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 In all action for the reversion to the Government of

(This paper highlights the salient provisions under Rule 91) lands of the public domain or improvements
thereon, the Republic of the Philippines (RP) is the
real party-in-interest. The action shall be instituted
RULE 91 by the Solicitor General (SolGen) or the officer
acting in his stead, in behalf of the RP. (Luis B.
Manese, et al. v. Spouses Velasco, et al. G.R. No.
NAME, DEFINED: 164024, January 29, 2009)

Q: What is the concept of escheat? WHEN PROPER:

Escheat is the falling of a decedent’s estate into the general  GENERAL RULE: Escheat is proper when there is
property of the State on his death intestate without lawful NO WILL left by the decedent.
heirs, and is applied indifferently to all his rights to property
of whatever nature. (21 CJ 848)  EXCEPTION: (Instance where an escheat is
proper even if the decedent died intestate)
It is a proceeding whereby the real and personal property of o Even if the decedent died intestate but the
a deceased person becomes the property of the State upon WILL was NOT ALLOWED to probate, it is
his death without leaving a will or legal heirs. It is not an AS IF he DIED INTESTATE. In such case,
ordinary action, but a special proceeding, and commenced if he has NO KNOWN HEIRS and there
by petition and not by complaint. (Municipal Council of San are NO PERSONS ENTITLED to his
Pedro, Laguna, et al. v. Colegio de San Jose, Inc., et al., 65 property, the same can still be escheated.
Phil. 318)
Escheat is a proceeding, unlike that of succession or
assignment, whereby the State, by virtue of sovereignty,  A petition to declare as escheated a parcel of land
steps in and claims the real and personal property of a owned by a resident of the PH who died intestate
person who dies interstate leaving no heirs. In the absence and without heirs or persons entitled to the
of a lawful owner, a property is claimed by the State to property is to be filed at the place where the
forestall a open “invitation to self-service by the first timers.” decedent last resided.
(Republic v. CA, G.R. No. 143483, January 31, 2002)
Q: How much time does a person entitled to the estate
a) Person owns a real/personal property of the deceased person escheated in favour of the
b) Person DIED: State have?
b. Even if with a WILL, the same was NOT  A person entitled to the estate of the deceased
allowed to probate (as if he died intestate); person escheated in favour of the government has
AND FIVE (5) YEARS from date of judgment to file a
c) The property were abandoned, left vacant, or claim.
ENTITLED to the property
When escheat does NOT apply:
o Such person shall have possession of and
 Where a land unconstitutionally acquired by an title to the same; or
alien was subsequently transferred to a Filipino o IF SOLD, the municipality or city shall be
citizen as in the case of succession. (Republic v. accountable to CLAIMANT/PERSON
Register of Deeds of Roxas City, Elizabeth Lee ENTITLED for the proceeds after
and Pacita Yu-Lee, G.R. No. 158230, July 16, deducting the estate.
2008)  IF NOT FILED
 The doctrine that the deposit represented by a o A claim NOT MADE shall be BARRED
manager’s check AUTOMATICALLY PASSES to FOREVER. The right to claim the property
the PAYEE is INAPPLICABLE, because the is lost and the escheat judgment can no
instrument – although accepted in advance – longer be nullified.
remains undelivered. Where there is non-delivery
of a manager’s check, it’s assigned fund is deemed
to remain part of the account which procured it.  The five-year period is NOT a device capriciously
When there is activity in the account that procured conjured by the State to defraud any claimant; on
the manager’s check, the same CANNOT be the contrary, it is decidedly prescribed to
ESCHEATED in favour of the government. (Rizal encourage would-be claimants to be punctilious in
Commercial Banking Corporation v. Hi-Tri asserting their claims, otherwise they may lose
Development Corporation and Luz R. Bakunawa, them forever in a final judgment. (Republic v. CA,
G.R. No. 192413, June 13, 2012) G.R. 143483, January 31, 2002)
 In Republic v. CA (G.R. 143483, January 31,
Q: Who is the real party-in-interest in all actions for the
2002), the escheat judgment was handed down by
reversion to the government of lands of the public
the lower court as early as June 27, 1989, but it
was only on January 28, 1997, more or less seven balances when there is substantial ground for a
years after, when private respondent decided to belief that they have been abandoned, forgotten, or
contest the escheat judgment in the guise of a without an owner. (RCBC v. Hi-Tri Development
petition for annulment of judgment before the Court Corp. and Luz R. Bakunawa, G.R. No. 192413,
of Appeals. Obviously, private respondent’s June 13, 2012)
belated assertion of her right over the escheated 
properties militates against recovery.


 Trial court CANNOT convert an escheat

proceeding into an ordinary special proceeding.
This is NOT allowed by the rules. The two actions
are entirely different from each other and the
requirements in vesting jurisdiction are likewise
different. In special proceedings, publication is
once a week for the three consecutive weeks
WHILE in escheat, once a week for six
consecutive weeks.

Q: Who has the personality to challenge the capacity of

a person to acquire or own lands based on non-

 Under Section 7, B.P. Blg. 185, the SolGen or his

representative shall institute escheat proceedings
against its violators. Although the law does NOT
categorically states that only the Government,
through the SolGen, may attack the title of an alien
transferee of land, it is nonetheless correct to hold
that only the Government, through the SolGen has
a personality to file a case challenging the capacity
of a person to acquire or to own land based on
non-citizenship. This limitation is based on the fact
that the violation is committed against the State,
not against any individual; and that in the event
that the transferee is adjudged to be NOT a Filipino
citizen, the affected property reverts to the State,
not to the previous owner or any other individual.
(Catalina Balais-Mabanag, assisted by her
husband, Eleuterio Mabanag v. The Register of
Deeds of Quezon City, et al. G.R. No. 153142,
March 29, 2010)

Q: Can a deposit or credit balance be the subject of

escheat proceedings?

 IT DEPENDS. Escheat proceedings refer to the

judicial process in which the State, by virtue of its
sovereignty, steps in and claims abandoned, left
vacant, or unclaimed property, without there being
an interested person having a legal claim thereto.
In the case of dormant accounts, the State inquire
into the status, custody, and ownership of the
unclaimed balance to determine whether the
inactivity was brought about by the fact of death or
absence of or abandonment by the depositor. If
after the proceedings, the property remains without
a lawful owner interested to claim it, the property
shall be reverted to the State “to forestall an open
invitation to self-service by the first comers.”
However, if interested parties have come forward
and lain claim to the property, the Court shall
determine whether the credit or deposit should
pass to the claimant or be forfeited in favour of the
State. Escheat is NOT a proceeding to penalize
depositors for failing to deposit to or withdraw from
their accounts. It is a proceeding whereby the State
compels the surrender to it of unclaimed deposit