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(1) CORNELIO RAMOS v THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS November 19, 1918 of ownership except as against the Government, for

nst the Government, for a period of 10 years next preceding


Constructive Holding the 26th day of July, 1904, except when prevented by war or force majeure, shall be
MALCOLM, J. conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a government
FACTS grant and to have received the same, and shall be entitled to a certificate of title to such
Restituto Romero gained possession of a considerable tract of land located in the land under the provisions of this chapter.
municipality of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, in the year 1882. He took advantage of the
Royal Decree of Feb 13, 1894, to obtain a possessory information title to the land. There are two parts to the above quoted subsection which must be discussed.
Parcel No. 1, included within the limits of the possessory information title of The first relates to the open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession
Restituto Romero, was sold in February, 1907, to P Cornelio Ramos and his wife and occupation of what, for present purposes, can be conceded to be
Ambrosia Salamanca. agricultural public land, under a bona fide claim of ownership.

Ramos instituted appropriate proceedings to have his title registered. Actual possession of land consists in the manifestation of acts of dominion over
it of such a nature as a party would naturally exercise over his own property.
It was opposed by the Director of Lands on the ground that Ramos had not Relative to actuality of possession, it is admitted that the P has cultivated only
acquired a good title from the Spanish government and by the Director of about 1/4 of the entire tract.
Forestry on the ground that the first parcel was forest land.
(2) Ff the doctrine of constructive possession the issue should be answered in
CFI Nueva Ecija agreed with the objectors and excluded parcel No. 1 from the affirmative. The general rule is that the possession and cultivation of a
registration. portion of a tract under claim of ownership of all is a constructive possession of
Hence this appeal. all, if the remainder is not in the adverse possession of another. Of course, there
---------------------------------------- are a number of qualifications to the rule, one particularly relating to the size of
OSG: based on the provisions of the Spanish Mortgage Law and of the Royal the tract in controversy with reference to the portion actually in possession of
Decree of Feb 13, 1894, aka as the Maura Law, for land to come under the the claimant. It is here only necessary to apply the general rule.
protective ægis of the Maura Law, it must have been shown that the land was
cultivated for 6 years previously, and that it was not land which pertained to the The claimant has color of title; he acted in good faith; and he has had open,
"zonas forestales." As proof that the land was, even as long ago as the years 1894 peaceable, and notorious possession of a portion of the property, sufficient to
to 1896, forest and not agricultural in nature is the fact that there are yet found apprise the community and the world that the land was for his enjoyment. (As.
thereon trees from 50 to 80 years of age. 446, 448, Civil Code.) Possession in the eyes of the law does not mean that a man
--------------------------------------- has to have his feet on every square meter of ground before it can be said that
WON the actual occupancy of a part of the land described in the instrument he is in possession. Ramos and his predecessor in interest fulfilled the
sufficient to give title to the entire tract of land. requirements of the law on the supposition that he premises consisted of
Held: Yes agricultural public land.
(1) Subsection 6 of S54, of Act No. 926, entitled The Public Land Law, as amended
by Act No. 1908, reads as follows: (3) The second division of the law requires consideration of the term
6. All persons who by themselves or their predecessors and interest have been in "agricultural public land." The law affirms that the phrase is denied by the Act
the open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural of Congress of July 1st, 1902, known as the Philippine bill. Turning to the
public lands, as defined by said Act of Congress of July first, 1902, under a bona fide claim Philippine Bill, we find in Ss 13 to 18 thereof that three classes of land are
mentioned. The first is variously denominated "public land" or "public domain," exclude some cases to which the law ought to apply, or on the other hand, to include some
the second "mineral land," and the third "timber land." S18 of the Act of with which the law ought not to interfere.
Congress comes nearest to a precise definition, when it makes the
determination of whether the land is more valuable for agricultural or for forest The Director of Forestry of the Philippine Islands has said:
uses the test of its character. During the time of the passage of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, this question of forest
and agricultural lands was beginning to receive some attention and it is clearly shown in
Although these Ss of the Philippine Bill have come before the courts on S18 of the above mentioned Act; it leaves to the Bureau of Forestry the certification as to
numerous occasions, what was said in the case of Jones vs. Insular Government is what lands are for agricultural or forest uses. Although the Act states timber lands, the
still true, namely: "The meaning of these sections is not clear and it is difficult to Bureau has in its administration since the passage of this act construed this term to mean
give to them a construction that will be entirely free from objection." In the case forest lands in the sense of what was necessary to protect, for the public good; waste
which gave most serious consideration to the subject (Mapa vs. Insular lands without a tree have been declared more suitable for forestry in many instances in
Government [1908], 10 Phil., 175), it was found that there does exist in the Act of the past. The term 'timber' as used in England and in the United States in the past has
Congress a definition of the phrase "agricultural public lands." It was said that been applied to wood suitable for construction purposes but with the increase in
the phrase "agricultural public lands" as used in Act No. 926 means "those public civilization and the application of new methods every plant producing wood has some
lands acquired from Spain which are not timber or mineral lands." useful purpose and the term timber lands is generally though of as synonymous with
forest lands or lands producing wood, or able to produce wood, if agricultural crops on
The idea would appear to be to determine, by exclusion, if the land is forestal or the same land will not bring the financial return that timber will or if the same land is
mineral in nature and, if not so found, to consider it to be agricultural land. needed for protection purposes.
Here, again, Philippine law is not very helpful. S1827 provides: "Lands in public
forests, not including forest reserves, upon the certification of the Director of The method employed by the bureau of Forestry in making inspection of lands,
Forestry that said lands are better adapted and more valuable for agricultural in order to determine whether they are more adapted for agricultural or forest
than for forest purposes and not required by the public interests to be kept purposes by a technical and duly trained personnel on the different phases of
under forest, shall be declared by the Department Head to be agricultural lands." the conservation of natural resources, is based upon a previously prepared set of
With reference to the last section, there is no certification of the Director of questions in which the different characters of the land under inspection are
Forestry in the record, as to whether this land is better adapted and more discussed.
valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes.
When the inspection is made on a parcel of public land which has been applied
The lexicographers define "forest" as "a large tract of land covered with a for, the corresponding certificate is forwarded to the Director of Lands; if it is
natural growth of trees and underbrush; a large wood." The authorities say that made on a privately claimed parcel for which the issuance of a title is requested
the word "forest" has a significant, not an insignificant meaning, and that it from the Court of Land Registration, and the inspection shows the land to be
does not embrace land only partly woodland. It is a tract of land covered with more adapted for forest purposes, then the Director of Forestry requests the
trees, usually of considerable extent. Attorney-General to file an opposition, sending him all data collected during the
inspection and offering him the forest officer as a witness.
The foresters say that no legal definition of "forest" is practicable or useful. B. H.
Baden-Powell, in his work on Forest Law of India, states as follows: In the case of lands claimed as private property, the Director of Forestry, by
means of his delegate the examining officer, submits before the court all
Every definition of a forest that can be framed for legal purposes will be found either to evidence referring to the present forest condition of the land, so that the court
may compare them with the alleged right by the claimant. Undoubtedly, when We hold that the petitioner and appellant has proved a title to the entire tract of
the claimant presents a title issued by the proper authority or evidence of his land for which he asked registration, under the provisions of subsection 6, of
right to the land showing that he complied with the requirements of the law, section 54, of Act No. 926, as amended by Act No. 1908, with reference to the
the forest certificate does not affect him in the least as such land should not be Philippine Bill and the Royal Decree of February 13, 1894, and his possessory
considered as a part of the public domain; but when the alleged right is merely information.
that of possession, then the public or private character of the parcel is open to
discussion and this character should be established not simply on the alleged Judgment is reversed and the lower court shall register in the name of the
right of the claimant but on the sylvical condition and soil characteristics of the applicant the entire tract in parcel No. 1, as described in plan Exhibit A, without
land, and by comparison between this area, or different previously occupied special finding as to costs. So ordered.
areas, and those areas which still preserve their primitive character.

