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Natural Resources and Environmental Law

Case Digest

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Submitted to:

1. Oh Cho vs Director of Lands 75 Phil 890


G.R. No. L-48321 August 31, 1946
OH CHO, applicant-appellee,
vs.THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, oppositor-appellant.

Facts: Oh Cho, a Chinese citizen, purchased from the Lagdameos a parcel


of land in Tayabas, which they openly, continuously and adversely
possessed since 1880. On January 17, 1940, Oh Cho applied for
registration of this land. The Solicitor General opposed the registration on
the ground that Oh Cho lacked title to said land and also because he was
an alien disqualified from acquiring lands of the public domain .

Issue: Whether or not Oh Cho is entitled to a decree of registration.

Ruling: No. Petitioner failed to show that he has title to the lot, which may
be confirmed under the Land Registration Act. All lands that were not
acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to
the public domain. An exception to the rule would be any land that should
have been in the possession of an occupant and of his predecessors in
interest since time immemorial, for such possession would justify the
presumption that the land had never been part of the public domain or
that it had been a private property even before the Spanish conquest.
The applicant does not come under the exception, for the earliest
possession of the lot by his first predecessor in interest began in
1880.Under the Public Land Act, Oh Cho is not entitled to a decree of
registration of the lot, because he is an alien disqualified from acquiring
lands of the public domain. Oh Cho predecessors in interest would have
been entitled to a decree of registration had they applied for the same. The
application for the registration of the land was a condition precedent,
which was not complied with by the Lagmeos who was not able. Hence, the
most they had was mere possessory right, not title. This possessory right
was what was transferred to Oh Cho, but since the latter is an alien, the
possessory right could never ripen to ownership by prescription. As an
alien, Oh Cho is disqualified from acquiring title over public land by
prescription.

2. Director of Lands vs. IAC and ACME 146 SCRA 509

G.R. No. 73002 December 29, 1986


THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, petitioner,
vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and ACME PLYWOOD & VENEER CO. INC.,
ETC., respondents.

Facts: Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., a corp. represented by Mr. Rodolfo
Nazario, acquired 5 parcels of land measuring 481, 390 sqm., from
Mariano and Acer Infiel, members of the indigenous Dumagat Tribe and
owners of the lots-in-question from time immemorial, on October 29, 1962.
This was accordingly only registered on July 17.

Land sought to be registered is a private land pursuant to RA 3872 granting


absolute ownership to members of the non-Christian Tribes on
land occupied by them or their ancestral lands, whether with the alienable
or disposable public land or within the public domain.
Acme Plywood & Veneer Co. Inc., has introduced more than P45M worth of
improvements. The government and the Municipal Officials of Maconacon,
Isabela also recognized ownership and possession of the land sought to
be registered ,Acme also donated part of the land as the townsite of
Maconacon Isabela.

Issues:
1. Whether or not the land is already a private land ?
2. Whether or not the constitutional prohibition against their
acquisition by private corporations or associations applies?

Ruling:
YES the land is already a private land. Lands already acquired, by
operation of law not only a right to a grant, but a grant of the Government,
for it is not necessary that a certificate of title should be issued in order
that said grant may be sanctioned by the courts, an application therefore
is sufficient.
It had already ceased to be of the public domain and had become private
property, at least by presumption
The application for confirmation is mere formality, the lack of which does
not affect the legal sufficiency of the title as would be evidenced by the
patent and the Torrens title to be issued upon the strength of said
patent.The effect of the proof, wherever made, was not to confer title, but
simply to establish it, as already conferred by the decree, if not by earlier
law
2. NO. The constitutional prohibition against their acquisition by private
corporations or associations does not apply. The land was already private
land to which the Infiels had a legally sufficient and transferable title on
October 29, 1962 when Acme acquired it from said owners, it must also be
conceded that Acme had a perfect right to make such acquisition.The only
limitation then extant was that corporations could not acquire, hold or
lease public agricultural lands in excess of 1,024 hectares

3. Meralco vs. Castro Bartolome 114 SCRA 799

G.R. No. L-49623 June 29, 1982


MANILA ELECTRIC COMPANY, petitioner-appellant,
vs. JUDGE FLORENLIANA CASTRO-BARTOLOME of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, Makati
Branch XV, and REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
respondent-appellees.

Facts: The Manila Electric Company purchased two lots (165 sqm.) at Tanay,
Rizal on August13, 1976 from Piguing spouses. After acquisition, they
subsequently filed for judicial confirmation of imperfect title on Dec. 1,
1976. However, the court denied the petition and the corresponding
appeal was likewise rejected. It elevates its appeal with the
following arguments; firstly, the land in question had essentially
been converted to private land by virtue of acquisitive prescription
as a result of open continuous and notorious possession and
occupation for more than thirty years by the original owner,
Olimpia Ramos and his predecessor in interest, Piguing
spouses, whom Meralcoa c q u i r e d t h e d i s p u t e d l a n d , a n d f i n a l l
y, the substantial rights acquired by Ramos spouses and
Peguing spouses for judicial confirmation of imperfect title, extend
to Meralco by virtue of the provision of the Public Land Law.

Issues:
1. Whether or not Meralco as a juridical person, allowed under the law
to hold lands of public domain and apply for judicial confirmation of
imperfect title.
2. Does the possession tacked to predecessor Private
Corporation automatically guarantee its rights to possession and title of
the land.
3. Whether or not it is contingent for a judicial confirmation of title
before any grant would be extended to a juridical person.

Ruling:
1. No. Private corporation or juridical person is prohibited and not
allowed under thelaw to hold land of public domain. Article XIV Sec.
14 of the 1973 Constitution prohibits private corporations from
holding alienable lands of the public domain except for lease of lands
not exceeding one thousand hectares.

2 .No. The presumption that since they bought the property from
the person who occupied the land in open, continuous and notorious
possession of the public land for more than thirty years, does not
automatically amount to rights and possession. It would cease to be
public only upon the issuance of the
certificateo f t i t l e t o a n y F i l i p i n o c i t i z e n c l a i m i n g i t u n d e r t
he law. This conclusion isanchored on the principle that"
a l l l a n d s t h a t w e r e n o t a c q u i r e d f r o m t h e Government,
either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain . The
exception to the rule is only when the occupant and his predecessors-
in-interest since time immemorial, for such possession would justify
the presumption that the land had never been part of the public domain
or that it had been a private property even before the Spanish conquest."

4. Suzi vs. Razon and Director of Lands 48 Phil 427


G.R. No. L-24066 December 9, 1925
VALENTIN SUSI, plaintiff-appellee,
vs. ANGELA RAZON and THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, defendants. THE DIRECTOR OF
LANDS, appellant.

