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EN BANC

[G.R. No. L-16084. November 30, 1962.]

JOHN O. YU, Plainti-Appellee, v. MAXIMO DE LARA, JUAN PANLILIO, LUCIA RIVERO,


LORENTINO ROQUE and DOMINGO SAMSON, Deendants-Appellants.

A. Agustines, or Deendants-Appellants.

Ceerino R. Magat or Plainti-Appellee.

SYLLABUS

1. PROPERTY; LOSS O OWNERSHIP; ABANDONMENT WHICH CONVERTS THE


THING INTO Res Nullius NOT APPLICABLE TO LAND. Abandonment requires not only
physical relinquishment o the thing but also a clear intention not to reclaim or reassume
ownership or enjoyment thereo. Abandonment which converts the thing into res nullius,
ownership o which may be acquired by occupation, can hardly apply to land, as to which said
mode o acquisition is not available (Article 714, Civil Code), let alone to registered land, to
which "no title . . . in derogation to that o the registered owner shall be acquired by prescription
or adverse possession" (Section 46, Act No. 496).

2. ID.; OCCUPATION O LAND AT OWNERS TOLERANCE; REMEDY WHERE OCCUPANT


AILS TO VACATE UPON DEMAND. A person who occupies the land o another at the latiers
tolerance or permission, without any contract between them, is necessarily bound by an implied
promise that he will vacate upon demand, ailing which a summary action or ejectment in the
proper remedy against him.

DECISION

MAKALINTAL, J.:

This is an ejectment case decided irst by the Justice o the Peace Court o Caloocan and,
on appeal, by the Court o irst Instance o Rizal, Pasig branch, which ordered the deendants "to
vacate the premises in question, to pay the monthly rental o P15.00 to begin rom the time this
action was iled up to the time they vacate the premises, and to pay the costs."cralaw virtua1aw
library

The pertinent acts are the subject o stipulation below. Lot No. 14, block No. 51-C o the Grace
Park subdivision, with an area o 682.5 meters, is the disputed property. It was originally
registered in 1916 (O.C.T. No. 868 o the Registry o Deeds o Rizal), subsequently acquired by
the Philippine Realty Corporation (T.C.T. No. 22104) and sold by it on 28 November 1956 to
plainti-appellee, John O. Yu, a ilipino citizen, who obtained T.C.T. No. 11267 in his name. In
1945 several persons setitled on the property and constructed houses thereon without
permission rom, or contract with, the Philippine Realty Corporation, then the registered owner.
On various dates thereater, between 1947 and 1952, appellants here bought the houses o
those setitlers and continued in occupancy thereo without paying any rents to the owner o the
land. In ebruary 1957 plainti- appellee advised them in writing to vacate within 30 days, and in
view o their reusal iled a complaint o unlawul detainer within the statutory period o one year.

The irst point raised by appellants is that the Philippine Realty Corporation had lost possession
o the property by abandonment, under Article 555, paragraph 1, o the Civil Code, in ailing to
take action against them and showing lack o interest in said property since they started their
occupancy. The circumstances adverted to are insuicient to constitute abandonment, which
requires not only physical relinquishment o the thing but also a clear intention not to reclaim or
reassume ownership or enjoyment thereo. Indeed, abandonment which according to Manresa
(Vol. 4, 5th ed., p. 277) converts the thing into res nullius, ownership o which may be acquired
by occupation, can hardly apply to land, as to which said mode o acquisition is not available
(Art. 714, Civil Code), let alone to registered land, to which "no title . . . in derogation to that o
the registered owner shall be acquired by prescription or adverse possession" (Sec. 46, Act No.
496). No possessory rights whatsoever can be recognized in avor o appellants, because they
are in act nothing but squatiers, who setitled on the land without any agreement with the owner,
paying neither rents to him nor land taxes to the government, and who impliedly recognized
their squatiers status by purchasing only the houses built by the original setitlers. Their
occupancy o the land was at the owners suerance, and their acts were merely tolerated which
could not aect the owners possession (Arts. 537 and 1119, Civil Code).

Appellants next contend that since there is no showing that there was any promise on their part,
express or implied, to return the land to appellee, or that they ailed to do so ater their right to
retain it had expired, they cannot be considered as unlawully withholding possession within the
meaning o Section 1 o Rule 72. The implication o the argument is that this action o unlawul
detainer was improperly brought against them in the Justice o the Peace Court o Caloocan. A
person who occupies the land o another at the latiers tolerance or permission, without any
contract between them, is necessarily bound by an implied promise that he will vacate upon
demand, ailing which a summary action or ejectment is the proper remedy against him. In any
event, whatever might be said on this point in so ar as it relates to the original jurisdiction o the
Justice o the Peace Court and hence to the appellate jurisdiction o the Court o irst Instance
it does not appear that the question was raised in the ormer court at all. Consequently the
latier court could take cognizance o the case as one or recovery by the owner o the right o
possession in the exercise o its original jurisdiction, pursuant to section 11 o Rule 40.

The third and last contention o appellants is that the Court o irst Instance lacked jurisdiction to
decide this case because there were prejudicial questions pending beore us on appeal in cases
G. R. Nos. L-12614 and L-12615 concerning the same property. The issue in those two cases
was the propriety o the registration o appellants adverse claim to the said land, which was
resolved against them by the Land Registration Commissioner. In the irst place the issue was
not prejudicial in nature: it could not aect appellees right to the possession o his land, which has
nothing to do with the registrability or non-registrability o appellants alleged adverse claim; and
secondly, the said cases have already been decided by us on January 29, 1960, by upholding
the action taken by the Land Registration Commissioner.

The judgment appealed rom is airmed, with costs against appellants.