Either way we look at this question we encounter difficulty. Indubitably, there


should be conservation of the natural resources of the Philippines. The
prodigality of the spendthrift who squanders his substance for the pleasure of
the fleeting moment must be restrained for the less spectacular but surer policy
which protects Nature's wealth for future generations. Such is the wise stand of
our Government as represented by the Director of Forestry who, with the
Forester for the Government of the United States, believes in "the control of
nature's powers by man for his own good." On the other hand, the presumption
should be, in lieu of contrary proof, that land is agricultural in nature. One very
apparent reason is that it is for the good of the Philippine Islands to have the
large public domain come under private ownership. Such is the natural attitude
of the sagacious citizen.

If in this instance, we give judicial sanction to a private claim, let it be noted that
the Government, in the long run of cases, has its remedy. Forest reserves of
public land can be established as provided by law. When the claim of the citizen
and the claim of the Government as to a particular piece of property collide, if
the Government desires to demonstrate that the land is in reality a forest, the
Director of Forestry should submit to the court convincing proof that the land is
not more valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes. Great consideration,
it may be stated, should, and undoubtedly will be, paid by the courts to the
opinion of the technical expert who speaks with authority on forestry matters.
But a mere formal opposition on the part of the Attorney-General for the
Director of Forestry, unsupported by satisfactory evidence will not stop the
courts from giving title to the claimant.