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FIRST SET OF CASES Public Land Act and the Civil Code, but also the reality on the

Land Act and the Civil Code, but also the reality on the ground. Velazco.[6] The Republic of the Philippines likewise did not present
The countrywide phenomenon of untitled lands, as well as the any evidence to controvert the application.
HEIRS OF MARIO MALABANAN, G.R. No. 179987 problem of informal settlement it has spawned, has unfortunately
been treated with benign neglect. Yet our current laws are hemmed in Among the evidence presented by Malabanan during trial was a
Petitioner, REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES by their own circumscriptions in addressing the phenomenon. Still, the Certification dated 11 June 2001, issued by the Community
duty on our part is primarily to decide cases before us in accord with Environment & Natural Resources Office, Department of Environment
Respondent. the Constitution and the legal principles that have developed our and Natural Resources (CENRO-DENR), which stated that the
public land law, though our social obligations dissuade us from subject property was verified to be within the Alienable or Disposable
TINGA, J.: land per Land Classification Map No. 3013 established under Project
casting a blind eye on the endemic problems.
No. 20-A and approved as such under FAO 4-1656 on March 15,
One main reason why the informal sector has not become formal is
I. 1982.[7]
that from Indonesia to Brazil, 90 percent of the informal lands are not
titled and registered. This is a generalized phenomenon in the so- On 20 February 1998, Mario Malabanan filed an application for land On 3 December 2002, the RTC rendered judgment in favor of
called Third World. And it has many consequences. registration covering a parcel of land identified as Lot 9864-A, Cad- Malabanan, the dispositive portion of which reads:
452-D, Silang Cadastre,[2] situated in Barangay Tibig, Silang Cavite,
The question is: How is it that so many governments, from Suharto's WHEREFORE, this Court hereby approves this application for
and consisting of 71,324 square meters. Malabanan claimed that he
in Indonesia to Fujimori's in Peru, have wanted to title these people registration and thus places under the operation of Act 141, Act 496
had purchased the property from Eduardo Velazco,[3] and that he and
and have not been able to do so effectively? One reason is that none and/or P.D. 1529, otherwise known as Property Registration Law, the
his predecessors-in-interest had been in open, notorious, and
of the state systems in Asia or Latin America can gather proof of lands described in Plan Csd-04-0173123-D, Lot 9864-A and
continuous adverse and peaceful possession of the land for more
informal titles. In Peru, the informals have means of proving property containing an area of Seventy One Thousand Three Hundred Twenty
than thirty (30) years.
ownership to each other which are not the same means developed by Four (71,324) Square Meters, as supported by its technical
the Spanish legal system. The informals have their own papers, their The application was raffled to the Regional Trial Court of (RTC) description now forming part of the record of this case, in addition to
own forms of agreements, and their own systems of registration, all of Cavite-Tagaytay City, Branch 18. The Office of the Solicitor General other proofs adduced in the name of MARIO MALABANAN, who is of
which are very clearly stated in the maps which they use for their own (OSG) duly designated the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Cavite, legal age, Filipino, widower, and with residence at Munting Ilog,
informal business transactions. Jose Velazco, Jr., to appear on behalf of the State.[4] Apart from Silang, Cavite.
presenting documentary evidence, Malabanan himself and his
If you take a walk through the countryside, from Indonesia to Peru, Once this Decision becomes final and executory, the corresponding
witness, Aristedes Velazco, testified at the hearing. Velazco testified
and you walk by field after field--in each field a different dog is going decree of registration shall forthwith issue.
that the property was originally belonged to a twenty-two hectare
to bark at you. Even dogs know what private property is all about. The
property owned by his great-grandfather, Lino Velazco. Lino had four
only one who does not know it is the government. The issue is that SO ORDERED.
sons Benedicto, Gregorio, Eduardo and Estebanthe fourth being
there exists a "common law" and an "informal law" which the Latin
Aristedess grandfather. Upon Linos death, his four sons inherited the
American formal legal system does not know how to recognize. The Republic interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals, arguing
property and divided it among themselves. But by 1966, Estebans
wife, Magdalena, had become the administrator of all the properties that Malabanan had failed to prove that the property belonged to the
- Hernando De Soto[1] alienable and disposable land of the public domain, and that the RTC
inherited by the Velazco sons from their father, Lino. After the death
of Esteban and Magdalena, their son Virgilio succeeded them in had erred in finding that he had been in possession of the property in
This decision inevitably affects all untitled lands currently in the manner and for the length of time required by law for confirmation
possession of persons and entities other than the Philippine administering the properties, including Lot 9864-A, which originally
belonged to his uncle, Eduardo Velazco. It was this property that was of imperfect title.
government. The petition, while unremarkable as to the facts, was
accepted by the Court en banc in order to provide definitive clarity to sold by Eduardo Velazco to Malabanan.[5]
On 23 February 2007, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision[8]
the applicability and scope of original registration proceedings under reversing the RTC and dismissing the application of Malabanan. The
Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Jose Velazco, Jr. did not cross-
Sections 14(1) and 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. In appellate court held that under Section 14(1) of the Property
examine Aristedes Velazco. He further manifested that he also [knew]
doing so, the Court confronts not only the relevant provisions of the Registration Decree any period of possession prior to the
the property and I affirm the truth of the testimony given by Mr.
classification of the lots as alienable and disposable was deemed private land and therefore susceptible to acquisition by The arguments submitted by the OSG with respect to Section 14(2)
inconsequential and should be excluded from the computation of the prescription in accordance with the Civil Code? are more extensive. The OSG notes that under Article 1113 of the
period of possession. Thus, the appellate court noted that since the Civil Code, the acquisitive prescription of properties of the State refers
CENRO-DENR certification had verified that the property was 3. May a parcel of land established as agricultural in character either to patrimonial property, while Section 14(2) speaks of private lands. It
declared alienable and disposable only on 15 March 1982, the because of its use or because its slope is below that of forest lands be observes that the Court has yet to decide a case that presented
Velazcos possession prior to that date could not be factored in the registrable under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree in Section 14(2) as a ground for application for registration, and that the
computation of the period of possession. This interpretation of the relation to the provisions of the Civil Code on acquisitive prescription? 30-year possession period refers to the period of possession under
Court of Appeals of Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, and not the concept of
was based on the Courts ruling in Republic v. Herbieto.[9] 4. Are petitioners entitled to the registration of the subject land in their prescription under the Civil Code. The OSG further submits that,
names under Section 14(1) or Section 14(2) of the Property assuming that the 30-year prescriptive period can run against public
Malabanan died while the case was pending with the Court of Registration Decree or both?[13] lands, said period should be reckoned from the time the public land
Appeals;[10] hence, it was his heirs who appealed the decision of the was declared alienable and disposable.
appellate court. Petitioners, before this Court, rely on our ruling in Based on these issues, the parties formulated their respective
Republic v. Naguit,[11] which was handed down just four months prior positions. Both sides likewise offer special arguments with respect to the
to Herbieto. Petitioners suggest that the discussion in Herbieto cited particular factual circumstances surrounding the subject property and
by the Court of Appeals is actually obiter dictum since the With respect to Section 14(1), petitioners reiterate that the analysis of the ownership thereof.
Metropolitan Trial Court therein which had directed the registration of the Court in Naguit is the correct interpretation of the provision. The
the property had no jurisdiction in the first place since the requisite seemingly contradictory pronouncement in Herbieto, it is submitted, II.
notice of hearing was published only after the hearing had already should be considered obiter dictum, since the land registration
begun. Naguit, petitioners argue, remains the controlling doctrine, proceedings therein was void ab initio due to lack of publication of the First, we discuss Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree.
especially when the property in question is agricultural land. notice of initial hearing. Petitioners further point out that in Republic v. For a full understanding of the provision, reference has to be made to
Therefore, with respect to agricultural lands, any possession prior to Bibonia,[14] promulgated in June of 2007, the Court applied Naguit the Public Land Act.
the declaration of the alienable property as disposable may be and adopted the same observation that the preferred interpretation by
counted in reckoning the period of possession to perfect title under the OSG of Section 14(1) was patently absurd. For its part, the OSG A.