Facts: On December 18, 1880, Nemesio Pinlac sold the land in question,
then a fish pond, to Apolonio Garcia and Basilio Mendoza for the sum of
P12, reserving the right to repurchase the same . After having been in
possession thereof for about eight years, and the fish pond having been
destroyed, Apolonio Garcia and Basilio Mendoza, on September 5, 1899,
sold it to Valentin Susi for the sum of P12, reserving the right to repurchase
it. Before the execution of the deed of sale, Valentin Susi had already paid
its price and sown "bacawan" on said land, availing himself of the firewood
gathered thereon, with the proceeds of the sale of which he had paid the
price of the property. The possession and occupation of the land in
question, first, by Apolonio Garcia and Basilio Mendoza, and then by
Valentin Susi has been open, continuous, adverse and public, without any
interruption, except during the revolution, or disturbance, except when
Angela Razon, on September 13, 1913, commenced an action in the Court
of First Instance of Pampanga to recover the possession of said land. The
court rendered judgment in favor of Valentin Susi and against Angela
Razon. Angela Razon applied to the Director of Lands for the purchase
thereof on August 15, 1914. Having learned of said application, Valentin
Susi filed and opposition thereto on December 6, 1915, asserting his
possession of the land for twenty-five years. After making the proper
administrative investigation, the Director of Lands overruled the
opposition of Valentin Susi and sold the land to Angela Razon. By virtue of
said grant the register of deeds of Pampanga, on August 31, 1921, issued
the proper certificate of title to Angela Razon. Armed with said document,
Angela Razon required Valentin Susi to vacate the land in question, and as
he refused to do so, she brought and action for forcible entry and detainer.

After trial, whereat evidence was introduced by both parties, the Court of
First Instance of Pampanga rendered judgment declaring the Valentin Suzi
entitled to the possession of the land, annulling the sale made by the
Director of Lands in favor of Angela Razon, and ordering the cancellation
of the certificate of title issued to her, with the costs against Angela Razon.
From this judgment the Director of Lands took made an appeal.

Issue: Whether or not Valentin Suzi is entitled to recover the possession of


said parcel of land and annul the sale made by the Director of Lands to
Angela Razon.

Ruling: It clearly appears from the evidence that Valentin Susi has been in
possession of the land in question openly, continuously, adversely, and
publicly, personally and through his predecessors, since the year 1880,
that is, for about forty-five years. When Angela Razon applied for the
purchase of said land, Valentin Susi had already been in possession thereof
personally and through his predecessors for thirty-four years. And if it is
taken into account that Nemesio Pinlac had already made said land a fish
pond when he sold it on December 18, 1880, it can hardly be estimated
when he began to possess and occupy it, the period of time being so long
that it is beyond the reach of memory. These being the facts, the doctrine
laid down by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Cario
vs. Government of the Philippine Islands (212 U. S., 449 1), is applicable
here. In favor of Valentin Susi, there is, moreover, the presumption juris et
de jure established in paragraph (b) of section 45 of Act No. 2874,
amending Act No. 926, that all the necessary requirements for a grant by
the Government were complied with, for he has been in actual and physical
possession, personally and through his predecessors, of an agricultural
land of the public domain openly, continuously, exclusively and publicly
since July 26, 1894, with a right to a certificate of title to said land under
the provisions of Chapter VIII of said Act. So that when Angela Razon
applied for the grant in her favor, Valentin Susi had already acquired, by
operation of law, not only a right to a grant, but a grant of the Government,
for it is not necessary that certificate of title should be issued in order that
said grant may be sanctioned by the courts, an application therefore is
sufficient, under the provisions of section 47 of Act No. 2874. If by a legal
fiction, Valentin Susi had acquired the land in question by a grant of the
State, it had already ceased to be the public domain and had become
private property, at least by presumption, of Valentin Susi, beyond the
control of the Director of Lands. Consequently, in selling the land in
question to Angela Razon, the Director of Lands disposed of a land over
which he had no longer any title or control, and the sale thus made was
void and of no effect, and Angela Razon did not thereby acquire any right.

5. Mc Daniel vs. Apcible and Cuisia 42 Phil 749


G.R. No. L-17597 December 29, 1922
E. W. McDANIEL, petitioner,
vs. GALICANO APACIBLE, Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and JUAN
CUISIA, respondents.

Facts: On June 7, 1916, the plaintiff and his associates located, in


accordance with the provisions of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, and
Act No. 624 of the Philippine Commission, three association petroleum
placer claims, each of an area of 64 hectares on the public domain in the
Philippine Islands, and that such locations were duly recorded in the office
of the Mining Recorder as "Maglihi No. 1," "Maglihi No. 2" and "Maglihi No.
3." Also, that the plaintiff and his associates remained in the open and
continuous possession of the three petroleum placer claims from June 7,
1916, until the 17th day of October, 1917, at which time his associates
conveyed their respective interests in the claims to the plaintiff. That ever
since October 17, 1917, the plaintiff has remained in the open and
continuous possession of the claims and that in the year 1917 and each
year thereafter, he has performed not less than P200 worth of labor on
each of them.

It is stipulated that on October 17, 1917, the plaintiff's associates conveyed


their interests in the claims to him for P100. The pleadings admit that the
locations by plaintiff and his associates of the petroleum placer claims
were made in accord with the provisions of the Act of Congress of July 1,
1902, and Act No. 624 of the Philippine Commission. Such acts specify and
point out how and by whom and the conditions under which a mineral
location can be made, and, hence, it must follow that any mineral location
made in accord with those provisions is a valid location. This legally carries
with it the existence of every element, prerequisite and condition necessary
or required for the making of a mineral location. Hence, we must assume
that the plaintiff and his associates made a good and valid mineral location
upon the public domain of the Philippine Islands.

Section 2 of the Act No. 2932 provides that "All such lands may be leased
by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources in the manner and
subject to the rules prescribed by the Council of State.
Under the provisions of this Act, the authority of the Secretary of
Agriculture and Natural Resources to make such a lease is confined to
lands "containing petroleum and other mineral oils and gas in the
Philippine Islands."

In the instant case, the stipulation shows that the mining claims are
situated in a comparatively uninhabited district four miles from any port,
and that they can only be reached over mountain trails which have been
maintained at the expense of the plaintiff. If it be a fact that the claims do
contain petroleum in paying quantities, it would be of immense value to
the commercial interests of the Philippine Islands. As evidence of his good
faith, the plaintiff has expended P12,000 in the development of the
property, and has found evidence tending to show that the claims do
contain petroleum and other mineral oils. At this time and under such
circumstances, it would be a gross injustice to deprive him of his property
rights through forms and technicalities. The locations were made upon the
unappropriated public domain, and to maintain them, and as evidence of
good faith, the law requires the performance of the annual assessment
work, and that question is not disputed or presented in the record.

In the instant case, we hold that, even though a valid mineral location was
made prior to the passage of Act No. 2932 and the annual assessment work
had not been performed since the passage of the Act, and that question is
raised and presented by an appropriate plea and sustained by the proof,
any prior rights under the location would then be forfeited, and such lands
would then be subject to, and come under, the provisions of Act No. 2932.

6. Reavis vs. Fianza 40 Phil 1017


JOHN F. REAVIS, Appt., v. JOSE FIANZA et als.
215 U.S. 16 (30 S.Ct. 1, 54 L.Ed. 72)
Decided: November 1, 1909.

Mr. Justice Holmes delivered the opinion of the court:

This is a bill in equity, brought by the appellees to restrain the appellant


from setting up title to certain gold mines in the province of Benguet, or
interfering with the same, and to obtain an account of the gold heretofore
taken from the mines. The trial court rendered a judgment or decree
granting an injunction as prayed. Then the case was brought here by
appeal.

The appellees are Igorrots, and it is found that, for fifty years, and probably
for many more, Fianza and his ancestors have held possession of these
mines. He now claims title under the Philippine act of July 1, 1902, chap.
1369, 45, 32 Stat. at L. 691. This section reads as follows:

that where such person or association, they and their grantors, have held
and worked their claims for a period equal to the time prescribed by the
statute of limitations of the Philippine Islands, evidence of such possession
and working of the claims for such period shall be sufficient to establish a
right to a patent thereto under this act, in the absence of any adverse claim;
but nothing in this act shall be deemed to impair any lien which may have
attached in any way whatever prior to the issuance of a patent.