B. PUBLIC DOMINION

REPUBLIC O THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, versus EAST SILVERLANE REALTY


DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Respondent., G.R. No. 186961, 2012 ebruary 20, 2nd
Division

DECISION

REYES, J.:

This Court is urged to review and set aside the July 31, 2008 Decision[1] and ebruary
20, 2009 Resolution[2] o the Court o Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 00143. In its July 31,
2008 Decision, the CA airmed the August 27, 2004 Decision o the Regional Trial Court (RTC),
Branch 40 o Cagayan De Oro City. The dispositive portion thereo states:

WHEREORE, premises oregoing, the instant appeal is hereby DISMISSED or lack o


merit. The assailed Decision dated August 27, 2004 is hereby AIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED.[3]

In its ebruary 20, 2009 Resolution, the CA denied the petitioners August 29, 2008
Motion or Reconsideration.[4]

The actual Antecedents


The respondent iled with the RTC an application or land registration, covering a parcel o
land identiied as Lot 9039 o Cagayan Cadastre, situated in El Salvador, Misamis Oriental and
with an area o 9,794 square meters. The respondent purchased the portion o the subject
property consisting o 4,708 square meters (Area A) rom rancisca Oco pursuant to a Deed o
Absolute Sale dated November 27, 1990 and the remaining portion consisting o 5,086 square
meters (Area B) rom Rosario U. Tan Lim, Nemesia Tan and Mariano U. Tan pursuant to a Deed
o Partial Partition with Deed o Absolute Sale dated April 11, 1991. It was claimed that the
respondents predecessors-in-interest had been in open, notorious, continuous and exclusive
possession o the subject property since June 12, 1945.

Ater hearing the same on the merits, the RTC issued on August 27, 2004 a Decision,
granting the respondents petition or registration o the land in question, thus:

ACCORDINGLY, inding the application meritorious, and pursuant to applicable law and
jurisprudence on the matier, particularly the provisions o P.D. 1529, judgment is hereby
rendered granting the instant application. The Land Registration Authority is hereby ordered to
issue a decree in the name o the applicant East Silverlane Realty Development Corporation
covering the parcel o

land, Lot 9039, Cad 237, having an area o 9,794 square meters covered by the two (2)
tax declarations subject o this petition. Based on the

decree, the Register o Deeds or the Province o Misamis Oriental is hereby directed to
issue an original certiicate o title in the name o the applicant covering the land subject matier o
this application.[5]

On appeal by the petitioner, the CA airmed the RTCs August 27, 2004 Decision. In its
July 31, 2008 Decision,[6] the CA ound no merit in the petitioners appeal, holding that:

It is a setitled rule that an application or land registration must conorm to three


requisites: (1) the land is alienable public land; (2) the applicants open, continuous, exclusive
and notorious possession and occupation thereo must be since June 12, 1945, or earlier; and
(3) it is a bona ide claim o ownership.

In the case at bench, petitioner-appellee has met all the requirements. Anent the irst
requirement, both the report and certiication issued by the Department o Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR) shows that the subject land was within the alienable and disposable
zone classiied under B Project [N]o. 8 Blk. I, L.C. Map [N]o. 585 and was released and certiied
as such on December 31, 1925.
Indubitably, both the DENR certiication and report constitute a positive government act,
an administrative action, validly classiying the land in question. It is a setitled rule that the
classiication or re-classiication o public lands into alienable or disposable, mineral or orest land
is now a prerogative o the Executive Department o the government. Accordingly, the certiication
enjoys a presumption o regularity in the absence o contradictory evidence. As it is, the said
certiication remains uncontested and even oppositor-appellant Republic itsel did not present any
evidence to reute the contents o the said certiication. Thus, the alienable and disposable
character o the subject land certiied as such as early as December 31, 1925 has been clearly
established by the evidence o the petitioner-appellee.

Anent the second and third requirements, the applicant is required to prove his open,
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation o the subject land under a bona
ide claim o ownership either since time immemorial or since June 12, 1945.

xxxx

In the case at bench, ESRDC tacked its possession and occupation over the subject
land to that o its predecessors-in-interest. Copies o the tax declarations and real property
historical ownership pertaining thereto were presented in court. A perusal o the records shows
that in 1948, a portion o the subject land was declared under the name o Agapito Claudel.
Subsequently, in 1957 until 1991 the same was declared under the name o rancisca Oco.
Thereater, the same was declared under the name o ESRDC. A certiication was likewise issued
by the Provincial Assessor o Misamis Oriental that previous tax declarations pertaining to the
said portion under the name o Agapita Claudel could no longer be located as the iles were
deemed lost or destroyed beore World War II.

On the other hand, the remaining portion o the said land was previously declared in
1948 under the name o Jacinto Tan Lay Cho. Subsequently, in 1969 until 1990, the same was
declared under the name o Jacinto Tan. Thereater, the same was declared under the name o
ESRDC. A certiication was likewise issued by the Provincial Assessor that the iles o previous
tax declarations under the name o Jacinto Tan Lay Cho were deemed lost or destroyed again
beore World War II.

In 1991 or upon ESRDCs acquisition o the subject property, the latier took possession
thereto. Albeit it has presently leased the said land to Asia Brewery, Inc., where the latier built
its brewery plant, nonetheless, ESRDC has its branch oice located at the plant compound o
Asia Brewery, Inc.
Corollarily, oppositor-appellants contentions that the court a quo erred in considering the
tax declarations as evidence o ESRDCs possession o the subject land as the latiers
predecessors-in-interest declared the same sporadically, is untenable.