the Public Land Act and the Property Registration Decree. remains insistent that for Section 14(1) to apply, the land should have
been classified as alienable and disposable as of 12 June 1945. Apart Commonwealth Act No. 141, also known as the Public Land Act, has,
The petition was referred to the Court en banc,[12] and on 11 from Herbieto, the OSG also cites the subsequent rulings in since its enactment, governed the classification and disposition of
November 2008, the case was heard on oral arguments. The Court Buenaventura v. Republic,[15] Fieldman Agricultural Trading v. lands of the public domain. The President is authorized, from time to
formulated the principal issues for the oral arguments, to wit: Republic[16] and Republic v. Imperial Credit Corporation,[17] as well time, to classify the lands of the public domain into alienable and
as the earlier case of Director of Lands v. Court of Appeals.[18] disposable, timber, or mineral lands.[20] Alienable and disposable
1. In order that an alienable and disposable land of the public domain lands of the public domain are further classified according to their
may be registered under Section 14(1) of Presidential Decree No. With respect to Section 14(2), petitioners submit that open, uses into (a) agricultural; (b) residential, commercial, industrial, or for
1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree, should continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of an alienable land similar productive purposes; (c) educational, charitable, or other
the land be classified as alienable and disposable as of June 12, 1945 of the public domain for more than 30 years ipso jure converts the similar purposes; or (d) reservations for town sites and for public and
or is it sufficient that such classification occur at any time prior to the land into private property, thus placing it under the coverage of quasi-public uses.[21]
filing of the applicant for registration provided that it is established that Section 14(2). According to them, it would not matter whether the land
the applicant has been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious sought to be registered was previously classified as agricultural land May a private person validly seek the registration in his/her name of
possession of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership since of the public domain so long as, at the time of the application, the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain? Section 11 of
June 12, 1945 or earlier? property had already been converted into private property through the Public Land Act acknowledges that public lands suitable for
prescription. To bolster their argument, petitioners cite extensively agricultural purposes may be disposed of by confirmation of imperfect
2. For purposes of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree from our 2008 ruling in Republic v. T.A.N. Properties.[19] or incomplete titles through judicial legalization.[22] Section 48(b) of
may a parcel of land classified as alienable and disposable be the Public Land Act, as amended by P.D. No. 1073, supplies the
details and unmistakably grants that right, subject to the requisites provided that the bona fide claim of ownership must have been for at claims and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor, under the
stated therein: least thirty (30) years. Then in 1977, Section 48(b) of the Public Land Land Registration Act, to wit:
Act was again amended, this time by P.D. No. 1073, which pegged
Sec. 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines, occupying the reckoning date at June 12, 1945. xxx xxx
lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such land or an
interest therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or It bears further observation that Section 48(b) of Com. Act No, 141 is Sec. 14 [of the Property Registration Decree]. Who may apply. The
completed, may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province virtually the same as Section 14(1) of the Property Registration following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an
where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the Decree. Said Decree codified the various laws relative to the application for registration of title to land, whether personally or
issuance of a certificate of title therefor, under the Land Registration registration of property, including lands of the public domain. It is through their duly authorized representatives:
Act, to wit: Section 14(1) that operationalizes the registration of such lands of the
public domain. The provision reads: xxx
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest
have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession SECTION 14. Who may apply. The following persons may file in the It is clear that Section 48 of the Public Land Act is more descriptive of
and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to the nature of the right enjoyed by the possessor than Section 14 of
domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, since land, whether personally or through their duly authorized the Property Registration Decree, which seems to presume the pre-
June 12, 1945, or earlier, immediately preceding the filing of the representatives: existence of the right, rather than establishing the right itself for the
application for confirmation of title except when prevented by war or first time. It is proper to assert that it is the Public Land Act, as
force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to have (1) those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in- amended by P.D. No. 1073 effective 25 January 1977, that has
performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious primarily established the right of a Filipino citizen who has been in
shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and
chapter. public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain,
1945, or earlier. under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, since June 12,
Section 48(b) of Com. Act No. 141 received its present wording in 1945 to perfect or complete his title by applying with the proper court
1977 when the law was amended by P.D. No. 1073. Two significant Notwithstanding the passage of the Property Registration Decree and for the confirmation of his ownership claim and the issuance of the
amendments were introduced by P.D. No. 1073. First, the term the inclusion of Section 14(1) therein, the Public Land Act has corresponding certificate of title.
agricultural lands was changed to alienable and disposable lands of remained in effect. Both laws commonly refer to persons or their
the public domain. The OSG submits that this amendment restricted predecessors-in-interest who have been in open, continuous, Section 48 can be viewed in conjunction with the afore-quoted
the scope of the lands that may be registered.[23] This is not actually exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and Section 11 of the Public Land Act, which provides that public lands
the case. Under Section 9 of the Public Land Act, agricultural lands disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of suitable for agricultural purposes may be disposed of by confirmation
are a mere subset of lands of the public domain alienable or open to ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier. That circumstance may of imperfect or incomplete titles, and given the notion that both
disposition. Evidently, alienable and disposable lands of the public have led to the impression that one or the other is a redundancy, or provisions declare that it is indeed the Public Land Act that primarily
domain are a larger class than only agricultural lands. that Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act has somehow been repealed establishes the substantive ownership of the possessor who has been
or mooted. That is not the case. in possession of the property since 12 June 1945. In turn, Section
Second, the length of the requisite possession was changed from 14(a) of the Property Registration Decree recognizes the substantive
possession for thirty (30) years immediately preceding the filing of the The opening clauses of Section 48 of the Public Land Act and Section right granted under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, as well
application to possession since June 12, 1945 or earlier. The Court in 14 of the Property Registration Decree warrant comparison: provides the corresponding original registration procedure for the
Naguit explained: judicial confirmation of an imperfect or incomplete title.
Sec. 48 [of the Public Land Act]. The following described citizens of
When the Public Land Act was first promulgated in 1936, the period of the Philippines, occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to There is another limitation to the right granted under Section 48(b).
possession deemed necessary to vest the right to register their title to own any such land or an interest therein, but whose titles have not Section 47 of the Public Land Act limits the period within which one
agricultural lands of the public domain commenced from July 26, been perfected or completed, may apply to the Court of First Instance may exercise the right to seek registration under Section 48. The
1894. However, this period was amended by R.A. No. 1942, which of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their
provision has been amended several times, most recently by Rep. Act distantly or remotely located.[25] Ad proximum antecedents fiat imperfect titles than what would be feasible under Herbieto. This
No. 9176 in 2002. It currently reads thus: relation nisi impediatur sentencia. balancing fact is significant, especially considering our forthcoming
discussion on the scope and reach of Section 14(2) of the Property
Section 47. The persons specified in the next following section are Besides, we are mindful of the absurdity that would result if we adopt Registration Decree.
hereby granted time, not to extend beyond December 31, 2020 within petitioners position. Absent a legislative amendment, the rule would
which to avail of the benefits of this Chapter: Provided, That this be, adopting the OSGs view, that all lands of the public domain which Petitioners make the salient observation that the contradictory
period shall apply only where the area applied for does not exceed were not declared alienable or disposable before June 12, 1945 passages from Herbieto are obiter dicta since the land registration
twelve (12) hectares: Provided, further, That the several periods of would not be susceptible to original registration, no matter the length proceedings therein is void ab initio in the first place due to lack of the
time designated by the President in accordance with Section Forty- of unchallenged possession by the occupant. Such interpretation requisite publication of the notice of initial hearing. There is no need to
Five of this Act shall apply also to the lands comprised in the renders paragraph (1) of Section 14 virtually inoperative and even explicitly overturn Herbieto, as it suffices that the Courts
provisions of this Chapter, but this Section shall not be construed as precludes the government from giving it effect even as it decides to acknowledgment that the particular line of argument used therein
prohibiting any said persons from acting under this Chapter at any reclassify public agricultural lands as alienable and disposable. The concerning Section 14(1) is indeed obiter.
time prior to the period fixed by the President.[24] unreasonableness of the situation would even be aggravated
considering that before June 12, 1945, the Philippines was not yet It may be noted that in the subsequent case of Buenaventura,[26] the
Accordingly under the current state of the law, the substantive right even considered an independent state. Court, citing Herbieto, again stated that [a]ny period of possession
granted under Section 48(b) may be availed of only until 31 prior to the date when the [s]ubject [property was] classified as
December 2020. Accordingly, the Court in Naguit explained: alienable and disposable is inconsequential and should be excluded
from the computation of the period of possession That statement, in
B. [T]he more reasonable interpretation of Section 14(1) is that it merely the context of Section 14(1), is certainly erroneous. Nonetheless, the
requires the property sought to be registered as already alienable and passage as cited in Buenaventura should again be considered as
Despite the clear text of Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, as disposable at the time the application for registration of title is filed. If obiter. The application therein was ultimately granted, citing Section
amended and Section 14(a) of the Property Registration Decree, the the State, at the time the application is made, has not yet deemed it 14(2). The evidence submitted by petitioners therein did not establish
OSG has adopted the position that for one to acquire the right to seek proper to release the property for alienation or disposition, the any mode of possession on their part prior to 1948, thereby
registration of an alienable and disposable land of the public domain, presumption is that the government is still reserving the right to utilize precluding the application of Section 14(1). It is not even apparent
it is not enough that the applicant and his/her predecessors-in-interest the property; hence, the need to preserve its ownership in the State from the decision whether petitioners therein had claimed entitlement
be in possession under a bona fide claim of ownership since 12 June irrespective of the length of adverse possession even if in good faith. to original registration following Section 14(1), their position being that
1945; the alienable and disposable character of the property must However, if the property has already been classified as alienable and they had been in exclusive possession under a bona fide claim of
have been declared also as of 12 June 1945. Following the OSGs disposable, as it is in this case, then there is already an intention on ownership for over fifty (50) years, but not before 12 June 1945.
approach, all lands certified as alienable and disposable after 12 June the part of the State to abdicate its exclusive prerogative over the
1945 cannot be registered either under Section 14(1) of the Property property. Thus, neither Herbieto nor its principal discipular ruling Buenaventura
Registration Decree or Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act as has any precedental value with respect to Section 14(1). On the other
amended. The absurdity of such an implication was discussed in The Court declares that the correct interpretation of Section 14(1) is hand, the ratio of Naguit is embedded in Section 14(1), since it
Naguit. that which was adopted in Naguit. The contrary pronouncement in precisely involved situation wherein the applicant had been in
Herbieto, as pointed out in Naguit, absurdly limits the application of exclusive possession under a bona fide claim of ownership prior to 12
Petitioner suggests an interpretation that the alienable and disposable the provision to the point of virtual inutility since it would only cover June 1945. The Courts interpretation of Section 14(1) therein was
character of the land should have already been established since lands actually declared alienable and disposable prior to 12 June decisive to the resolution of the case. Any doubt as to which between
June 12, 1945 or earlier. This is not borne out by the plain meaning of 1945, even if the current possessor is able to establish open, Naguit or Herbieto provides the final word of the Court on Section
Section 14(1). Since June 12, 1945, as used in the provision, qualifies continuous, exclusive and notorious possession under a bona fide 14(1) is now settled in favor of Naguit.
its antecedent phrase under a bonafide claim of ownership. Generally claim of ownership long before that date.
speaking, qualifying words restrict or modify only the words or We noted in Naguit that it should be distinguished from Bracewell v.
phrases to which they are immediately associated, and not those Moreover, the Naguit interpretation allows more possessors under a Court of Appeals[27] since in the latter, the application for registration
bona fide claim of ownership to avail of judicial confirmation of their had been filed before the land was declared alienable or disposable.
