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2) DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY v. HON. EMMANUEL M.

MUÑOZ

G.R. No. L-24796, June 28, 1968

FACTS: These are two interrelated cases involving some 72,000 hectares of land located in the
municipalities of Angat, Norzagaray and San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, and in Antipolo and
Montalban, Rizal claimed to be owned by Pinagcamaligan Indo-Agro Development Corporation,
Inc. (Piadeco) as evidenced by Titulo de Propiedad No. 4136, dated April 25, 1894.

PIADECO asserts that the original owner of the subject land appearing on the title acquired his
rights over the property by prescription under Articles 4 and 5 of the Royal Decree of June 25,
1880.

Petitioners in the first case are government officials seeking to annul the order and writ of
execution issued by the CFI Bulacan allowing Piadeco to haul its logs in land in question. In the
second, it was Piadeco's turn question the authority and jurisdiction of therein government
officials to order the stoppage of logging operations, construction of the roads, among other
things, from Piadeco’s private woodland area.

Series of motions were made by both parties in the two cases from 1964 to 1966 until it finally
reached the high court for this 1968 disposition.

ISSUE: Is Piadeco’s Titulo de Propriedad No. 4136 dated April 28, 1894 an incontrovertible

evidence of its valid ownership to the subject land?

RULING: No. It is a well-embedded principle that private ownership of land must be proved not
only through the genuineness of title but also with a
clear identity of the land claimed.

The standing presumption is that land pertains to the State, and any person seeking to establish
ownership over land must conclusively show that he is the owner.
There was inconsistency in Piadeco’s claim to the coverage of the land in question as it was
claimed to be 72,000 hectares on some instance and 74, 000 hectares on some when this issue on
the Spanish title should have been settled years ago.

Royal Decree of June 25, 1880 authorizes adjustments of land by filing application with the
Direccion General de Administración Civil within one year from the effectivity of the decree.
The original owner should have settled the exact coverage of the land at this point. Moreover,
Maura Law was published in the on April 1894. That decree required a second petition for
adjustment within six months from publication, for those who had not yet secured their titles at
the time of the publication of the law.

There being cloud to Piadeco’s claim, the Court did not give prima facie value to Piadeco's title.
It was not proclaimed that Piadeco is a private woodland owner for purpose of these proceedings.

The petition for certiorari and prohibition in the first case was granted; the petition of Piadeco
for injunction and prohibition was denied. Costs in both cases against Piadeco.
#3 Antonio v. Barroga
Facts: Appellants' action was for the annulment of Free Patent No. 26383 and the corresponding
original certificate of title No. 2799 both issued in the names of Pelagio and Marcelo Barroga.
Their complaint substantially alleged that they were the children of the deceased Jorge Antonio
who, during his lifetime, was the absolute owner of a parcel of land located in Barrio
Nancamaliran, Urdaneta, Pangasinan, with an area of approximately 27,646 square meters and
described in said pleading; that the defendants applied with the Bureau of Lands for a free patent
in connection with said parcel of land, alleging that it was public land although they knew that it
was the private property of Jorge Antonio; that subsequently, the free patent and certificate of
title already mentioned were issued in the names of said defendants, who on March 26, 1961
mortgaged and/or sold the property to the defendants Francisca Bautista and Inocencio Salvador,
for which reason the latter two were impleaded as defendants.
Appellants opposed the motion to dismiss alleging that the other defendants had admitted in
their answer that their predecessor in interest, Eusebio Rellera, was the absolute owner of the
land in question, his title thereto being evidenced by Titulo Real No. 12479 and that they
acquired the property from Rellera's legal heirs. From this they concluded that the land was
private property and that therefore the free patent and original certificate of title issued in favor
of the Barrogas were void because the Director of Lands had no right to dispose of private
property.
It is not disputed that appellee Pelagio Barroga applied for a free patent over the land subject
matter of the present case after he had purchased it from the heirs of Eusebio Rellera, and that, as
a result of the proceedings had in relation to his application, Free Patent No. 26383 was issued in
his name. Subsequently this was cancelled to be substituted by original certificate of title No.
2799 likewise issued in his name, and now partially cancelled by Transfer Certificate of Title
No. 39487 issued in the name of Francisca Bautista, duly approved by the Secretary of
Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Issue: 1) WON application for free patent over the land in question by Barroga is valid, even
though there exist a Titulo Real No. 12479 issued in the name of his predecessor in interest on
July 22, 1894. YES
2)WON the free patent and certificate of title can still be assailed many years after had become
final and indefeasible. NO
Held: 1) It is true that by filing the application for a free patent Barroga impliedly admitted either
the invalidity or insufficiency of Titulo Real No. 12479 issued in the name of his predecessor in
interest on July 22, 1894, but neither the allegation made in his answer that his aforesaid
predecessor in interest was the absolute owner of the property covered by said Titulo Real nor
his implied admission of the latter's invalidity or insufficiency are grounds for the annulment of
the free patent and original certificate of title in question. Evidently, it was Barroga's privilege to
rely or not to rely upon his claim of private ownership in favor of his predecessor in interest and
of whatever the latter's Titulo Real was worth. He decided not to rely upon them and to consider
instead that the property covered by the Titulo Real was still part of the public domain. Acting
accordingly he applied for a free patent and was successful. It must be borne in mind that the
Titulo Real was not an indefeasible title and that its holder still had to prove that he had
possessed the land covered by it without interruption during a period of ten years by virtue of a
good title and in good faith (Royal Decree of June 25, 1880). We may well presume that Barroga
felt that he had no sufficient evidence to prove this, for which reason he decided to acquire the
land as part of the public domain.
2) Having arrived at this conclusion, We are constrained to agree with the trial court that because
the record shows that the complaint was filed many years after the free patent and certificate of
title it sought to annul had become final and indefeasible, the facts set forth in said pleading do
not constitute a cause of action in favor of appellants.

7.Cacho vs. Court of Appeals


GR No. 123361 March 3, 1997

FACTS: The late Demetria Cacho applied for the registration of two (2) parcels of land situated
in Lanao, Moro Province. Both parcels were within the limits of the Military Reservation No. 43
known as “Camp Overton.”
The application was tried and decided by Judge Jesse Jorge and he granted the petitioner
(Cacho) the entitlement to the two (2) parcels of land. On June 29, 1978, Teofilo Cacho, the sole
heir of the deceased Demetria Cacho filed for a petition for the reconstitution of the two (2)
original certificates of title under RA 26.
The petition was opposed to by the Republic of the
Philippines, National Steel Corporation and the City of Iligan on the basis of the Regalian
Doctrine – that states that – all lands of whatever classification belong to the State. The matter
was elevated to the Court of Appeals (CA), the CA denied the petition for
reconstitution of title and ordered that the decree of registration be reopened. Thus, the instant
petition to the Supreme Court.