Fianza testified, that his grandfather and father had owned the mines in
question, and that he and the other appellees owned them in their turn;
that they had all worked the mines, that no one else had claimed them, and
that the appellant had interfered with his possession, and, when he put up
a sign, had torn it down. No doubt his working of the mines was slight and
superficial according to our notions, and the possession may not have been
sharply asserted as it would have been with us, whether from Igorrot habits
or from the absence of legal title under Spanish law. But it sufficiently
appears that the appellee's family had held the place in Igorrot fashion,
and to deny them possession in favor of Western intruders probably would
be to say that the natives had no rights under the section that an American
was bound to respect. Whatever vagueness there may have been in the
boundaries, it is plain that the appellant attempted to locate a claim within
them, and Fianza testified that the plan to which we have referred followed
the boundaries that his father showed to him. It is said that the claim is
larger than is allowed by 22. But the limitation of that section applies
only to claims 'located after the passage of this act.'

It is to be assumed, then, that the appellees and their ancestors had held
possession and had worked their claims for much more than the period
required by 45, before the moment when the statute went into effect. It
is to be assumed that the possession and working continued down to
within two months of that moment. The bill, to be sure, alleges that Reavis,
in 1900, illegally entered and deprived the appellees of their mines, and
that he still continues to maintain his unjust claim. But further on it alleges
that, in the spring of 1902, Reavis was directed by the governor of Benguet
not to molest the appellees; that he then waited in Manila, and, after the
promulgation of the law, 'again entered,' set stakes, and filed a notice of
location. So that the bill does not mean that he was continuously in
possession, or that he was in possession when the law took effect. We are
of opinion that there was no adverse claim that would have prevented the
appellees from getting a patent under 45.

It is suggested that the possession of Fianza was not under a claim of title,
since he could have no title under Spanish law. But, whatever may be the
construction of Rev. Stat. 2332, the corresponding 45 of the Philippine
act cannot be taken to adopt from the local law any other requirement as
to the possession than the length of time for which it must be maintained.
Otherwise, in view of the Spanish and American law before July 1, 1902,
no rights could be acquired, and the section would be empty words;
whereas, as we have said before, another section of the act, 16, still
further shows the intention of Congress to respect native occupation of
public lands.

7. Abaoag vs. Director of Lands 45 Phil 518


G.R. No. L-20875 December 13, 1923
VICENTE ABAOAG, ET AL., applicants-appellants,
vs.THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, ET AL., opponents-appellees.

Facts: On February 28, 1919, appellants presented a petition in the Court


of First Instance of the Province of Pangasinan to have parcel of land of
more than 77 hectares registered under the Torrens system.
Accompanying said petition there was an official plan prepared by the
Bureau of Lands presented. Various oppositions were presented to the
registration of said parcel of land.

The record shows that at the time of the delivery of said parcel of land to
the petitioners, it was unoccupied and unimproved public land; that since
their entry upon the possession of the land in the year 1884, they and their
ancestors have been in the open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious
possession and occupation of the same, believing in good faith that they
were the owners; that the petitioners had cleared, improved, and cultivated
the land and have constructed and maintained their homes thereon,
exercising every requisite act of ownership, for a period of more than
thirty-nine years, in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession
and occupation, without any interruption whatsoever; that the land in
question was never partitioned among the petitioners because it was the
custom of the Bagos, Igorots, or non-Christians to occupy and possess
their land in common; that the petitioners believed, and had a right to
believe, from the fact that the land was given by
the gobernadorcillo and principalia of the municipality, that they thereby
became the owners, to the exclusion of all others, and are now justified in
their petition to have the said land registered under the Torrens system in
their names, as the owners in fee simple, pro indiviso.

Issue: Whether or not the registration of the land be granted.

Ruling: The Supreme Court held that the judgment entered dismissing the
petition of the applicants, should be reversed and the record remanded to
the court a quo, with permission on the part of the petitioners to make
such amendment to their petition as they may deem wise and necessary
and to present such additional evidence as they may desire; and that the
oppositors be permitted to present whatever evidence they may have in
opposition, with the understanding that the evidence which has heretofore
been adduced shall stand as a part of the evidence of the main trial.

The present case is not altogether unlike the case of Cario vs. Insular
Government (7 Phil., 132). In the course of that decision, Mr. Justice
Holmes, speaking for the court, said: We hesitate to suppose that it was
intended to declare every native, who had not a paper title, a trespasser
and to set the claims of all the wilder tribes afloat. Whatever the law upon
these points may be, every presumption is and ought to be against the
government in the case like the present." Mr. Justice Holmes adds: "If there
is doubt or ambiguity in the Spanish law, we ought to give the applicant
the benefit of the doubt."
In the Royal Cedula of October 15, 1754, we find the following: "Where
such possessors shall not be able to produce title deeds, it shall be
sufficient if they shall show that ancient possession as a valid title by
prescription." We may add that every presumption of ownership under the
public land laws of the Philippine Islands is in favor of one actually
occupying the land for many years, and against the Government which
seeks to deprive him of it, for failure to comply with provisions of
subsequently enacted registration land act.

In view of the doctrine announced by the Supreme Court of the United


States in the case of Cario vs. Insular Government, we are forced to the
conclusion that the lower court committed the errors complained of by the
appellants in dismissing the petition. As was said by this court in the case
of Rodriguez vs. Director of Lands (31 Phil., 272, 279): ". . . only under
exceptional circumstances should an application for registry in the court
of land registration be dismissed over the objection of the applicant, and
without giving him an opportunity by the grant of new trial, or otherwise .
. . to submit additional evidence in support of his claim of title, when there
are strong or reasonable grounds to believe that he is the owner of all or
any part of the land described in his application. This is specially true when
the only ground for the dismissal of the application is the lack of formal
or perhaps even substantial proof as to the chain to title upon which
applicant relies, etc."

8. Carino vs. Insular Government 441 SCRA 3


MATEO CARINO, Plff. in Error v. INSULAR GOVERNMENT February 23, 1909.

Facts: On June 23, 1903, Mateo Carino, an Igorot from the Province of
Benguet, went to the Court of Land Registration to petition his inscription
as the owner of a 146 hectare land hes been possessing in the then
municipality of Baguio. Mateo only presented possessory information and
no other documentation. The State opposed the petition averring that the
land is part of the US military reservation. The CLR ruled in favor of Mateo.
The State appealed. Mateo lost. Mateo averred that a grant should be given
to him by reason of immemorial use and occupation. Mateo Carino,
contests dismissal of application of registration of their ancestral land
through writ of error. Carinos ancestors maintained fences for cattle,
cultivated some parts, and pastured parts for cattle for more than 50 years
before the Treaty of Paris (April 11, 1899). This land is also used for
inheritance in accordance to Igorot custom. Although the plaintiff applied
in 1893-1894 and 1896-1897, no document of title was issued by Spanish
Crown. In 1901, plaintiff alleged ownership under mortgage law and the
lands were registered to him but it only established possessory title.
The lower court granted the application of land registration on March 4,
1904.

