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Friday, March 14, 2014

[Digest] Manotok vs. Barque (2010)


MANOTOK vs. BARQUE[1] (G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605; August 24, 2010; VILLARAMA, JR., J.)

FACTS:

Piedad Estate originally owned by Philippine Sugar Estates Development Company, Ltd., La Sociedad
Agricola de Ultramar, the British-Manila Estate Company, Ltd., and the Recoleto Order of the Philippine
Islands. (It is a Friar Land.)
o The subject parcel Lot No. 823 is part of the Piedad Estate and is located in QC.
On 23 December 1903, Piedad Estate was acquired by the Philippine Government pursuant to the Friar
Lands Act. The certificate of title in the name of the government was OCT No. 614. The Estate was
placed under the administration of the Director of Lands.
Controversy arising from conflicting claims over Lot 823 began after a fire gutted portions of the Quezon
City Hall on June 11, 1988 which destroyed records stored in the Office of the Register of Deeds.
In 1990, Manotoks filed a petition with the LRA for administrative reconstitution of TCT No. 372302
covering Lot No. 823 with an area of 342,945 square meters GRANTED TCT No. RT-22481
(372302) was issued in 1991.
In 1996, 8 years after the fire the Barques filed a petition with the LRA for administrative reconstitution of
TCT No. 210177 in the name of Homer Barque also covering Lot 823. In support of their petition, the
Barques submitted copies of the alleged owners duplicate of the TCT, real estate tax receipts, tax
declarations and a Plan Fls 3168-D covering the property.
o MANOTOKs opposed alleging that TCT No. 210177 was spurious.
Although both titles of the Manotoks and the Barques refer to land belonging to Lot No. 823, TCT No.
210177 actually involves 2 parcels with an aggregate area of 342,945 square meters, while TCT No. RT-
22481 (372302) pertains only to a 1 parcel of land, with a similar area of 342,945 square meters.
1997 Barques petition was DENIED. Lot. No. 823 already registered in the name of the Manotoks.
--> Barques MR was denied They appealed to the LRA LRA Reversed.
o LRA found that the reconstitution of the Manotok title was fraudulent. Hence, it ordered the Barque title to
be reconstituted. BUT cancellation must 1st be sought in a court of competent jurisdiction of the 1991
Manotok TCT.
The LRA denied the Manotoks MR and the Barques prayer for immediate reconstitution. Both the
Manotoks and the Barques appealed the LRA decision to the CA.
In the CA, Felicitas Manahan filed a motion to intervene and sought the dismissal of the cases claiming
ownership of the subject property.
2002 and 2003 2 separate divisions of the CA both directed the RD of QC to cancel the Reconstituted
Manotok Title and to reconstitute the Barques valid, genuine and existing TCT No. 210177.
o Hence, the Manotoks filed the present separate petitions which were ordered consolidated on August 2,
2004.
December 12, 2005, SC First Division affirmed both decisions of the CA. Manotoks filed
MR Denied in April 2006 Resolution.
o Thereafter, the Manotoks filed a Motion for Leave to File a Second MR with their MR attached. Denied
in June 2006 Resolution. Eventually entry of judgment was made in the Book of Entries of Judgment on
May 2, 2006. In the meantime, the Barques filed multiple motions with the First Division for execution of
the judgment, while the Manotoks filed an Urgent Motion to Refer Motion for Possession to the SC En
Banc (with prayer to set motion for oral arguments). Case was referred to the En Banc in July 2006.
On September 7, 2006, Felicitas Manahan and Rosendo Manahan filed a motion to intervene, to which
was attached their petition in intervention. They alleged that their predecessor-in-interest, Valentin
Manahan, was issued Sale Certificate No. 511 covering Lot No. 823 and attached the findings of the NBI
that the documents of the Manotoks were not as old as they were purported to be. Consequently, the
Director of the Legal Division of the LMB recommended to the Director of the LMB the reconstituted
Manotok Title should be reverted to the state.
o Oral arguments were held on July 24, 2007.
2008 - En Banc set aside the December 2005 1st division decision and entry of judgment recalled and the
CAs Amended Decisions in CA-G.R. SP Nos. 66642 and 66700 were reversed and set aside. The En
Banc remanded the case to the CA.
o The CA was directed to receive evidence of and focus on the issue of WON the Manotoks can trace their
claim of title to a valid alienation by the Government of Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Estate, which was a
Friar Land. PURPOSE: to decide WON the title of the Maotoks should be annulled.
CAs findings None of the parties were able to prove a valid alienation of Lot 823 from the
government in accordance with the provisions of Act No. 1120 otherwise known as the Friar Lands Act.
Notably lacking in the deed of conveyance of the Manotoks is the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture
and Commerce as required by Section 18 of the said law. Upon close scrutiny, the factual allegations and
voluminous documentary exhibits relating to the purchase of Lot 823 by the predecessors-in-interest of
the claimants revealed badges of fraud and irregularity.