ISSUE: Whether or not the honorable Court of Appeals erred in its decision to reopen the
decrees issued by the trial court?
HELD: Yes. A land registration proceeding is “in rem.” The decree of registration is binding
upon and conclusive against all persons including the Government and its branches,
irrespective of whether or not they were personally notified of the filing of the application,
because all persons are considered as notified by the publication required by law. A decree of
registration that has become final shall be deemed conclusive not only on the questions actually
contested and determined but also upon all matters that might be litigated or decided in the land
registration proceedings. It is no doubt that the decrees of registration had been issued and such
decrees attained finality upon the lapse of one year from entry thereof. The decision of the CA to
reopen the decrees previously issued runs counter to the very purpose of the Torrens System.
It also constitutes a derogation of the Doctrine of Res Judicata. The decrees are
res judicata and these are binding upon the whole world, the proceedings being in the nature of
proceedings in rem. Such a requirement is impermissible assault upon the integrity and stability
of the Torrens System of registration because it also effectively renders the decree inconclusive.
The SC sets aside the decision of the CA and reinstated the decision of the lower court.

9.THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS v. COURT OF APPEALS and TEODORO ABISTADO


substituted by MARGARITA, MARISSA, MARIBEL, ARNOLD and MARRY ANN
ABISTADO
G.R. No. 102858, July 1997
PANGANIBAN, J.:
FACTS:
Respondent Teodoro filed a petition for original registration of title for a parcel of land under PD
No. 1529. The Land Registration court dismissed the petition for want of jurisdiction, in
compliance with the mandatory provision requiring publication of the notice of initial hearing in
a newspaper of general circulation. The case was elevated to CA which sets aside the decision of
LR court and ordered the registration of the title in the name of private respondent. The CA rules
that it was merely procedural and that the failure to cause such publication did not deprive the
trial court of its authority to grant application. Director of Lands elevated the case to the SC.
ISSUE:
Whether or no publication is mandatory.
RULING:
Yes, publication is mandatorry. The court held that PD 1529 requires publication of the notice of
initial hearing. It should be noted further that land registration is a proceeding in rem. Being in
rem, such proceeding requires constructive seizure of the land as against all persons, including
the state, who have rights to or interest in the property. An in rem proceeding is validated
essentially through publication. This being so, the process must therefore be strictly complied
with
Case # 10
Benin v. Tuason 57 SCRA 531
Facts:
The plaintiffs alleged that they were the owners and possessors of the three parcels of
agricultural lands, described in paragraph V of the complaint, located in the barrio of La Loma
(now barrio of San Jose) in the municipality (now city) of Caloocan, province of Rizal, that they
inherited said parcels of land from their ancestor Sixto Benin, who inturn inherited the same
from his father, Eugenio Benin; that they and their predecessors in interest had possessed these
three parcels of land openly, adversely,and peacefully, cultivated the same and exclusively
enjoyed the fruits harvested therefrom; that Eugenio Benin, plaintiff's grandfather, had said
parcels of land surveyed on March 4 and 6, 1894, that during the cadastral survey by the Bureau
of Lands of the lands in Barrio San Jose in 1933 Sixto Benin and herein plaintiffs claim the
ownership over said parcels of land; that they declared said lands for taxation purposes in 1940
under Tax Declaration No. 2429; that after the outbreak of the last World War, or sometime in
1942 and subsequently thereafter, evacuees from Manila and other places, after having secured
the permission of the plaintiffs, constructed their houses thereon and paid monthly rentals to
plaintiffs. Only defendant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. was actually served with summons. The other
defendants were ordered summoned by publication in accordance with Sections 16 and 17 of the
Rules of Court. Onlydefendant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. appeared. The other defendants were all
declared in default.
HELD:
It will be noted that in Civil Case No. 3621 the plaintiffs base their claim of ownership of the
three parcels of land described in the complaint on their being heirs or successors in interest of
Sixto Benin who died in 1936. In Civil Case No. 3622 the plaintiffs base their claim of
ownership over the two parcels of land described in their complaint ontheir being the heirs and
successors in interest of Bonoso Alcantara who died in 1934. In Civil Case No. 3623 the
plaintiffs base their claim of ownership of the one parcel of land described in their complaint on
their being the heirs and successors in interest of Candido Pili who died in 1931. It will be noted
that in Civil Case No. 3621 the plaintiffs base their claim of ownership of the three parcels of
land described in the complaint on their being heirs or successors in interest of Sixto Benin who
died in 1936. In CivilCase No. 3622 the plaintiffs base their claim of ownership over the two
parcels of land described in their complaint on their being the heirs and successors in interest of
Bonoso Alcantara who died in 1934. In Civil Case No. 3623 the plaintiffs base their claim of
ownership of the one parcel of land described in their complaint on their beingthe heirs and
successors in interest of Candido Pili who died in 1931. Therefore, that the decision of this
Court, which affirmed the order of the Court of First Instance of Rizal dismissing the complaint
of Jose Alcantara, Elias Benin and Pascual Pili (along with four other plaintiffs) should apply not
only against the heirs, of Elias Benin, against Jose Alcantara, and against Pascual Pili, as
plaintiffs in Civil Cases Nos. 3621, 3622 and 3623, respectively, but also against all the other
plaintiffs in thosecases. We find that the plaintiffs do not claim a right which is different from
that claimed by Elias Benin. Likewise, the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3622 do not claim a right
different from that claimed by Jose Alcantara in Civil Case No Q-156. And, also, the plaintiffs in
Civil Case No. 3623 do not claim a right different from that claimed by Pascual Pili. The court
sited the Santiago case which states that, (T)he mere fact that appellants herein were not
personally notified of the registration proceedings that resulted in a decree of registration of title
in favor of the Tuasons in 1914 does not constitute in itself a case of fraud that would invalidate
the decree. The registration proceedings, as proceedings in rem, operate as against the whole
world and the decree issued therein is conclusive adjudication of the ownership of the lands
registered, not only against those parties who appeared in such proceedings but also against
parties who were summoned by publication but did not appear. The registration by the appellee's
predecessors-in-interest freed the lands from claims and liens of whatever character that existed
against the lands prior to the issuance of the certificates of title, except those noted in the
certificate and legal encumbrances saved by law (Yumol vs. Riveraand Dizon, 64 Phil. 13, 17
and cases cited therein). In addition, there being no allegation that the registered owners procured
the non-appearance of appellants at theregistration proceedings, and very much more than one
year having elapsed from theissuance of the decree of registration in 1914, neither revocation of
such decree nor adecree of reconveyance are obtainable any more.The joint decision of the Court
of First Instance, appealed from, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