An appeal was filed in behalf of Government of the Philippines and as US


having taken possession of property for military and public purposes.
Thus the application of registration was dismissed.
Respondents argues that given that Spain assumed and asserted that they
had title to all the land in the Philippines except to permit private lands to
be acquired. No prescription against the Spanish Crown. Decree of June 25,
1880 required registration within a limited time to make the title good and
US succeeded the title of Spain (through Treaty of Paris). Plaintiffs land
not registered and he had lost all rights and a mere trespasser. Also,
Benguet never brought under civil or military government of the Spanish
Crown, so it is not certain whether registration granted was under
Spanish laws. Plaintiff argues that it seems to amount to denial of native
titles throughout an important Island of Luzon.

Issue: Whether Or Not Carino owns the land.

Ruling: YES. Plaintiff Carino should be granted what he seeks and should
not be deprived of what by the practice and belief of those among whom
he lived, was his property, through a refined interpretation of an almost
forgotten law of Spain.

The grant to the plaintiff was the result of the principle of Prescription as
mentioned in the royal cedula of 1754 states: Where such possessors shall
not be able to produce title deeds, it shall be sufficient if they shall show
that ancient possession, as a valid title by prescription.
Moreover, the Decree of June 25, 1880 states that possessors for certain
times shall be deemed owners; if a cultivated land 20 years, if uncultivated
30 years. Here, plaintiffs father was the owner of the land by the very
terms of this decree.- By Organic Act of July 1, 1902, all the property and
rights acquired there by the United States are to be administered for the
benefit of the inhabitants thereof. Obiter Writ of error is the general
method of bringing cases to this court (Federal SC), and appeal the
exception, confined to equity in the main.
Every presumption is and ought to be against the government in a case like
present.

The court said that the reason for taking over the Philippines was different
(compared to occupation of white race against Native Americans). Our
first object in the internal administration of the islands is to do justice to
the natives not to exploit their country for private gain.
The effect of proof was not to confer title but simply to establish it, as
already conferred by the decree, if not by earlier law.

9. Director of Lands vs. Funtilar 142 SCRA 57

G.R. No. L-68533 May 23, 1986


DIRECTOR OF LANDS and DIRECTOR OF FOREST DEVELOPMENT, petitioners,
vs.MARIANO FUNTILAR, MAGDALENA FUNTILAR, HEIRS OF FELIPE ROCETE and INTERMEDIATE
APPELLATE COURT (Third Civil Cases Division), respondents.

Facts: In 1972, Mariano Funtilar, Magdalena Funtilar, and the Heirs of


Felipe Rocete applied for the registration of a parcel of land, originally
belonging to one Candida Fernandez whose ownership and possession
began sometime during her lifetime and extended until 1936 when she
died. The present applicants are the grandchildren of Candida Fernandez.
In 1936, after the death of Candida Fernandez, her real property was
declared in the name of the "Heirs of Candida Fernandez under Tax
Declaration No. 9622, with an area of thirty (30) hectares.

Sometime in 1940 or 1941, the parcel of land was forfeited in favor of the
government for failure to pay real estate taxes. However, the same was
redeemed in 1942 by Vitaliano Aguirre, one of the three children of
Candida Fernandez, who was then the administrator of the property. A
final deed of sale was executed by the Provincial Treasurer of Tayabas in
1944 in favor of Vitaliano Aguirre. It had been agreed among the heirs that
the property would first be held by Vitaliano in trust for the others until
such time that partition among them was effected. The heirs of Candida
Fernandez later partitioned the property among themselves. The particular
lot now disputed in this petition was adjudicated in favor of the applicants-
respondents.

The Director of Lands and Director of Forest Development filed an


opposition alleging that neither applicants nor their predecessor-in-
interest possessed sufficient title to the land, not having acquired the same
under any of the recognized Spanish titles under the Royal Decree of
February 13, 1894; that neither applicants, nor their predecessors have
been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and
occupation of the land for at least thirty (30) years immediately preceding
the filing of the application; and that the land is a portion of the public
domain belonging to the Republic of the Philippines.

Donaciano Pumarada, with three others also filed an opposition alleging


that they have registrable title on account of their possession since time
immemorial.

Rafael M. Morales filed a separate opposition, alleging that there was no


actual survey of the land applied for; and that he is entitled to registration
on account of his occupation and that of his predecessor.

On November 26, 1982, the trial court rendered its decision adjudicating
the land to applicants. The IAC affirmed said decision.

Issue: Whether or not the IAC is correct in granting the land registration.

Ruling: Yes. The land sought to be registered was declared alienable and
disposable 33 years ago. It is not forest land. It has been possessed and
cultivated by the applicants and their predecessors for at least three
generations. The attempts of humble people to have disposable lands they
have been tilling for generations titled in their names should not only be
viewed with an understanding attitude but should, as a matter of policy,
be encouraged.

The fact of possession is bolstered by the forfeiture in 1940 of the land in


favor of the government. It would be rather absurd under the
circumstances of this case to rule that the government would order the
forfeiture of property for non-payment of real estate taxes if the property
is forest land. It is also reasonable to rule that the heirs of Candida
Fernandez redeemed the property because they wanted to keep the land
of the deceased in the possession of their family, thus continuing prior
possession. From 1936 and earlier up to 1972 is more than the required
period. As a matter of fact, the applicants' witnesses testified to their
personal knowledge of more than 50 years possession.

More important is the petitioners' allegation that the property sought to


be registered was unclassified public forest until September 15, 1953 when
L C Project No. 16-0, L C Map No. 1634 declared it alienable and disposable.

It was rather sweeping for the appellate court to rule that after an applicant
files his application for registration, the burden shifts totally to the
government to prove that the land forms part of the unclassified forest
zone. The ruling inHeirs of Amunategui vs. Director of Forestry (126 SCRA
69) governs applications for confirmation of imperfect title. The applicant
shoulders the burden of overcoming the presumption that the land sought
to be registered forms part of the public domain.

The Regalian doctrine which forms the basis of our land laws and, in fact,
all laws governing natural resources is a revered and long standing
principle. It must, however, be applied together with the constitutional
provisions on social justice and land reform and must be interpreted in a
way as to avoid manifest unfairness and injustice.

10. Oposa vs. Factoran 224 SCRA 792

Oposa et.al , petitioners v. Fulgencio s. Factoran, Jr., in his capacity as the Secretary of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and HON. Eriberto u. Rosario, Presiding
Judge of the RTC, Makati, Branch 66, respondents.

Facts: The principal plaintiffs therein, are all minors duly represented and
joined by their respective parents. Impleaded as an additional plaintiff is
the Philippine Ecological Network, Inc. (PENI), a domestic, non-stock and
non-profit corporation organized for the purpose of, inter alia, engaging
in concerted action geared for the protection of our environment and
natural resources. The complaint was instituted as a taxpayers' class
suit and alleges that the plaintiffs are all citizens of the Republic of the
Philippines, taxpayers, and entitled to the full benefit, use and enjoyment
of the natural resource treasure that is the country's virgin tropical forests.
They further asseverate that they represent their generation as well as
generations yet unborn and asserted that continued deforestation have
caused a distortion and disturbance of the ecological balance and have
resulted in a host of environmental tragedies. Plaintiffs prayed that
judgment be rendered ordering the respondent, his agents, representatives
and other persons acting in his behalf to cancel all existing Timber License
Agreement (TLA) in the country and to cease and desist from receiving,
accepting, processing, renewing or approving new TLAs.
On 22 June 1990, the defendant Secretary Factoran, Jr., filed a Motion to
Dismiss the complaint based on two (2) grounds, namely: (1) the plaintiffs
have no cause of action against him and (2) the issue raised by the plaintiffs
is a political question which properly pertains to the legislative or
executive branches of Government.

