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Supreme Court of the Philippines

216 Phil. 607

FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. L-66242, August 31, 1984
HEIRS OF CORNELIO LABRADA, REPRESENTED BY
NATIVIDAD L. DIOCTON, PETITIONER, VS. THE
HONORABLE SINFORIANO A. MONSANTO, IN HIS
CAPACITY AS PRESIDING JUDGE, REGIONAL TRIAL
COURT, BRANCH XXVII, CATBALOGAN, SAMAR, AND
THE HEIRS OF ISABEL YBOA, REPRESENTED BY TITO
V. TIZON, RESPONDENTS.
DECISION
TEEHANKEE, Acting C.J.:
The procedural issue at bar is whether an appeal by a conflicting claimant to a
specific lot of cadastral survey proceedings from the adverse decision of the
regional trial court in favor of another conflicting claimant may be taken by filing a
simple notice of appeal within the reglementary 15-day period, as provided in the
Interim Rules and Guidelines relative to the implementation of the Judiciary
Reorganization Act of 1981 (Batas Pambansa Blg. 129), adopted by the Supreme
Court on January 11, 1983. Or does such appeal fall within the exception provided
by the same interim rules for special proceedings under Rule 109 of the Rules of
Court and other cases wherein multiple appeals are allowed, in which case an
appeal must still be filed by the filing of a record on appeal within a period of 30
days provided for the purpose. The Court rules that appeals in cadastral
proceedings may be taken by a simple notice of appeal.
The lot involved is Lot No. 1910 of the Catbalogan Cadastral Survey. It is
contested by the claimants, petitioners-heirs of Cornelio Labrada, on one hand,
and by respondents-heirs of Isabel Yboa on the other. Said predecessors-in-
interest had filed their respective answers in the cadastral proceedings in June,
1932.
Petitioners thus state their claim to the lot, as follows: "Cornelio Labrada who had
previously deforested the area which is now the disputed Lot No. 1910, had
already been in continuous possession of said lot for more than forty-three (43)
years when he filed his answer in 1932, or at least from 1894; and that he
continued his possession until 1943 when he died. His son, Meliton, succeeded in
possessing the land. Immediately after his demise, Meliton Labrada was succeeded
in the possession of said land until he himself died sometime in 1976; and that
subsequent thereto, possession of the property in issue passed to Meliton's direct
heirs, who, until the present are still in possession thereof, (Decision, p. 1). None
of the heirs of Isabel Iboa is in possession of any portion of the questioned lot."
[1] Petitioners had moved in 1973 for the case to be heard by the now defunct
Court of First Instance of Samar. The conflicting parties presented both their oral
and documentary evidence in support of their respective claims over the lot. On
July 11, 1983, the respondent regional trial court rendered its decision in favor of
respondents-claimants. Within 2 days from receipt of the adverse decision,
petitioners filed their appeal on August 6, 1983 by filing a notice of appeal with a
prayer that the records be elevated to the Intermediate Appellate Court, pursuant
to the new Interim Rules of Court. Over a month later, on September 14, 1983,
respondents-claimants filed their motion for the issuance of a decree contending
that petitioners had failed to perfect their appeal because they failed to file a
record on appeal. Respondent court granted respondents' motion for the issuance
of a decree on the theory that an appeal taken in a cadastral case involves
"multiple appeals," for which the filing of the record on appeal was required. The
decree for the registration was accordingly ordered by respondent court.
Petitioners' motion for reconsideration having failed, they have now filed the
petition at bar for the setting aside of respondent court's questioned orders
denying due course to their appeal and ordering the issuance of a decree of
registration on the lot in question in favor of respondents.
The pertinent provisions of Appellate Procedure on appeals are contained in
sections 18 and 19 of the Interim Rules and Guidelines, as follows:
"18. Elimination of record on appeal and appeal bond. - The filing of a record
on appeal shall be dispensed with, except in the cases referred to in
subparagraph (b) of paragraph 19 hereof.
"No appeal bond shall be required for an appeal.
"19. Period of Appeal. -
(a) All appeals, except in habeas corpus cases and in the cases
referred to in paragraph (b) hereof, must be taken within
fifteen (15) days from notice of the judgment, order,
resolution or award appealed from.
(b) In appeals in special proceedings in accordance with Rule
109 of the Rules of Court and other cases wherein multiple
appeals are allowed, the period of appeal shall be thirty (30)
days, a record of appeal being required."
These rules were issued pursuant to the provisions of Batas Pambansa Blg. 129,
particularly section 39 thereof which provides for a 15-day period within which to
take an appeal and expressly abolished the need of a record on appeal, as follows:
"SEC. 39. - Appeals. - The period for appeal from final orders,
resolutions, awards, judgments or decisions of any court in all cases
shall be fifteen days counted from the notice of the final order,
resolution, award, judgment, or decision appealed from.
"No record on appeal shall be required to take an appeal. In lieu
therefor, the entire original record shall be transmitted with all the pages
prominently numbered consecutively, together with an index of the
contents thereof."
The appeal sought to be taken in the petition at bar concerning conflicting claims
of the parties to a specific lot clearly falls under this general rule. Therefore,
petitioners' appeal must be given due course and the issuance of a decree of
registration and the corresponding certificate of title were prematurely and
baselessly ordered by respondent court and must be set aside. All that respondent
trial court had to do was to transmit the original record consisting of the pleadings
of the parties and its decision and orders, which petitioners have in effect so
elevated with their petition at bar as per Annexes "A" to "I" of their petition,[2]
together with the transcripts and exhibits.[3]
It must not be lost sight of that the basic objective of this innovative Rule which
dispenses with the filing of a record on appeal and the filing of an appeal bond
was and is to simplify appellate court procedure by doing away with the tedious
and expensive requirement of reproducing practically the entire original record of
the case in the record on appeal in the trial court. This old requirement of a record
on appeal by itself laid the appellate procedure open to a number of dilatory and
vexing questions of clerical errors and claims of omitted pleadings and orders
which in turn required the filing of an amended record on appeal. Such record on
appeal under the Rules still had to be printed, mimeographed or typed in 12 copies
resulting many times in typographical errors[4] and adding needless expense and
additional burden on litigants. Thus, have the legislators and the Court sought to
simplify the Rules to assist the parties in obtaining just, expeditious and
inexpensive determination of every court case, as well as decongesting judicial
dockets.
The exceptions must be strictly construed. The Court provided for specific
exceptions with respect to "appeals in special proceedings in accordance with Rule
109 of the Rules of Court," wherein multiple appeals at different stages of the case
are allowed such as when the order or judgment on appeal refers to: (a) the
allowance or disallowance of a will; (b) determination of the lawful heirs of a
deceased person or their distributive shares in the estate; (c) the allowance or
disallowance, in whole or in part, of any claim against the estate or any claim
presented on behalf of the estate in offset to a claim against it; (d) the settlement
of the accounts of an executor, administrator, trustee or guardian; (e) a final
determination in the lower court of the rights of the party appealing in
proceedings relating to settlement of the estate of a deceased person or the
administration of a trustee or guardian; and (f) the final order or judgment
rendered in the case. In these cases, therefore, since the original record has to
remain with the probate court in connection with the other various pending
matters, a party appealing from a specific order is required to file the
corresponding record on appeal.
This is not the case in cadastral proceedings. Cadastral proceedings involve
contest over specific lots which may be claimed by parties who have timely filed
their respective answers, failing which the land is declared to belong to the State.
In all such cases of contested lots, records may readily be kept of each lot or lots
so contested by the same parties and the State, and given a separate sub-number
corresponding to each contested lot. Upon the trial court's rendering of its
judgment as to such specific lot(s), then the original records pertaining to such
lot(s) may be readily elevated, leaving with the lower court the records or
pleadings referring to disputed lots not covered by said court's adjudication. In
this particular cadastral proceeding, as stated by respondent court itself in its
questioned order, there remain only "around 8 contested ones [lots] which have
not yet been adjudicated not counting the 180 lots which were 'archived' by a
predecessor of the presiding judge."[5] This readily shows the lack of any difficulty
to keep separate records for specific lots claimed by conflicting parties, and
elevating only the particular record for the specific lot, subject of judgment and
appeal.
ACCORDINGLY, the petition is granted. Dispensing with briefs or memoranda,
judgment is hereby rendered (a) setting aside the questioned orders which denied
due course to petitioners' appeal and ordered the issuance of a decree of
registration; (b) annulling any certificate of title which may have been issued to
respondents pursuant thereto; and (c) ordering respondent court to give due
course to petitioners' appeal from its decision of July 11, 1983 and to transmit to
the Intermediate Appellate Court the records of the case pertaining to the
disputed Lot No. 1910 of the Catbalogan Cadastral Survey, together with the oral
and documentary evidence as hereinabove indicated. No costs.
Melencio-Herrera, Plana, Relova, Gutierrez, Jr., and De La Fuente, JJ., concur.
[1] Petition at bar, pp. 2-3.
[2] Record, pp. 27-78, commencing with the Order of November 17, 1973 setting
the case for hearing on December 1, 1973 (Annex "A") down to the last order
issued by respondent court dated October 28, 1983, denying petitioners' motion
for reconsideration of its questioned order denying due course to petitioners'
appeal from the order for the issuance of a decree of registration and denying
likewise petitioners' alternative prayer that they be allowed to file a record on
appeal (Annex "I"), together with the oral and documentary evidence presented by
the parties at the hearing.
[3]
See Rule 46 on appealed cases in the Intermediate Appellate Court (formerly
Court of Appeals).
[4]Rule 46, sec. 5, as amended by Resolution of Sept. 17, 1974, reproduced in
Pfeider vs. Victoriano, 98 SCRA 491, 498.
[5] Record, p. 86.