18. J. M. Tuazon & Co. INC., v. Danny Vivat

Facts: On January 7, 1959, a plenary action (publiciana) for ejectment and collection of rentals
was filed by plaintiff in the Court of First Instance of Rizal against appellant t on the basis of
plaintiff’s registered title to a parcel of land known as the Santa Mesa Heights Subdivision
situated at Quezon City. The complaint avers that on June 1950 the defendant, without plaintiff’s
consent, through force unlawfully entered into the possession of a portion of 500 square meters
within said parcel of land of the plaintiff situated at Bo. North Tatalon, Quezon City, and
constructed his house thereon.

As a consequence of the acts of usurpation committed by the defendant, the plaintiff suffered
damages at the rate of P150 monthly representing the fair rental value of its premises, and prayed
that defendant be adjudged to be without any valid right of possession and title in plaintiff’s
premises and that defendant and all person claiming under him be ordered to vacate the same and
remove his house and other construction thereon, and to pay P150 a month from the date of
usurpation until restoration of possession, with costs.

Summons appears served on April 13, 1959 upon the defendant, through one Candido Calon.

The Court of First Instance of Rizal, on May 16, 1959, declared defendant in default for failure
to file any responsive pleading within the reglementary period, and as a consequence, plaintiff
was allowed to present his evidence in support of the complaint. Thereafter, upon presentation of
plaintiff’s evidence, finding the allegations of the complaint sufficiently established, the court
rendered judgment in favor of plaintiff.

On June 23,1959, defendant (now appellant) filed a petition for relief from his judgment of the
trial court, alleging that his failure to file a responsive pleading was due to no fault, or negligence
of his; that Candido Calon, the person who, according to the Sheriff’s return, received the copy
of the summons and a copy of the complaint, was not, and never has been, residing at 39 B.M.A.
Avenue, Tatalon, Quezon City, herein defendant’s residence. At that time Calon was only a
visitor who happened to be in the yard of his residence when the Deputy Sheriff persuaded him
to receive said summons. Defendant contends that he and his family were in Calamba, Laguna

On May 10, 1959, Calon delivered to him the copy of the summons with a copy of the
complaint. It was only on June 5, 1959 that he learned that he was declared in default; and that
he has good and valid defenses to the plaintiff’s complaint it given a chance to be heard.

Plaintiff, opposing this pleading, alleged that defendant’s petition is not sufficient in form to
justify the issuance of an order requiring to answer because he relied only upon an alleged
purchase of the property in question from one E. Alquiros as his defense, whereas plaintiff is
indubitably the registered owner of the property in question of virtue of a Torrens title issued in
its name; that even assuming the truth of defendant’s allegation that he purchased the property in
question from E. Alquiros, such fact could not offset plaintiff’s right to recover possession of the
property as it is the registered and indefeasible owner thereof, and that the affidavits executed by
defendant and Calon are purely self-serving, and should not be countenanced by this Court; and
prayed for the summary dismissal of the petition.

Held: We find no error in the denial on the petition for relief, because the record shows that
appellant did not act with due diligence, and that he has no meritorious defense. The court deny
the petition, ‘’for the same has failed to comply with mandatory requirements laid down by the
provision of Rule 38 of the Rules of Court of Appeals, which certified the case to this court on
the ground that only question of law are involved.

Even granting that Candido Calon was not qualified to accept service of summons, the fact is
admitted by him and by the appellant that Calon did turn over the summons to this appellant only
"several days" after May 10, 1959. Had appellant Vibat acted with due diligence, and made
prompt inquiries, he would have discovered that he had been declared in default on May 16,
1959, and could have asked for its lifting well before the rendition of the judgment of the merits
on June 3, 1959.

As to the alleged defense that appellant Vibat had bought the land occupied by him from
Eustaquio Alquiros, who, in turn, purchased it from Julian de la Cruz, the same plainly cannot
hold against the Torrens title admittedly issued in favor of plaintiff J. M. Tuazon & Co., Inc.,
since the Torrens title concludes all controversy over ownership of the land covered by the final
decree of registration, nor can title by adverse possession be acquired against the registered
owner (Act 496, section 46). Appellant’s remedy, if any, would only lie against his immediate
vendor, on the latter’s warranty against eviction.

WHEREFORE, the denial of the petition for relief is hereby affirmed, with costs against
appellant Danny Vibat

19. AGNE VS. DIRECTOR OF LANDS

FACTS:

The land subject matter of this case was originally covered by Free Patent No. 23263 issued on
April 17, 1937 in the name of Herminigildo Agpoon. On May 21, 1937, pursuant to the said
patent, the Register of Deeds of Pangasinan issued to said Herminigildo Agpoon Original
Certificate of Title No. 2370. Presentacion Agpoon Gascon inherited the said parcel of land
upon the death of her father, Herminigildo, and was issued Transfer Certificate of Title No.
32209 on April 6,1960. Respondent Presentacion declared the said land for taxation purposes in
her name under Tax Declaration No. 11506 and taxes were paid thereon in her name.
On April 13, 1971, private respondent spouses (Presentacion and Joaquin Gascon) filed Civil
Case No. U-2286 in the then Court of First Instance of Pangasinan for recovery of possession
and damages against petitioners. Their complaint states that they are the registered owners under
the aforesaid Transfer Certificate of Title No. 32209 of the parcel of land situated in Barrio
Bantog, Asingan, Pangasinan which is now in the possession of petitioners; that during the
Japanese occupation, petitioners, taking advantage of the abnormal conditions then obtaining,
took possession of said land by means of fraud, stealth, strategy and intimidation; that private
respondents repeatedly demanded the surrender of the physical possession of said property but
the latter refused.

Petitioners (Agne et. al) alleged that the land in question was formerly a part of the river bed of
the Agno-Chico River; that in the year 1920, a big flood occurred which caused the said river to
change its course and abandon its original bed; that by virtue of the provisions of Article 370 of
the Spanish Civil Code which was then the law in force, petitioners, by operation of law, became
the owners by accession or accretion of the respective aliquot parts of said river bed bordering
their properties; that since 1920, they and their predecessors in interest occupied and exercised
dominion openly and adversely over said portion of the abandoned river bed in question abutting
their respective riparian lands continuously up to the present to the exclusion of all other persons,
particularly Herminigildo Agpoon; that they have introduced improvements thereon by
constructing irrigation canals and planting trees and agricultural crops thereon and converted the
land into a productive area.

