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Republic of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals, Morato, et al.

(Art 420)

G.R. No. 100709


November 14, 1997

FACTS

In December 1972, Morato filed a free patent application on a parcel of land situated at Pinagtellaran,
Calauag, Quezon.

In 1974, the patent was approved and the Register of Deeds of Quezon issued an original certificate of
title to Morato.

Both the free patent and the title specifically mandate that the land shall not be alienated or
encumbered within five (5) years from the date of the issuance of the patent.

In 1974, Morato mortgaged a portion of the land to Quilatan, who constructed a house therein. In 1976,
another portion of the land was leased to Advincula.

Acting upon reports that Morato had encumbered the land in violation of the condition of the patent,
the District Land Officer in Lucena City conducted an investigation.

Thereafter, it was established that the subject land is a portion of the Calauag Bay, 5 to 6 feet deep
under water during high tide and 2 feet deep below at low tide, and not suitable for vegetation.

In 1978, the Director of Lands filed an amended complaint against Morato, et al. for the cancellation of
title and reversion of a parcel of land to the public domain, on the grounds that the land is a foreshore
land. However, both the Regional Trial Court and Court of Appeals dismissed the complaint. Hence, this
appeal.

ISSUE

Whether or not the subject land, which was invaded by the sea, became a foreshore land and part of
public domain.

RULING

YES. The subject property became a foreshore land and part of public domain.
A foreshore land has been defined as the strip of land that lies between the high and low water marks
and that is alternatively wet and dry according to the flow of the tide.

Article 420 (1) of the New Civil Code provides that shores are property of public dominion.

Art. 420. The following things are property of public dominion:

(1) Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges
constructed by the States, banks, shores, roadsteads, and others of similar character;

While at the time of the grant of free patent to Morato, the land was not reached by the water,
however, due to gradual sinking of the land caused by natural calamities, the sea advances had
permanently invaded a portion of subject land. The land in question already became a foreshore land
since during high tide, at least half of the land was 6 feet deep under water and 3 feet deep during low
tide.

When the sea advances and private properties are permanently invaded by the waves, such as in this
case, they become part of the shore or beach. They then pass to the public domain, but the owner
dispossessed does not retain any right to the natural products resulting from their new nature. It is a de
facto case of eminent domain, and not subject to indemnity.

Therefore, the subject land in this case, being a foreshore land, should be returned to the public domain.