The RTC Judge sustained the motion to dismiss, further ruled that granting
of the relief prayed for would result in the impairment of contracts which
is prohibited by the Constitution. Plaintiffs thus filed the instant special
civil action for certiorari and asked the court to rescind and set aside the
dismissal order on the ground that the respondent RTC Judge gravely
abused his discretion in dismissing the action.

Issues:

(1) Whether or not the plaintiffs have a cause of action.


(2) Whether or not the complaint raises a political issue.
(3) Whether or not the original prayer of the plaintiffs result in the
impairment of contracts.

Ruling:
The instant petition is granted, and the challenged order of
respondent Judge dismissing Civil Case No. 90-777 is set aside.

1.) Respondents aver that the petitioners failed to allege in their


complaint a specific legal right violated by the respondent Secretary for
which any relief is provided by law. The Court did not agree with this. The
complaint focuses on one fundamental legal right -- the right to a balanced
and healthful ecology which is incorporated in Section 16 Article II of the
Constitution. The said right carries with it the duty to refrain from
impairing the environment and implies, among many other things, the
judicious management and conservation of the country's forests. Section
4 of E.O. 192 expressly mandates the DENR to be the primary government
agency responsible for the governing and supervising the exploration,
utilization, development and conservation of the country's natural
resources. The policy declaration of E.O. 192 is also substantially re-stated
in Title XIV Book IV of the Administrative Code of 1987. Both E.O. 192 and
Administrative Code of 1987 have set the objectives which will serve as the
bases for policy formation, and have defined the powers and functions of
the DENR. Thus, right of the petitioners to a balanced and healthful ecology
is as clear as DENR's duty to protect and advance the said right.
A denial or violation of that right by the other who has the correlative
duty or obligation to respect or protect or respect the same gives rise to a
cause of action. Petitioners maintain that the granting of the TLA, which
they claim was done with grave abuse of discretion, violated their right to
a balance and healthful ecology. Hence, the full protection thereof requires
that no further TLAs should be renewed or granted. After careful
examination of the petitioners' complaint, the Court finds it to be adequate
enough to show, prima facie, the claimed violation of their rights.
2.) Second paragraph, Section 1 of Article VIII of the constitution
provides for the expanded jurisdiction vested upon the Supreme Court. It
allows the Court to rule upon even on the wisdom of the decision of the
Executive and Legislature and to declare their acts as invalid for lack or
excess of jurisdiction because it is tainted with grave abuse of discretion.

3.) The Court held that the Timber License Agreement is an instrument
by which the state regulates the utilization and disposition of forest
resources to the end that public welfare is promoted. It is not a contract
within the purview of the due process clause thus, the non-impairment
clause cannot be invoked. It can be validly withdraw whenever dictated by
public interest or public welfare as in this case. The granting of license
does not create irrevocable rights, neither is it property or property rights.
Moreover, the constitutional guaranty of non-impairment of
obligations of contract is limit by the exercise by the police power of the
State, in the interest of public health, safety, moral and general welfare. In
short, the non-impairment clause must yield to the police power of the
State.

11. Miners Association vs. Secretary Factoran 240 SCRA 100

MINERS ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES, INC., petitioner,


vs. HON. FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR., Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, and
JOEL D. MUYCO, Director of Mines and Geosciences Bureau, respondents.

Facts: On July 10, 1987, President Corazon C. Aquino, in the exercise of


her then legislative powers under Article II, Section 1 of the Provisional
Constitution and Article XIII, Section 6 of the 1987 Constitution,
promulgated Executive Order No. 211 prescribing the interim procedures
in the processing and approval of applications for the exploration,
development and utilization of minerals pursuant to the 1987 Constitution
in order to ensure the continuity of mining operations and activities and
to hasten the development of mineral resources.
On July 25, 1987, President Aquino likewise promulgated Executive Order
No. 279 authorizing the DENR Secretary to negotiate and conclude joint
venture, co-production, or production-sharing agreements for the
exploration, development and utilization of mineral resources, and
prescribing the guidelines for such agreements and those agreements
involving technical or financial assistance by foreign-owned corporations
for large-scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals.
Pursuant to Section 6 of Executive Order No. 279, the DENR Secretary
issued on June 23, 1989 DENR Administrative Order No. 57, series of 1989,
captioned "Guidelines of Mineral Production Sharing Agreement under
Executive Order No. 279." Under the transitory provision of said DENR
Administrative Order No. 57, embodied in its Article 9, all existing mining
leases or agreements which were granted after the effectivity of the 1987
Constitution pursuant to Executive Order No. 211, except small scale
mining leases and those pertaining to sand and gravel and quarry
resources covering an area of twenty (20) hectares or less, shall be
converted into production-sharing agreements within one (1) year from the
effectivity of these guidelines. On November 20, 1980, the Secretary of the
DENR Administrative Order No. 82, series of 1990, laying down the
"Procedural Guidelines on the Award of Mineral Production Sharing
Agreement (MPSA) through Negotiation."

Section 3 of the aforementioned DENR Administrative Order No. 82


enumerates the persons or entities required to submit Letter of Intent
(LOIs) and Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSAs) within two (2)
years from the effectivity of DENR Administrative Order No. 57 or until
July 17, 1991. Failure to do so within the prescribed period shall cause the
abandonment of mining, quarry and sand and gravel claims. The issuance
and the impeding implementation by the DENR of Administrative Order
Nos. 57 and 82 after their respective effectivity dates compelled the Miners
Association of the Philippines, Inc. to file the instant petition assailing
their validity and constitutionality before the SC.

In a petition for certiorari, petitioner Miners Association of the Philippines,


Inc. mainly contends that respondent Secretary of DENR issued both
Administrative Order Nos. 57 and 82 in excess of his rule-making power
under Section 6 of Executive Order No. 279. On the assumption that the
questioned administrative orders do not conform with Executive Order
Nos. 211 and 279, petitioner contends that both orders violate the non-
impairment of contract provision under Article III, Section 10 of the 1987
Constitution on the ground that Administrative Order No. 57 unduly pre-
terminates existing mining agreements and automatically converts them
into production-sharing agreements within one (1) year from its effectivity
date. On the other hand, Administrative Order No. 82 declares that failure
to submit Letters of Intent and Mineral Production-Sharing Agreements
within two (2) years from the date of effectivity of said guideline or on July
17, 1991 shall cause the abandonment of their mining, quarry and sand
gravel permits.
Issue: Whether or not the Administrative Order Nos. 57 and 82 issued by
the DENR Secretary in the exercise of his rule-making power are tainted
with invalidity

Ruling: The petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.

The SC ruled that the questioned administrative orders are reasonably


directed to the accomplishment of the purposes of the law under which
they were issued and were intended to secure the paramount interest of
the public, their economic growth and welfare. The validity and
constitutionality of Administrative Order Nos. 57 and 82 must be
sustained, and their force and effect upheld.