BASIS FOR THEIR CLAIMS FOR OWNERSHIP:


Manotoks Their grandfather bought Lot 823 from the Government in 1919. They have since occupied
the land, built their houses and buildings on it. The subject land is now known as Manotok Compound.
Barques Teresita claims her father (Homer) bought land from Emiliano Setosta who had a TCT in his
name.
Manahans The lot originally belonged to his parents but was subsequently bought by his wife. They
had a caretaker on the property but she was ousted by armed men in 1950s so they just declared the
property for taxation to protect their rights.

ISSUE: Who has the better right over Lot No. 823? NO ONE! It belongs to the National
Government.

RATIO:
From the proceedings in the CA, it was established that while records of the DENR-LMB indicate the
original claimant/applicant of Lot 823 as a certain Valentin Manahan, only the Manotoks were able to
produce a sale certificate in the name of their predecessors-in-interest, certified by the LMB Records
Management Division. In addition, the Manotoks submitted photocopies of original documents entitled
Assignment of Sale Certificate dated 1919, 1920 and 1923.
Sale Certificate No. 1054 was not signed by the Director of Lands nor approved by the Secretary of the
Interior. The Certificates of Assignment of Sale contained only the signature of the Director of Lands. The
Manotoks belatedly secured from the National Archives a certified copy of Deed of Conveyance No.
29204 dated December 7, 1932, which likewise lacks the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and
Natural Resources as it was signed only by the Director of Lands.

Act No. 1120 SECTION 18. No lease or sale made by Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands under the
provisions of this Act shall be valid until approved by the Secretary of the Interior.

It is clear from the foregoing provision and from jurisprudence that the sale of friar lands shall be valid
only if approved by the Secretary of the Interior (later the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce).

In their Memorandum, the Manotoks pointed out that their photocopy of the original Deed of Conveyance
No. 29204, sourced from the National Archives, shows on the second page a poorly imprinted typewritten
name over the words Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which name is illegible, and
above it an even more poorly imprinted impression of what may be a stamp of the Secretarys approval.
The Manotoks are invoking the presumption of regularity in the performance of the RDs task in issuing
the TCT in the Manotok name. The Manotoks contend that we can assume that the Manotok deed of
conveyance was in fact approved by the Department Secretary because the register of deeds did issue
TCT No. 22813 in the name of the buyer Severino Manotok. FURTHER, the Manotoks assert that even if
we were to ignore the presumption of validity in the performance of official duty, Department
Memorandum Order No. 16-05 issued on October 27, 2005 by then DENR Secretary Michael T.
Defensor, supplies the omission of approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources in
deeds of conveyances over friar lands.
o NO! These arguments fail.
Citing Alonso v. Cebu Country Club which applied the rule in the Solid State and Liao Cases the
absence of approval by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce in the sale certificate and assignment
of sale certificate made the sale null and void ab initio. Necessarily, there can be no valid titles issued on
the basis of such sale or assignment.
o SC in the MR of the Alonso case underscored that the approval is a MADATORY requirement. Approval
of the Secretary of the Interior cannot simply be presumed or inferred from certain acts since the law is
explicit in its mandate. Petitioners have not offered any cogent reason that would justify a deviation from
this rule.