Copyright 2016 - Batas.org


Supreme Court of the Philippines

G. R. No. 63226

THIRD DIVISION
G. R. No. 63226, December 20, 1991
EUGENIA LLABAN Y CATALAN, LUCIA BARBANERA
JURBAN, MARTIN LLABAN, BEATRIZ BARBANERA
JURBAN, LUIS LLABAN NACUA, SERGIO LLABAN NA-
CUA MANUEL LLABAN NACUA, EULALIA LLABAN
ABELLA, EPIFANIO LLABAN NACUA, LUCRECIA
LLABAN ABELLA, JOSEFINA JABAN FORNOLLES,
MARIA SOCORRO JABAN CARUBIO, LOURDES JABAN
VERGARA, BIENVENIDO P. JABAN, JOSE JABAN,
CARMEN INTUD, FILOMENO JABAN, LUCIA JABAN
OLAES, ROQUE JABAN AND GENEROSO JABAN,
PETITIONERS, VS. THE COURT OF APPEALS, NOW
KNOWN AS THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT,
HON. JOSE RAMOLETE, JUDGE OF THE COURT OF
FIRST INSTANCE CEBU, BRANCH III, JOSE G. PAULIN,
CEFERINO GABUTAN, SERAPIO ALCOSEBA, APOLONIA
CAVAN, CIRIACO BACATAN, TRINIDAD LIM, GERARDO
PANONGALINOG, AND FILEMON SOTTO,
RESPONDENTS.
DECISION
DAVIDE, JR., J.:
Principally involved in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court is the jurisdiction of the then Court of First Instance (now
Regional Trial Court) of Cebu, sitting as a cadastral court, to modify or amend a
1916 decision in a cadastral case by directing the issuance of a final decree in the
names of parties who are not the original adjudicatees of a cadastral lot.
From the pleadings of the parties, the following facts are not controverted:
In a decision rendered on 13 September 1916 in Cadastral Case No. 12 (LRC Rec.
No. 9468), the then Court of First Instance of Cebu rendered a decision
adjudicating Lot No. 6017 of the Cebu Cadastre as follows:
POR LAS RAZONES EXPUESTAS, el Jusgado adjudica todo el Lote
6017 in la forma siguente; una octava parte a favor de Juliana y Faustina
apellidadas Pacana; una octava parte a favor de Marcela, Laureana, Mariano,
Santiago, Ariste, Calixto, Marcelo, Bibiano y Antonia apellidados Llaban; una
octava parte a favor de Rita y Julian apellidados de la Serna; una octava parte a
favor de Antonia y Maxima apellidadas Dacula; una octava parte a favor de
Maximo Llaban; una octava parte a favor de Mamerto, Atanasia, Francisco y
Crispina apellidados Llaban; una octava parte a favor de Esteban, Mateo, Natalio,
Felipe, Fernando, Apolonia, Bibiano, Ciriaca y Juana apellidados Cavan; y una
octava parte a favor de Tomas y Bibiana apellidados Llaban. Se sobresee la
contestacin presentada por Juan L. Orbeta;[1]
In its Auto of 3 March 1925, the cadastral court issued an order reinstating the
above decision.[2]
Upon motions of the spouses Filemon Sotto and Carmen Rallos de Sotto, who
claimed to have purchased the shares of some of the adjudicatees of the lot or
their heirs, the cadastral court, on 1 March 1932, issued an Auto, the pertinent
portion of which reads:
3. Que despues de dictada dicha sentencia, ciertos adjudicatarios o herederos de
adjudicatarios del Lote No. 6017, vendieron su respectiva participacin en el
mencionado terreno a ls esposos Carmen Rallos de Sotto y Filemn Sotto, a saber:
Francisco Llaban (hijo de
Ariste Llaban - - - - - - - - - - 1/64 parte
Bibiana Llaban
(alias Flaviana) - - - - - - - - - - 1/64
Vicenta Jaban (hija de
Antonia Llaban - - - - - - - - - - 1/64
Teodoro Llaban (hijo de
Santiago Llaban - - - - - - - - - - 1/64
Juliana de la Serna - - - - - - - - - - 1/16
Marcela Pacaa (hija de Faustina
de la Serna que es hermana
de Julian de la Serna - - - - - - - - - - 1/16
Julian de la Serna - - - - - - - - - - 1/16
Marcela Llaban - - - - - - - - - - 1/64
Vicenta Fernandez (abuela de
Tomas y Bibiana Llaban,
los cuales ya no tienen
madre ni padre ni tampoco
hijos) - - - - - - - - - - 1/8
Antonia Dacula - - - - - - - - - - 1/16
Basilia Daclan (hija de Maxima
Dacula hermana sta de
Antonia Dacula - - - - - - - - - - 1/16
Apolonia Cavan - - - - - - - - - - 1/48

