Petitioner claims that because the property is planted with coffee, a fruit-bearing tree, it automatically follows that the lot is
cultivated, showing actual possession and occupation. However, petitioner failed to explain who planted the coffee, whether these
plants are maintained or harvested or if any other acts were undertaken by petitioner or her predecessor-in-interest to cultivate the
property.
Even if we were to assume that the coffee was planted by petitioners predecessor-in-interest, "mere casual cultivation" of the land
does not amount to exclusive and notorious possession that would give rise to ownership.31The presence of an unspecified number
of coffee plants, without proof that petitioner or her predecessor-in-interest actually and deliberately cultivated them is not sufficient
to support a claim of title. In fact, the five tax declarations in the name of Julian Gonzales described the lot as "unirrigated riceland".
No improvements or plantings were declared or noted in any of these tax declarations. It was only in petitioners 1993 tax
declaration that the land was described as planted with coffee. We are, therefore, constrained to conclude that the mere existence
of an unspecified number of coffee plants, sans any evidence as to who planted them, when they were planted, whether cultivation

or harvesting was made or what other acts of occupation and ownership were undertaken, is not sufficient to demonstrate
petitioners right to the registration of title in her favor.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Court of Appeals April 28, 2006 Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 76519 and its Resolution
dated April 3, 2007 denying petitioners Motion for Reconsideration are both AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

Republic of the Philippines


SUPREME COURT
Manila
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 130316

January 24, 2007

ERNESTO V. YU and ELSIE O. YU, Petitioners,


vs.
BALTAZAR PACLEB,1 Respondent.
DECISION
CORONA, J.:
The present petition filed under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court originated from an action for forcible entry and damages filed by
petitioners Ernesto and Elsie Yu against respondent Baltazar Pacleb.
The antecedent facts follow.
Sometime in September 1992, Ruperto Javier allegedly offered to sell Lot No. 6853-D to petitioners for P75 per
sq.m.lawphil.net The lot was approximately 18,000 square meters and was located in Barangay Langkaan, Dasmarias, Cavite.
Javier supposedly purchased the lot from one Rebecca del Rosario who, in turn, acquired it from respondent and his wife. The title
of the property (Transfer Certificate of Title [TCT] No. T-118375), however, remained in the names of respondent and his wife. The
instruments in support of the series of alleged sales were not registered.
On September 11, 1992, petitioners accepted the offer and gave Javier P200,000 as downpayment for the lot. Javier then delivered
his supposed muniments of title to petitioners. After the execution of a contract to sell, he formally turned over the property to petiti
oners.
At the time of the turn-over, a portion of the lot was occupied by Ramon C. Pacleb, respondents son, and his wife as tenants. On
September 12, 1992, Ramon and his wife allegedly surrendered possession of their portion to petitioners. Later on, petitioners
appointed Ramon as their trustee over the subject lot.

Aside from taking possession of the property, petitioners also caused the annotation on TCT No. T-118375 of a decision rendered in
their favor in Civil Case No. 741-93.2 This decision attained finality on April 19, 1995.
Petitioners alleged that they exercised ownership rights as well as enjoyed open, public and peaceful possession over the property
from September 12, 1992 until the early part of September 1995. During this time, respondent was in the United States.
Upon respondents return to the Philippines in May 1995, he allegedly entered the property by means of force, threat, intimidation,
strategy and stealth thereby ousting petitioners and their trustee, Ramon.
Despite repeated demands, respondent, asserting his rights as registered owner of the property, refused to vacate the premises
and surrender its possession to petitioners.
Petitioners filed an action for forcible entry3 in the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Dasmarias, Cavite on November 23, 1995.
Respondent filed an answer with compulsory counterclaim dated December 8, 1995. After the issues were joined, the MTC
required the submission of the parties position papers at a preliminary conference on March 11, 1996. Respondent failed to
comply.
On June 17, 1996, the MTC ruled:
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the [respondent] and other persons claiming right under him are hereby ordered to
surrender physical possession of Lot No. 6853-D in favor of the [petitioners] and to pay the sum of TWENTY-FIVE THOUSAND
(P25,000.00) PESOS as attorneys fees.
SO ORDERED.4
On appeal,5 the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Imus, Cavite rendered a decision affirming the MTC decision in toto.6
Respondent elevated his case to the Court of Appeals (CA)7 which rendered the assailed decision on March 18, 1997:
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED; the Decision dated October 25, 1996 of the [RTC] of Imus, Cavite in Civil Case No. 05296 and the Decision of the [MTC] of Dasmarias, Cavite in Civil Case No. 182 are SET ASIDE; and Civil Case No. 182 for Forcible
Entry and Damages is hereby ordered DISMISSED. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.8
In a resolution dated August 20, 1997, the CA denied petitioners motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.
Before us now come petitioners who claim that the appellate court erred in finding that respondent had prior physical possession of
the subject property.lawphil.net
"In an action for forcible entry, the plaintiff must prove that he was in prior possession of the land or building and that he was
deprived thereof by means of force, intimidation, threat, strategy or stealth."9 The plaintiff, however, cannot prevail where it appears
that, as between himself and the defendant, the latter had possession antedating his own.10 We are generally precluded in a Rule
45 petition from reviewing factual evidence tracing the events prior to the first act of spoliation. 11 However, the conflicting factual
findings of the MTC and RTC on one hand, and the CA on the other, require us to make an exception.
We overrule petitioners contentions.
The Civil Code states that possession is the holding of a thing or the enjoyment of a right.12 In the grammatical sense, to possess
means to have, to actually and physically occupy a thing, with or without right.13 "Possession always includes the idea of occupation
x x x. It is not necessary that the person in possession should himself be the occupant. The occupancy can be held by another in
his name."14 Without occupancy, there is no possession.15
Two things are paramount in possession.16 First, there must be occupancy, apprehension or taking. Second, there must be intent to
possess (animus possidendi).17
Here, petitioners failed to establish that they had prior physical possession to justify a ruling in their favor in the complaint for
forcible entry against respondent.
In the decision in Civil Case No. 741-93 (a case for specific performance and damages against Javier, the alleged vendor of the lot
in question) upon which petitioners based their right to possess in the first place, the trial court categorically stated:
The [petitioners were never placed] in possession of the subject property on which [was] planned to be [site of] a piggery, nor
[were they] given a clearance or certification from the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer.18(emphasis ours)