The dissent though pronounces Bracewell as the better rule between possession of the subject land even before the year 1927. As a rule, authorizes the application of those who have acquired ownership of
the two. Yet two years after Bracewell, its ponente, the esteemed we are bound by the factual findings of the Court of Appeals. Although private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws.
Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, penned the ruling in Republic v. there are exceptions, petitioner did not show that this is one of
Ceniza,[28] which involved a claim of possession that extended back them.[29] Prescription is one of the modes of acquiring ownership under the
to 1927 over a public domain land that was declared alienable and Civil Code.[[30]] There is a consistent jurisprudential rule that
disposable only in 1980. Ceniza cited Bracewell, quoted extensively Why did the Court in Ceniza, through the same eminent member who properties classified as alienable public land may be converted into
from it, and following the mindset of the dissent, the attempt at authored Bracewell, sanction the registration under Section 48(b) of private property by reason of open, continuous and exclusive
registration in Ceniza should have failed. Not so. public domain lands declared alienable or disposable thirty-five (35) possession of at least thirty (30) years.[[31]] With such conversion,
years and 180 days after 12 June 1945? The telling difference is that such property may now fall within the contemplation of private lands
To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is in Ceniza, the application for registration was filed nearly six (6) years under Section 14(2), and thus susceptible to registration by those who
alienable, an applicant must establish the existence of a positive act after the land had been declared alienable or disposable, while in have acquired ownership through prescription. Thus, even if
of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an Bracewell, the application was filed nine (9) years before the land was possession of the alienable public land commenced on a date later
executive order; an administrative action; investigation reports of declared alienable or disposable. That crucial difference was also than June 12, 1945, and such possession being been open,
Bureau of Lands investigators; and a legislative act or a statute. stressed in Naguit to contradistinguish it from Bracewell, a difference continuous and exclusive, then the possessor may have the right to
which the dissent seeks to belittle. register the land by virtue of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration
In this case, private respondents presented a certification dated Decree.
November 25, 1994, issued by Eduardo M. Inting, the Community III.
Environment and Natural Resources Officer in the Department of Naguit did not involve the application of Section 14(2), unlike in this
Environment and Natural Resources Office in Cebu City, stating that We next ascertain the correct framework of analysis with respect to case where petitioners have based their registration bid primarily on
the lots involved were "found to be within the alienable and disposable Section 14(2). The provision reads: that provision, and where the evidence definitively establishes their
(sic) Block-I, Land Classification Project No. 32-A, per map 2962 4- claim of possession only as far back as 1948. It is in this case that we
I555 dated December 9, 1980." This is sufficient evidence to show the SECTION 14. Who may apply. The following persons may file in the can properly appreciate the nuances of the provision.
real character of the land subject of private respondents application. proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to
Further, the certification enjoys a presumption of regularity in the land, whether personally or through their duly authorized A.
absence of contradictory evidence, which is true in this case. Worth representatives:
noting also was the observation of the Court of Appeals stating that: The obiter in Naguit cited the Civil Code provisions on prescription as
xxx the possible basis for application for original registration under
[n]o opposition was filed by the Bureaus of Lands and Forestry to Section 14(2). Specifically, it is Article 1113 which provides legal
contest the application of appellees on the ground that the property (2) Those who have acquired ownership over private lands by foundation for the application. It reads:
still forms part of the public domain. Nor is there any showing that the prescription under the provisions of existing laws.
lots in question are forestal land.... All things which are within the commerce of men are susceptible of
The Court in Naguit offered the following discussion concerning prescription, unless otherwise provided. Property of the State or any
Thus, while the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that mere possession Section 14(2), which we did even then recognize, and still do, to be an of its subdivisions not patrimonial in character shall not be the object
of public land for the period required by law would entitle its occupant obiter dictum, but we nonetheless refer to it as material for further of prescription.
to a confirmation of imperfect title, it did not err in ruling in favor of discussion, thus:
private respondents as far as the first requirement in Section 48(b) of It is clear under the Civil Code that where lands of the public domain
Did the enactment of the Property Registration Decree and the are patrimonial in character, they are susceptible to acquisitive
the Public Land Act is concerned, for they were able to overcome the
amendatory P.D. No. 1073 preclude the application for registration of prescription. On the other hand, among the public domain lands that
burden of proving the alienability of the land subject of their
alienable lands of the public domain, possession over which are not susceptible to acquisitive prescription are timber lands and
application.
commenced only after June 12, 1945? It did not, considering Section mineral lands. The Constitution itself proscribes private ownership of
As correctly found by the Court of Appeals, private respondents were 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree, which governs and timber or mineral lands.
able to prove their open, continuous, exclusive and notorious
There are in fact several provisions in the Civil Code concerning the apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is declared alienable at the beginning of, and continue as such,
acquisition of real property through prescription. Ownership of real located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a throughout the entire thirty-(30) years. There is neither statutory nor
property may be acquired by ordinary prescription of ten (10) certificate of title therefor, under the Land Registration Act, to wit: jurisprudential basis to assert Rep. Act No. 1942 had mandated such
years,[32] or through extraordinary prescription of thirty (30) a requirement,[38] similar to our earlier finding with respect to the
years.[33] Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires possession in xxx xxx xxx present language of Section 48(b), which now sets 12 June 1945 as
good faith,[34] as well as just title.[35] the point of reference.
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest
have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession
and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain, under a
bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, for at least thirty years
immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of
title, except when prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be Then, with the repeal of Rep. Act No. 1942, the thirty-year possession
conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential period as basis for original registration became Section 14(2) of the
When Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree explicitly to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title Property Registration Decree, which entitled those who have acquired
provides that persons who have acquired ownership over private under the provisions of this Chapter. (emphasis supplied)[37] ownership over private lands by prescription under the provisions of
lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws, it existing laws to apply for original registration. Again, the thirty-year
unmistakably refers to the Civil Code as a valid basis for the This provision was repealed in 1977 with the enactment of P.D. 1073, period is derived from the rule on extraordinary prescription under
registration of lands. The Civil Code is the only existing law that which made the date 12 June 1945 the reckoning point for the first Article 1137 of the Civil Code. At the same time, Section 14(2) puts
specifically allows the acquisition by prescription of private lands, time. Nonetheless, applications for registration filed prior to 1977 into operation the entire regime of prescription under the Civil Code, a
including patrimonial property belonging to the State. Thus, the critical could have invoked the 30-year rule introduced by Rep. Act No. 1942. fact which does not hold true with respect to Section 14(1).
question that needs affirmation is whether Section 14(2) does
encompass original registration proceedings over patrimonial property The second source is Section 14(2) of P.D. 1529 itself, at least by B.
of the State, which a private person has acquired through implication, as it applies the rules on prescription under the Civil
prescription. Code, particularly Article 1113 in relation to Article 1137. Note that Unlike Section 14(1), Section 14(2) explicitly refers to the principles
there are two kinds of prescription under the Civil Codeordinary on prescription under existing laws. Accordingly, we are impelled to
The Naguit obiter had adverted to a frequently reiterated acquisitive prescription and extraordinary acquisitive prescription, apply the civil law concept of prescription, as set forth in the Civil
jurisprudence holding that properties classified as alienable public which, under Article 1137, is completed through uninterrupted Code, in our interpretation of Section 14(2). There is no similar
land may be converted into private property by reason of open, adverse possession for thirty years, without need of title or of good demand on our part in the case of Section 14(1).
continuous and exclusive possession of at least thirty (30) years.[36] faith.
Yet if we ascertain the source of the thirty-year period, additional The critical qualification under Article 1113 of the Civil Code is thus:
complexities relating to Section 14(2) and to how exactly it operates Obviously, the first source of the thirty (30)-year period rule, Rep. Act [p]roperty of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial in
would emerge. For there are in fact two distinct origins of the thirty No. 1942, became unavailable after 1977. At present, the only legal character shall not be the object of prescription. The identification
(30)-year rule. basis for the thirty (30)-year period is the law on prescription under what consists of patrimonial property is provided by Articles 420 and
the Civil Code, as mandated under Section 14(2). However, there is a 421, which we quote in full:
The first source is Rep. Act No. 1942, enacted in 1957, which material difference between how the thirty (30)-year rule operated
amended Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act by granting the right to under Rep. Act No. 1942 and how it did under the Civil Code. Art. 420. The following things are property of public dominion:
seek original registration of alienable public lands through possession
in the concept of an owner for at least thirty years. Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, as amended by Rep. Act No. (1) Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers,
1942, did not refer to or call into application the Civil Code provisions torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State, banks, shores,
The following-described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of on prescription. It merely set forth a requisite thirty-year possession roadsteads, and others of similar character;
the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest period immediately preceding the application for confirmation of title,
therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may without any qualification as to whether the property should be
(2) Those which belong to the State, without being for public use, and been converted into patrimonial. Without such express declaration, provisions of existing laws and regulations governing sales of
are intended for some public service or for the development of the the property, even if classified as alienable or disposable, remains government properties.[43]
national wealth. property of the public dominion, pursuant to Article 420(2), and thus
incapable of acquisition by prescription. It is only when such alienable From the moment the BCDA law was enacted the subject military
Art. 421. All other property of the State, which is not of the character and disposable lands are expressly declared by the State to be no lands have become alienable and disposable. However, said lands
stated in the preceding article, is patrimonial property longer intended for public service or for the development of the did not become patrimonial, as the BCDA law itself expressly makes
national wealth that the period of acquisitive prescription can begin to the reservation that these lands are to be sold in order to raise funds
It is clear that property of public dominion, which generally includes run. Such declaration shall be in the form of a law duly enacted by for the conversion of the former American bases at Clark and
property belonging to the State, cannot be the object of prescription Congress or a Presidential Proclamation in cases where the President Subic.[44] Such purpose can be tied to either public service or the
or, indeed, be subject of the commerce of man.[39] Lands of the is duly authorized by law. development of national wealth under Article 420(2). Thus, at that
public domain, whether declared alienable and disposable or not, are time, the lands remained property of the public dominion under Article
property of public dominion and thus insusceptible to acquisition by It is comprehensible with ease that this reading of Section 14(2) of the 420(2), notwithstanding their status as alienable and disposable. It is
prescription. Property Registration Decree limits its scope and reach and thus upon their sale as authorized under the BCDA law to a private person
affects the registrability even of lands already declared alienable and or entity that such lands become private property and cease to be
Let us now explore the effects under the Civil Code of a declaration disposable to the detriment of the bona fide possessors or occupants property of the public dominion.