DENR Memorandum Order No. 16, invoked by both the Manotoks and the Manahans, states that some
Deeds of Conveyance on record in the field offices of the LMB do not bear the Secretarys signature
despite full payment for the Friar Land. They are deemed signed or otherwise ratified by this Memo
provided that the applicant really paid the purchase price and complied with all the requirements under
the Friar Lands Act.
o The CA opined that the Manotoks cannot benefit from the above department issuance because it makes
reference only to those deeds of conveyance on file with the records of the DENR field offices. The
Manotoks copy of the alleged Deed of Conveyance No. 29204 issued in 1932, was sourced from the
National Archives.
Manotoks also point out that the Friar Lands Act itself states that the Government ceases reservation of
its title once the buyer had fully paid the price. (They were claiming that they fully paid!) Their basis is
SECTION 15[2] of the Friar Lands Act.
Court found that the old rule would support the Manotoks contention however, the new rule Pugeda v.
Trias, the conveyance executed in favor of a buyer or purchaser, or the so-called certificate of sale, is
a conveyance of the ownership of the property, subject only to the resolutory condition that the sale may
be cancelled if the price agreed upon is not paid for in full.
Clearly, it is the execution of the contract to sell and delivery of the certificate of sale that vests title and
ownership to the purchaser of friar land. Such certificate of sale must, of course, be signed by the
Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, as evident from Sections 11[3], 12[4] and the 2nd
paragraph of Section 15[5], in relation to Section 18.

CONCLUSIONS
Manotoks could not have acquired ownership of the subject lot as they had no valid certificate of sale
issued to them by the Government because their Certificate lacks the signature of the Director of Lands
and the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources
The decades-long occupation by the Manotoks of Lot 823, their payment of real property taxes and
construction of buildings, are of no moment. It must be noted that the Manotoks miserably failed to prove
the existence of the title allegedly issued in the name of Severino Mantotok after the latter had paid in full
the purchase price. The Manotoks did not offer any explanation as to why the only copy of TCT No.
22813 was torn in half and no record of documents leading to its issuance can be found in the registry of
deeds. As to the certification issued by the Register of Deeds of Caloocan, it simply described the copy
presented as DILAPIDATED without stating if the original copy of TCT No. 22813 actually existed in
their records, nor any information on the year of issuance and name of registered owner.
o As we stressed in Alonso: Prescription can never lie against the Government.

RE: MANAHANS No copy of the alleged Sale Certificate No. 511 can be found in the records of either
the DENR-NCR, LMB or National Archives. Although the OSG submitted a certified copy of Assignment
of Sale Certificate No. 511 allegedly executed by Valentin Manahan in favor of Hilaria de Guzman, there
is no competent evidence to show that the claimant Valentin Manahan or his successors-in-interest
actually occupied Lot 823, declared the land for tax purposes, or paid the taxes due thereon.
Even assuming arguendo the existence and validity of the alleged Sale Certificate No. 511 and
Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 presented by the Manahans, the CA correctly observed that
the claim had become stale after the lapse of 86 years from the date of its alleged issuance. Citing Liao
v. CA the certificates of sale x x x became stale after 10 years from its issuance and hence cannot be
the source documents for issuance of title more than 70 years later.
Dispositive:
Manotok Appeal denied
Manahan Petition for intervention denied
Petition for reconstitution of the Barque title denied
All the TCTs in the name of Manotoks, Manahans and Barque, are NULL and VOID. The Register of
Deeds of Caloocan City and/or Quezon City are hereby ordered to CANCEL the said titles.
Lot No. 823 is property of the National Government of the Philippines w/o prejudice to Reversion
proceedings