Rita de la Serna - - - - - - - - - - 1/16


Matea Cavan - - - - - - - - - - 1/48
Marcelo Llaban - - - - - - - - - - 1/64
4. Que al llamarse a vista las dos mciones arriba mencionadas, ninguna oposicin
se ha presentado, no obstante al hicho de haber sido notificadas todas las partes
interesadas en el Lote No. 6017; por el contrario, Apolonia Cavan estaba presente
en el acto de la vista de las repetidas mociones y no manifest oposicin alguna.
En vista de todo cuanto antecede, el Juzgado adjudica a los esposos Carmen Rallos
de Sotto y Filemn Sotto, vecinos del municipio de Ceb, (calle Coln No. 410)
provincia de Ceb, y ciudadanos filipinos, las porciones o participaciones del Lote
No. 6017 que corresponden a los adjudicatarios o herederos de adjudicatarios, tales
como ellos estn numbrados en el prrfo tres (3) presento Auto.[3]
No party appealed from the 13 September 1916 decision as modified by the above
Auto of 1 March 1932. Neither was any decree issued pursuant thereto.
Forty-two (42) years later, specifically on 7 March 1974, some claimants (private
respondents herein), represented by Atty. Paul Gorres, filed a petition for the
issuance of a decree of registration over the aforesaid lot. Acting on the petition;
then vacation Judge Francisco R. Burgos issued an Order directing the
Commissioner of Land Registration to issue a decree in favor of the adjudicatees
based on the dispositive portions of the decision of 13 September 1916 and the
Auto of 1 March 1932.[4] Complying with the Order, the Commissioner submitted
a Report dated 5 August 1977[5] which quoted the dispositive portions adverted to
and contained the following pertinent observations:
2. That as gleaned from the abovequoted portion of the decision, the
civil status of the adjudicatees was inadvertently omitted which is
necessary in the preparation of the final decree of registration of Lot
No. 6017 as provided for under Section 40 of Act. 496;
xxx
4. That this Commission entertains a doubt which portions of said lot
were adjudicated to spouses Carmen Rallos de Sotto and Filemon Sotto
and which share of the adjudicatees mentioned in the decision dated
September 13, 1916 were affected thereof (sic);
5. That it is imperative that the tracing cloth or print copy of plan Psd-
17733 be submitted to this Commission prior to the issuance of the
decree of registration;
6. That the said plan and its technical descriptions should be approved
by the Court and the same should be in conformity with the decision
dated September 13, 1916 and Order dated March 1, 1932.
The Commissioner then recommended that:
WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully recommended to the
Honorable Court that --
1. This Commission be furnished the tracing cloth or print copy of
plan Psd-17733;
2. Plan Psd-17733 and its technical descriptions be duly approved by
the Court;
3. The civil status of the adjudicatees be indicated pursuant to Section
40 of Act 496; and
4. Clarifications be made as to the portions of the lot which were
adjudicated to spouses Carmen Rallos de Sotto and Filemon Sotto and
which share of the adjudicatees were affected thereof (sic).
On 14 May 1979, herein private respondent Jose G. Paulin, one of the claimants,
in his own behalf and on behalf of his co-claimants, filed a petition,[6] hereinafter
referred to as the Paulin petition, which sought to submit to the court a certified
xerox copy of Subdivision Plan Psd-17733 of Lot No. 6017 which indicates
subdivision Lots Nos. 6017-A to 6017-H, inclusive, pursuant to the request of the
Land Registration Commission. The certification made by one Roman Mataverde,
OIC of the Survey Division, Bureau of Lands, stated that the names and civil
status of the claimants to the respective sublots are indicated in the petition. It is
shown in the plan that the land was originally surveyed from December 1910 to
February 1912 and that the subdivision plan is based on the Order of 1 March
1932 and was approved by the then Director of Lands, Hon. Jose Gil, on 12
November 1940.
The Paulin petition further enumerates the subdivided lots corresponding to the
following parties:
(a) For Lot No. 6017-A to Gerardo Panogalinog, single, Filipino, of
legal age, and resident of 234 V-Rama Avenue, Cebu City;
(b) For Lot No. 6017-B to Apolonia Cavan, married to Mamerto
Tablada, of legal ages, Filipinos, residents of 236 V. Rama Avenue,
Cebu City;
(c) For Lot No. 6017-C, in lieu of Marcos Nacua, to Jose G. Paulin,
single, of legal age, Filipino, resident of 238 V. Rama Avenue, Cebu
City;
(d) For Lot No. 6017-D to Ceferino Gabutan, married to Guillerma
Baculi, Filipinos, of legal ages, residents of 238-1-A V. Rama Avenue,
Cebu City;
(e) For Lot No. 6017-E to Serapio Alcoseba, married to Basilia Minoza,
Filipinos, of legal ages, residents of 238-1-B V. Rama Avenue, Cebu
City;
(f) For Lot 6017-F to Ciriaco Bacatan, married to Fortunata Guba,
Filipinos, of legal ages, residents of 238-1 C V. Rama Avenue, Cebu
City;
(g) For Lot No. 6017-G, to Trinidad Lim, single, Filipino, of legal age,
and resident of 238 V. Rama Avenue, Cebu City; and
(h) For Lot No. 6017-H to Filemon Sotto, married to Carmen Rallos,
Filipinos, of legal ages, and residents of F. Ramos St., Cebu City;
Claimants Paulin, et al., then pray that the court issue an order approving Psd-
17733 and its technical description as recommended by the Land Registration
Commission and directing the latter to issue the corresponding decree of
registration for Lot No. 6017 pursuant to the decision of 16 September 1916 as
supplemented by the Order of 1 March 1932.
Subsequently, on 30 July 1979, Eugenia Llaban y Catalan, one of the heirs of the
adjudicatees, filed through Atty. Bienvenido P. Jaban[7] a petition for the issuance
of a decree of registration for Lot No. 6017 on the basis of the 13 September 1916
decision as affirmed and further enforced by this Honorable Court in its order of
March 3, 1925.[8] The petition enumerates the legal heirs of the adjudicatees of the
lot who have not sold, relinquished or transferred their rights, interests and
participation therein to the parties. Attached thereto is the technical description
of the lot. This petition was granted by the court, per Judge Jose Ramolete, in its
Order of 7 August 1979; the Commissioner of Land Registration was then
directed to issue a decree of registration on the basis of the Order of 3 March
1925 and the decision of 13 September 1916 in favor of the adjudicatees and/or
their legal heirs.[9]
On 5 May 1980, Jose G. Paulin filed another petition (supplementing his previous
petition) wherein he attached a certified micro-film copy of Plan Psd-17733; the
technical descriptions of the subdivision lots nos. 6017-A to 6017-H, inclusive and
a certified true copy of a deed of absolute sale executed in Paulins favor by the
spouses Marcos Nacua and Benita Seno over Lot No. 6017-C. For and in behalf
of his clients, Atty. Jaban filed an opposition to the petition[10] alleging therein that
the Order of the court of 7 August 1979 directing the issuance of a decree based
on the 16 September 1916 decision and the 3 March 1925 Order had already
become final and that the Paulin, et al., claims can be ventilated only upon the
partition of the lot by the heirs of the adjudicatees and the issuance of the
certificate of title since Paulin, et al., are not themselves adjudicatees or heirs of
the latter.
In his reply to the opposition, Paulin et al., contend that the decision of 13
September 1916 was amended by the 1 March 1932 order, and hence prays that
the Order of 7 August 1979 should be set aside. Atty. Jaban, in a rejoinder, insists
that since the 13 September 1916 decision, as reinstated by the order of 3 March
1925, had long become final, the court has no jurisdiction to set it aside. No
hearing was had on the aforesaid Paulin petitions and the opposition thereto.
In its Order of 16 February 1981, the court, through Judge Jose Ramolete, finding
the opposition of Atty. Jaban to be devoid of merit, ruled:
x x x The order of March 1, 1932 which is (sic) never questioned up to
the present, superseded and/or amended the decision of September 13,
1916 as reinstated in the order of March 3, 1925.
It is a rule that so long as a decree of registration has not been issued
registration proceedings is (sic) still pending for the purposes of pre-
Commonwealth Act 3110, and, when lost or destroyed, must be
reconstituted in conformity with said Act (Villegas vs. Fernando;
Sampedro vs. Director of Lands, 27 SCRA 1119).
There being transfers of ownership by way of sales by the adjudicatees
or their heirs of their participations in Lot No. 6017 awarded to them in
the decision dated September 13, 1916 as reinstated in the order of
March 3, 1925, the Court acted well within its jurisdiction as a Cadastral
Court to issue (sic) the order of March 1, 1932 to reflect the changes of
ownership in the participations of the adjudicatees in favor of the
vendee-spouses pending the issuance of the decree of registration. The
petition of the claimants at bar who acquired their respective interest in
or portions of Lot No. 6017 subsequent to the order of March 1, 1932
while the issuance of the decree still depends must necessarily be also in
order.
and then granted the Paulin petitions by approving the subdivision plan Psd-
17733 and the technical descriptions of Lots Nos. 6017-A to 6017-H, inclusive,
ordering that the subdivided lots be respectively awarded to the parties
enumerated in the 14 May 1979 petition and directing the Land Registration
Commissioner to issue, upon the finality of the Order, a decree of registration of
the subdivision lots in favor of each of the claimants enumerated in said petition.[11]
Their motion for the reconsideration of the above order, based on the ground that
the court acted without or in excess of jurisdiction in issuing a second decree of
registration in favor of parties who are not the adjudicatees mentioned in the 13
September 1916 decision or the 3 March 1925 Order having been denied in the
Order of 4 August 1981, oppositors filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for
certiorari alleging lack of jurisdiction and/or grave abuse of discretion on the part
of Judge Ramolete to issue the orders of 16 February 1981 and 4 August 1981.
In its decision promulgated on 29 September 1982, the Court of Appeals denied
the petition on the ground that:
x x x the issues raised herein could not be resolved without passing
upon the merits of the case. Inasmuch as the function of certiorari is to
determine only whether or not the lower court abused its discretion or
acted in excess of its jurisdiction in its judgment without consideration
of the actual merits of the case, We are therefore, denying this petition
without prejudice to the filing of the proper remedy with the courts, if
still possible.[12]
Unable to accept said decision, petitioners filed with this Court on 15 February
1983 the instant petition raising the following issues:
a) lack of jurisdiction of the lower court, sitting as a cadastral court, to
rule and decide on the controversy, or to pass upon the validity of the
claim, sale or transfer in favor of the private respondents, alleging that
such matters could only be ventilated in an ordinary civil action;
b) grave abuse of discretion on the part of Judge Ramolete in
adjudicating and issuing an order declaring private respondents as the
new owners of Lot No. 6017 over the opposition of petitioners without
trial, without the presentation of evidence and without giving the
contending parties the opportunity to prove their claims, but solely on
the basis of the allegations in the motion of private respondents and the
annexes attached thereto; and
c) the ruling of the Court of Appeals as above quoted is confusing,
erroneous, strange, ridiculous and absurd.
They likewise allege that the Order of 1 March 1932 was issued without any notice
to them; they were never given a chance to be heard and that they did not receive
a copy of said order; they came to know about it only in the middle part of 1980;
and granting that it was in fact issued, such was done in excess of and/or without
jurisdiction.[13]
In their Comment filed on 21 June 1983 in compliance with the Resolution of 16
May 1983, private respondents claim that the predecessors-in-interest of the
petitioners had sold the lot in question to the spouses Filemon Sotto and Carmen
Rallos, now both deceased; petitioners have nothing then to inherit; and that they
cannot now re-open the cadastral proceeding because the Order of 1 March 1932
constitutes res judicata.[14]
We gave due course to the petition and required the parties to submit
simultaneous memoranda which petitioners complied with on 10 September 1983
and the private respondents on 26 August 1983.
It plainly appears to this Court that while respondent Court of Appeals evaded the
fundamental issues raised before it by petitioners under the pretext that the
function of certiorari is to determine only whether or not the lower court abused its
discretion or acted in excess of its jurisdiction in its judgment without
consideration of the actual merits of the case, it says in the same breath that the
issues raised herein could not be resolved without passing upon the merits of the
case.[15] There is thus vagueness and patent self-contradiction. In any case, the
resolution of the issues raised does not require a determination of the merits of
the case in the sense of the legal rights of the parties in the case.
A careful scrutiny of the factual and procedural moorings of this case leads Us to
agree with the main thesis of petitioners that the lower court, sitting as a cadastral
court, had no jurisdiction to amend or modify the 13 September 1916 decision
and that Judge Ramolete acted without jurisdiction or with grave abuse of
discretion in issuing the Order of 16 February 1981. We are, however, unable to
agree with their postulation that said Judge likewise committed grave abuse of
discretion in practically setting aside the Order of 7 August 1979 by promulgating
the 16 February 1981 order.
The 13 September 1916 decision, as amended by the Auto of 1 March 1932, had
long become final as there is no showing at all that any affected party appealed
therefrom within the reglementary period of thirty (30) days prescribed by the
then governing law on procedure, Act No. 190.[16] Section 11 of the Cadastral Act
expressly provides that trials in cadastral cases shall be conducted in the same
manner as ordinary trial, and proceedings in the Court of First Instance shall be
governed by the same rules and that all provisions of the Land Registration Act,[17]
as amended, except as otherwise provided in the former, shall be applicable to
proceedings in cadastral cases. Sections 38 and 41 of the Land Registration Act
tell us when decisions become final.[18] Even if they are erroneous, but such errors
are not jurisdictional, correction could only be done by a regular appeal within the
reglementary period, the failure of which could lead to the decisions becoming
final. As this Court stated in Daquis vs. Bustos, et al.:[19]
x x x Decisions, erroneous or not, become final after the period fixed
by law; litigations would be endless; no questions would be finally
settled; and titles to property would become precarious if the losing
party were allowed to reopen them at any time in the future.
The failure to issue a final decree does not, as seems to be the suggestion of the
lower court and the theory presented by the private respondents, prevent the
decision from attaining finality. Precisely, final decree can only issue after the
decision shall have become final. The final decree must state the name of the
party adjudged in the decision to be owner of a cadastral lot.[20]
It follows that in the instant case, in view of the finality of the decision of 13
September 1916, as amended by the Auto of 1 March 1932, the final decree which
can be validly issued is one which must be in full conformity with said decision, as
amended.
From the Paulin petition of 14 May 1979, it is quite clear that, except for the
spouses Filemon Sotto and Carmen Rallos, the alleged claimants in whose favor
the subdivided lots are to be adjudicated are not the adjudicatees in the 13
September 1916 decision, as amended by the 1 March 1932 Auto. And, except in
the case of Paulin himself, who claims to be a vendee, there is no indication
whatsoever of the relationships of the claimants with the original adjudicatees that
could serve as basis for their claims. In reality then, the petition is not just for the
issuance of a final decree, but for the amendment or modification of the final
decision. In light of the above disquisition, the lower court has no jurisdiction to
grant such relief and Judge Ramolete clearly acted without any jurisdiction or with
grave abuse of discretion in giving due course to the petition by approving the
Subdivision Plan Psd-17733, the technical descriptions of Lots Nos. 6017-A to
6017-H, inclusive, and directing the Land Registration Commissioner to issue the
final decree of registration of the subdivision lots in favor of each of the claimants
named in the 14 May 1979 (Paulin) petition. Aggravating such action is his
obvious disregard for due process. There was no formal hearing on the Paulin
petition. Paulin and his co-claimants presented no witness, marked no exhibit and
offered no evidence. It is true that certain documents were attached as Annexes
to the petition; but Paulin, et al., went no further. Until identified, formally
offered in evidence and admitted by the court, the annexes were but mere scraps
of paper. Section 34, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court is quite explicit: The court
shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. The offer is
necessary because it is the duty of a judge to rest his findings of facts and his
judgment only and strictly upon the evidence offered by the parties and the trial.[21]
That such a hearing and offer of evidence are necessary is evident from the fact
that substitution of adjudicatees, approval of subdivision plan and technical
descriptions of subdivision lots were asked for. In view of the opposition of
petitioners, the matter became controverted and issues were thus joined
necessitating a trial for its resolution. But this is not to suggest that the lower
court should have conducted a hearing on the petition, for as already indicated
above, the court had no jurisdiction to amend the decision.
This Court notices from the allegations in the questioned Paulin petition that
Subdivision Plan Psd-17733 was executed by a private land surveyor pursuant to
the Auto of 1 March 1932, in relation to the 13 September 1916 Order, and that
the same was approved by the Director of Lands. These suggest that there was an
attempt to partition Lot No. 6017. Such partition was allowed under the Cadastral
Law, provided that there was compliance with Sections 6 and 19 to 24 thereof.[22]
Unfortunately, Paulin, et al., failed to explore and raise this matter.
The lower court, however, correctly set aside the Order of 7 August 1979. The
contention of petitioners that the same had become final and therefore cannot be
set aside is untenable. There is nothing on record to support it. Indisputably,
Atty. Jaban knew, or ought to have known, at the time he filed on 30 July 1979 a
petition for issuance of final decree, that other parties have existing claims on Lot
No. 6017; insofar as the records Cadastral Case No. 12 are concerned, two (2)
prior petitions for the issuance of decree had been filed -- that of 7 March 1974
and that of 14 May 1979. In a manner of speaking, the property has become a
contested lot. Petitioners failed to show that private respondents were furnished
with copies of his petition and of the 7 August 1979 Order. In the absence of
proof that they received a copy of the Order, no conclusion may be drawn that it
has become final as against them. Besides, the order has no valid basis. It failed
to consider the Auto of 1 March 1932 which amended the original decision of 13
September 1916. Hence, no valid decree can be issued exclusively on the basis of
the latter.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED. The decision of the Court of
Appeals in C.A.-G.R. No. 13091-SP, promulgated on 29 September 1982 and the
Orders of the lower court of 16 February 1981 and 4 August 1981 are hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
No pronouncement as to costs.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Gutierrez, Jr., (Chairman), Feliciano, and Romero, JJ., concur.
Bidin, J., in the result.