It is a setitled rule that albeit tax declarations and realty tax payment o property are not
conclusive evidence o ownership, nevertheless, they are good indicia o the possession in the
concept o owner or no one in his right mind would be paying taxes or a property that is not in his
actual or at least constructive possession. They constitute at least proo that the holder has a
claim o title over the property. The voluntary declaration o a piece o property or taxation
purposes maniests not only ones sincere and honest desire to obtain title to the property and
announces his adverse claim against the State and all other interested parties, but also the
intention to contribute needed revenues to the Government. Such an act strengthens ones
bona ide claim o acquisition o ownership.

inally, it bears stressing that the pieces o evidence submitied by petitioner-appellee are
incontrovertible. Not one, not even oppositor-appellant Republic, presented any countervailing
evidence to contradict the claims o the petitioners that they are in possession o the subject
property and their possession o the same is open, continuous and exclusive in the concept o an
owner or over 30 years.

Verily, rom 1948 when the subject land was declared or taxation purposes until ESRDC
iled an application or land registration in 1995, ESRDC have been in possession over the
subject land in the concept o an owner tacking its possession to that its predecessors-in-interest
or orty seven (47) years already. Thus, ESRDC was able to prove suiciently that it has been in
possession o the subject property or more than 30 years, which possession is characterized as
open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious in the concept o an owner.[7] (citations omitied)

The petitioner assails the oregoing, alleging that the respondent ailed to prove that its
predecessors-in-interest possessed the subject property in the manner and or the length o time
required under Section 48 (b) o Commonwealth Act No. 141, otherwise known as the Public
Land Act (PLA), and Section 14 o Presidential Decree No. 1529, otherwise known as the
Property Registration Decree (P.D. No. 1529). According to the petitioner, the respondent did
not present a credible and competent witness to testiy on the speciic acts o ownership
perormed by its predecessors-in-interest on the subject property. The respondents sole
witness, Vicente Oco, can hardly be considered a credible and competent witness as he is the
respondents liaison oicer and he is not related in any way to the respondents predecessors-in-
interest. That coconut trees were planted on the subject property only shows casual or
occasional cultivation and does not qualiy as possession under a claim o ownership.
Issue

This Court is conronted with the sole issue o whether the respondent has proven itsel
entitled to the beneits o the PLA and P.D. No. 1529 on conirmation o imperect or incomplete
titles.

Our Ruling

This Court resolves to GRANT the petition.

Preliminarily, with respect to the inirmity suered by this petition rom the standpoint o
Rule 45, this Court agrees with the respondent that the issue o whether the respondent had
presented suicient proo o the required possession under a bona ide claim o ownership raises a
question o act, considering that it invites an evaluation o the evidentiary record.[8] However,
that a petition or review should be conined to questions o law and that this Court is not a trier o
acts and bound by the actual indings o the CA are not without exceptions. Among these
exceptions, which obtain in this case, are: (a) when the judgment o the CA is based on a
misapprehension o acts or (b) when its indings are not sustained by the evidence on record.

This Courts review o the records o this case reveals that the evidence submitied by the
respondent ell short o proving that it has acquired an imperect title over the subject property
under Section 48 (b) o the PLA. The respondent cannot register the subject property in its name
on the basis o either Section 14 (1) or Section 14 (2) o P.D. No. 1529. It was not established by
the required quantum o evidence that the respondent and its predecessors-in-interest had been
in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession o the subject property or the
prescribed statutory period.

The PLA governs the classiication and disposition o lands o the public domain. Under
Section 11 thereo, one o the modes o disposing public lands suitable or agricultural purposes is
by conirmation o imperect or incomplete titles.[9] On the other hand, Section 48 provides the
grant to the qualiied possessor o an alienable and disposable public land. Thus:

SEC. 48. The ollowing-described citizens o the Philippines, occupying lands o the public
domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest therein, but whose titles have not been
perected or completed, may apply to the Court o irst Instance o the province where the land is
located or conirmation o their claims and the issuance o a certiicate o title thereor, under the
Land Registration Act, to wit:

(a) Those who prior to the transer o sovereignty rom Spain to the United States have
applied or the purchase, composition or other orm o grant o lands o the public domain under the
laws and royal decrees then in orce and have instituted and prosecuted the proceedings in
connection therewith, but have with or without deault upon their part, or or any other cause, not
received title thereor, i such applicants or grantees and their heirs have occupied and cultivated
said lands continuously since the iling o their applications.

(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in
open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation o agricultural lands o the
public domain, under a bona ide claim o acquisition or ownership, or at least thirty years
immediately preceding the iling o the application or conirmation o title except when prevented by
war or orce majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to have perormed all the conditions
essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certiicate o title under the provisions o
this chapter.

(c) Members o the national cultural minorities who by themselves or through their
predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession
and occupation o lands o the public domain suitable to agriculture, whether disposable or not,
under a bona ide claim o ownership or at least 30 years shall be entitled to the rights granted in
sub-section (b) hereo.

Presidential Decree No. 1073 (P.D. No. 1073), which was issued on January 25, 1977,
deleted subsection (a) and amended subsection (b) as ollows:

SECTION 4. The provisions o Section 48 (b) and Section 48 (c), Chapter VIII o the
Public Land Act are hereby amended in the sense that these provisions shall apply only to
alienable and disposable lands o the public domain which have been in open, continuous,
exclusive and notorious possession and occupation by the applicant thru himsel or thru his
predecessor-in-interest under a bona ide claim o ownership since June 12, 1945.

Notably, the irst PLA, or Act No. 926, required a possession and occupation or a period
o ten (10) years prior to the eectivity o Act No. 2096 on July 26, 1904 or on July 26, 1894. This
was adopted in the PLA until it was amended by Republic Act No. 1942 on June 22, 1957,
which provided or a period o thirty (30) years. It was only with the enactment o P.D. No. 1073 on
January 25, 1977 that it was required that possession and occupation should commence on
June 12, 1945.