On March 6, 1974, petitioners filed a complaint against the respondents Director of Lands and
spouses Agpoon with the former Court of First Instance of Pangasinan for annulment of title,
reconveyance of and/or action to clear title to a parcel of land. According to them, the said patent
and subsequent titles issued are null and void since the said land, an abandoned river bed, is of
private ownership and, therefore, cannot be the subject of a public land grant.

ISSUES:

1. Whether or not the land in dispute is a private land before the issuance of title under Free
Patent.
2. Whether or not, private lands can be subject of free patent
3. Whether or not, the titles issued pursuant thereto are valid.

DECISION:

WHEREFORE, the assailed decision of respondent court in its AC-G.R. CV No. 60388-R and
the questioned order of dismissal of the trial court in its Civil Case No. 2649 are hereby
REVERSED and SET ASIDE and judgment is hereby rendered ORDERING private respondents
to reconvey the aforesaid parcel of land to petitioners.

RATIO DECIDENDI:
1. Whether or not the land in dispute is a private land.

Yes.

The claim of ownership of petitioners is based on the old Civil Code, the law then in force,
which provides:

The beds of rivers which remain abandoned because the course of the water has naturally
changed belong to the owners of the riparian lands throughout their respective lengths. If the
abandoned bed divided estates belonging to different owners, the new dividing line shall run at
equal distance therefrom.

It is thus clear under this provision that once the river bed has been abandoned, the riparian
owners become the owners of the abandoned bed to the extent provided by this article. The
acquisition of ownership is automatic. There need be no act on the part of the riparian owners to
subject the accession to their ownership, as it is subject thereto ipso jure from the moment the
mode of acquisition becomes evident, without the need of any formal act of acquisition. Such
abandoned river bed had fallen to the private ownership of the owner of the riparian land even
without any formal act of his will and any unauthorized occupant thereof will be considered as a
trespasser. The right in re to the principal is likewise a right in re to the accessory, as it is a mode
of acquisition provided by law, as the result of the right of accretion. Since the accessory follows
the nature of the principal, there need not be any tendency to the thing or manifestation of the
purpose to subject it to our ownership, as it is subject thereto ipso jure from the moment the
mode of acquisition becomes evident.

2. Whether or not Private lands can be subject of free patent. No


3. Whether or not titles issued in pursuant thereto are valid. No

The land in question was and is of private ownership and, therefore, beyond the jurisdiction of
the Director of Lands. The free patent and subsequent title issued pursuant thereto are null and
void. The indefeasibility and imprescriptibility of a Torrens title issued pursuant to a patent may
be invoked only when the land involved originally formed part of the public domain. If it was a
private land, the patent and certificate of title issued upon the patent are a nullity.

Although a period of one year has already expired from the time a certificate of title was issued
pursuant to a public grant, said title does not become incontrovertible but is null and void if the
property covered thereby is originally of private ownership, and an action to annul the same does
not prescribe. Moreover, since herein petitioners are in possession of the land in dispute, an
action to quiet title is imprescriptible. Their action for reconveyance which, in effect, seeks to
quiet title to property in one's possession is imprescriptible. Their undisturbed possession for a
number of years gave them a continuing right to seek the aid of a court of equity to determine the
nature of the adverse claims of a third party and the effect on her title.

Under the provisions of Act No. 2874 pursuant to which the title of private respondents'
predecessor in interest was issued, the President of the Philippines or his alter ego, the Director
of Lands, has no authority to grant a free patent for land that has ceased to be a public land and
has passed to private ownership, and a title so issued is null and void. 30 The nullity arises, not
from the fraud or deceit, but from the fact that the land is not under the jurisdiction of the Bureau
of Lands. 31 The jurisdiction of the Director of Lands is limited only to public lands and does
not cover lands privately owned. 32 The purpose of the Legislature in adopting the former Public
Land Act, Act No. 2874, was and is to limit its application to lands of the public domain, and
lands held in private ownership are not included therein and are not affected in any manner
whatsoever thereby. Land held in freehold or fee title, or of private ownership, constitute no part
of the public domain and cannot possibly come within the purview of said Act No. 2874,
inasmuch as the "subject" of such freehold or private land is not embraced in any manner in the
title of the Act 33 and the same are excluded from the provisions or text thereof.

22. PALOMO v. CA

G.R. No. 95608 January 21, 1997

FACTS:
Diego Palomo is the owner of 15 parcels of land covered by Executive Order No. 40.
On 1916, he ordered the registration of these lands and donated the same to his heirs, Ignacio and
Carmen Palomo two months before his death in April 1937.
Claiming that the aforesaid original certificates of title were lost during the Japanese
occupation, Ignacio Palomo filed a petition for reconstitution with the Court of First Instance of
Albay on May 1970. The Register of Deeds of Albay issued Transfer Certificates of Title Nos.
3911, 3912, 3913 and 3914 sometime in October 1953. Sometime in July 1954 President Ramon
Magsaysay issued Proclamation No. 47 converting the area embraced by Executive Order No. 40
into the "Tiwi Hot Spring National Park," under the control, management, protection and
administration of the defunct Commission of Parks and Wildlife, now a division of the Bureau of
Forest Development. The area was never released as alienable and disposable portion of the
public domain and, therefore, is neither susceptible to disposition under the provisions of the
Public Land Law nor registerable under the Land Registration Act. The Palomos, however,
continued in possession of the property, paid real estate taxes thereon and introduced
improvements by planting rice, bananas, pandan and coconuts. On April 8, 1971, petitioner
Carmen de Buenaventura and spouses Ignacio Palomo and Trinidad Pascual mortgaged the
parcels of land to guarantee a loan of P200,000 from the Bank of the Philippine Islands.

ISSUE:
Whether or not forest land may be owned by private persons.

HELD:
The adverse possession which may be the basis of a grant of title in confirmation of
imperfect title cases applies only to alienable lands of the public domain. It is in the law
governing natural resources that forest land cannot be owned by private persons. It is not
registerable and possession thereof, no matter how lengthy, cannot convert it into private
property, unless such lands are reclassified and considered disposable and alienable. There is no
question that the lots here forming part of the forest zone were not alienable lands of the public
domain. As to the forfeiture of improvements introduced by petitioners, the fact that the
government failed to oppose the registration of the lots in question is no justification for
petitioners to plead good faith in introducing improvements on the lots.