[1] Annex 1 of Respondents Memorandum; Rollo, 106-110.


[2] Annex B of Petition; Id., 30-31.
[3] Annex 2 of Private Respondents Memorandum; Rollo, 111- 113.
[4] Annex G of Petition; Id., 55.
[5] Annex J of Petition; Id., p. 67-68.
[6] Annex F of Petition, Id., 49.
[7] Counsel for petitioners.
[8] Annex C of Petition; Rollo, 32.
[9] Annex D of Petition; Id., 45.
[10] Annex E of Petition; Rollo, 46.
[11] Annex G of Petition; Rollo, 55, et seq.
[12] Annex H of Petition; Rollo, 61.
[13] Rollo, 123, 133-134.
[14] Id., 78.
[15] Rollo, 64.
[16] Director of Lands vs. Sanz, et al., 45 Phil. 117.
[17] Act No. 496.
Likewise, Section 38 in relation to Section 30 of P.D. No. 1529 (The Property
[18]

Registration Decree), which took effect on 11 June 1978, provides that the
decision in cadastral cases becomes final upon expiration of thirty (30) days from
notice and appeal may be taken therefrom as in ordinary civil cases.
[19] 94 Phil. 913.
[20] See Sections 40 and 41, Act No. 496 and Section 31, P.D. No. 1529.

MORAN, Comments on the Rules of Court, vol. 6, 1980 ed., 123, citing U.S. vs.
[21]

Solano, 33 Phil. 582; Dayrit vs. Gonzalez, 7 Phil. 182.


[22] Government of the Philippine Islands vs. Gabutan, et al., 68 Phil. 254.

Copyright 2016 - Batas.org


Supreme Court of the Philippines

149 Phil. 743

G.R. No. L-22115, December 29, 1971


BENITO YLARDE, ET AL., PETITIONERS, VS. CRISANTO
LICHAUCO, ET AL., AND THE HON. AMADO S.
SANTIAGO, RESPONDENTS.
DECISION
ZALDIVAR, J.:

Petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus, praying substantially, that the
orders of the Court of First Instance of Pangasinan, dated August 5 and 23, 1963,
denying petitioners motion to proceed with the hearing on the merits in Land
Case No. 1, Record No. 1 of said court be set aside, that the private respondents
be prohibited "from applying or moving for the issuance of a new decree and
pursuant thereto the issuance of Transfer Certificate of Title based on the
Llobrera Plan", and that the respondent Judge and the private respondents be
ordered to proceed with the hearing of the case on the merits.[1]
In Land Case No. 1, G.L.R.O. Record No. 1 in the Court of First Instance of
Pangasinan[2] herein petitioners,[3] who claimed to be the substituted parties and
heirs of the original oppositors in said case, filed a petition, dated January 14,
1961, praying, among other things, that they be allowed, with police protection, to
locate, measure and survey their individual claims within the closures of the
Hacienda "EI Porvenir", and that any excess area found in the resurvey of the
hacienda be surrendered to them[4]. Opposition thereto was filed by herein
respondents Amparo Nable Jose and Asuncion Nable Jose[5] and by the Director
of Lands[6]. The court a quo, acting on the petition and the opposition, issued an
order, order dated February 15, 1961, denying the petition.
Herein petitioners then filed a motion, dated May 15, 1961, praying that the court
order the surveyor Segundo Llobrera to appear in person with the relocation
survey[7]. The court issued the order directing the surveyor to submit the
relocation plan (Rel-110) within 60 days from receipt thereof[8].

The relocation plan[9] and the final report covering the survey[10] having been
submitted, herein petitioners filed their "opposition to the consideration of the
relocation survey plan Rel-110 and objections to the Llobrera Report"[11] on the
grounds that the Llobrera survey plan was made with intentional departures from
the Rocafull Plan, and was, consequently, in violation of the order of the Court of
Land Registration of November 12, 1912, and that the separate and adverse claims
of the oppositors were not plotted on the plan.