The claim that the lot was turned over to petitioners in 1992 was self-serving in the face of this factual finding. On the other hand,
the tax declarations and receipts in the name of respondent in 1994 and 1995 established the possession of respondent.19 The
payment of real estate tax is one of the most persuasive and positive indications showing the will of a person to possess
in concepto de dueo or with claim of ownership.20
"[P]ossession in the eyes of the law does not mean that a man has to have his feet on every square meter of the ground before he
is deemed in possession."21 In this case, Ramon, as respondents son, was named caretaker when respondent left for the United
States in 1983.22 Due to the eventual loss of trust and confidence in Ramon, however, respondent transferred the administration of
the land to his other son, Oscar, in January 1995 until his return in May 1995.23 In other words, the subject land was in the
possession of the respondents sons during the contested period.
Petitioners cite an alleged document (Kusangloob na Pagsasauli ng Lupang Sakahan at Pagpapahayag ng Pagtalikod sa
Karapatan) dated March 10, 1995 executed by them and Ramon to prove a turn over of possession. They also seek to prove their
exercise of rights over the land through alleged frequent visits and the designation of Ramon as their own trustee as declared in a
joint affidavit attached to their position paper filed with the MTC. These instruments, however, fail to convince us of petitioners
actual occupancy of the subject land. First, petitioners themselves acknowledged that Ramon and his wife occupied part of the land
as tenants of respondent. Second, Ramon, a mere tenant, had no authority to sign such document dated March 10, 1995 waiving
all rights to the land. Third, there was no clear proof in the records of the appointment of Ramon as petitioners trustee save their
self-serving statements to this effect. Finally, at the time the Kusangloob na Pagsasauli document was executed, the caretaker of
the land was no longer Ramon but Oscar.24
Most important, the title of the land in question (TCT No. T-118375) remained in the name of respondent.25 "As the registered
owner, petitioner had a right to the possession of the property, which is one of the attributes of ownership."26 The Civil Code states:
Art. 538. Possession as a fact cannot be recognized at the same time in two different personalities except in the cases of copossession. Should a question arise regarding the fact of possession, the present possessor shall be preferred; if there are two
possessors, the one longer in possession; if the dates of the possession are the same, the one who presents a title; and if all these
conditions are equal, the thing shall be placed in judicial deposit pending determination of its possession or ownership through
proper proceedings.
In view of the evidence establishing respondents continuing possession of the subject property, petitioners allegation that
respondent deprived them of actual possession by means of force, intimidation and threat was clearly untenable. In Gaza v. Lim,
we held that:
Where a dispute over possession arises between two persons, the person first having actual possession is the one who is entitled
to maintain the action granted by law; otherwise, a mere usurper without any right whatever, might enter upon the property of
another and, by allowing himself to be ordered off, could acquire the right to maintain the action of forcible entry and detainer,
however momentary his intrusion might have been.27
WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals dated March 18, 1997 in CA-G.R. SP No.
42604 is AFFIRMED.
Costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.