CASE #24

GORDULA VS CA 284 SCRA 617

FACTS: On June 26, 1969, former President Marcos issued Proclamation No. 573 withdrawing
from sale and settlement and setting aside as permanent forest reserves, subject to private rights,
certain parcels of the public domain denominated as follows: Parcel No. 1 - Magat River Forest
Reserve, Parcel No. 2 - Chico River Forest Reserve, Parcel No. 3 - Abulug River Forest Reserve,
Parcel No. 4 - Penaranda River Forest Reserve, Parcel No. 5 - Angat River-Bustos Dam Forest
Reserve, Parcel No. 6 - Ambayawan River Forest Reserve, Parcel No. 7 - Umiray River Forest
Reserve, Parcel No. 8 - Kaliwa River Forest Reserve, Parcel No. 9 - Caliraya-Lumot River
Forest Reserve, Parcel No. 10 - Barit River-Lake Buhi Forest Reserve and Parcel No. 11 - Jalaur
River Forest Reserve.

The parcel of land subject of the case at bar is, by petitioners' explicit admission, within Parcel
No. 9, the Caliraya-Lumot River Forest Reserve and was no longer open to private ownership as
it has been classified as public forest reserve for the public good.

More than three years after the land was segregated as part of the Caliraya-Lumot River Forest
Reserve, or on January 9, 1973, petitioner Edubigis Gordula, a native of Cavinti, Laguna, filed
with the Bureau of Lands, an Application for a Free Patent over the land, which he had been in
possession since 1949. Manuel Fernandez and several others also filed free patent applications
covering other parcels of land in the area.

On January 17, 1974 petitioner Gordula's Application for Free Patent was approved. Free Patent
No. 693 was issued in his name. On January 30, 1974, the Register of Deeds of Laguna issued,
on the basis of Free Patent No. 693, Original Certificate of Title No. P-1405 in the name of
petitioner Gordula.
Thereafter, on November 18, 1987, the Republic, thru the NAPOCOR, filed an action for
annulment of petitioner’s Free Patent, cancellation of titles and The CA also held that the
petitioners could not claim ownership by acquisitive prescription since as of 1969; Gordula had
been in possession of the property for only 25 years. The period of Gordula’s occupancy after
1969 should not be tacked to the period from 1944 since by then the property was not susceptible
of occupancy, disposition, conveyance or alienation.

ISSUE: Whether or not Free Patent No. IV-5(693) and Original Certificate of Title No. P-1405
and all derivative titles thereafter issued to Gordula are null and void.

RULING: The parcel of land subject of the Free Patent issued to Gordula on January 17, 1974
and covered by Original Certificate of Title No. P-1405 issued on January 30, 1974, were public
disposable and alienable lands before the issuance, by the former President, of Proclamation No.
573, on June 26, 1969. The property was, however, later reserved, under Proclamation No. 573,
as a permanent forest, on June 26, 196[9]. Since then, the property became non-disposable and
inalienable public land.

At the time Gordula filed his application for a Free Patent, on January 9, 1973, the parcel of land
was already reserved as a permanent forest under Proclamation No. 573. Since the property was
already a forest reservation as of June 26, 1969, the same could no longer be disposed of or
alienated in favor of private individuals.

Forest lands/reserves are incapable of private appropriation and possession thereof however long
cannot convert them into private properties. (Director of Lands vs. CA). This ruling is premised
on the Regalian doctrine enshrined in the ’35,’73 and ‘87Constitutions. Further, no public land
can be acquired by private persons without any grant, express or implied from the government; it
is indispensable that there be a showing of a title from the State. Gordula did not acquire title to
the said land prior to its reservation under Proclamation No. 573. He filed his application three
years after said Proclamation was issued in 1969. At that time, the land, as part of the Caliraya-
Lumot River Forest Reserve, was no longer open to private ownership as it has been classified as
“public forest reserve for public good.”

IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is HEREBY DENIED. No costs.

#29 Mateo v. Moreno GR No. L-21024


Facts: A letter of complaint from the residents of Guiguinto, Bulacan was sent to the Highway
District Engineer of the province. Pleading that the public navigable stream be opened to the
public, it was used before by the people for fishing, transportation and gathering of fuel, but has
been blocked by Cenon Mateo, the owner of the land where the stream is located. He created
dikes to block the flow of the water and converted it to his personal fishpond.
Pursuant to Republic Act No. 2056, Secretary of Public Works and Communications ordered an
investigation. Based on the report submitted to him, the Secretary rendered his decision finding
that the Sapang Cabay was a public navigable stream and ordering Cenon Mateo, owner of the
property where the creek is situated, to remove the dikes and dams therein constructed within
thirty days from notice; otherwise they would be removed at his expense.
Issue: 1) WON the Secretary of Public Works and Communication has jurisdiction to conduct
the investigation and order the removal of the dikes and dams constructed in the fishponds of
Moreno. YES
2)WON belongs to the public dominion. YES
Held: 1) The court could not see any justification for a departure in the present case pursuant on
the “substantial-evidence” rule, which limits the scope of judicial review in administrative cases.
Substantial evidence, it has been held, "is more than a scintilla. It means such relevant evidence
as a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." 1
Under this rule the courts are not supposed to reassess the evidence, determine its preponderance
on either side, and substitute its own findings for those of the administrative agency. All that the
court does is to inquire from the record if the findings are based on substantial evidence. If so,
the findings are deemed conclusive.
In the present case, the evidence submitted is more than merely substantial. Ocular inspection of
the entire length of the creek up to Guiguinto, shows that portions of the creek are closed by
dikes, that traces of the path of the Cabay Creek within petitioner-appellant's fishpond are still
visible by the nature of the mud; that a man-made canal detours the creek from its original path;
that the widest portion of the creek is from 70 to 75 meters wide. Many residents testified that as
a result of the closing of the creek, it deprived the public use of the same for fishing, gathering
fruits, fuel and nipa palms and catching shrimps. During rainy season, the surrounding ricefields
are flooded because of the man-made canal which is not sufficient to contain the volume of the
water coming from the creek.
In addition, documentary evidence shows that as long ago as 1941, there were already
complaints against the closure of the Sapang Cabay by the petitioner-appellant's predecessor-in-
interest. In fact, a resolution was passed requesting the Secretary of Public Works and
Communications to order the removal of the obstruction.
2) It is true that Encarnacion Jacobo was able to get her free patent application approved in 1953
and to secure the corresponding certificate of title, but said title did not change the ‘public
character’ of the Sapang Cabay, the same being covered by one of the exceptions mentioned in
Section 39 of Act No. 496.
26. National Housing Authority v Allarde