Judge Amado S. Santiago, who took cognizance of the case after Judge Pabalan
had inhibited himself, ordered the publication of the hearing of the case in order
to apprise all persons who might be affected by the consideration and approval of
the relocation plan. Before the scheduled hearing, herein petitioners filed with the
court the names of the individual claimants, together with the location,
measurements and boundaries of their claims, alledgedly within the closures or the
estate covered by the Llobrera Plan. Some of these claims appear to be supported
by titulo de compra, registered under the Spanish Mortgage Law[12].
On 23 January, 1962, the counsels for the applicants filed their opposition to the
various motions of oppositors[13] on the grounds that the latter's prayer to enter the
hacienda for the purpose of locating and surveying their claims had already been
denied, that no new relocation survey was allowable, and that the only issue before
the court was whether the land delimited in the Rocafull Plan is the same land
delimited in the Llobrera Plan.
After the hearing for the consideration of the Llobrera Plan, and the simultaneous
filing by the parties of their memoranda, wherein petitioners prayed for the
disapproval, while respondents for the approval, of the Llobrera Plan, herein
respondent Judge Amado S. Santiago issued an order, dated March 12, 1963,
"finding the relocation survey plan, Rel-110 (Exh. A) prepared by Segundo
Llobrera, District Land Surveyor of Pangasinan, to be substantially in accordance
with the decision of the Supreme Court of April 11, 1957 (Exh. O), and finding
no sound reason and valid ground to disapprove said relocation plan, the Court
hereby approves the same."[14]
Upon receipt of said order, herein petitioners filed a Motion to Proceed with the
Hearing on the Merits", dated March 20, 1963[15], alleging that the approval of the
Llobrera Relocation Survey Plan, Rel-110, did not necessarily adjudicate or vest
upon the applicants the title to the land or bring to an end the litigation; that the
applicants had still "to substantiate and prove their title to the estate"; that the
oppositors, Benito Ylarde, et al., be permitted to offer evidence upon their original
case or in the instant proceedings"; and that the applicants are without or have no
subsisting certificate of title to any portion of the lands covered by the survey plan
because OCT No. 7 based on the Rocafull Plan had been cancelled and all
subsequent titles issued in favor of applicants had been cancelled (Crisanto
Lichauco, vs. Director of Lands, et al., 70 Phil. 69).
On April 4, 1963, the court a quo issued an order setting the case for hearing on
the merits, to which order applicants filed their opposition in the nature of a
motion for reconsideration on the ground that the matter of applying or moving
for the issuance of certificates of title based on the Llobrera relocation survey
depended on the applicants and not on the oppositors[16], and that the hearing on
the merits prayed for by the oppositors, in order that they may present evidence in
support of their claims, would serve no useful purpose inasmuch as said claims
had long been foreclosed by Decree of Registration No. 1178 in this same
registration case.[17] The trial court directed the oppositors (herein petitioners) to
file a memorandum on whether to proceed or not with the hearing on the merits,
which the oppositors did[18]. The applicants (now respondents), likewise, filed their
memorandum.[19] The trial court, passing on the memoranda of the parties, issued,
on August 5, 1963, an order reconsidering the order of April 4, 1963 which set the
case for hearing.[20] This order of August 5, 1963 had the effect of denying the
motion to proceed with the hearing on the merits. Herein petitioners then filed a
motion ex-parte -- in effect a motion to reconsider the order of August 5, 1963 --
praying that the dates of hearing be reset, which motion the court denied in its
order dated August 23, 1963.[21]
It is because of these orders of August 5, 1963 and of August 23, 1963, that the
oppositors filed the instant petition for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus.
The principal issue in the instant case is whether or not the lower court erred in
issuing the orders dated August 5, 1963 and August 23, 1963, which denied the
motion of petitioners to proceed with the hearing on the merits in the original
registration case (Land Case No. 1, G.L.R.O. Record No. 1) that would require
the applicants (herein private respondents) to prove their title to the land subject
of the registration proceedings and in order that the oppositors (herein
petitioners) may present their evidence to support their claims on portions of the
land included in the Llobrera plan.
In resolving this issue it is necessary to consider the pertinent facts as found in the
decisions of this Court on previous cases regarding Land Case No. 1, G.L.R.O.
Record No. 1, originally of the Court of Land Registration, and later of the Court
of First Instance of Pangasinan, to wit: Jose,et al. vs. Hon R. Baltazar, et al., 101
Phil., 36; Lichauco, et al. vs. Director of Lands, 70 Phil., 69; Lichauco, et al. vs.
Herederos de Cayetano Corpus, et al., 60 Phil., 211; Lichauco, et el. v. Lim, et al.,
6 Phil., 271. The pertinent facts are the following:
On January 20, 1903, Crisanto Lichauco, Salud Nable Jose, Amparo Nable Jose
and Asuncion Nable Jose filed in the Court of Land Registration an application
for the registration or the lands comprised in the hacienda "El Porvenir", situated
in the municipalities of Tayug, Natividad, San Quintin, and Santa Maria, province
of Pangasinan. Oppositions were filed by some 150 individuals and by the
Attorney General on behalf of the Insular Government. After hearing, a decision
was rendered by the land registration court on May 1, 1905, which was appealed
to, and confirmed by, the Supreme Court in its decision of May 5, 1906, granting
the adjudication and registration of the hacienda "El Porvenir in favor of
Crisanto Lichauco and the three sisters Salud, Amparo and Asuncion Nable Jose,
in the proportion of a pro-indiviso one-half interest for the first and the remaining
pro-indiviso half for the last three. After the Supreme Court promulgated its
decision, the corresponding decree of registration No. 1178 was issued, and in
accordance with this decree, Original Certificate of Title No. 7 of the land records
of Pangasinan was issued in favor of Crisanto Lichauco and the sisters Salud,
Amparo, and Asuncion Nable Jose in the proportion above mentioned.
Both the decree of registration No. 1178 and Original Certificate of Title No. 7
were based on a plan prepared by the "Ingeniero de Montes" Mr. Aurelio Diaz
Rocafull in February, 1886,
On October 18, 1912, the then Director of Lands, C. H. Sleeper, petitioned the
Court of Land Registration that, as it was impossible to properly locate the
properties covered by OCT No. 7, from the tie lines, and because the descriptions
and surveys were of doubtful accuracy in many instances, new tie lines surveys and
boundary surveys be executed, and for that purpose the registered owners be
required to point out to the surveyor on the ground the actual boundaries of their
lands. The Court of Land Registration promulgated an order, dated November
12, 1912 granting the petition, in this wise:
"SE ORDENA.
(A) Que todos y cada uno de los solicitantes arriba nombrados
indiquen al agrimensor o agrimensores encargados de dicho trabajo
en la fecha y hora que estos designaran, los limites correctos de las
propiedades ocupados por los mismos y que se describen en los
Certificados de Titulo cuyos numeros se consignan a renglon
seguido de sus nombres respectivos en el encabezimiento de la
presente orden."
The registered owners of the hacienda "El Porvenir filed a motion on September
9, 1918 for the amendment of the order dated November 12, 1912 such that it be
allowed that the new survey of the land covered by OCT No. 7 be made by any
authorized private surveyor at the expense of the owners. The motion was
granted, and the owners caused a new survey of the hacienda by private surveyor
Zoilo Garcia, who prepared plan Psu-17590 and its corresponding technical
description. The plan Psu-17590 having been amended as required by the General
Land Registration Office, the court, by order of March 1, 1923 approved the new
plan, cancelled all certificates previously issued, and ordered the Register of Deeds
p p y g
of Pangasinan to issue a new certificate of title to the title holders, Crisanto
Lichauco and the Nable Jose sisters. Transfer Certificate of Title No. 1776 was
thereupon issued.
A partition agreement having been entered into between the title holders, TCT
No. 1776 was cancelled, and two new titles, to wit, TCT No. 1788 was issued in
the names of Amparo Nable Jose and Asuncion Nable Jose and TCT No. 1789 in
the name of the testamentary estate of Crisanto Lichauco. (Salud Nable Jose died
and all her rights, interests and participation in the hacienda were inherited by her
two sisters; and Crisanto Lichauco also died and his rights, interests and
participation in the hacienda went to his estate). The last title, TCT No. 1789, was
again cancelled and superseded by TCT No. 4109 in the name of the heirs of
Crisanto Lichauco.
Upon protest by interested parties on the ground that there had been no
publication and due notice of the motion asking for the approval of the new plan
(Garcia plan), the land registration court subsequently set aside its previous order
of approval, and on appeal such action was upheld by this Court.[22]
The motion to approve the Garcia Plan having been renewed in the lower court,
the Government and private oppositors objected thereto upon the ground that the
Garcia Plan as amended included lands of the public domain covered by free
patent applications, that the petitioners were bound by the Rocafull Plan and its
technical description which the Garcia Plan did not follow, and that the petition
was an attempt to reopen the decree issued on May 1, 1905 which the court had
no jurisdiction to do. On March 14, 1938, the court rejected the opposition,
approved the Garcia Plan, ordered the Register of Deeds of Pangasinan to cancel
OCT No. 7 and to issue in lieu thereof two transfer certificates of title in
accordance with the amended plan and description. On appeal, this Court
reversed the order of the inferior court.[23] The records of this case were destroyed
as a result of the battles for liberation, but were subsequently reconstituted. A
petition for clarification having been filed by the counsel for the registered
owners, this Court resolved on March 10, 1952 that there was still the need for
carrying out the order of November 12, 1912 of the Court of Land Registration.
The records having been remanded, the lower court issued on February 16, 1953
an order commanding the Director of Lands to resurvey the land in accordance
with the Rocafull Plan.
The Director of Lands commissioned surveyor Zacarias Gatchalian to carry out
the order. The surveyor submitted his plan, but inasmuch as this plan was shown
to be similar to the Garcia Plan, the lower court disapproved it, and again ordered
the Director of Lands to make a relocation survey making as a basis the Rocafull
Plan. The registered owners thereupon petitioned this Court for a writ of certiorari
and/or mandamus to order the lower court to allow petitioners to present evidence
on the Gatchalian plan or give due course to their appeal. In its decision, this
Court declared that "the only survey authorized by the final resolution of March
10, 1952 was a relocation survey, one that must retrace the footsteps of surveyor
Rocafull as closely as possible, and should not depart therefrom except where
unavoidable in order to correct errors of closure or of computation," and denied
the petition for certiorari, reserving, however, to the petitioners the right to show, at
the proper time, that the Gatchalian survey constituted a more accurate relocation
survey than the one ordered by the lower court.[24]
Pursuant to the order of the lower court, a relocation survey was executed by
surveyor Segundo Llobrera of the Bureau of Lands, whose plan (Rel-110) was
approved by respondent Judge Amado Santiago on March 12, 1963. Herein
petitioners did not appeal from the order of respondent Judge approving the
Llobrera plan. After the approval by Judge Santiago of the Llobrera plan the op-
positors in the court below (petitioners herein) filed, on March 20, 1963, a motion
to proceed with the hearing of the registration case on the merits. The orders of
the lower court, of August 5, 1963 and August 23, 1963, denying this motion are
now questioned in the instant petition.
Upon consideration of the antecedent facts, We find that the lower court did not
commit any error, nor did it abuse its discretion, when it denied the motion of
petitioners to proceed with the hearing on the merits in order that they might
present evidence of their claims to certain portions of land within the closures of
the estate covered by the Llobrera Plan of the Hacienda El Porvenir.
Consideration must be mad of the fact that:
First, the Hacienda "El Porvenir" is covered by the Decree of Registration No.
1178 dated May 1, 1905.[25] This decree had become absolute and incontrovertible
for all the purposes of the law. This decree binds the land, quiets title thereto, is
conclusive upon all persons, and cannot be reopened or reviewed after the lapse
of one year after entry of the decree.[26] To allow the presentation of evidence
tending to prove that the registered owners of the hacienda are not the owners of
certain portions of land included therein would render the legal indefeasibility and
conclusiveness of the decree of registration a meaningless verbiage and would be
tantamount to a reopening of the decree of registration long closed and settled.
This Court had held that
. . . when a decree of registration is once made under the Torrens
system and the time has elapsed within which it may be contested, as in
this case, the same becomes perfect, conclusive, and irrevocable (Reyes,
et al. vs. Judge Birbon, et al., 50 Phil. 591) and may no longer be
reopened."[27]
Second, petitioners herein claim that they "are the heirs and substituted parties or
the continuation of the legal personalities of the original private oppositors, in
Land Registration Case No. 1 (GLRO) LRC No. 1."[28] Since the claims and rights
of the original oppositors had been foreclosed by the decree of registration, it
follows that the present oppositors pretended rights have also been barred.
The motion of herein petitioners for hearing on the merits is based on their
erroneous conception of the nature of the Llobrera survey and the proceedings in
the lower court. The Llobrera survey was not really a new survey but only a
relocation survey that should follow the old corners used in the former survey in
order to approach the same area and configuration. It should be noted that in the
case of Jose, et al. vs. Hon. R. Baltazar, et al., 101 Phil. 36, 43, this Court stated:
"The result flowing from these pronouncements is that the only survey
authorized by our final resolution of March 10, 1952 is a relocation
survey, one that must retrace the footsteps of surveyor Rocafull as
closely as possible, and should not depart therefrom except when
unavoidable in order to correct errors of closure of computation."
The respondent Judge, in his order of March 12, 1963 approving the Llobrera
Plan, declared that the relocation survey embodied in the Llobrera Plan was in
accordance with the decision of this Court in the above-mentioned case of Jose, et
al. vs. Hon. R. Baltazar, et al., supra. In other words, the Llobrera Plan was more
or less a reproduction of the Rocafull Plan.
The proceeding was not a new registration proceeding which would require the
applicants to prove their ownership of the land. The land was already covered by
a final and conclusive decree of registration based on the Rocafull plan, and, as
We have adverted to, the Llobrera plan was more or less a reproduction or the
Rocafull plan. As has been said, that decree binds the land and quiets title thereto,
and the question of ownership of the land cannot be relitigated again in the same
registration proceeding.
The allegation of the petitioners that the private respondents no longer have any
certificate of title covering the land in the Hacienda "El Porvenir" is not correct.
The OCT No. 7 based on the decree of registration No. 1178 has remained valid
and effective. This Court has declared null and void all certificates of title that
were intended to supplant OCT No. 7, because they were based on erroneous or
invalid resurvey plans.[29] It follows that when the certificates of title which sup-
planted OCT No. 7 were declared null and void, the basic title -- OCT No. 7 --
remained valid and it served as the basis of the title of the private respondents
over the land comprised within the Hacienda "El Porvenir", as shown in the
Llobrera plan which was approved by the lower court.
During the pendency of this case before this Court, petitioners filed a motion
praying that a writ of preliminary injunction issue to restrain the Court of First
Instance of Pangasinan, Tayug and Urdaneta Branch, from entertaining the
petition of the heirs of Crisanto Lichauco for the issuance of a new owner's
duplicate of TCT No. 11089 upon the ground that said duplicate had been lost,
and also from entertaining the petition of Amanda de la Cruz for the approval of
the subdivision plan PSU-93864 and the issuance of a new certificate of title
covering Lot No. 4-B-8, a part of the land covered by TCT No. 11089.[30] Likewise,
petitioners filed an omnibus petition for mandamus and contempt of court to
compel the Land Registration Commission and the Register of Deeds of
Pangasinan to cancel TCT No. 11089 issued in favor of the heirs of Crisanto
Lichauco, which was based on TCT No. 4109 that was declared null and void by
this Court on June 29, 1934; and to cite for contempt of Court Hon. Amado S.
Santiago, the Hon. S. del Rosario, the Commissioner of the Land Registration
Commission, the respondent heirs of Crisanto Lichauco and their attorneys of
record, for allegedly having conspired in securing the issuance of the decree of
registration No. 105369 and OCT No. 18489, on September 30, 1965, in favor of
the heirs of Crisanto Lichauco on the land covered by the survey plan, Rel-110,
subject matter of the present special civil action before this Court.[31]
In a resolution of September 16, 1969, this Court resolved to consider the matters,
raised in the motion for preliminary injunction and the omnibus petition, when
this case is taken up on the merits.
The basic reason of petitioners in filing the motion for preliminary injunction and
the omnibus petition for mandamus and contempt of court is their contention that
the matter regarding the title of the private respondents over the land covered by
the Llobrera plan was not yet definite, because there was yet pending for
resolution by this Court the question of whether or not a hearing on the merits
should be held to prove the rights of the private respondents as well as of the
petitioners over the land covered by the Llobrera plan. In other words, the stand
of the petitioners is that while this case is pending, the private respondents herein
should not make any move to secure the issuance or any certificate of title over
the land, or a portion of it, covered by the Llobrera plan. In view, however, of
Our ruling in this decision that the lower court had correctly denied the motion of
petitioners for hearing on the merits, We do not consider it necessary any more to
rule the questions brought about by the injunction and the omnibus mandamus and
for contempt of court.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the instant petition is dismissed, and the
writs prayed for are denied, with costs against the petitioners.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Concepcion, C.J., Reyes, Makalintal, Ruiz Castro, Fernando, Teehankee, Barredo, Villamor,
and Makasiar, JJ., concur.