P.D. No. 1529, which was enacted on June 11, 1978, codiied all the laws relative to the
registration o property. Section 14 thereo partially provides:

Section 14. Who may apply. The ollowing persons may ile in the proper Court o irst
Instance an application or registration o 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 o alienable and
disposable lands o the public domain under a bona ide claim o ownership since June 12, 1945,
or earlier.

(2) Those who have acquired ownership o private lands by prescription under the
provision o existing laws.

(3) Those who have acquired ownership o private lands or abandoned river beds by right
o accession or accretion under the existing laws.

(4) Those who have acquired ownership o land in any other manner provided or by law.

Section 14 (1) and Section 14 (2) are clearly dierent. Section 14 (1) covers alienable
and disposable land while Section 14 (2) covers private property. As this Court categorically
stated in Heirs o Malabanan v. Republic o the Philippines,[10] the distinction between the two
provisions lies with the inapplicability o prescription to alienable and disposable lands.
Speciically:

At the same time, Section 14 (2) puts into operation the entire regime o prescription
under the Civil Code, a act which does not hold true with respect to Section 14 (1).[11]
Property is either part o the public domain or privately owned.[12] Under Article 420 o
the Civil Code, the ollowing properties are o public dominion:

(a) Those intended or public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and
bridges constructed by the State, banks, shores, roadsteads and others o similar character;

(b) Those which belong to the State, without being or public use, and are intended or
some public service or or the development o the national wealth.

All other properties o the State, which is not o the character mentioned in Article 420 is
patrimonial property,[13] hence, susceptible to acquisitive prescription.[14]

In Heirs o Malabanan, this Court ruled that possession and occupation o an alienable
and disposable public land or the periods provided under the Civil Code do not automatically
convert said property into private property or release it rom the public domain. There must be an
express declaration that the property is no longer intended or public service or development o
national wealth. Without such express declaration, the property, even i classiied as alienable or
disposable, remains property o the State, and thus, may not be acquired by prescription.

Nonetheless, Article 422 o the Civil Code states that [p]roperty o public dominion, when
no longer intended or public use or or public service, shall orm part o the patrimonial property o
the State. It is this provision that controls how public dominion property may be converted into
patrimonial property susceptible to acquisition by prescription. Ater all, Article 420 (2) makes
clear that those property which belong to the State, without being or public use, and are
intended or some public service or or the development o the national wealth are public
dominion property. or as long as the property belongs to the State, although already classiied as
alienable or disposable, it remains property o the public dominion i when it is intended or some
public service or or the development o the national wealth. mphasis supplied)

Accordingly, there must be an express declaration by the State that the public dominion
property is no longer intended or public service or the development o the national wealth or that
the property has been converted into patrimonial. Without such express declaration, the
property, even i classiied as alienable or disposable, remains property o the public dominion,
pursuant to Article 420(2), and thus incapable o acquisition by prescription. It is only when such
alienable and disposable lands are expressly declared by the State to be no longer intended or
public service or or the development o the national wealth that the period o acquisitive
prescription can begin to run. Such declaration shall be in the orm o a law duly enacted by
Congress or a Presidential Proclamation in cases where the President is duly authorized by
law.[15]

In other words, or one to invoke the provisions o Section 14 (2) and set up acquisitive
prescription against the State, it is primordial that the status o the property as patrimonial be irst
established. urthermore, the period o possession preceding the classiication o the property as
patrimonial cannot be considered in determining the completion o the prescriptive period.

To prove that its predecessors-in-interest were in possession o the subject property on


or prior to June 12, 1945 or had completed the prescriptive period o thirty (30) years, the
respondent submitied the ollowing tax declarations:

a) Tax Declaration in the name o Agapita Claudel or the year 1948;

b) Tax Declarations in the name o rancisca Oco or the years 1957, 1963, 1969, 1973,
1974, 1980, 1987, 1989 and 1991;

c) Tax Declarations in the respondents name or the years 1991, 1992 and 1994;

d) Tax Declarations in the name o Jacinto Tan Lay Cho or the years 1948 and 1952;

e) Tax Declarations in the name o Jacinto Tan or the years 1969, 1973, 1974, 1980,
1989 and 1990; and

) Tax Declarations in the respondents name or the years 1991, 1992 and 1994.

Pursuant to Agapita Claudels 1948 Tax Declaration, there were nineteen (19) coconut
and ten (10) banana trees planted on Area A. The coconut trees were supposedly our years old,
hence, the reasonable presumption that she had been in possession even beore June 12,
1945.[16]
The respondent also oered the ollowing testimony o Vicente Oco:

Q Mr. Witness, I you know about what period your predecessor has started to
possess this land subject matier o this application?

A Per my personal knowledge, it was beore the second world war but the Municipality
o El Salvador was created on June 15, 1948 by virtue o RA 268 and its started to oicially
unction only on August 2, 1948[.]

Q rom whom did you acquire this inormation?

A rom the seller and the adjoining lot owners.[17]

To prove that its predecessors-in-interest exercised acts o dominion over the subject
property, the respondent claimed that per rancisca Ocos Tax Declarations, the ollowing
improvements were introduced in Area A: nineteen (19) coconut and ten (10) banana trees in
Area A in 1957 and 1963; thirty-three (33) coconut trees in 1969 and 1973; thirty-three (33)
coconut trees, one (1) mango tree and three (3) seguidillas vines in 1974; thirty-three (33)
coconut trees in 1980; eighty-seven (87) coconut trees in 1987; and iteen (15) coconut trees in
1989. Per Jacinto Tans Tax Declarations, there were ity-seven (57) coconut trees in Area B in
1973, 1974, 1980, 1989 and 1990.[18]

A reading o the CAs July 31, 2008 Decision shows that it airmed the grant o the
respondents application given its supposed compliance with Section 14 (2) o P.D. No. 1529. It
ruled that based on the evidence submitied, the respondent is not qualiied to register the subject
property in its name under Section 14 (1) as the possession and occupation o its predecessors-
in-interest commenced ater June 12, 1945. Nonetheless, as the CA ruled, the respondent
acquired title to the subject property by prescription as its predecessors-in-interest had
possessed the subject property or more than thirty (30) years. Citing Buenaventura v. Republic
o the Philippines,[19] the CA held that even i possession commenced ater June 12, 1945,
registration is still possible under Section 14 (2) and possession in the concept o an owner
eectively converts an alienable and disposable public land into private property.
This Court, however, disagrees on the conclusion arrived at by the CA. On the premise
that the application or registration, which was iled in 1995, is based on Section 14 (2), it was not
proven that the respondent and its predecessors-in-interest had been in possession o the
subject property in the manner prescribed by law and or the period necessary beore acquisitive
prescription may apply.