by the President or any duly authorized government officer of claiming title to the lands. Yet this interpretation is in accord with the
alienability and disposability of lands of the public domain. Would Regalian doctrine and its concomitant assumption that all lands
such lands so declared alienable and disposable be converted, under owned by the State, although declared alienable or disposable,
the Civil Code, from property of the public dominion into patrimonial remain as such and ought to be used only by the Government. C.
property? After all, by connotative definition, alienable and disposable
lands may be the object of the commerce of man; Article 1113 Recourse does not lie with this Court in the matter. The duty of the Should public domain lands become patrimonial because they are
provides that all things within the commerce of man are susceptible to Court is to apply the Constitution and the laws in accordance with declared as such in a duly enacted law or duly promulgated
prescription; and the same provision further provides that patrimonial their language and intent. The remedy is to change the law, which is proclamation that they are no longer intended for public service or for
property of the State may be acquired by prescription. the province of the legislative branch. Congress can very well be the development of the national wealth, would the period of
entreated to amend Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree possession prior to the conversion of such public dominion into
Nonetheless, Article 422 of the Civil Code states that [p]roperty of and pertinent provisions of the Civil Code to liberalize the patrimonial be reckoned in counting the prescriptive period in favor of
public dominion, when no longer intended for public use or for public requirements for judicial confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles. the possessors? We rule in the negative.
service, shall form part of the patrimonial property of the State. It is
this provision that controls how public dominion property may be The operation of the foregoing interpretation can be illustrated by an The limitation imposed by Article 1113 dissuades us from ruling that
converted into patrimonial property susceptible to acquisition by actual example. Republic Act No. 7227, entitled An Act Accelerating the period of possession before the public domain land becomes
prescription. After all, Article 420 (2) makes clear that those property The Conversion Of Military Reservations Into Other Productive Uses, patrimonial may be counted for the purpose of completing the
which belong to the State, without being for public use, and are etc., is more commonly known as the BCDA law. Section 2 of the law prescriptive period. Possession of public dominion property before it
intended for some public service or for the development of the authorizes the sale of certain military reservations and portions of becomes patrimonial cannot be the object of prescription according to
national wealth are public dominion property. For as long as the military camps in Metro Manila, including Fort Bonifacio and Villamor the Civil Code. As the application for registration under Section 14(2)
property belongs to the State, although already classified as alienable Air Base. For purposes of effecting the sale of the military camps, the falls wholly within the framework of prescription under the Civil Code,
or disposable, it remains property of the public dominion if when it is law mandates the President to transfer such military lands to the there is no way that possession during the time that the land was still
intended for some public service or for the development of the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA)[40] which in turn is classified as public dominion property can be counted to meet the
national wealth. authorized to own, hold and/or administer them.[41] The President is requisites of acquisitive prescription and justify registration.
authorized to sell portions of the military camps, in whole or in
Accordingly, there must be an express declaration by the State that part.[42] Accordingly, the BCDA law itself declares that the military Are we being inconsistent in applying divergent rules for Section 14(1)
the public dominion property is no longer intended for public service lands subject thereof are alienable and disposable pursuant to the and Section 14(2)? There is no inconsistency. Section 14(1)
or the development of the national wealth or that the property has mandates registration on the basis of possession, while Section 14(2)
entitles registration on the basis of prescription. Registration under [p]roperty of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial in Earlier, we made it clear that, whether under ordinary prescription or
Section 14(1) is extended under the aegis of the Property Registration character shall not be the object of prescription. extraordinary prescription, the period of possession preceding the
Decree and the Public Land Act while registration under Section 14(2) classification of public dominion lands as patrimonial cannot be
is made available both by the Property Registration Decree and the There are two modes of prescription through which immovables may counted for the purpose of computing prescription. But after the
Civil Code. be acquired under the Civil Code. The first is ordinary acquisitive property has been become patrimonial, the period of prescription
prescription, which, under Article 1117, requires possession in good begins to run in favor of the possessor. Once the requisite period has
In the same manner, we can distinguish between the thirty-year faith and with just title; and, under Article 1134, is completed through been completed, two legal events ensue: (1) the patrimonial property
period under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, as amended by possession of ten (10) years. There is nothing in the Civil Code that is ipso jure converted into private land; and (2) the person in
Rep. Act No. 1472, and the thirty-year period available through bars a person from acquiring patrimonial property of the State through possession for the periods prescribed under the Civil Code acquires
Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree in relation to Article ordinary acquisitive prescription, nor is there any apparent reason to ownership of the property by operation of the Civil Code.
1137 of the Civil Code. The period under the former speaks of a thirty- impose such a rule. At the same time, there are indispensable
year period of possession, while the period under the latter concerns requisitesgood faith and just title. The ascertainment of good faith It is evident that once the possessor automatically becomes the
a thirty-year period of extraordinary prescription. Registration under involves the application of Articles 526, 527, and 528, as well as owner of the converted patrimonial property, the ideal next step is the
Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act as amended by Rep. Act No. Article 1127 of the Civil Code,[45] provisions that more or less speak registration of the property under the Torrens system. It should be
1472 is based on thirty years of possession alone without regard to for themselves. remembered that registration of property is not a mode of acquisition
the Civil Code, while the registration under Section 14(2) of the of ownership, but merely a mode of confirmation of ownership.[48]
Property Registration Decree is founded on extraordinary prescription
under the Civil Code. Looking back at the registration regime prior to the adoption of the
On the other hand, the concept of just title requires some clarification. Property Registration Decree in 1977, it is apparent that the
It may be asked why the principles of prescription under the Civil Under Article 1129, there is just title for the purposes of prescription registration system then did not fully accommodate the acquisition of
Code should not apply as well to Section 14(1). Notwithstanding the when the adverse claimant came into possession of the property ownership of patrimonial property under the Civil Code. What the
vaunted status of the Civil Code, it ultimately is just one of numerous through one of the modes recognized by law for the acquisition of system accommodated was the confirmation of imperfect title brought
statutes, neither superior nor inferior to other statutes such as the ownership or other real rights, but the grantor was not the owner or about by the completion of a period of possession ordained under the
Property Registration Decree. The legislative branch is not bound to could not transmit any right. Dr. Tolentino explains: Public Land Act (either 30 years following Rep. Act No. 1942, or since
adhere to the framework set forth by the Civil Code when it enacts 12 June 1945 following P.D. No. 1073).
subsequent legislation. Section 14(2) manifests a clear intent to Just title is an act which has for its purpose the transmission of
interrelate the registration allowed under that provision with the Civil ownership, and which would have actually transferred ownership if the The Land Registration Act[49] was noticeably silent on the requisites
Code, but no such intent exists with respect to Section 14(1). grantor had been the owner. This vice or defect is the one cured by for alienable public lands acquired through ordinary prescription under
prescription. Examples: sale with delivery, exchange, donation, the Civil Code, though it arguably did not preclude such
succession, and dacion in payment.[46] registration.[50] Still, the gap was lamentable, considering that the
Civil Code, by itself, establishes ownership over the patrimonial
IV. The OSG submits that the requirement of just title necessarily property of persons who have completed the prescriptive periods
precludes the applicability of ordinary acquisitive prescription to ordained therein. The gap was finally closed with the adoption of the
One of the keys to understanding the framework we set forth today is patrimonial property. The major premise for the argument is that the Property Registration Decree in 1977, with Section 14(2) thereof
seeing how our land registration procedures correlate with our law on State, as the owner and grantor, could not transmit ownership to the expressly authorizing original registration in favor of persons who
prescription, which, under the Civil Code, is one of the modes for possessor before the completion of the required period of have acquired ownership over private lands by prescription under the
acquiring ownership over property. possession.[47] It is evident that the OSG erred when it assumed that provisions of existing laws, that is, the Civil Code as of now.
the grantor referred to in Article 1129 is the State. The grantor is the
The Civil Code makes it clear that patrimonial property of the State one from whom the person invoking ordinary acquisitive prescription V.
may be acquired by private persons through prescription. This is derived the title, whether by sale, exchange, donation, succession or
brought about by Article 1113, which states that [a]ll things which are any other mode of the acquisition of ownership or other real rights. We synthesize the doctrines laid down in this case, as follows:
within the commerce of man are susceptible to prescription, and that
(1) In connection with Section 14(1) of the Property Registration patrimonial property for at least thirty (30) years, regardless of good legal system and the reality on the ground. The law so far has been
Decree, Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act recognizes and confirms faith or just title, ripens into ownership. unable to bridge that gap. Alternative means of acquisition of these
that those who by themselves or through their predecessors in public domain lands, such as through homestead or free patent, have
interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious B.
possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the proven unattractive due to limitations imposed on the grantee in the
public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, We now apply the above-stated doctrines to the case at bar. encumbrance or alienation of said properties.[52] Judicial confirmation
since June 12, 1945 have acquired ownership of, and registrable title of imperfect title has emerged as the most viable, if not the most
to, such lands based on the length and quality of their possession. It is clear that the evidence of petitioners is insufficient to establish attractive means to regularize the informal settlement of alienable or
that Malabanan has acquired ownership over the subject property disposable lands of the public domain, yet even that system, as
(a) Since Section 48(b) merely requires possession since 12 June under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. There is no substantive revealed in this decision, has considerable limits.