Words in quotation marks are as copied from the prayer of the petition, p. 69 of
[1]

the Record.

Entitled "Crisanto Lichauco, et al., applicants, vs. Director of Lands, et al.,


[2]

Oppositors."

The private oppositors in Land Case No, 1, G.L.R.0. Record No. 1 are
[3]

enumerated in Annex "Y" to the Petition (Record, pp. 198-243) in the following
order: Benito Ylarde, Bruno Joaquin, Maximiano P. Alias, Candida Tullao,
Cornelia Rimas, Severina Binoya, Bonifacio B. Perez, Mauro Goluya, Damian
Nasuli, Valentina Pioquinto, Florencio Lazo, Leon Serrano, Martin Sanchez, Jose
Aquino, Flaviano Flores, Magdalena Salcedo, Lazaro Severino, Bruno Ylarde,
Petronila de Vera, Hermenegildo Ebreo Dionisio Almuete, Fiorentino Aquino,
Florencio Lazo, Juan Boncato, Dionisio Costales, Luciano Aquino, Primitiva
Farias, Severino Tejada, Benito Vidal, Pedro Tejada, Juan Retonda, Valentin
Arquiza, Dominador Tejada, Vicente Juego, Antonio Estioco, Maria Vidal, Tomas
Villaruz, Cristina Ylarde, Beatriz Urbano, Pedro Villanueva, Rafael Ebreo,
Dionisio Caloza, Sinfroniana Dacanay Bacalso, Hipolita Agbunag, Silvina Munar,
Fernanda Malinit, Venancio Salcedo, Juan Boncato, Nemesio Ylarde, Esperidion
Ebreo, Catalino Cacayan, Damian Nasuri, Juan Boncato, Bonifacio Perez, and
Quirino Cejalvo.
[4] Annex "B" to Petition, Record, pp. 76-82.
[5] Annex "E" to Petition, Record, pp. 87-88.
[6] Annex "F" to Petition, Record, pp. 89-91.
[7] Annex "J" to Petition, Record, pp. 111-116.
[8] Annexes "K" and "M" to Petition, Record, pp. 117-118; 121.
[9] Annex "N" to Petition, Record, 122
[10] Annex "0" to Petition, Record, 123-150.
[11] Annexes "P" and "P-1" to Petition, Record, pp. 151-172.
[12] Annex "Y" to Petition, Record, pp. 198-243.
[13] Annex "ZB" to Petition, Record, pp. 271-285.

Annex Record, pp. 333-358. (See Jose, et al., vs. Hon. R. Baltazar, et al., 101
[14]

Phil. 36.
[15] Annex "ZG", pp. 359-363, Record.
[16] Annex "ZH", Record, pp. 364-378.
[17] Annex "ZI", Record, pp. 379-383.
[18] Annex "ZJ, Record, pp. 384-420.
[19] Annex "ZK" and ZL, Record, pp. 421-449.
[20] Annex "ZM", Record, pp. 450-457.
[21] Page 60, Record.
Lichauco vs. Heirs of Corpus, 60 Phil. 211; Jose, et al. vs. Hon. F. Baltazar, et al.,
[22]

101 Phil. 36, 38-39.

Lichauco, et al. vs. Director of Lands, 70 Phil. 69; Jose, et al., vs. Hon. R.
[23]

Baltazar, 101 Phil. 36, 39.


[24] Jose, et al. vs. Hon. R. Baltazar, et al., 101, Phil. 36, 43.
[25] Record, pp. 512-514.
[26] Sec. 38, Act. No. 496.
[27] Lichauco, et al. v. The Director of Lands, et al., 70 Phil., 69, 82
[28] Quoted from Petition, Record, p. 1.

Lichauco, et al. vs. Herederos de Corpus, 60 Phil. 212; Lichauco, et al. vs.
[29]

Director of Lands, et al. 70 Phil. 69.


[30] Page 621, Record.
[31] Page 633, Record.

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Supreme Court of the Philippines

250 Phil. 504

SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 77770, December 15, 1988
ATTY. JOSE S. GOMEZ, DELFINA GOMEZ ESTRADA,
ENRIQUITA GOMEZ OXCIANO, BENITA GOMEZ
GARLITOS, REYNALDO GOMEZ ESPEJO, ARMANDO
GOMEZ, ERLINDA GOMEZ GUICO, EUGENIA GOMEZ
CALICDAN, AZUCENA GOMEZ ORENCIA, TEODORO S.
GOMEZ, JR., AND ALEJO S. GOMEZ (NOW DECEASED)
REPRESENTED BY HIS WIFE, LETICIA Y. GOMEZ, AND
CHILDREN, NAMELY, MARGIE GOMEZ GOB, JACINTO
Y. GOMEZ, ALEJO Y. GOMEZ, JR., AND MARY ANN Y.
GOMEZ, PETITIONERS, VS. HON. COURT OF APPEALS,
HON. PEDRO G. ADUCAYEN, JUDGE REGIONAL TRIAL
COURT, SAN CARLOS CITY (PANGASINAN) BRANCH
LVI, HON. CHIEF, LAND REGISTRATION COMMISSION,
QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA, AND SILVERIO G.
PEREZ, CHIEF, DIVISION OF ORIGINAL
REGISTRATION, LAND REGISTRATION COMMISSION,
QUEZON CITY, METRO MANILA, RESPONDENTS.
DECISION
PADILLA, J.:
The present case originated with the filing by petitioners on 30 August 1968 in the
Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of San Carlos City, Pangasinan,
of an application for registration of several lots situated in Bayombong,
Pangasinan.
The lots applied for were Lots Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 of Plan
Psu-54792 Amd.-2. The lots were among those involved the case of Government
of the Philippine Islands vs. Abran,[1] wherein this Court declared Consolacion M.
Gomez owner of certain lots in Sitio Poponto, Bayombong, Pangasinan.
Petitioners are the heirs of Teodoro Y. Gomez (father of Consolacion) who,
together with Consolacions son, Luis Lopez, inherited from her parcels of land
when Consolacion Gomez died intestate. Petitioners alleged that after the death of
Teodoro Y. Gomez, they became the absolute owners of the subject lots by virtue
of a Quitclaim executed in their favor by Luis Lopez. The lots (formerly portions
of Lots 15, 16, 34 and 41 covered by Plan Ipd-92) were subdivided into twelve lots
- Lots Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12. The subdivision plan was duly
approved by the Bureau of Lands on 30 November 1963. Petitioners agreed to
allocate the lots among themselves.
After notice and publication, and there being no opposition to the application, the
trial court issued an order of general default. On 5 August 1981, the court
rendered its decision adjudicating the subject lots in petitioners' favor.[2]