While the subject land was supposedly declared alienable and disposable on December
31, 1925 per the April 18, 1997 Certiication and July 1, 1997 Report o the Community
Environment and Natural Resources Oice (CENRO),[20] the Department o Agrarian Reorm
(DAR) converted the same rom agricultural to industrial only on October 16, 1990.[21] Also, it
was only in 2000 that the Municipality o El Salvador passed a Zoning Ordinance, including the
subject property in the industrial zone.[22] Thereore, it was only in 1990 that the subject
property had been declared patrimonial and it is only then that the prescriptive period began to
run. The respondent cannot beneit rom the alleged possession o its predecessors-in-interest
because prior to the withdrawal o the subject property rom the public domain, it may not be
acquired by prescription.

On the premise that the application o the respondent is predicated on Section 14 (1), the
same would likewise not prosper. As shown by the tax declarations o the respondents
predecessors-in-interest, the earliest that the respondent can trace back the possession o its
predecessors-in-interest is in 1948. That there were our-year old coconut trees in Area A as
stated in Agapita Claudels 1948 Tax Declaration cannot be considered a well-nigh
controvertible evidence that she was in possession prior to June 12, 1945 without any evidence
that she planted and cultivated them. In the case o Jacinto Tan Lay Cho, the earliest tax
declaration in his name is dated 1948 and there is no evidence that he occupied and possessed
Area B on or prior to June 12, 1945. urthermore, the testimony o the respondents lone witness
that the respondents predecessors-in-interest were already in possession o the subject
property as o June 12, 1945 lacks probative value or being hearsay.

It is explicit under Section 14 (1) that the possession and occupation required to acquire
an imperect title over an alienable and disposable public land must be open, continuous,
exclusive and notorious in character. In

Republic o the Philippines v. Alconaba,[23] this Court explained that the intent behind
the use o possession in conjunction with occupation is to

emphasize the need or actual and not just constructive or ictional possession.

The law speaks o possession and occupation. Since these words are separated by the
conjunction and, the clear intention o the law is not to make one synonymous with the other.
Possession is broader than occupation because it includes constructive possession. When,
thereore, the law adds the word occupation, it seeks to delimit the all encompassing eect o
constructive possession. Taken together with the words open, continuous, exclusive and
notorious, the word occupation serves to highlight the act that or an applicant to qualiy, his
possession must not be a mere iction. Actual possession o a land consists in the maniestation o
acts o dominion over it o such a nature as a party would naturally exercise over his own
property.[24] (citations omitied)

On the other hand, Section 14 (2) is silent as to the required nature o possession and
occupation, thus, requiring a reerence to the relevant provisions o the Civil Code on
prescription. And under Article 1118 thereo, possession or purposes o prescription must be in
the concept o an owner, public, peaceul and uninterrupted. In Heirs o Marcelina Arzadon-
Crisologo v. Raon,[25] this Court expounded on the nature o possession required or purposes
o prescription:

It is concerned with lapse o time in the manner and under conditions laid down by law,
namely, that the possession should be in the concept o an owner, public, peaceul, uninterrupted
and adverse. Possession is open when it is patent, visible, apparent, notorious and not
clandestine. It is continuous when uninterrupted, unbroken and not intermitient or occasional;
exclusive when the adverse possessor can show exclusive dominion over the land and an
appropriation o it to his own use and beneit; and notorious when it is so conspicuous that it is
generally known and talked o by the public or the people in the neighborhood. The party who
asserts ownership by adverse possession must prove the presence o the essential elements o
acquisitive prescription.[26] (citations omitied)

This Court is not satisied with the evidence presented by the respondent to prove
compliance with the possession required either under Section 14 (1) or Section 14 (2).

irst, the twelve (12) Tax Declarations covering Area A and the eleven (11) Tax
Declarations covering Area B or a claimed possession o more than orty-six (46) years (1948-
1994) do not qualiy as competent evidence o actual possession and occupation. As this Court
ruled in Wee v. Republic o the Philippines:[27]

It bears stressing that petitioner presented only ive tax declarations (or the years 1957,
1961, 1967, 1980 and 1985) or a claimed possession and occupation o more than 45 years
(1945-1993). This type o intermitient and sporadic assertion o alleged ownership does not prove
open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation. In any event, in the
absence o other competent evidence, tax declarations do not conclusively establish either
possession or declarants right to registration o title.[28] ( mphasis supplied and citation omitied)
The phrase adverse, continuous, open, public, and in concept o owner, by which the
respondent describes its possession and that o its predecessors-in-interest is a conclusion o
law. The burden o proo is on the respondent to prove by clear, positive and convincing evidence
that the alleged possession o its predecessors-in-interest was o the nature and duration
required by law.[29] It is thereore inconsequential i the petitioner ailed to present evidence that
would controvert the allegations o the respondent. A person who seeks the registration o title to
a piece o land on the basis o possession by himsel and his predecessors-in-interest must prove
his claim by clear and convincing evidence, i.e., he must prove his

title and should not rely on the absence or weakness o the evidence o the
oppositors.[30]