1945 and does not require that the lands should have been alienable evidence to establish that Malabanan or petitioners as his
and disposable during the entire period of possession, the possessor predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the property There are millions upon millions of Filipinos who have individually or
is entitled to secure judicial confirmation of his title thereto as soon as since 12 June 1945 or earlier. The earliest that petitioners can date exclusively held residential lands on which they have lived and raised
it is declared alienable and disposable, subject to the timeframe back their possession, according to their own evidencethe Tax their families. Many more have tilled and made productive idle lands
imposed by Section 47 of the Public Land Act.[51] Declarations they presented in particularis to the year 1948. Thus, of the State with their hands. They have been regarded for generation
they cannot avail themselves of registration under Section 14(1) of the by their families and their communities as common law owners. There
(b) The right to register granted under Section 48(b) of the Public Property Registration Decree. is much to be said about the virtues of according them legitimate
Land Act is further confirmed by Section 14(1) of the Property states. Yet such virtues are not for the Court to translate into positive
Registration Decree. Neither can petitioners properly invoke Section 14(2) as basis for law, as the law itself considered such lands as property of the public
registration. While the subject property was declared as alienable or dominion. It could only be up to Congress to set forth a new phase of
(2) In complying with Section 14(2) of the Property Registration disposable in 1982, there is no competent evidence that is no longer land reform to sensibly regularize and formalize the settlement of
Decree, consider that under the Civil Code, prescription is recognized intended for public use service or for the development of the national such lands which in legal theory are lands of the public domain before
as a mode of acquiring ownership of patrimonial property. However, evidence, conformably with Article 422 of the Civil Code. The the problem becomes insoluble. This could be accomplished, to cite
public domain lands become only patrimonial property not only with a classification of the subject property as alienable and disposable land two examples, by liberalizing the standards for judicial confirmation of
declaration that these are alienable or disposable. There must also be of the public domain does not change its status as property of the imperfect title, or amending the Civil Code itself to ease the requisites
an express government manifestation that the property is already public dominion under Article 420(2) of the Civil Code. Thus, it is for the conversion of public dominion property into patrimonial.
patrimonial or no longer retained for public service or the development insusceptible to acquisition by prescription.
of national wealth, under Article 422 of the Civil Code. And only when
the property has become patrimonial can the prescriptive period for VI.
the acquisition of property of the public dominion begin to run. Ones sense of security over land rights infuses into every aspect of
A final word. The Court is comfortable with the correctness of the well-being not only of that individual, but also to the persons family.
(a) Patrimonial property is private property of the government. The legal doctrines established in this decision. Nonetheless, discomfiture Once that sense of security is deprived, life and livelihood are put on
person acquires ownership of patrimonial property by prescription over the implications of todays ruling cannot be discounted. For, every stasis. It is for the political branches to bring welcome closure to the
under the Civil Code is entitled to secure registration thereof under untitled property that is occupied in the country will be affected by this long pestering problem.
Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. ruling. The social implications cannot be dismissed lightly, and the
Court would be abdicating its social responsibility to the Filipino WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of
(b) There are two kinds of prescription by which patrimonial property people if we simply levied the law without comment. Appeals dated 23 February 2007 and Resolution dated 2 October
may be acquired, one ordinary and other extraordinary. Under 2007 are AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.
ordinary acquisitive prescription, a person acquires ownership of a The informal settlement of public lands, whether declared alienable or
patrimonial property through possession for at least ten (10) years, in not, is a phenomenon tied to long-standing habit and cultural SO ORDERED.
good faith and with just title. Under extraordinary acquisitive acquiescence, and is common among the so-called Third World
prescription, a persons uninterrupted adverse possession of countries. This paradigm powerfully evokes the disconnect between a
G.R. No. 179987 September 3, 2013 Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the Department of Environment and disposable was inconsequential and should be excluded from the
and Natural Resources (DENR), which reads: computation of the period of possession. Noting that the CENRO-
HEIRS OF MARIO MALABANAN, (Represented by Sally A. DENR certification stated that the property had been declared
Malabanan), Petitioners, This is to certify that the parcel of land designated as Lot No. 9864 alienable and disposable only on March 15, 1982, Velazco’s
Cad 452-D, Silang Cadastre as surveyed for Mr. Virgilio Velasco possession prior to March 15, 1982 could not be tacked for purposes
vs. located at Barangay Tibig, Silang, Cavite containing an area of of computing Malabanan’s period of possession.
249,734 sq. meters as shown and described on the Plan Ap-04-00952
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent. is verified to be within the Alienable or Disposable land per Land Due to Malabanan’s intervening demise during the appeal in the CA,
Classification Map No. 3013 established under Project No. 20-A and his heirs elevated the CA’s decision of February 23, 2007 to this Court
RESOLUTION approved as such under FAO 4-1656 on March 15, 1982.2 through a petition for review on certiorari.

BERSAMIN, J.: After trial, on December 3, 2002, the RTC rendered judgment granting The petitioners assert that the ruling in Republic v. Court of Appeals
Malabanan’s application for land registration, disposing thusly: and Corazon Naguit5 (Naguit) remains the controlling doctrine
For our consideration and resolution are the motions for
especially if the property involved is agricultural land. In this regard,
reconsideration of the parties who both assail the decision WHEREFORE, this Court hereby approves this application for Naguit ruled that any possession of agricultural land prior to its
promulgated on April 29, 2009, whereby we upheld the ruling of the registration and thus places under the operation of Act 141, Act 496 declaration as alienable and disposable could be counted in the
Court of Appeals (CA) denying the application of the petitioners for and/or P.D. 1529, otherwise known as Property Registration Law, the reckoning of the period of possession to perfect title under the Public
the registration of a parcel of land situated in Barangay Tibig, Silang, lands described in Plan Csd-04-0173123-D, Lot 9864-A and Land Act (Commonwealth Act No. 141) and the Property Registration
Cavite on the ground that they had not established by sufficient containing an area of Seventy One Thousand Three Hundred Twenty Decree. They point out that the ruling in Herbieto, to the effect that the
evidence their right to the registration in accordance with either Four (71,324) Square Meters, as supported by its technical declaration of the land subject of the application for registration as
Section 14(1) or Section 14(2) of Presidential Decree No. 1529 description now forming part of the record of this case, in addition to alienable and disposable should also date back to June 12, 1945 or
(Property Registration Decree). other proofs adduced in the name of MARIO MALABANAN, who is of earlier, was a mere obiter dictum considering that the land registration
legal age, Filipino, widower, and with residence at Munting Ilog, proceedings therein were in fact found and declared void ab initio for
Antecedents
Silang, Cavite. lack of publication of the notice of initial hearing.
The property subject of the application for registration is a parcel of
Once this Decision becomes final and executory, the corresponding The petitioners also rely on the ruling in Republic v. T.A.N. Properties,
land situated in Barangay Tibig, Silang Cavite, more particularly
decree of registration shall forthwith issue. Inc.6 to support their argument that the property had been ipso jure
identified as Lot 9864-A, Cad-452-D, with an area of 71,324-square
converted into private property by reason of the open, continuous,
meters. On February 20, 1998, applicant Mario Malabanan, who had SO ORDERED.3 exclusive and notorious possession by their predecessors-in-interest
purchased the property from Eduardo Velazco, filed an application for
of an alienable land of the public domain for more than 30 years.
land registration covering the property in the Regional Trial Court The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) appealed the judgment to According to them, what was essential was that the property had
(RTC) in Tagaytay City, Cavite, claiming that the property formed part the CA, arguing that Malabanan had failed to prove that the property been "converted" into private property through prescription at the time
of the alienable and disposable land of the public domain, and that he belonged to the alienable and disposable land of the public domain, of the application without regard to whether the property sought to be
and his predecessors-in-interest had been in open, continuous, and that the RTC erred in finding that he had been in possession of registered was previously classified as agricultural land of the public
uninterrupted, public and adverse possession and occupation of the the property in the manner and for the length of time required by law domain.
land for more than 30 years, thereby entitling him to the judicial for confirmation of imperfect title.
confirmation of his title.1
As earlier stated, we denied the petition for review on certiorari
On February 23, 2007, the CA promulgated its decision reversing the because Malabanan failed to establish by sufficient evidence
To prove that the property was an alienable and disposable land of RTC and dismissing the application for registration of Malabanan. possession and occupation of the property on his part and on the part
the public domain, Malabanan presented during trial a certification Citing the ruling in Republic v. Herbieto (Herbieto),4 the CA declared of his predecessors-in interest since June 12, 1945, or earlier.
dated June 11, 2001 issued by the Community Environment and that under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree, any
period of possession prior to the classification of the land as alienable Petitioners’ Motion for Reconsideration
In their motion for reconsideration, the petitioners submit that the Land, which is an immovable property,10 may be classified as either classification is done exclusively by and through a positive act of the
mere classification of the land as alienable or disposable should be of public dominion or of private ownership.11 Land is considered of Executive Department.22
deemed sufficient to convert it into patrimonial property of the State. public dominion if it either: (a) is intended for public use; or (b)
Relying on the rulings in Spouses De Ocampo v. Arlos,7 Menguito v. belongs to the State, without being for public use, and is intended for Based on the foregoing, the Constitution places a limit on the type of
Republic8 and Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc.,9 they argue that some public service or for the development of the national wealth.12 public land that may be alienated. Under Section 2, Article XII of the
the reclassification of the land as alienable or disposable opened it to Land belonging to the State that is not of such character, or although 1987 Constitution, only agricultural lands of the public domain may be
acquisitive prescription under the Civil Code; that Malabanan had of such character but no longer intended for public use or for public alienated; all other natural resources may not be.