On 6 October 1981, the trial court issued an order[3] expressly stating that the
decision of 5 August 1981 had become final and directed the Chief of the General
Land Registration Office to issue the corresponding decrees of registration over
the lots adjudicated in the decision of 5 August 1981.
On 11 July 1984, respondent Silverio G. Perez, Chief of the Division of Original
Registration Land Registration Commission (now known as the National Land
Titles and Deeds Registration Administration), submitted a report to the court a
quo stating that Lots 15, 16, 34 and 41 of Ipd-92 were already covered by
homestead patents issued in 1928 and 1929 and registered under the Land
Registration Act. He recommended that the decision of 5 August 1981, and the
order of 6 October 1981 be set aside. Petitioners opposed the report pointing out
that no opposition was raised by the Bureau of Lands during the registration
proceedings and that the decision of 5 August 1981 should be implemented
because it had long become final and executory.
After hearing, the lower court rendered a second decision on 25 March 1985
setting aside the decision dated 5 August 1981 and the order dated 6 October
1981 for the issuance of decrees.[4] Petitioners moved for reconsideration but the
motion was denied by respondent judge on 6 August 1985 for lack of merit.[5]
Petitioners filed a petition for certiorari and mandamus with this Court which in
turn referred the petition to the Court of Appeals.[6]

On 17 September 1986, the appellate court judgment,[7] dismissing the petition


and stating, among others, thus -
In resume, prior to the issuance of the decree of registration, the
respondent Judge has still the power and control over the decision he
rendered. The finality of an adjudication of land in a registration or
cadastral case takes place only after the expiration of the one-year
period after entry of the final decree of registration (Afalla vs. Rosauro, 60
Phil. 622; Valmonte vs. Nable, 85 Phil. 256; Capio vs. Capio, 94 Phil. 113).
When the respondent Judge amended his decision after the report of
the respondent officials of the Land Registration office had shown that
homestead patents had already been issued on some of the lots,
respondents cannot be faulted because land already granted by
homestead patent can no longer be the subject of another registration
(Manalo vs. Lukban, et al., 48 Phil. 973).
"WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, We resolve to DISMISS the
petition for lack of merit.
"SO ORDERED."
Petitioners' motion for reconsideration was denied by the appellate court in its
Resolution dated 10 March 1987.[8] Hence, this recourse.
Several issues are raised by petitioners in this petition. The more important issues
before the Court are: (a) whether or not respondent Judge had jurisdiction to issue
the decision of 25 March 1985 which set aside the lower court's earlier decision of
5 August 1981 and the order of 6 October 1981; (b) whether or not the
respondents Acting Land Registration Commissioner and Engr. Silverio Perez,
Chief, Division of Original Registration, Land Registration Commission, have no
alternative but to issue the decrees of registration pursuant to the decision of 5
August 1981 and the order for issuance of decrees, dated 6 October 1981, their
duty to do so being purely ministerial; (c) whether or not "the law of the case" is
the decision in Government of the Philippine Islands v. Abran, supra, which held that the
lands adjudicated to Consolacion Gomez were not public lands, and therefore
they could not have been acquired by holders of homestead titles as against
petitioners herein.
It is not disputed that the decision dated 5 August 1981 had become final and
executory. Petitioners vigorously maintain that said decision having become final,
it may no longer be re-opened, reviewed, much less, set aside. They anchor this
claim on section 30 of P.D. No. 1529 (Property Registration Decree) which
provides that, after judgment has become final and executory, the court shall
forthwith issue an order to the Commissioner of Land Registration for the
issuance of the decree of registration and certificate of title. Petitioners contend
that section 30 should be read in relation to section 32 of P.D. 1529 in that, once
the judgment becomes final and executory under section 30, the decree of
registration must issue as a matter of course. This being the law, petitioners assert,
when respondent Judge set aside in his decision, dated 25 March 1985, the
decision of 5 August 1981 and the order of 6 October 1981, he clearly acted
without jurisdiction.
Petitioners contention is not correct. Unlike ordinary civil actions, the
adjudication of land in a cadastral or land registration proceeding does not become
final, in the sense of incontrovertibility until after the expiration of one (1) year
after the entry of the final decree of registration.[9] This Court, in several
decisions, has held that as long as a final decree has not been entered by the Land
Registration Commission (now NLTDRA) and the period of one (1) year has not
elapsed from date of entry of such decree, the title is not finally adjudicated and
the decision in the registration proceeding continues to be under the control and
sound discretion of the court rendering it.[10]
Petitioners contend that the report of respondent Silverio Perez should have been
submitted to the court a quo before its decision became final. But were we to
sustain this argument, we would be pressuring respondent land registration
officials to submit a report or study even if haphazardly prepared just to beat the
reglementary deadline for the finality of the court decision. As said by this Court
in De los Reyes vs. de Villa:[11]
"Examining section 40, we find that the decrees of registration must be
stated in convenient form for transcription upon the certificate of title
and must contain an accurate technical description of the land. This
requires technical men. Moreover, it frequently occurs that only
portions of a parcel of land included in an application are ordered
registered and that the limits of such portions can only be roughly
indicated in the decision of the court. In such cases amendments of the
plans and sometimes additional surveys become necessary before the
final decree can be entered. That can hardly be done by the court itself;
the law very wisely charges the Chief Surveyor of the General Land
Registration Office with such duties (Administrative Code, section
177)."
Thus, the duty of respondent land registration officials to render reports is not
limited to the period before the court's decision becomes final, but may extend
even after its finality but not beyond the lapse of one (1) year from the entry of
the decree.
Petitioners insist that the duty of the respondent land registration officials to issue
the decree is purely ministerial. It is ministerial in the sense that they act under the
orders of the court and the decree must be in conformity with the decision of the
court and with the data found in the record, and they have no discretion in the
matter. However, if they are in doubt upon any point in relation to the preparation
and issuance of the decree, it is their duty to refer the matter to the court. They
act, in this respect, as officials of the court and not as administrative officials, and
their act is the act of the court.[12] They are specifically called upon to "extend
assistance to courts in ordinary and cadastral land registration proceedings."[13]
The foregoing observations resolve the first two (2) issues raised by petitioners.
Petitioners next contend that "the law of the case" is found in Government of the
Philippine Islands vs. Abran, et al., supra, where it was decided by this Court that the
lands of Consolacion M. Gomez, from whom petitioners derive their ownership
over the lots in question, were not public lands. A reading of the pertinent and
dispositive portions of the aforesaid decision will show, however, that the lots
earlier covered by homestead patents were not included among the lands
adjudicated to Consolacion M. Gomez. The decision states:
"With respect to the portions of land covered by homestead certificates
of title, we are of opinion that such certificates are sufficient to prevent the title
to such portion from going to appellants aforesaid, for they carry with them
preponderating evidence that the respective homesteaders held adverse possession of
such portions, dating back to 1919 or 1920, according to the evidence, and the said
appellants failed to object to that possession in time." (Italics supplied.)
"Wherefore, modifying the judgment appealed from, it is hereby
ordered that the lots respectively claimed by Agustin V. Gomez,
Consolacion M. Gomez, and Julian Macaraeg, be registered in their name,
with the exclusion of the portions covered by the homestead certificates x x x."
(Underscoring supplied.)[14]
The report of respondent land registration officials states that the holders of the
homestead patents registered the lots in questioning the years 1928 and 1929. The
decision in Government of the Philippine Islands vs. Abran was promulgated on 31
December 1931. Hence, the subject lots are specifically excluded from those
adjudicated by the aforesaid decision to Consolacion M. Gomez.
It is a settled rule that a homestead patent, once registered under the Land
Registration Act. becomes indefeasible and incontrovertible as a Torrens title, and
may no longer be the subject of an investigation for determination or judgment in
cadastral proceeding.[15]
The aforecited case of Government vs. Abran, therefore, is not "the law of the case",
for the lots in question were not private lands of Consolacion M. Gomez when
homestead patents were issued over them in 1928-1929. There is sufficient proof
to show that Lots 15, 16, 34 and 41 of Ipd-92 were already titled lands way back in
1928 and 1929 as shown by Annexes "A", "B", "C", and "D" of respondents'
Memorandum.[16]
Lastly, petitioners claim that if the decision of 5 August 1981 of the lower court is
sustained, the homestead title holders may still vindicate their rights by filing a
separate civil action for cancellation of titles and for reconveyance in a court of
ordinary civil jurisdiction. Conversely, the same recourse may be resorted to by
petitioners. "(T)he true owner may bring an action to have the ownership or title
to land judicially settled, and if the allegations of the plaintiff that he is the true
owner of the parcel of land granted as free patent and described in the Torrens
title and that the defendant and predecessor-in-interest were never in possession
of the parcel of land and knew that the plaintiff and his predecessor-in-interest
have been in possession thereof be established then the court in the exercise of its
equity jurisdiction, without ordering the cancellation of the Torrens title issued
upon the patent, may direct the defendant, the registered owner, to reconvey the
parcel of land to the plaintiff who has been found to be the true owner thereof."
[17]

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The appealed decision of the Court of


Appeals is AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioners-appellants.
SO ORDERED.
Melencio-Herrera, (Chairperson), Paras, and Regalado, JJ., concur.
Sarmiento, J., on leave.