Facts:
Private respondent Rufino Mateo had lived in the disputed lots since his birth in 1928. In
1959, he started farming and working on a six-hectare portion of said lots, after the death of his
father who had cultivated a thirteen-hectare portion of the same lots. On September 1, 1983, the
National Housing Authority notified the respondent spouses of the scheduled development of the
Tala Estate including the lots in question, warning them that it would not be responsible for any
damage which may be caused to the crops planted on the said lots. In 1989, private respondent
Rufino Mateo filed with the Department of Agrarian Reform a petition for the award to them of
subject disputed lots under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). In January
1992, petitioner caused the bulldozing of the ricefields of private respondents, damaging the
dikes and irrigations thereon, in the process. On March 18, 1992, the respondent spouses, relying
on their claim that subject lots are agricultural land within the coverage of the CARP, brought
before the respondent Regional Trial Court a complaint for damages with prayer for a writ of
preliminary injunction, to enjoin the petitioner from bulldozing further and making constructions
on the lots under controversy. Petitioner contended that the said lots which were previously
reserved by Proclamation No. 843 for housing and resettlement purposes are not covered by the
CARP as they are not agricultural lands within the definition and contemplation of Section 3 (c)
of R. A. No. 6657. The RTC issued the writ.

Issue:

Whether or not the disputed land is covered by CARP

Held:

Lands reserved for, or converted to, non-agricultural uses by government agencies other
than the Department of Agrarian Reform, prior to the effectivity of Republic Act No. 6657 are
not considered and treated as agricultural lands and therefore, outside the ambit of said law.
Thus, since as early as April 26, 1971, the Tala Estate was reserved, inter alia under Presidential
Proclamation No. 843, for the housing program of the National Housing Authority, the same has
been categorized as not being devoted to the agricultural activity contemplated by Section 3 (c)
of R.A. No. 6657, and is, therefore, outside the coverage of the CARL.

28. 115 Phil. 453


BAUTISTA ANGELO, J.:
On January 24, 1961, the municipality of Ligao filed with the Court of First Instance of Albay a
petition under Section 112 of Act No. 496, as amended, for the correction of Transfer Certificate
of Title No. T-9304 issued in the name of Godofredo Navera, covering Lot No. 2793-A, on the
ground that a portion of 123 square meters was erroneously included in said title during the
cadastral survey of Ligao.
Navera filed a motion to dismiss based on the ground that the relief which petitioner seeks to
obtain cannot be granted under Section 112 of Act 496 because the same would involved the
opening of the original decree of registration. He contends that, under said section, the court can
only authorize an alteration which may not impair the rights recorded in the decree, or one which
will not prejudice such rights, or one which is consented to by all parties concerned, or can
authorize the correction of any error or mistake which would not involve the reopening of the
original decree of registration. Here the petition will have such effect, for it will involve the
correction of the technical description of the land covered by the certificate of title in question,
segregating therefrom the portion alleged to have been erroneously included, which eventually
will cause the amendment of the original decree' of registration. This cannot be done at this stage
after the lapse of 23 years from the issuance of the certificate of title.
After hearing both parties, the court a quo issued an order denying the motion to dismiss and
requiring Navera to answer the petition within the reglementary period. After his motion for
reconsideration was denied, Navera filed the present petition for certiorari disputing the
jurisdiction of the court a quo.
It is alleged by the municipality of Ligao that in the course of the construction or repair of
Navera street of said municipality it was ascertained by a duly licensed surveyor that Lot No.
2793-A of the cadastral survey of Ligao has encroached upon said street by depriving the street
of an area amounting to 123 square meters which was erroneously included in Lot No. 2793-A
now covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-9304 issued in the name of Godofredo
Navera. Hence, the municipality prays for the correction of such error in the technical description
of the lot, as well as in the certificate of title, with a view to excluding therefrom the portion of
123 square meters erroneously included therein.
The court a quo, over the objection of Navera, granted the petition even if the same was filed
under Section 112 of Act No. 496. The court predicates its ruling upon the following rationale:
"It is a rule of law that lands brought under the operation of the Torrens System are deemed
relieved from all claims and encumbrances not appearing on the title. However, the law excepts
certain rights and liabilities from the rule, and there are certain burdens on the lands registered
which continue to exist and remain in force, although not noted on the title, by express
provisions of Section 39 of Act No. 496, as amended. Among the burdens on the land registered
which continue to exist, pursuant to said Section 39, is 'any public highway, way, private way
established by law, or any Government irrigation canal or lateral thereof, where the certificate of
title does not state that the boundaries of such highway, way, or irrigation canal or lateral thereof,
have been determined.' The principle involved here is that, if a person obtains a title under the
Torrens System which includes by mistake or oversight a land which cannot be registered, he
does not by virtue of such certificate alone become the owner of the land illegally included
therein. In the case of Ledesma vs. Municipality of Iloilo, 49 Phil., 769, the Supreme Court laid
down the doctrine that 'the inclusion of public highways in the certificate of title under the
Torrens System does not thereby give to the holder of such certificate said public highways.'"
Petitioner Navera does not agree with this ruling, invoking in his favor what we stated in a recent
case to the effect that, "the law authorizes only alterations which do not impair rights recorded in
the decree, or alterations which, if they do not prejudice such rights, are consented to by all
parties concerned, or alterations to correct obvious mistakes, without opening the original decree
of registration" (Director of Lands vs. Register of Deeds, 92 Phil., 826; 49 Off. Gaz. (3) 935).
Navera contends that the purpose of the instant petition is not merely to correct a clerical error
but to reopen the original decree of registration which was issued in 1937, and this description in
order that the portion erroneously included may be returned to the municipality of Ligao. In
effect, therefore, the petition does not seek merely the correction of a mistake or error but the
return or re conveyance of a portion of a registered property to respondent. This cannot be done
without opening the original decree of registration.
The theory entertained by the court a quo that if the portion to be segregated
was really erroneously included in the title issued to petitioner because it is part of the Natera
street which belongs to the municipality of Ligao that portion may be excluded under Section
112 of Act 496 because under the law[1] any public highway, even if noted on a title, is deemed
excluded therefrom as a legal lien or encumbrance, is in our opinion correct. This is upon the
principle that a person who obtains a title which includes by mistake, a land which cannot legally
be registered does not by virtue of such inclusion become the owner of the land erroneously
included therein.[2] But this theory only holds true if there is no dispute that the portion to be
excluded is really part of a public highway. This principle only applies if there is unanimity as to
the issue of fact involved.
Here said unanimity is lacking. The claim of the municipality that an error has been committed
in the survey of the lot recorded in respondent's name by including a portion of the Natera street
is not agreed to by petitioner. In fact, he claims that that is a question of fact that needs to be
proven because it is controversial. There being dissension as to an important question of fact, the
petition cannot be granted under Section 112 of Act No. 496.
"We are of the opinion that the lower court did not err in finding that it lacks jurisdiction to
entertain the present petition for the simple reason that it involves a controversial issue which
takes this case out of the scope of Section 112 of Act No. 496.
While this section, among other things, authorizes a person in interest to ask the court for any
erasure, alteration,, or amendment of a certificate of title 'upon the ground that registered
interests of any description, whether vested, contingent, expectant, or inchoate, have terminated
and ceased', and apparently the petition comes under its scope, such relief can only be granted if
there is unanimity among the parties, or there is no adverse claim or serious objection on the part
of any party in interest; otherwise the case becomes controversial and should be threshed out in
an ordinary case or in the case where the incident properly belongs. * * *" (Tangunan, et
al. vs. Republic of the Philippines, G. R. No. L-5545, December 29, 1953; See also
Jimenez vs. De Castro, 40 Off. Gaz. No. 3, 1st Supp. p. 80; Government of
Philippines vs. Jalandoni, 44 Off. Gaz., 1837)
Wherefore, petition is granted. The order of respondent court dated March 8, 1961, as well as its
order dated March 25, 1961, are hereby set aside. No costs.
31.
TONGSON vs. DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY
September 27, 1977
G.R. No. L-34463