purchased the property from Eduardo Velazco believing in good faith service forms part of the patrimonial property of the State.13 Land
that Velazco and his predecessors-in-interest had been the real that is other than part of the patrimonial property of the State, Alienable and disposable lands of the State fall into two categories, to
owners of the land with the right to validly transmit title and ownership provinces, cities and municipalities is of private ownership if it belongs wit: (a) patrimonial lands of the State, or those classified as lands of
thereof; that consequently, the ten-year period prescribed by Article to a private individual. private ownership under Article 425 of the Civil Code,23 without
1134 of the Civil Code, in relation to Section 14(2) of the Property limitation; and (b) lands of the public domain, or the public lands as
Registration Decree, applied in their favor; and that when Malabanan Pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine (Jura Regalia), a legal concept first provided by the Constitution, but with the limitation that the lands must
filed the application for registration on February 20, 1998, he had introduced into the country from the West by Spain through the Laws only be agricultural. Consequently, lands classified as forest or timber,
already been in possession of the land for almost 16 years reckoned of the Indies and the Royal Cedulas,14 all lands of the public domain mineral, or national parks are not susceptible of alienation or
from 1982, the time when the land was declared alienable and belong to the State.15 This means that the State is the source of any disposition unless they are reclassified as agricultural.24 A positive
disposable by the State. asserted right to ownership of land, and is charged with the act of the Government is necessary to enable such reclassification,25
conservation of such patrimony.16 and the exclusive prerogative to classify public lands under existing
The Republic’s Motion for Partial Reconsideration laws is vested in the Executive Department, not in the courts.26 If,
All lands not appearing to be clearly under private ownership are however, public land will be classified as neither agricultural, forest or
The Republic seeks the partial reconsideration in order to obtain a presumed to belong to the State. Also, public lands remain part of the timber, mineral or national park, or when public land is no longer
clarification with reference to the application of the rulings in Naguit inalienable land of the public domain unless the State is shown to intended for public service or for the development of the national
and Herbieto. have reclassified or alienated them to private persons.17 wealth, thereby effectively removing the land from the ambit of public
dominion, a declaration of such conversion must be made in the form
Chiefly citing the dissents, the Republic contends that the decision Classifications of public lands of a law duly enacted by Congress or by a Presidential proclamation
has enlarged, by implication, the interpretation of Section 14(1) of the in cases where the President is duly authorized by law to that
Property Registration Decree through judicial legislation. It reiterates according to alienability effect.27 Thus, until the Executive Department exercises its
its view that an applicant is entitled to registration only when the land prerogative to classify or reclassify lands, or until Congress or the
subject of the application had been declared alienable and disposable Whether or not land of the public domain is alienable and disposable President declares that the State no longer intends the land to be
since June 12, 1945 or earlier. primarily rests on the classification of public lands made under the used for public service or for the development of national wealth, the
Constitution. Under the 1935 Constitution,18 lands of the public Regalian Doctrine is applicable.
Ruling domain were classified into three, namely, agricultural, timber and
mineral.19 Section 10, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution classified Disposition of alienable public lands
We deny the motions for reconsideration. lands of the public domain into seven, specifically, agricultural,
industrial or commercial, residential, resettlement, mineral, timber or Section 11 of the Public Land Act (CA No. 141) provides the manner
In reviewing the assailed decision, we consider to be imperative to forest, and grazing land, with the reservation that the law might by which alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, i.e.,
discuss the different classifications of land in relation to the existing provide other classifications. The 1987 Constitution adopted the agricultural lands, can be disposed of, to wit:
applicable land registration laws of the Philippines. classification under the 1935 Constitution into agricultural, forest or
timber, and mineral, but added national parks.20 Agricultural lands
Classifications of land according to ownership may be further classified by law according to the uses to which they
may be devoted.21 The identification of lands according to their legal Section 11. Public lands suitable for agricultural purposes can be
disposed of only as follows, and not otherwise:
(1) For homestead settlement; domain" to clearly signify that lands otherwise classified, i.e., mineral, The dissent stresses that the classification or reclassification of the
forest or timber, or national parks, and lands of patrimonial or private land as alienable and disposable agricultural land should likewise
(2) By sale; ownership, are outside the coverage of the Public Land Act. What the have been made on June 12, 1945 or earlier, because any
law does not include, it excludes. The use of the descriptive phrase possession of the land prior to such classification or reclassification
(3) By lease; and "alienable and disposable" further limits the coverage of Section 48(b) produced no legal effects. It observes that the fixed date of June 12,
to only the agricultural lands of the public domain as set forth in Article 1945 could not be minimized or glossed over by mere judicial
(4) By confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles; XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution. Bearing in mind such interpretation or by judicial social policy concerns, and insisted that
limitations under the Public Land Act, the applicant must satisfy the the full legislative intent be respected.
(a) By judicial legalization; or
following requirements in order for his application to come under
Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree,28 to wit: We find, however, that the choice of June 12, 1945 as the reckoning
(b) By administrative legalization (free patent).
point of the requisite possession and occupation was the sole
1. The applicant, by himself or through his predecessor-in-interest, prerogative of Congress, the determination of which should best be
The core of the controversy herein lies in the proper interpretation of
has been in possession and occupation of the property subject of the left to the wisdom of the lawmakers. Except that said date qualified
Section 11(4), in relation to Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act,
application; the period of possession and occupation, no other legislative intent
which expressly requires possession by a Filipino citizen of the land
appears to be associated with the fixing of the date of June 12, 1945.
since June 12, 1945, or earlier, viz:
2. The possession and occupation must be open, continuous, Accordingly, the Court should interpret only the plain and literal
exclusive, and notorious; meaning of the law as written by the legislators.

3. The possession and occupation must be under a bona fide claim of Moreover, an examination of Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act
Section 48. The following-described citizens of the Philippines,
acquisition of ownership; indicates that Congress prescribed no requirement that the land
occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such
lands or an interest therein, but whose titles have not been perfected subject of the registration should have been classified as agricultural
4. The possession and occupation must have taken place since June since June 12, 1945, or earlier. As such, the applicant’s imperfect or
or completed, may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province
12, 1945, or earlier; and incomplete title is derived only from possession and occupation since
where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the
issuance of a certificate of title thereafter, under the Land Registration June 12, 1945, or earlier. This means that the character of the
5. The property subject of the application must be an agricultural land property subject of the application as alienable and disposable
Act, to wit: of the public domain. agricultural land of the public domain determines its eligibility for land
xxxx registration, not the ownership or title over it.
Taking into consideration that the Executive Department is vested
with the authority to classify lands of the public domain, Section 48(b) Alienable public land held by a possessor, either personally or
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-
of the Public Land Act, in relation to Section 14(1) of the Property through his predecessors-in-interest, openly, continuously and
interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious
Registration Decree, presupposes that the land subject of the exclusively during the prescribed statutory period is converted to
possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the
application for registration must have been already classified as private property by the mere lapse or completion of the period.29 In
public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership,
agricultural land of the public domain in order for the provision to fact, by virtue of this doctrine, corporations may now acquire lands of
since June 12, 1945, or earlier, immediately preceding the filing of the
apply. Thus, absent proof that the land is already classified as the public domain for as long as the lands were already converted to
applications for confirmation of title, except when prevented by war or
agricultural land of the public domain, the Regalian Doctrine applies, private ownership, by operation of law, as a result of satisfying the
force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to have
and overcomes the presumption that the land is alienable and requisite period of possession prescribed by the Public Land Act.30 It
performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and
disposable as laid down in Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. is for this reason that the property subject of the application of
shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this
However, emphasis is placed on the requirement that the Malabanan need not be classified as alienable and disposable
chapter. (Bold emphasis supplied)
classification required by Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is agricultural land of the public domain for the entire duration of the
classification or reclassification of a public land as agricultural. requisite period of possession.
Note that Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act used the words "lands
of the public domain" or "alienable and disposable lands of the public
To be clear, then, the requirement that the land should have been converted to private property even upon the subsequent declaration
classified as alienable and disposable agricultural land at the time of of it as alienable and disposable. Prescription never began to run
the application for registration is necessary only to dispute the (1) As a general rule and pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine, all lands against the State, such that the land has remained ineligible for
presumption that the land is inalienable. of the public domain belong to the State and are inalienable. Lands registration under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree.
that are not clearly under private ownership are also presumed to Likewise, the land continues to be ineligible for land registration under
The declaration that land is alienable and disposable also serves to belong to the State and, therefore, may not be alienated or disposed; Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree unless Congress
determine the point at which prescription may run against the State. enacts a law or the President issues a proclamation declaring the land
The imperfect or incomplete title being confirmed under Section 48(b) (2) The following are excepted from the general rule, to wit: as no longer intended for public service or for the development of the
of the Public Land Act is title that is acquired by reason of the national wealth.1âwphi1
applicant’s possession and occupation of the alienable and (a) Agricultural lands of the public domain are rendered alienable and
disposable agricultural land of the public domain. Where all the disposable through any of the exclusive modes enumerated under WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the petitioners' Motion for
necessary requirements for a grant by the Government are complied Section 11 of the Public Land Act. If the mode is judicial confirmation Reconsideration and the respondent's Partial Motion for
with through actual physical, open, continuous, exclusive and public of imperfect title under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, the Reconsideration for their lack of merit.
possession of an alienable and disposable land of the public domain, agricultural land subject of the application needs only to be classified
the possessor is deemed to have acquired by operation of law not as alienable and disposable as of the time of the application, provided
only a right to a grant, but a grant by the Government, because it is the applicant’s possession and occupation of the land dated back to
not necessary that a certificate of title be issued in order that such a June 12, 1945, or earlier. Thereby, a conclusive presumption that the SO ORDERED.