Nowhere in Administrative Order No. 57 is there any provision which


would lead to conclude that the questioned order authorizes the automatic
conversion of mining leases and agreements granted after the effectivity
of the 1987 Constitution, pursuant to Executive Order No. 211, to
production-sharing agreements. The provision in Article 9 of
Administrative Order No. 57 that "all such leases or agreements shall be
converted into production sharing agreements within one (1) year from the
effectivity of these guidelines" could not possibility contemplate a
unilateral declaration on the part of the Government that all existing
mining leases and agreements are automatically converted
into production-sharing agreements. On the contrary, the use of the term
"production-sharing agreement" if they are so minded. Negotiation negates
compulsion or automatic conversion as suggested by petitioner in the
instant petition. A mineral production-sharing agreement (MPSA) requires
a meeting of the minds of the parties after negotiations arrived at in good
faith and in accordance with the procedure laid down in the subsequent
Administrative Order No. 82.

12. Sunbeam Convenience Foods Inc. vs. Court of Appeals 181 SCRA
445
Sunbeam Convenience Foods inc., Coral Beach Development Corp., and the Register of Deeds of
Bataan, petitioners,
vs. Court of Appeals and the Republic of the Philippines, respondents.

Facts: On April 29, 1963, the Director of Lands caused the issuance of a
Sales Patent in favor of defendant Sunbeam Convenience Foods, Inc., over
the parcels of land both situated in Mariveles, Bataan and more particularly
described and bounded as Lot 1-Sgs-2409 (area 3,113,695 sq. m ) and Lot
2-Sgs-2409 area 1,401,855 sq. m. On May 3, 1963, the aforesaid Sales Patent
was registered with the defendant Register of Deeds of Bataan who in turn
issued OCT No. Sp-24 in favor of defendant Sunbeam Convenience Foods,
Inc., for the two parcels of land above-described. Subsequently, OCT No.
Sp-24 was cancelled and TCT No. T-12421 was issued over Lot 1, Sgs-2409,
while TCT No. 12422 was issued over Lot 2, Sgs-2409, both in favor of
defendant Coral Beach Development Corporation. On May 11, 1976, the
Solicitor General instituted before the Court of First Instance of Bataan, an
action for reversion docketed as Civil Case No. 4062. SUNBEAM and CORAL
BEACH filed a Motion to Dismiss on the action for reversion. The then CFI
of Bataan dismissed the complaint adopting mainly the theory that since
the titles sought to be cancelled emanated from the administrative act of
the Bureau of Lands Director, the latter, not the courts, had jurisdiction
over the disposition of the land.

In the CA, it gave due course to the petition for certiorari by the Republic,
set aside the Order of Dismissal rendered by the Court of First Instance,
and ordered the presiding judge Hon. Pedro T. Santiago to receive the
answers of the private respondents SUNBEAM and CORAL BEACH in the
action for reversion. Hence, Sunbeam and Coral Beach filed a petition for
review.

Issue: Whether or not he CA is correct in setting aside the order of


dismissal by the CFI Bataan

Ruling: The petition is denied and the decision of the Court of Appeals is
affirmed.

The SC finds nothing disagreeable with the action of the Court of Appeals
to give due course to the petition considering that the issue affected a
matter of public concern which is the disposition of the lands of our
matrimony No less than the Constitution protects its policy. Also, it agreed
with the Court of Appeals' granting of the petition filed by the Republic
charging the then CFI with grave abuse of discretion. The filing of the
Motion to Dismiss the complaint for reversion by SUNBEAM and CORAL
BEACH on the ground of lack of cause of action, necessarily carried with it
the admission, for purposes of the motion, of the truth of all material facts
pleaded in the complaint instituted by the Republic.

An important factual issue raised in the complaint was the classification


of the lands as forest lands. This material allegation stated in the
Republic's complaint' was never denied specifically by the petitioners
Sunbeam and Coral Beach. If it is true that the lands are forest lands, then
all these proceedings become moot and academic. Land remains
unclassified land until it is released therefrom and rendered open to
disposition.

The adherence to the Regalian doctrine subjects all agricultural, timber,


and mineral lands to the dominion of the State. Thus, before any land may
be declassified from the forest group and converted into alienable or
disposable land for agricultural or other purposes, there must be a positive
act from the government. Even rules on the confirmation of imperfect titles
do not apply unless and until the land classified as forest land is released
in an official proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the
disposable agricultural lands of the public domain.

The mere fact that a title was issued by the Director of Lands does not
confer any validity on such title if the property covered by the title or
patent is part of the public forest. The only way to resolve this question of
fact as to the classification of the land is by remanding the case to the
lower court for a full- dress trial on the issues involved.

13. Republic vs. Court of Appeals 160 SCRA 228


G.R. No. L-43938 April 15, 1988
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES (DIRECTOR OF FOREST DEVELOPMENT), petitioner,
vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS (THIRD DIVISION) and JOSE Y. DE LA ROSA, respondents.

G.R. No. L-44081 April 15, 1988


BENGUET CONSOLIDATED, INC., petitioner,
vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, JOSE Y. DE LA ROSA, VICTORIA, BENJAMIN and EDUARDO, all
surnamed DE LA ROSA, represented by their father JOSE Y. DE LA ROSA, respondents.

G.R. No. L-44092 April 15, 1988


ATOK-BIG WEDGE MINING COMPANY, petitioner,
vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, JOSE Y. DE LA ROSA, VICTORlA, BENJAMIN and EDUARDO, all
surnamed DE LA ROSA, represented by their father, JOSE Y. DE LA ROSA, respondents.

Facts: Jose de la Rosa filed an application for registration of a parcel of


land on February 11, 1965 on his own behalf and on behalf of his three
children, Victoria, Benjamin and Eduardo. The land, situated in Tuding,
Itogon, Benguet Province, was divided into 9 lots and covered by plan Psu-
225009. According to the application, Lots 1-5 were sold to Jose de la Rosa
and Lots 6-9 to his children by Mamaya Balbalio and Jaime Alberto,
respectively, in 1964. Both Balbalio and Alberto testified that they had
acquired the subject land by virtue of prescription Balbalio claimed to have
received Lots 1-5 from her father shortly after the Liberation.

The application was separately opposed by Benguet Consolidated, Inc. as


to Lots 1-5, Atok Big Wedge Corporation, as to Portions of Lots 1-5 and all
of Lots 6-9, and by the Republic of the Philippines, through the Bureau of
Forestry Development, as to lots 1-9. 3

Benguet opposed on the ground that the June Bug mineral claim covering
Lots 1-5 was sold to it on September 22, 1934, by the successors-in-interest
of James Kelly, who located the claim in September 1909 and recorded it
on October 14, 1909. From the date of its purchase, Benguet had been in
actual, continuous and exclusive possession of the land in concept of
owner, as evidenced by its construction of adits, its affidavits of annual
assessment, its geological mappings, geological samplings and trench side
cuts, and its payment of taxes on the land.

For its part, Atok alleged that a portion of Lots 1-5 and all of Lots 6-9 were
covered by the Emma and Fredia mineral claims located by Harrison and
Reynolds on December 25, 1930, and recorded on January 2, 1931, in the
office of the mining recorder of Baguio. These claims were purchased from
these locators on November 2, 1931, by Atok, which has since then been
in open, continuous and exclusive possession of the said lots as evidenced
by its annual assessment work on the claims, such as the boring of tunnels,
and its payment of annual taxes thereon.

The Bureau of Forestry Development also interposed its objection, arguing


that the land sought to be registered was covered by the Central Cordillera
Forest Reserve under Proclamation No. 217 dated February 16, 1929.
Moreover, by reason of its nature, it was not subject to alienation under
the Constitutions of 1935 and 1973.