FACTS:
This case started in the application for registration of title of a lot (Lot 855). Testimonial
evidence shows that a parcel of land, to which the subject lot belong, was under the exclusive
possession of one Francisco Borja. Borja cut trees for firewood in the land. It was alleged that
the land at that time was a mangrove swamp. After subsequent transfers, a portion of the land
was transferred to Santiago Bermejo. After Santiago’s death, Macario Bermejo, his heir and
administrator, converted the land into a fishpond.

ISSUE:
Whether or not a parcel of land, possessed as far back as 1905, which has been alleged to
be a mangrove swamp and converted into a fishpond, is considered as part of the timber domain,
and thus is not disposable and cannot be registered.

HELD:
The possession of Borja and the subsequent owners was peaceful, continuous, open, and
adverse under claim of ownership for a period of not less than 50 years. The application for
registration must be granted.
Besides, the definition of ‘forestry; as including manglares found in the Administrative
Code of 1917 cannot affect rights which are vested prior to its enactment. The applicable law is
the Act of Congress of July 1st 1902. The Act classifies the public lands in the Philippine Islands
as timber, mineral or agricultural lands, and all public lands that are not timber or mineral lands
are necessarily agricultural public lands, whether they are used as nipa swamps, manglare,
fisheries, or ordinary farmlands. Therefore, mangrove lands are not forest lands in the sense in
which this phrase is used in the Act of Congress.
So even if the subject land was indeed a mangrove land, it still does not make it into an
inalienable forest land.

33. INTERNATIONAL HARDWOOD AND VENEER COMPANY OF THE


PHILIPPINES v. UP
August 13, 1991
FACTS: International Hardwood is engaged in the manufacture, processing, and exportation of
plywood. It was granted by the Government an exclusive license for 25 years expiring on Feb
1985 to cut, collect and remove timber from a timber land in the provinces of Quezon and
Laguna.

Sometime on 1961, during the effectivity of the License Agreement, the President issued
Executive Proclamation No. 791. Under this proclamation, certain parcels of land of the public
domain in Quezon and Laguna were withdrawn from sale or settlement and were reserved for the
UP College of Agriculture as experiment station for the college.

On 1964, still during the effectivity of the License Agreement, RA 3990 was enacted
establishing a central experiment station for UP for the colleges of agriculture, veterinary
medicine, arts and sciences. Under RA 3990 the land described in Proc. 791 was fully cede to
UP, subject to any existing concessions, if any.

On the strength of RA 3990, UP demanded from Hardwood:


1. Payment of forest charges due and demandable under the License Agreement to UP,
instead of the BIR
2. That the sale of any timber felled or cut by Hardwood within the land described in RA
3990 be performed by UP personnel

However, despite repeated demands, Hardwood refused to accede to UP’s demands.

International Hardwood filed before the CFI a petition for declaratory relief seeking a declaration
that UP does NOT have the right to:
1. Supervise and regulate the cutting and removal of timber and other forest products,
2. Scale, measure and seal the timber cut and/or
3. Collect forest charges, reforestation fees and royalties from Hardwood and/or
4. Impose any other duty or burden upon the latter in that portion of its concession covered
by a License Agreement, ceded in full ownership to UP by RA 3990

UP filed its Answer:


1. Interposed affirmative defenses of improper venue and that the petition states no cause of
action
2. Set up counterclaim for payment of forest charges on the forest products cut and felled
within the area ceded to UP under RA 3990

ISSUE: WON UP as owner had the right to scale, measure, and seal the timber cut by Hardwood
and collect forestry charges thereon.

HELD: YES, by virtue of the full cession of ownership to UP.

As owner, UP has the right to enjoy and dispose of the thing without other limitations than those
established by law. In this case, that exception is made for Hardwood as licensee or grantee of
the concession, which has been given the license to cut, collect, and remove timber from the area
ceded and transferred to UP until February 1985.
However, Hardwood has the correlative duty and obligation to pay the forest charges or royalties
to the new owner, UP. Thus, the charges should not be paid to the Government but to UP. It
follows then that respondent UP is entitled to supervise, through its duly appointed personnel, the
logging, felling and removal of timber within the area covered by R.A. No. 3990.

Judgment is rendered reversing the decision of the trial court. Thus:


1. Forest charges due from and payable by petitioner for timber cut pursuant to its License
Agreement within the area ceded and transferred to UP pursuant to R.A. No. 3990 shall
be paid to UP;
2. UP is entitled to supervise, through its duly appointed personnel, the logging, felling and
removal of timber within the aforesaid area covered by R.A. No. 3990.

36. Chavez v. Pea and Amari

Fact:
In 1973, the Comissioner on Public Highways entered into a contract to reclaim areas of Manila
Bay with the Construction and Development Corportion of the Philippines (CDCP).