grant be sanctioned by the courts.31 applicant has performed all the conditions essential to a government
grant arises,36 and the applicant becomes the owner of the land by
If one follows the dissent, the clear objective of the Public Land Act to virtue of an imperfect or incomplete title. By legal fiction, the land has
adjudicate and quiet titles to unregistered lands in favor of qualified already ceased to be part of the public domain and has become
Filipino citizens by reason of their occupation and cultivation thereof private property.37
for the number of years prescribed by law32 will be defeated. Indeed,
we should always bear in mind that such objective still prevails, as a (b) Lands of the public domain subsequently classified or declared as
fairly recent legislative development bears out, when Congress no longer intended for public use or for the development of national
enacted legislation (Republic Act No. 10023)33 in order to liberalize wealth are removed from the sphere of public dominion and are
stringent requirements and procedures in the adjudication of alienable considered converted into patrimonial lands or lands of private
public land to qualified applicants, particularly residential lands, ownership that may be alienated or disposed through any of the
subject to area limitations.34 modes of acquiring ownership under the Civil Code. If the mode of
acquisition is prescription, whether ordinary or extraordinary, proof
On the other hand, if a public land is classified as no longer intended that the land has been already converted to private ownership prior to
for public use or for the development of national wealth by declaration the requisite acquisitive prescriptive period is a condition sine qua non
of Congress or the President, thereby converting such land into in observance of the law (Article 1113, Civil Code) that property of the
patrimonial or private land of the State, the applicable provision State not patrimonial in character shall not be the object of
concerning disposition and registration is no longer Section 48(b) of prescription.
the Public Land Act but the Civil Code, in conjunction with Section
14(2) of the Property Registration Decree.35 As such, prescription To reiterate, then, the petitioners failed to present sufficient evidence
can now run against the State. to establish that they and their predecessors-in-interest had been in
possession of the land since June 12, 1945. Without satisfying the
To sum up, we now observe the following rules relative to the requisite character and period of possession - possession and
disposition of public land or lands of the public domain, namely: occupation that is open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious since
June 12, 1945, or earlier - the land cannot be considered ipso jure
U.S. Supreme Court comply with certain ceremonies prescribed either by the acts of the Paris, April 11, 1899, as far back as the findings go, the plaintiff and
Philippine Commission or by Spanish law. his ancestors had held the land as owners. His grandfather had lived
Cariño v. Insular Government, 212 U.S. 449 (1909) upon it, and had maintained fences sufficient for the holding of cattle,
The Organic Act of the Philippines made a bill of rights embodying according to the custom of the country, some of the fences, it seems,
Cariño v. Insular Government of the Philippine Islands No. 72 safeguards of the Constitution, and, like the Constitution, extends having been of much earlier date. His father had cultivated parts and
those safeguards to all. had used parts for pasturing cattle, and he had used it for pasture in
Argued January 13, 1909 his turn. They all had been recognized as owners by the Igorots, and
Every presumption of ownership is in favor of one actually occupying he had inherited or received the land from his father in accordance
Decided February 23, 1909 land for many years, and against the government which seeks to with Igorot custom. No document of title, however, had issued from
deprive him of it, for failure to comply with provisions of a the Spanish Crown, and although, in 1893-1894 and again in 1896-
212 U.S. 449 subsequently enacted registration act. 1897, he made application for one under the royal decrees then in
ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS force, nothing seems to have come of it, unless, perhaps, information
Title by prescription against the crown existed under Spanish law in that lands in Benguet could not be conceded until those to be
force in the Philippine Islands prior to their acquisition by the United occupied for a sanatorium, etc., had been designated -- a purpose
Syllabus
States, and one occupying land in the Province of Benguet for more that has been carried out by the Philippine government and the United
than fifty years before the Treaty of Paris is entitled to the continued States. In 1901, the plaintiff filed a petition, alleging ownership, under
Writ of error is the general, and appeal the exceptional, method of
possession thereof. the mortgage law, and the lands were registered to him, that process,
bringing Cases to this Court. The latter method is in the main confined
to equity cases, and the former is proper to bring up a judgment of the however, establishing only a possessory title, it is said.
7 Phil. 132 reversed.
Supreme Court of the Philippine Islands affirming a judgment of the
Court of Land Registration dismissing an application for registration of Before we deal with the merits, we must dispose of a technical point.
The facts are stated in the opinion.
land. The government has spent some energy in maintaining that this case
should have been brought up by appeal, and not by writ of error. We
Page 212 U. S. 455
Although a province may be excepted from the operation of Act No. are of opinion, however, that the mode adopted was right. The
926 of 1903 of the Philippine Commission which provides for the MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court. proceeding for registration is likened to bills in equity to quiet title, but
registration and perfecting of new titles, one who actually owns it is different in principle. It is a proceeding in rem under a statute of
property in such province is entitled to registration under Act No. 496 This was an application to the Philippine Court of Land Registration the type of the Torrens Act, such as was discussed in Tyler v. Court of
of 1902, which applies to the whole archipelago. for the registration of certain land. The application was granted by the Registration, 175 Mass. 71. It is nearer to law than to equity, and is an
court on March 4, 1904. An appeal was taken to the Court of First assertion of legal title; but we think it unnecessary to put it into either
While, in legal theory and as against foreign nations, sovereignty is Instance of the Province of Benguet on behalf of the government of pigeon hole. A writ of error is the general method of bringing cases to
absolute, practically it is a question of strength and of varying degree, the Philippines, and also on behalf of the United States, those this Court, an appeal the exception, confined to equity in the main.
and it is for a new sovereign to decide how far it will insist upon governments having taken possession of the property for public and There is no reason for not applying the general rule to this case.
theoretical relations of the subject to the former sovereign and how far military purposes. The Court of First Instance found the facts and Ormsby v. Webb, 134 U. S. 47, 134 U. S. 65; Campbell v. Porter, 162
it will recognize actual facts. dismissed the application upon grounds of law. This judgment was U. S. 478; Metropolitan R. Co. v. District of Columbia, 195 U. S. 322.
affirmed by the supreme court, 7 Phil. 132, and the case then was
Page 212 U. S. 450 brought here by writ of error. Page 212 U. S. 457

The acquisition of the Philippines was not for the purpose of acquiring The material facts found are very few. The applicant and plaintiff in Another preliminary matter may as well be disposed of here. It is
the lands occupied by the inhabitants, and under the Organic Act of error is an Igorot of the Province of Benguet, where the land lies. For suggested that, even if the applicant have title, he cannot have it
July 1, 1902, c. 1369, 32 Stat. 691, providing that property rights are more than fifty years before the Treaty of registered, because the Philippine Commission's Act No. 926, of
to be administered for the benefit of the inhabitants, one who actually 1903, excepts the Province of Benguet among others from its
owned land for many years cannot be deprived of it for failure to Page 212 U. S. 456 operation. But that act deals with the acquisition of new titles by
homestead entries, purchase, etc., and the perfecting of titles begun
under the Spanish law. The applicant's claim is that he now owns the The Province of Benguet was inhabited by a tribe that the Solicitor § 5. In the light of the declaration that we have quoted from § 12, it is
land, and is entitled to registration under the Philippine Commission's General, in his argument, characterized as a savage tribe that never hard to believe that the United States was ready to declare in the next
Act No. 496, of 1902, which established a court for that purpose with was brought under the civil or military government of the Spanish breath that "any person" did not embrace the inhabitants of Benguet,
jurisdiction "throughout the Philippine Archipelago," § 2, and Crown. It seems probable, if not certain, that the Spanish officials or that it meant by "property" only that which had become such by
authorized in general terms applications to be made by persons would not have granted to anyone in that province the registration to ceremonies of which presumably a large part of the inhabitants never
claiming to own the legal estate in fee simple, as the applicant does. which formerly the plaintiff was entitled by the Spanish laws, and had heard, and that it proposed to treat as public land what they, by
He is entitled to registration if his claim of ownership can be which would have made his title beyond question good. Whatever native custom and by long association -- one of the profoundest
maintained. may have been the technical position of Spain, it does not follow that, factors in human thought -- regarded as their own.
in the view of the United States, he had lost all rights and was a mere
We come, then, to the question on which the case was decided below trespasser when the present government seized his land. The It is true that, by § 14, the government of the Philippines is
-- namely, whether the plaintiff owns the land. The position of the argument to that effect seems to amount to a denial of native titles empowered to enact rules and prescribe terms for perfecting titles to
government, shortly stated, is that Spain assumed, asserted, and had throughout an important part of the island of Luzon, at least, for the public lands where some, but not all, Spanish conditions had been
title to all the land in the Philippines except so far as it saw fit to permit want of ceremonies which the Spaniards would not have permitted fulfilled, and to issue patents to natives for not more than sixteen
private titles to be acquired; that there was no prescription against the and had not the power to enforce. hectares of public lands actually occupied by the native or his
Crown, and that, if there was, a decree of June 25, 1880, required ancestors before August 13, 1898. But this section perhaps might be
registration within a limited time to make the title good; that the The acquisition of the Philippines was not like the settlement of the satisfied if confined to cases where the occupation was of land
plaintiff's land was not registered, and therefore became, if it was not white race in the United States. Whatever consideration may have admitted to be public land, and had not continued for such a length of
always, public land; that the United States succeeded to the title of been shown to the North American Indians, the dominant purpose of time and under such circumstances as to give rise to the
Spain, and so that the plaintiff has no rights that the Philippine the whites in America was to occupy the land. It is obvious that, understanding that the occupants were owners at that date. We
government is bound to respect. however stated, the reason for our taking over the Philippines was hesitate to suppose that it was intended to declare every native who
different. No one, we suppose, would deny that, so far as consistent had not a paper title a trespasser, and to set the claims of all the
If we suppose for the moment that the government's contention is so with paramount necessities, our first object in the internal wilder tribes afloat. It is true again that there is excepted from the
far correct that the Crown of Spain in form asserted a title to this land administration of the islands is to do justice to the natives, not to provision that we have quoted as to the administration of the property
at the date of the Treaty of Paris, to which the United States exploit their country for private gain. By the Organic Act of July 1, and rights acquired by the United States such land and property as
succeeded, it is not to be assumed without argument that the 1902, c. 1369, § 12, 32 Stat. 691, all the property and rights acquired shall be designated by the President for military or other reservations,
plaintiff's case is at an end. It is true that Spain, in its earlier decrees, there by the
embodied the universal feudal theory that all lands were held from the Page 212 U. S. 460
Crown, and perhaps the general attitude of conquering nations toward Page 212 U. S. 459
people not recognized as entitled to the treatment accorded to those as this land since has been. But there still remains the question what
United States are to be administered "for the benefit of the inhabitants property and rights the United States asserted itself to have acquired.