[1] 56 Phil. 397


[2]
Penned by Judge Felicidad Carandang Villalon, Branch X, CFI of Pangasinan,
Third Judicial District, San Carlos City, Rollo, pp. 102-108
[3] Rollo, p. 109
[4]
Penned by Judge Pedro G. Aducayen, Branch LVI, RTC, First Judicial Region,
San Carlos City, Pangasinan.
[5] Rollo, pp. 130-136
[6] G.R. No. 71872, Rollo, pp. 31-46
[7]
CA-G.R. Sp No. 07621, Decision penned by Justice Esteban M. Lising with the
concurrence of Justices F.C. Bartolome and Felipe B. Kalalo, Rollo, pp. 149-159.
[8] Rollo, pp. 180-181
[9] Section 32, P.D. 1529
[10] Capio vs. Capio, 94 Phil. 113; Valmonte vs. Nable, 85 Phil. 256; Afalla and Pinanoc
vs. Rosauro, 60 Phil. 622; Roman Catholic Bishop of Cebu vs. Phil. Railway Co., 49 Phil.
540; De los Reyes vs. De Villa, 48 Phil. 227; Pamintuan vs. San Agustin, 43 Phil. 558;
Director of Lands vs. Busuego, 12 SCRA 678
[11] 48 Phil. 227
[12] De los Reyes vs. De Villa, supra.
[13] Section 6, (2) (6), P.D. No. 1529
[14] 56 Phil. 397, 401
[15] El
Hogar Filipino vs. Olviga, 60 Phil. 17; Aquino vs. Director of Lands, 39 Phil. 850;
Manalo vs. Lukban and Liwanag, 48 Phil. 973; Pajomayo, et al. vs. Manipon, et al., 39
SCRA 676; Iglesia ni Cristo vs. Hon. Judge CFI of Nueva Ecija, Br. I, 123 SCRA 516.
[16] Rollo, pp. 325-329
[17]Iglesia ni Cristo vs. Hon. Judge, CFI of Nueva Ecija, Br. I, 123 SCRA 516, citing
Vital vs. Anore, et al., 90 Phil. 858-859

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Supreme Court of the Philippines

137 Phil. 821

G.R. No. L-23973, April 29, 1969


CIPRIANO VERASTIGUE, ET AL., PETITIONERS, VS.
COURT OF APPEALS, CARMEN VERDAGUER, EMILIO
VILLASIN, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.
DECISION
FERNANDO, J.:

A point of jurisdiction as to the power of a court of first instance sitting as a


cadastral court to issue a writ of possession was raised and an issue of due process
invoked in this petition for the review of a decision of the Court of Appeals
dismissing a special civil action for mandamus and certiorari. As will hereafter be
made apparent, neither is sufficiently persuasive to call for a reversal. We affirm.
The principal question raised in the Court of Appeals according to the decision
sought to be reviewed "is whether, as claimed by the petitioners, 'the respondent
Court has acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in trying the oft-stated
cadastral case for re-opening and review, on account of its special and limited
jurisdiction, because of the pendency of Civil Case No.211-G before it, between
the same parties and over the same land, where the issue of ownership and
possession is involved.'"[1]
The question was disposed of in the Court of Appeals decision thus: "Upon
careful consideration, we arrived at the conclusion that said question should be
answered in the negative. Inasmuch as it was the respondent Court, sitting as
Cadastral Court, that handed down the decision sought to be reviewed in the
Petition for Review above-mentioned, it is unquestionable that said Court did not
act without or in excess of its jurisdiction when it entertained said petition for
review based upon the ground that said Court did not have legal authority to
award and adjudicate privately owned lands already covered by Torrens Title. We
are satisfied, under the facts hereinabove mentioned, that the respondent Court
was right in reconsidering and setting aside its said decision and declaring null and
void the decrees as well as the certificates of title issued in accordance therewith, it
appearing that although given a chance to do so, the herein petitioners had not
presented evidence to show, or had not succeeded in showing, that Certificate of
Title No. 75 issued in favor of Andres Villasin of Parafina on September 15, 1914
did not include Lot No. 5387. In view hereof, it would appear that the appeal
sought to be taken by the herein petitioners from the aforementioned orders of
the Cadastral Court, even granting that the steps towards that end were taken
within the reglementary period, would not serve any benefit."[2]

Petitioners thus disputed the right of respondents to the aforementioned lot, but
without success. They ought to have taken the proper steps to appeal; they failed
to do so within the reglementary period. They would then rely on the special civil
action for mandamus and certiorari as a substitute measure, having lost the right to
appeal. The Court of Appeals saw through their scheme and dismissed their
petition.
More specifically, insofar as the issue of the writ of possession is concerned, the
version in the brief of petitioners follows: "After the appeal was dismissed, the
private respondents moved for the issuance of a Writ of Possession to place them
in possession of the land in controversy. The said Motion was heard on 27 March
1961 and was, with undue haste, granted on the same day, but a copy thereof was
received by the undersigned only on 28 March 1961, or the following day after it
had been heard and granted. After their Motion to reconsider the Order of 27
March 1961, granting the issuance of a Writ of Possession, was denied in the
Order of 27 September 1961, the Trial Court issued such Writ. (Actually, the
herein petitioners, however, still remain in possession of the land.) Thus, the
Petition for Certiorari and Mandamus, which was dismissed by the principal
respondent."[3]
It is in the light of the above facts thus presented that they would raise the
aforementioned jurisdictional and due process questions. Their contention, as set
forth in their lone assignment of error is that the Court of Appeals erred in not
declaring null and void the aforesaid orders with particular emphasis on the writ of
possession thereafter issued. In their effort to lend substance to the above
allegation, petitioners stressed the alleged lack of jurisdiction of the court of first
instance acting as a cadastral court to issue a writ of possession and the alleged
denial of procedural due process.
As already indicated, their plea is futile and unavailing, running counter as it does
to controlling decisions of this Court. The court of first instance sitting as a
cadastral court was empowered to issue a writ of possession. Nor was there a
failure to accord petitioners procedural due process.

1. In Abellera v. De Guzman,[4] we left no doubt about the power of the cadastral


court to issue a writ of possession. Thus: "After hearing, the cadastral court may
declare the plaintiff the owner of the lots and entitled to their possession and may
issue a writ directing the sheriff to put him in possession thereof, but it cannot
award damages to the plaintiff." As a matter of fact, the Abellera doctrine has its
roots in our opinion rendered 22 years earlier in 1928 in Director of Lands v.
Court of First Instance of Tarlac.[5] The language used by Justice Laurel in Cordero
v. Court of First Instance of Laguna,[6] a 1939 decision, would, if carefully
analyzed, likewise yield an affirmative answer to the question of whether or not a
cadastral court may issue a writ of possession.
In a recent decision, less than three years ago, where the party adversely affected
did not even bother to assail the legality of an order of a writ of possession
coming from a cadastral court, we pointed out, in an opinion through Justice J. B.
L. Reyes, how broad and extensive is the scope of such an authority. Thus:
"Neither de respondents dispute the propriety and validity of the order of the
cadastral court, granting the writ of possession in favor of petitioners as well as its
enforcement. Under these circumstances, we hold that the order, dated March 20,
1962, of the cadastral court, granting petitioners' motion to compel respondents to
remove their respective houses from the disputed lot, is valid and enforceable
against respondents. In the case of Marcelo v. Mencias, etc., et al., L-15609, April
29, 1960, 58 O.G. 3349, this Court had already upheld the jurisdiction or authority
of the court of first instance, sitting as a land registration court, to order, as a
consequence of the writ of possession issued by it, the demolition of
improvements introduced by the successor-in-interest of a defeated oppositor in
the land registration case."[7] The confidence with which therefore petitioners
asserted such lack of jurisdiction in a cadastral court to issue a writ of possession
is clearly unjustified.
2. The due process question is just as easily disposed of. Petitioners, in their brief
would argue thus: "The herein petitioners had no chance to object to the private
respondents' Motion for Writ of Possession because, as hereinbefore discussed,
they received a copy thereof only on 28 March 1961, or on the following day that
it was heard and granted by the Court on 27 March 1961."[8]
In an earlier page of their brief, they did admit that they had a motion to
reconsider such order of March 27, 1961 which was denied in an order of
September 27 of the same year. Only then, as admitted by them likewise, did the
lower court issue such a writ of possession. Where then is the denial of due
process?

Our ruling in Batangas Laguna Tayabas Bus Co. v. Cadiao[9] would dispel any
doubt that the answer to the above due process question must be in the negative.
Thus: "While it is true then that the order of November 2, 1967 was issued ex
parte, it is equally true that Whatever objections could have been raised by
petitioner were in fact set forth in its petition to set aside and to reconsider and
were inquired into in a hearing held on January 24, 1968. As far back as 1935, it
has already been a settled doctrine that a plea of denial of procedural due process
does not lie where a defect consisting of an absence of notice of hearing was
thereafter cured by the alleged aggrieved party having had the opportunity to be
heard on a motion for reconsideration. 'What the law prohibits is not the absence
of previous notice, but the absolute absence thereof and lack of opportunity to be
heard.' There is then no occasion to impute deprivation of property without due
process where the adverse party was heard on a motion for reconsideration
constituting as it does 'sufficient opportunity for him to inform the Tribunal
concerned of his side of the controversy. As was stated in a recent decision, what
'due process contemplates is freedom from arbitrariness and what it requires is
fairness or justice, the substance rather than the form being paramount,' the
conclusion being that the hearing on a motion for reconsideration meets the strict
requirement of due process."
3. The third point raised by petitioners to the effect that a writ of possession
cannot affect parties who enter the land after the issuance of a decree of
registration is equally devoid of merit. This is a factual matter, the determination
of which was properly within the cognizance of the Court of Appeals. It should
there have been raised. Apparently, petitioners did not do so. The invocation of
this particular issue at this stage cannot be characterized as other than a last-ditch
attempt of petitioners to impute an aspect of vulnerability to the decision now on
appeal, when in reality there is none.
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals of August 28, 1964,
dismissing the petition for mandamus and certiorari, is affirmed. With costs against
petitioners.
Reyes, J.B.L., Acting C.J., Dizon, Makalintal, Zaldivar, Sanchez, Teehankee, and Barredo,
JJ., concur.
Concepcion, C.J., and Castro, J., on official leave.
Capistrano, J., did not take part.

[1] Appendix A, Brief for Petitioners, p. VI.


[2] Ibid, pp. VI-VII.
[3] Brief for Petitioners, p. 6.
[4] 85 Phil. 738 (1950).
[5] 51 Phil. 805.
[6] 67 Phil. 358.
[7] Baltazar v. Caridad, L-23509, June 23, 1966.
[8] Brief for Petitioners, pp. 11-12.

L-28725, March 12, 1968, citing De Borja v. Flores, 62 Phil. 106 (1935); De
[9]

Borja v. Tan, 93 Phil. 167 (1953); Embate v. Penolio, 93 Phil. 702 (1953); Caltex
(Phil.) Inc. v. Castillo, L-24657, Nov. 27, 1967.

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