The respondents claim o ownership will not prosper on the basis o the tax declarations
alone. In Cequea v. Bolante,[31] this Court ruled that it is only when these tax declarations are
coupled with proo o actual possession o the property that they may become the basis o a claim
o ownership.[32] In the absence o actual public and adverse possession, the declaration o the
land or tax purposes does not prove ownership.[33]

Second, that the nineteen (19) coconut trees supposedly ound on Area A were our years
old at the time Agapita Claudel iled a Tax Declaration in 1948 will not suice as evidence that her
possession commenced prior to June 12, 1945, in the absence o evidence that she planted and
cultivated them. Alternatively, assuming that Agapita Claudel planted and maintained these
trees, such can only be considered casual cultivation considering the size o Area A. On the
other hand, that Jacinto Tan Lay Cho possessed Area B in the concept o an owner on or prior to
June 12, 1945 cannot be assumed rom his 1948 Tax Declaration.

Third, that plants were on the subject property without any evidence that it was the
respondents predecessors-in-interest who planted them and that actual cultivation or harvesting
was made does not constitute well-nigh incontrovertible evidence o actual possession and
occupation. As this Court ruled in Wee:

We are, thereore, constrained to conclude that the mere existence o an unspeciied


number o coee plants, sans any evidence as to who planted them, when they were planted,
whether cultivation or harvesting was made or what other acts o occupation and ownership
were undertaken, is not suicient to demonstrate petitioners right to the registration o title in her
avor.[34]

ourth, Vicente Ocos testimony deserves scant consideration and will not supplement the
inherent inadequacy o the tax declarations. Apart rom being sel-serving, it is undoubtedly
hearsay. Vicente Oco lacks
personal knowledge as to when the predecessors-in-interest o the respondent started to
occupy the subject property and admitied that his testimony was based on what he allegedly
gathered rom the respondents predecessors-in-interest and the owners o adjoining lot.
Moreover, Vicente Oco did not testiy as to what speciic acts o dominion or ownership were
perormed by the respondents predecessors-in-interest and i indeed they did. He merely made a
general claim that they came into possession beore World War II, which is a mere conclusion o
law and not actual proo o possession, and thereore unavailing and cannot suice.[35] Evidence o
this nature should have been received with suspicion, i not dismissed as tenuous and
unreliable.

inally, that the respondents application was iled ater only our years rom the time the
subject property may be considered patrimonial by reason o the DARs October 26, 1990 Order
shows lack o possession whether or ordinary or extraordinary prescriptive period. The principle
enunciated in Heirs o Malabanan cited above was reiterated and applied in Republic o the
Philippines v. Rizalvo:[36]

On this basis, respondent would have been eligible or application or registration because
his claim o ownership and possession over the subject property even exceeds thirty (30) years.
However, it is jurisprudentially clear that the thirty (30)-year period o prescription or purposes o
acquiring ownership and registration o public land under Section 14 (2) o P.D. No. 1529 only
begins rom the moment the State expressly declares that the public dominion property is no
longer intended

or public service or the development o the national wealth or that the property has been
converted into patrimonial.[37]

WHEREORE, premises considered, the instant petition is GRANTED. The July 31, 2008
Decision and ebruary 20, 2009 Resolution o the Court o Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 00143 are
REVERSED and

SET ASIDE and the respondents application or registration o title over Lot 9039 o
Cagayan Cadastre is hereby DENIED or lack o merit.

SO ORDERED.

HEIRS O MALABANAN VS REPUBLIC, GR NO. 179987, 29 APR. 2009ACTS: On eb


20, 1998 Malabanan led an applicaton for land registraton, covering a parcel of land inSilang
Cavite. He bought the land from one Velasco and had been in open, notorious, contnuous
andadverse and peaceful possession for more than 30 years. He also presented tax declaraton
since 1948.ISSUE: Whether Malabanans possession of the land had already ripened to
ownership.RULING:There are two ways how Malabanan can acquire the property:(A) Under
SEC 14(1) of PD1529, which states that those who by themselves or through
theirpredecessors-in-interest have been in open, contnuous, exclusive and notorious
possession andoccupaton of alienable and disposable lands of public domain under a bona de
claim of acquisiton ofownership since June 12, 1945. Under this, the land need not to be
alienable and disposable during the entIre period of possession. One can secure judicial
conrmaton as soon as it is declared alienable anddisposable.(B) Under SEC 14(2) of PD1529,
which pertains to prescripton as a mode of acquiring ownership overPATRIMONIAL
PROPERTY of the state but there must be an express declaraton that such property isalready
patrimonial. The prescriptve period is 10 years if with just title and 30 years if no just title.Petion
was denied because Malabanan is not qualied under the two circumstances. In the rst, thereis
no evidence of possession since June 12, 1945 since his tax declaraton is only since 1948.
While underthe second circumstance, the property becomes patrimonial only since 1982 and
the 30-year period ofprescripton is not yet met.

Villarico vs. Sarmiento

G.R. No. 136438

Facts:

Petioners lot was separated from the Ninoy Aquino

Avenue, a public highway, by a strip of land belonging

to the government. The department of Public Works

and Highways constructed stairways thereon for

people to have access to the highway. In 1991,

respondents build a house on that portion of

government land and constructed establishments for

commercial purposes. In 1993, petitioner acquired

title over the 74.30 square meter of that government

land by exchange of real property and such was

registered to his name. He now instituted accion

publiciana as against respondents to assert his right

of way which was blocked by reason of the structures

they built thereon. The trial court ruled that he was not
deprived a right of way and that he could use another

street as passageway. The Court of Appeals held the

same.