PEA (Public Estates Authority) was created by President Marcos under P.D. 1084, tasked with
developing and leasing reclaimed lands. These lands were transferred to the care of PEA under
P.D. 1085 as part of the Manila Cavite Road and Reclamation Project (MCRRP). CDCP and
PEA entered into an agreement that all future projects under the MCRRP would be funded and
owned by PEA.

By 1988, President Aquino issued Special Patent No. 3517 transferring lands to PEA. It was
followed by the transfer of three Titles (7309, 7311 and 7312) by the Register of Deeds of
Paranaque to PEA covering the three reclaimed islands known as the FREEDOM ISLANDS.

Subsquently, PEA entered into a joint venture agreement (JVA) with AMARI, a Thai-Philippine
corporation to develop the Freedom Islands. Along with another 250 hectares, PEA and AMARI
entered the JVA which would later transfer said lands to AMARI. This caused a stir especially
when Sen. Maceda assailed the agreement, claiming that such lands were part of public domain
(famously known as the “mother of all scams”).

Peitioner Frank J. Chavez filed case as a taxpayer praying for mandamus, a writ of preliminary
injunction and a TRO against the sale of reclaimed lands by PEA to AMARI and from
implementing the JVA. Following these events, under President Estrada’s admin, PEA and
AMARI entered into an Amended JVA and Mr. Chaves claim that the contract is null and void.

Issue:
w/n: the transfer to AMARI lands reclaimed or to be reclaimed as part of the stipulations in the
(Amended) JVA between AMARI and PEA violate Sec. 3 Art. XII of the 1987 Constitution
w/n: the court is the proper forum for raising the issue of whether the amended joint venture
agreement is grossly disadvantageous to the government.
Held:
On the issue of Amended JVA as violating the constitution:
1. The 157.84 hectares of reclaimed lands comprising the Freedom Islands, now covered by
certificates of title in the name of PEA, are alienable lands of the public domain. PEA may lease
these lands to private corporations but may not sell or transfer ownership of these lands to private
corporations. PEA may only sell these lands to Philippine citizens, subject to the ownership
limitations in the 1987 Constitution and existing laws.

2. The 592.15 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay remain inalienable natural resources of
the public domain until classified as alienable or disposable lands open to disposition and
declared no longer needed for public service. The government can make such classification and
declaration only after PEA has reclaimed these submerged areas. Only then can these lands
qualify as agricultural lands of the public domain, which are the only natural resources the
government can alienate. In their present state, the 592.15 hectares of submerged areas are
inalienable and outside the commerce of man.

3. Since the Amended JVA seeks to transfer to AMARI, a private corporation, ownership of
77.34 hectares110 of the Freedom Islands, such transfer is void for being contrary to Section 3,
Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits private corporations from acquiring any
kind of alienable land of the public domain.

4. Since the Amended JVA also seeks to transfer to AMARI ownership of 290.156 hectares111
of still submerged areas of Manila Bay, such transfer is void for being contrary to Section 2,
Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits the alienation of natural resources other than
agricultural lands of the public domain.

PEA may reclaim these submerged areas. Thereafter, the government can classify the reclaimed
lands as alienable or disposable, and further declare them no longer needed for public service.
Still, the transfer of such reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain to AMARI will be void
in view of Section 3, Article XII of the 1987Constitution which prohibits private corporations
from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain.

39. Secretary of DENR vs Yap


Natural Resources and Environmental Laws: Regalian Doctrine

GR No. 167707; Oct 8, 2008

FACTS:
This petition is for a review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) affirming
that of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Kalibo Aklan, which granted the petition for
declaratory relief filed by respondents-claimants Mayor Jose Yap et al, and ordered the survey of
Boracay for titling purposes.
On Nov. 10, 1978, President Marcos issued Proclamation No. 1801 declaring Boracay Island as a
tourist zone and marine reserve. Claiming that Proc. No. 1801 precluded them from filing an
application for a judicial confirmation of imperfect title or survey of land for titling purposes,
respondents-claimants filed a petition for declaratory relief with the RTC in Kalibo, Aklan.
The Republic, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) opposed the petition countering
that Boracay Island was an unclassified land of the public domain. It formed part of the mass of
lands classified as “public forest,” which was not available for disposition pursuant to section
3(a) of PD No. 705 or the Revised Forestry Code.

ISSUE:
Whether unclassified lands of the public domain are automatically deemed agricultural land,
therefore making these lands alienable.

HELD:
No. To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable, the applicant
must establish the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential
proclamation or an executive order, an administrative action, investigative reports of the Bureau
of Lands investigators, and a legislative act or statute.
A positive act declaring land as alienable and disposable is required. In keeping with the
presumption of state ownership, the Court has time and again emphasized that there must be a
positive act of the government, such as an official proclamation, declassifying inalienable public
land into disposable land for agricultural or other purposes.
The Regalian Doctrine dictates that all lands of the public domain belong to the State, that the
State is the source of any asserted right to ownership of land and charged with the conservation
of such patrimony.

All lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong
to the State. Thus, all lands that have not been acquired from the government, either by purchase
or by grant, belong to the State as part of the inalienable public domain.
Manotok vs. Barque (2010)
MANOTOK vs. BARQUE[1] (G.R. Nos. 162335 & 162605; August 24, 2010;
VILLARAMA, JR., J.)

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

BASIS FOR THEIR CLAIMS FOR OWNERSHIP:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

· RE: MANAHANS àNo copy of the alleged Sale Certificate No. 511 can be found in the
records of either the DENR-NCR, LMB or National Archives. Although the OSG submitted a
certified copy of Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 allegedly executed by Valentin
Manahan in favor of Hilaria de Guzman, there is no competent evidence to show that the
claimant Valentin Manahan or his successors-in-interest actually occupied Lot 823, declared the
land for tax purposes, or paid the taxes due thereon.
· Even assuming arguendo the existence and validity of the alleged Sale Certificate No. 511 and
Assignment of Sale Certificate No. 511 presented by the Manahans, the CA correctly observed
that the claim had become stale after the lapse of 86 years from the date of its alleged
issuance. Citing Liao v. CA “the certificates of sale x x x became stale after 10 years from its
issuance” and hence cannot be the source documents for issuance of title more than 70 years
later.”

Dispositive:
Manotok Appeal denied
Manahan Petition for intervention denied
Petition for reconstitution of the Barque title denied
All the TCTs in the name of Manotoks, Manahans and Barque, are NULL and VOID. The
Register of Deeds of Caloocan City and/or Quezon City are hereby ordered to CANCEL the said
titles.
Lot No. 823 is property of the National Government of the Philippines w/o prejudice to
Reversion proceedings

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