Issue: Whether or not the application for registration of de la Rosa granted


by the CA is correct.

Ruling: No. Benguet and Atok have exclusive rights to the property in
question by virtue of their respective mining claims which they validly
acquired before the Constitution of 1935 prohibited the alienation of all
lands of the public domain except agricultural lands, subject to vested
rights existing at the time of its adoption. The land was not and could not
have been transferred to the private respondents by virtue of acquisitive
prescription, nor could its use be shared simultaneously by them and the
mining companies for agricultural and mineral purposes.

This is an application of the Regalian doctrine which, as its name implies,


is intended for the benefit of the State, not of private persons. The rule
simply reserves to the State all minerals that may be found in public and
even private land devoted to "agricultural, industrial, commercial,
residential or (for) any purpose other than mining." Thus, if a person is the
owner of agricultural land in which minerals are discovered, his ownership
of such land does not give him the right to extract or utilize the said
minerals without the permission of the State to which such minerals
belong.

The flaw in the reasoning of the respondent court is in supposing that the
rights over the land could be used for both mining and non-mining
purposes simultaneously. The correct interpretation is that once minerals
are discovered in the land, whatever the use to which it is being devoted at
the time, such use may be discontinued by the State to enable it to extract
the minerals therein in the exercise of its sovereign prerogative. The land
is thus converted to mineral land and may not be used by any private party,
including the registered owner thereof, for any other purpose that will
impede the mining operations to be undertaken therein, For the loss
sustained by such owner, he is of course entitled to just compensation
under the Mining Laws or in appropriate expropriation proceedings.

14. Republic vs. Court of Appeals 201 SCRA 3


G.R. No. 48327 August 21, 1991
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, DIRECTOR OF LANDS and DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY, petitioners
vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, PAULINA PARAN, ELISA PARAN MAITIM and SINA
PARAN, respondents.

Facts: Private respondents are applicants for registration of a parcel of


land situated in Beckel La Trinidad, Benguet, containing an area of 34,178
square meters claiming to have acquired the land from their father
Dayotao Paran and by actual, physical, exclusive and open possession
thereof since time immemorial.
On 18 November 1970, the Office of the Solicitor General filed on behalf
of the Director of Lands an Opposition contending that: (1) private
respondents have no registrable title; (2) the parcel of land sought to be
registered is part of the public domain belonging to the Republic of the
Philippines; and (3) the application for registration was filed after
expiration of the period provided for in R.A. No. 2061, hence the land
registration court did not acquire jurisdiction over the case.
The Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Baguio and Benguet, on the other
hand, filed a Motion to Dismiss based solely on the ground that the
application made by private respondents was filed beyond 31 December
1968, the extended period for filing of applications for registration
provided for by R.A. No. 2061. The Office of the Provincial Fiscal of Baguio
and Benguet later filed another Opposition first time in representation of
the Director of Forestry, stating that the parcel of land sought to be
registered is within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve covered by
Proclamation No. 217 dated 16 February 1929.
On 7 August 1974, the land registration court rendered a Decision granting
the application for registration of the petitioner.

Issue: Whether or not the granting of the application for land registration
is valid.

Ruling: Yes. Petitioners are entitled to judicial confirmation of their


imperfect title.
The applicants in the instant case are natives of Benguet and members of
the Ibaloi tribe. They are members of a cultural minority whose
application for registration of land should be considered as falling under
Section 48(c) of C.A. No. 141. At the time private respondents filed their
application, the text of Section 48 read:
Sec. 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines, occupying
lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest
therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply
to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for
confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title
thereafter, under the Land Registration Act, to wit:
xxx xxx xxx
(c) Members of the national cultural minoritieswho by themselves or
through their predecessors- in-interest have been in open, continuous,
exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of lands of the public
domain suitable to agriculture whether disposable or not, under a bona
fide claim of ownership for at least 30 years shall be entitled to the rights
granted in subsection (b) hereof.

It is clear to the Court that the addition of subsection (c) was intended to
create a distinction between applications for judicial confirmation of
imperfect titles by members of national cultural minorities and
applications by other qualified persons in general. Members of cultural
minorities may apply for confirmation of their title to lands of the public
domain, whether disposable or not; they may therefore apply for public
lands even though such lands are legally forest lands or mineral lands of
the public domain, so long as such lands are in fact suitable for agriculture.
The rest of the community, however, "Christians" or members of
mainstream society may apply only in respect of "agricultural lands of the
public domain," that is, "disposable lands of the public domain" which
would of course exclude lands embraced within forest reservations or
mineral land reservations.

It is important to note that private respondents' application for judicial


confirmation of their imperfect title was filed in 1970 and that the land
registration court rendered its decision confirming their long-continued
possession of the lands here involved in 1974, that is, during the time when
Section 48(c) was in legal effect. Private respondents' imperfect title was,
in other words, perfected or vested by the completion of the required
period of possession prior to the issuance of P.D. No. 1073. Private
respondents' right in respect of the land they had possessed for thirty (30)
years could not be divested by P.D. No. 1073.
The Court stressed in Director of Lands vs. Funtilarsupra):
The Regalian doctrine which forms the basis of our land laws and, in fact,
all laws governing natural resources is a revered and long standing
principle. It must, however, be applied together with the constitutional
provisions on social justice and land reform and must be interpreted in a
way as to avoid manifest unfairness and injustice.
15. Ankron vs. Government of the Philippines 40 Phil 10
G.R. No. L-14213 August 23, 1919
J. H. ANKRON, petitioner-appellee,
THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, objector-appellant.

Facts: A certain piece or parcel of land situated is sought to be registered


under the Torrens system.

The only opposition which was presented was on the part of the Director
of Lands alleging that the land in question was the property of the
Government of the United States under the control and administration of
the Government of the Philippine Islands.

After hearing and considering the evidence, the lower court ordered and
decreed that said parcel of land be registered in the name of the said
applicant, J. H. Ankron, subject, however, to the right of the Government
of the Philippine Islands to open a road thereon in the manner and
conditions mentioned in said decision.

From that decree the Director of Lands appealed to this court.

The appellant argues, first, that the applicant did not sufficiently identify
the land in question; second, contends that the appellant failed to prove
his possession and occupation in accordance with the provisions of
paragraph 6 of section 54 of Act No. 926; third, contends that portions of
said land cannot be registered in accordance with the existing Land
Registration Law for the reason that they are manglares.

Issue: Whether or not the granting of registration of the land was valid.

Ruling: Yes. The Government under the provisions of Act No. 1148, may,
by reservation, decide for itself what portions of public land shall be
considered forestry land, unless private interests have intervened before
such reservation is made. In the latter case, whether the land is
agricultural, forestry, or mineral, is a question of proof. Until private
interests have intervened, the Government, by virtue of the terms of said
Act (No. 1148), may decide for itself what portions of the "public domain"
shall be set aside and reserved as forestry or mineral land. (Ramos vs.
Director of Lands (39 Phil. Rep., 175; Jocson vs. Director of Forestry, supra.)