Issue: Whether or not petitioner has a right of way

over the land under the possession of

respondents.

Held:

The Court held that he has none. Article 420 of the

Civil Code provides that government land cannot be

subject of commerce nor can be burdened by any

voluntary easement. Therefore, petitioner cannot

claim his right of way over the land under possession

by respondents. Also, he cannot use accion

publiciana as a remedy to obtain a right of way.

However, he can have a claim against respondents

on the portion already conveyed to him by the

government.

CASE DIGEST: REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,Petitioner,v. EMMANUEL C.


CORTEZ,Respondent.

FACTS: Respondent Emmanuel C. Cortez (Cortez) filed with the RTC an applicationfor
judicial confirmation of title over a parcel of land located at Barangay (Poblacion) Aguho, P.
Herrera Street, Pateros, Metro Manila. In support of his application, Cortez submitted, inter alia,
the following documents: (1) tax declarations for various years from 1966 until 2005; (2) survey
plan of the property, with the annotation that the property is classified as alienable and
disposable; (3) technical description of the property, with a certification issued by a geodetic
engineer; (4) tax clearance certificate; (5) extrajudicial settlement of estate conveying the
subject property to Cortez; and (6) escritura de particion extrajudicial dated July 19, 1946,
allocating the subject property to Felicisima Cotas Cortez mother.

As there was no opposition, the RTC issued an Order of General Default and Cortez
was allowed to present his evidence ex-parte.

Cortez claimed that the subject parcel of land is a portion of Lot No. 2697, which was
declared for taxation purposes in the name of his mother. He alleged that Lot No. 2697 was
inherited by his mother from her parents in 1946; that, after his parents died, he and his siblings
executed an Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate over the properties of their deceased parents
and one of the properties allocated to him was the subject property. He alleged that the subject
property had been in the possession of his family since time immemorial; that the subject parcel
of land is not part of the reservation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR) and is, in fact, classified as alienable and disposable by the Bureau of Forest
Development (BFD).

Ernesto Santos, who testified that he has known the family of Cortez for over sixty (60)
years and that Cortez and his predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the subject
property since he came to know them.

The RTC granted Cortez application for registration, however, The Republic of the
Philippines (petitioner), represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, appealed to the CA,
alleging that the RTC erred in granting the application for registration despite the failure of
Cortez to comply with the requirements for original registration of title. The petitioner pointed out
that, although Cortez declared that he and his predecessors-in-interest were in possession of
the subject parcel of land since time immemorial, no document was ever presented that would
establish his predecessors-in-interests possession of the same during the period required by
law. That petitioner claimed that Cortez assertion that he and his predecessors-in-interest had
been in open, adverse, and continuous possession of the subject property for more than thirty
(30) years does not constitute well-neigh incontrovertible evidence required in land registration
cases; that it is a mere claim, which should not have been given weight by the RTC.

The CA found that Cortez and his predecessors-in-interest had been in open,
continuous, and exclusive possession of the subject property for more than 30 years, which,
under Section 14(2) of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529, sufficed to convert it to private
property. Hence, the instant petition.
ISSUE:

Did the CA err in affirming the grant of the application for registration?

HELD: The Court finds that Cortez failed to comply with the legal requirements for the registration of the subject

property under Section 14(1) and (2) of P.D. No. 1529.

Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529 refers to the judicial confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles to public land

acquired under Section 48(b) of C.A. No. 141, as amended by P.D. No. 1073. "Under Section 14(1) [of P.D. No.

1529], applicants for registration of title must sufficiently establish first, that the subject land forms part of the

disposable and alienable lands of the public domain; second, that the applicant and his predecessors-in-interest have

been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the same; and third, that it is under

a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier."

In the case at bar, while the Advance Plan bearing the notation was certified by the Lands Management Services of

the DENR, the certification refers only to the technical correctness of the survey plotted in the said plan and has

nothing to do whatsoever with the nature and character of the property surveyed.

Respondents failed to submit a certification from the proper government agency to prove that the lands subject for

registration are indeed alienable and disposable.

Section 14(2) of P.D. No. 1529 sanctions the original registration of lands acquired by prescription under the

provisions of existing laws. "As Section 14(2) [of P.D. No. 1529] categorically provides, only private properties may be

acquired thru prescription and under Articles 420 and 421 of the Civil Code, only those properties, which are not for

public use, public service or intended for the development of national wealth, are considered private."

***

The Civil Code makes it clear that patrimonial property of the State may be acquired by private persons through

prescription. This is brought about by Article 1113, which states that "all things which are within the commerce of man

are susceptible to prescription," and that property of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial in character

shall not be the object of prescription."


The Court further stressed that the period of acquisitive prescription would only begin to run from the time that the

State officially declares that the public dominion property is no longer intended for public use, public service, or for the

development of national wealth.

Accordingly, although lands of the public domain that are considered patrimonial may be acquired by prescription

under Section 14(2) of P.D. No. 1529, before acquisitive prescription could commence, the property sought to be

registered must not only be classified as alienable and disposable; it must also be declared by the State that it is no

longer intended for public use, public service or the development of the national wealth. Thus, absent an express

declaration by the State, the land remains to be property of public dominion.

The Court finds no evidence of any official declaration from the state attesting to the patrimonial character of the

subject property. Cortez failed to prove that acquisitive prescription has begun to run against the State, much less

that he has acquired title to the subject property by virtue thereof. It is of no moment that Cortez and his

predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the subject property for 57 years at the time he applied for the

registration of title thereto. lt is not the notorious, exclusive and uninterrupted possession and occupation of an

alienable and disposable public land for the mandated periods that converts it to patrimonial.

HELD: The Court finds that Cortez failed to comply with the legal requirements for the
registration of the subject property under Section 14(1) and (2) of P.D. No. 1529.

Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529 refers to the judicial confirmation of imperfect or
incomplete titles to public land acquired under Section 48(b) of C.A. No. 141, as amended by
P.D. No. 1073. "Under Section 14(1) [of P.D. No. 1529], applicants for registration of title must
sufficiently establish first, that the subject land forms part of the disposable and alienable lands
of the public domain; second, that the applicant and his predecessors-in-interest have been in
open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the same; and third,
that it is under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier."

In the case at bar, while the Advance Plan bearing the notation was certified by the
Lands Management Services of the DENR, the certification refers only to the technical
correctness of the survey plotted in the said plan and has nothing to do whatsoever with the
nature and character of the property surveyed.

Respondents failed to submit a certification from the proper government agency to prove
that the lands subject for registration are indeed alienable and disposable.
Section 14(2) of P.D. No. 1529 sanctions the original registration of lands acquired by
prescription under the provisions of existing laws. "As Section 14(2) [of P.D. No. 1529]
categorically provides, only private properties may be acquired thru prescription and under
Articles 420 and 421 of the Civil Code, only those properties, which are not for public use, public
service or intended for the development of national wealth, are considered private."

***

The Civil Code makes it clear that patrimonial property of the State may be acquired by
private persons through prescription. This is brought about by Article 1113, which states that "all
things which are within the commerce of man are susceptible to prescription," and that property
of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial in character shall not be the object of
prescription."

The Court further stressed that the period of acquisitive prescription would only begin to
run from the time that the State officially declares that the public dominion property is no longer
intended for public use, public service, or for the development of national wealth.

Accordingly, although lands of the public domain that are considered patrimonial may be
acquired by prescription under Section 14(2) of P.D. No. 1529, before acquisitive prescription
could commence, the property sought to be registered must not only be classified as alienable
and disposable; it must also be declared by the State that it is no longer intended for public use,
public service or the development of the national wealth. Thus, absent an express declaration
by the State, the land remains to be property of public dominion.

The Court finds no evidence of any official declaration from the state attesting to the
patrimonial character of the subject property. Cortez failed to prove that acquisitive prescription
has begun to run against the State, much less that he has acquired title to the subject property
by virtue thereof. It is of no moment that Cortez and his predecessors-in-interest have been in
possession of the subject property for 57 years at the time he applied for the registration of title
thereto. lt is not the notorious, exclusive and uninterrupted possession and occupation of an
alienable and disposable public land for the mandated periods that converts it to patrimonial.

ROBLES v. CA- Action for quieting of title | Free patent


FACTS

Petitioners (all surnamed Robles) trace their ownership of a parcel of land (9,985 sq m.) to Leon
and Silvino, their grandfather and father, respectively. Upon Silvinos death in 1942, said
petitioners inherited the property and started cultivation thereof. Hilario Robles, private
respondent and half-brother of the petitioners, was entrusted with the payment of land taxes due
on the property. In 1962, Hilario caused both the cancellation of the tax declaration covering the
property and its transfer to Ballane (his father-in-law). Ballane mortgaged the property and, for
some reason, the tax declaration thereon was subsequently named to Hilario. The latter then
mortgaged the property to private respondent Rural Bank of Cardona. The mortgage was
foreclosed and said bank acquired by public bidding the property which was then sold by it to
the spouses Santos. Petitioners learned of the mortgage only in 1987. Subsequently, the action
was filed, impleading also as parties-defendant the Director of Lands and the District Land
Officer sue to an issuance of a free patent in favour of spouses Santos. Trial court ruled in
favour of petitioners, declaring null the patent, declaring the heirs of Silvino absolute owners of
the subject land. CA reversed on the ground that petitioners no longer had title to the property.

ISSUES

(1) whether petitioners have the appropriate title essential to an action for quieting of title
(relevant issue) and whether title claimed by respondents is valid
(2) whether REM between Hilario and RBC is valid
(3) whether issuance of free patent is valid

HELD

(1) Petitioners have valid title by virtue of their continued and open occupation and possession
as owners of the subject property.
In this case, the cloud on petitioners title emanate from the apparent validity of the free patent
issued and the tax declarations and other evidence in favour of respondents ultimately leading
to the transfer of the property to spouses Santos. WRT title of the spouses Santos, such is
deemed invalid/inoperative insofar as it is rooted in the title and appropriation of Hilario. Hilario
could not have prejudiced the rights of his co-heirs as co-owners of the real estate. He must
have first repudiated the ownership clearly and evidently. CA failed to consider the irregularities
in the transactions involving the property. No instrument/deed of conveyance was presented to
show any transaction between petitioners and Ballane or even Hilario.

(2) Mortgage was only valid insofar as Hilarios undivided interest is concerned there being co-
ownership between the heirs. Court also delved into gross negligence which amounted to bad
faith on part of bank by not exercising due diligence in verifying the ownership of the land
considering such was unregistered.
Free patent was also not valid, the land in question having been converted ipso jure to private
land by virtue of the adverse possession in the concept of owners since.
(3) 1916 by the petitioners. Issuance of patents covering private lands is out of the jurisdiction of
the Director of Lands or Bureau of Lands.

Hence, the sale of the property in favour of the spouses Santos WRT the share of Hiario was
valid but the patent issued was null.

Real Estate Mortgage

In a real estate mortgage contract, it is essential that


the mortgagor be the absolute owner of the property to be
mortgaged; otherwise, the mortgage is void. Buyers of
unregistered real property, especially banks, must exert
due diligence in ascertaining the titles of mortgagors and
sellers, lest some innocent parties be prejudiced. Failure
to observe such diligence may amount to bad faith and
may result in the nullity of the mortgage, as well as of the
subsequent foreclosure and/or auction sale. (ROBLES vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, G.R. No. 123509, March 14,
2000)