The important prerequisites for registration of land imposed by said


section 54, paragraph 6, are (a) that the land shall be agricultural
public land as defined by the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902; (b) that the
petitioner, by himself or his predecessors in interest, shall have been in the
open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of
the same under a bona fide claim of ownership for a period of ten years
next preceding the taking effect of said Act. In the present case the
applicant proved, and there was no effort to dispute said proof, that the
land in question was agricultural land and that he and his predecessors in
interest had occupied the same as owners in good faith for a period of
more than forty years prior to the commencement of the present action.
Section 3 of Act No. 1148 provides that "the public forests shall include all
unreserved lands covered with trees of whatever age." Said section 1820
(Act No. 2711) provides that "for the purpose 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."

The fact that the land is a manglar [mangrove swamp] is not sufficient for
the courts to decide whether it is agricultural, forestry, or mineral land. It
may perchance belong to one or the other of said classes of land.

ANDRES MANARPAAC, ET AL vs. ROSALINO CABANATAN

G.R. No. L-23300 October 31,1967

FACTS:

The plaintiffs have been, since time immemorial, in actual possession


as owners of two parcels of land, based on tax declarations; that such
possession has been public, uninterrupted and in the concept of owner;
that they have their houses built on the land. The defendant Rosalino
Cabanatan filed an application for free patent of a parcel of agricultural
public land situated at Barrio Suyo, Batac, Ilocos Norte. Said defendant
"taking advantage of the ignorance and lack of education of the plaintiffs,
willfully, fraudulently, maliciously, and surreptitiously without previous
notice to the plaintiffs whatsoever, included petitioners parcels of land"
in his application for free patent; that a free patent was issued in the name
of Rosalino Cabanatan by the Director of Lands, certificate of title No. V-
105031 was issued in the name of Rosalino Cabanatan by the register of
deeds; that said certificate of title which included the land of the plaintiffs,
is null and void, because the patent was obtained thru "fraudulent
misrepresentation"; and that the proceedings leading to the investigation
and survey of the land were without notice and without compliance with
the requirements of the law. Plaintiffs, therefore, prayed that the free
patent and the certificate of title be declared null and void, and the same
should be cancelled.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the plaintiff has no sufficient cause of action since


one year has elapsed upon issuance of the free patent.

RULING:
From the averment of facts in the complaint, it clearly appears that
the plaintiffs have been, since time immemorial in possession as owners
of the disputed land, have declared the land for tax purposes in the names
of two of them and have built their houses on the land, but that through
fraud and irregularity, defendant Rosalino Cabanatan succeeded in
securing for himself, the certificate of title in question. The foregoing
recital of facts in the complaint are sufficient averment of ownership.
Possession since time immemorial, carries the presumption that the land
had never been part of the public domain, or, that it had been a private
property even before the Spanish conquest. In the case at bar, predicated
upon the allegations in the complaint, together with the admission of
defendant Cabanatan in his answer that the amended complaint is an
action for reconveyance, which are deemed admitted on a motion to
dismiss, there can hardly be any debate that the complaint states a
sufficient cause of action for recovery of possession of the land for, settled
is the rule that the remedy of the landowner whose property has been
wrongfully or erroneously registered in another's name is, after one year
from the date of the decree, not to set aside the decree, but respecting the
decree as incontrovertible and no longer open to review, to bring an
ordinary action in the ordinary court of justice for conveyance or, if the
property has passed into the hands of an innocent purchaser for value, for
damages. (Casilan v. Espartero, 95 Phil. 799)
GOLD CREEK MINING CORPORATION vs. EULOGIO RODRIGUEZ

G.R. No. 45859September 28, 1938

FACTS:

This petition seeks to compel the respondents, as Secretary of


Agriculture and Commerce and as Director of the Bureau of Mines,
respectively, to approve petitioner's application for patent for a certain
mining claim and prepare the necessary papers in relation thereto, and to
forward and submit said papers for the signature of the President of the
Philippines. The petition alleges that petitioner owns the Nob Fraction
mineral claim, situated in the barrio of Gomok, municipality of Itogon, sub-
province of Benguet ,Mountain Province. Petitioner by itself and its
predecessors in interest, has been in continuous and exclusive possession
of said claim. Petitioner filed in the office of the Director of Lands an
application for an order of patent survey of said claim, which survey was
duly authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce and
performed by a mineral land surveyor in the former divisions of mines,
Bureau of Science at the expense of petitioner. Petitioner claims that it is
entitled, as a matter of right, to the patent applied for, having complied
with all the requisites of the law for the issuance of such patent
.Respondents allege that "petitioner was not and is not entitled as a matter
of right to a patent to the 'NobFraction' claim because the Constitution
provides that 'natural resources, with the exception of public agriculture
land, shall not be alienated'; and that the respondents are, not only under
no obligation to approve petitioner's application for a patent to said claim
and to prepare the necessary papers in relation thereto, but, also, in duty
bound to proven the issuance of said patent and the preparation of the
aforesaid papers, because they have sworn to support and defend the
Constitution."

ISSUE:
Whether or not the petitioner is entitled to the patent

RULING:

The fundamental principle of constitutional construction is to give


effect to the intent of the framers of the organic law and of the people
adopting it. The intention to which force is to be given is that which is
embodied and expressed in the constitutional provisions prohibits the
alienation of natural resources, with the exception of public agriculture
land. It seems likewise clear that the term "natural resources," as used
therein, includes mineral lands of the public domain, but not mineral lands
which at the time the provision took effect no longer formed part of the
public domain. The reason for this conclusion is found in the terms of the
provisions itself. It first declares that all agricultural, timber, and mineral
lands of the public domain, etc., and other natural resources of the
Philippines, belong to the State. It then provides that "their disposition,
exploitation, development, or utilization shall be limited to citizens of the
Philippines, or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of
the capital of which is owned by such citizens, subject to any existing right,
grant, lease, or concession at the time of the inauguration of the
Government established under this Constitution." Next comes the
prohibition against the alienation of natural resources. This prohibition is
directed against the alienation of such natural resources as were declared
to be the property of the State. And as only "agricultural, timber, and
mineral lands of the public domain" were declared property of the State, it
is fair to conclude that mineral lands which at the time the constitutional
provision took effect no longer formed part of the public domain, do not
come within the prohibition.

The legal effect of a valid location of a mining claim is not only to


segregate the area from the public domain, but to grant to the locator the
beneficial ownership of the claim and the right to a patent therefor upon
compliance with the terms and conditions prescribed by law. "Where there
is a valid location of a mining claim, the area becomes segregated from the
public domain and the property of the locator." "When a location of a
mining claim is perfected it has the effect of a grant by the United States
of the right of present and exclusive possession, with the right to the
exclusive enjoyment of all the surface ground as well as of all the minerals
within the lines of the claim, except as limited by the extra lateral rights of
adjoining locators; and this is the locator's right before as well as after the
issuance of the patent. While a lode locator acquires a vested property right
by virtue of his location made in compliance with the mining laws, the fee
remains in the government until patent issues. "Our conclusion is that, as
the mining claim under consideration no longer formed part of the public
domain when the provisions of Article XII of the Constitution became
effective, it does not come within the prohibition against the alienation of
natural resources; and the petitioner has the right to a patent therefor
upon compliance with the terms and conditions prescribed by law. In the
instant case, we are not justified, upon the state of the pleadings, to grant
the relief sought by the petitioner. Considering, however, that the refusal
of the respondents to act on the application for a patenton its merits as
due to their misinterpretation of certain constitutional and statutory
provisions a writ of mandamus should issue directing the respondents to
dispose of the application for patent on its merits, unaffected by the
prohibition against the alienation of natural resources contained in section
1 of Article XII of the constitution and in Commonwealth Act No. 137.