Page 212 U. S. 458 thereof." It is reasonable to suppose that the attitude thus assumed by
the United States with regard to what was unquestionably its own is Whatever the law upon these points may be, and we mean to go no
in the same zone of civilization with themselves. It is true also that, in also its attitude in deciding what it will claim for its own. The same further than the necessities of decision demand, every presumption is
legal theory, sovereignty is absolute, and that, as against foreign statute made a bill of rights, embodying the safeguards of the and ought to be against the government in a case like the present. It
nations, the United States may assert, as Spain asserted, absolute Constitution, and, like the Constitution, extends those safeguards to might, perhaps, be proper and sufficient to say that when, as far back
power. But it does not follow that, as against the inhabitants of the all. It provides that as testimony or memory goes, the land has been held by individuals
Philippines, the United States asserts that Spain had such power. under a claim of private ownership, it will be presumed to have been
When theory is left on one side, sovereignty is a question of strength, "no law shall be enacted in said islands which shall deprive any held in the same way from before the Spanish conquest, and never to
and may vary in degree. How far a new sovereign shall insist upon person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or deny have been public land. Certainly, in a case like this, if there is doubt or
the theoretical relation of the subjects to the head in the past, and to any person therein the equal protection of the laws." ambiguity in the Spanish law, we ought to give the applicant the
how far it shall recognize actual facts, are matters for it to decide. benefit of the doubt. Whether justice to the natives and the import of
the organic act ought not to carry us beyond a subtle examination of
ancient texts, or perhaps even beyond the attitude of Spanish law, The question comes, however, on the decree of June 25, 1880, for completely all possession, recommends in two articles twenty and
humane though it was, it is unnecessary to decide. If, in a tacit way, it the adjustment of royal lands wrongfully occupied by private thirty years, as adopted in the decree, and then suggests that
was assumed that the wild tribes of the Philippines were to be dealt individuals in the Philippine Islands. This begins with the usual interested parties not included in those articles may legalize their
with as the power and inclination of the conqueror might dictate, theoretic assertion that, for private ownership, there must have been a possession and acquire ownership by adjustment at a certain price.
Congress has not yet sanctioned the same course as the proper one grant by competent authority; but instantly descends to fact by
"for the benefit of the inhabitants thereof." providing that, for all legal effects, those who have been in possession It is true that the language of Articles 4 and 5 attributes title to those
for certain times shall be deemed owners. For cultivated land, twenty "who may prove" possession for the necessary time, and we do not
If the applicant's case is to be tried by the law of Spain, we do not years, uninterrupted, is enough. For uncultivated, thirty. Art. 5. So overlook the argument that this means may prove in registration
discover such clear proof that it was bad by that law as to satisfy us that, when this decree went into effect, the applicant's father was proceedings. It may be that an English conveyancer would have
that he does not own the land. To begin with, the older decrees and owner of the land by the very terms of the decree. But, it is said, the recommended an application under the foregoing decree, but
laws cited by the counsel for the plaintiff in error seem to indicate object of this law was to require the adjustment or registration certainly it was not calculated to convey to the mind of an Igorot chief
pretty clearly that the natives were recognized as owning some lands, proceedings that it described, and in that way to require everyone to the notion that ancient family possessions were in danger, if he had
irrespective of any royal grant. In other words, Spain did not assume get a document of title or lose his land. That purpose may have been read every word of it. The words "may prove" (acrediten), as well, or
to convert all the native inhabitants of the Philippines into trespassers, entertained, but it does not appear clearly to have been applicable to better, in view of the other provisions, might be taken to mean when
or even into tenants at will. For instance, Book 4, Title 12, Law 14 of all. The regulations purport to have been made "for the adjustment of called upon to do so in any litigation. There are indications that
the Recopilacion de Leyes de las Indias, cited for a contrary royal lands wrongfully occupied by private individuals." (We follow the registration was expected from all, but none sufficient to show that, for
conclusion in Valenton v. Murciano, 3 Phil. 537, while it commands translation in the government's brief.) It does not appear that this land want of it, ownership actually gained would be lost.
viceroys and others, when it seems proper, to call for the exhibition of ever was royal land or wrongfully occupied. In Article 6, it is provided
grants, directs them to confirm those who hold by good grants or justa that Page 212 U. S. 463
prescripcion. It is true that it
"interested parties not included within the two preceding The effect of the proof, wherever made, was not to confer title, but
Page 212 U. S. 461 simply to establish it, as already conferred by the decree, if not by
Page 212 U. S. 462 earlier law. The royal decree of February 13, 1894, declaring forfeited
begins by the characteristic assertion of feudal overlordship and the titles that were capable of adjustment under the decree of 1880, for
origin of all titles in the King or his predecessors. That was theory and articles [the articles recognizing prescription of twenty and thirty which adjustment had not been sought, should not be construed as a
discourse. The fact was that titles were admitted to exist that owed years] may legalize their possession, and thereby acquire the full confiscation, but as the withdrawal of a privilege. As a matter of fact,
nothing to the powers of Spain beyond this recognition in their books. ownership of the said lands, by means of adjustment proceedings, to the applicant never was disturbed. This same decree is quoted by the
be conducted in the following manner." Court of Land Registration for another recognition of the common law
Prescription is mentioned again in the royal cedula of October 15, prescription of thirty years as still running against alienable Crown
1754, cited in 3 Phil. 546: This seems, by its very terms, not to apply to those declared already land.
to be owners by lapse of time. Article 8 provides for the case of
"Where such possessors shall not be able to produce title deeds, it parties not asking an adjustment of the lands of which they are It will be perceived that the rights of the applicant under the Spanish
shall be sufficient if they shall show that ancient possession, as a unlawfully enjoying the possession, within one year, and threatens law present a problem not without difficulties for courts of a different
valid title by prescription." that the treasury "will reassert the ownership of the state over the legal tradition. We have deemed it proper on that account to notice
lands," and will sell at auction such part as it does not reserve. The the possible effect of the change of sovereignty and the act of
It may be that this means possession from before 1700; but, at all applicant's possession was not unlawful, and no attempt at any such Congress establishing the fundamental principles now to be
events, the principle is admitted. As prescription, even against Crown proceedings against him or his father ever was made. Finally, it observed. Upon a consideration of the whole case, we are of opinion
lands, was recognized by the laws of Spain, we see no sufficient should be noted that the natural construction of the decree is that law and justice require that the applicant should be granted what
reason for hesitating to admit that it was recognized in the Philippines confirmed by the report of the council of state. That report puts he seeks, and should not be deprived of what, by the practice and
in regard to lands over which Spain had only a paper sovereignty. forward as a reason for the regulations that, in view of the condition of belief of those among whom he lived, was his property, through a
almost all property in the Philippines, it is important to fix its status by refined interpretation of an almost forgotten law of Spain.
general rules on the principle that the lapse of a fixed period legalizes
G.R. No. L-3793 February 19, 1908 The question is an important one because the phrase "agricultural according to its agricultural character and productiveness, and shall
public lands" as defined by said act of Congress of July 1, is found not immediately make rules and regulations for the lease, sale, or other
CIRILO MAPA, petitioner-appelle, vs. THE INSULAR only in section 54 above quoted but in other parts of Act No. 926, and disposition of the public lands other than timber or mineral lands, but
GOVERNMENT, respondent-appellant. it seems that the same construction must be given to the phrase such rules and regulations shall not go into effect of have the force of
wherever it occurs in any part of that law. The claim of the Attorney- law until they have received the approval of the President, and when
WILLARD, J.: General seems to be that no lands can be called agricultural lands approved by the President they shall be submitted by him to
unless they are such by their nature. If the contention of the Attorney- Congress at the beginning of the next ensuing session thereof and
This case comes from the Court of Land Registration. The petitioner General is correct, and this land because of its nature is not unless disapproved or amended by Congress at said session they
sought to have registered a tract of land of about 16 hectares in agricultural land, it is difficult to see how it could be disposed of or shall at the close of such period have the force and effect of law in the
extent, situated in the barrio of San Antonio, in the district of what the Government could do with it if it should be decided that the Philippine Islands: Provided, That a single homestead entry shall not
Mandurriao, in the municipality of Iloilo. Judgment was rendered in Government is the owner thereof. It could not allow the land to be exceed sixteen hectares in extent.
favor of the petitioner and the Government has appealed. A motion for entered as a homestead, for Chapter I of Act No. 926 allows the entry
a new trial was made and denied in the court below, but no exception of homesteads only upon "agricultural public lands" in the Philippine SEC. 15. That the Government of the Philippine Islands is hereby
was taken to the order denying it, and we therefore can not review the Islands, as defined by the act of Congress of July 1, 1902. It could not authorized and empowered on such terms as it may prescribe, by
evidence. sell it in accordance with the provisions of Chapter II of Act No. 926 general legislation, to provide for the granting or sale and conveyance
for section 10 only authorizes the sale of "unreserved nonmineral to actual occupants and settlers and other citizens of said Islands
The decision of that court was based upon Act No. 926 section 54, such parts and portions of the public domain, other than timber and
agricultural public land in the Philippine Islands, as defined in the act
paragraph 6 which follows: mineral lands, of the United States in said Islands as it may deem
of Congress of July first, nineteen hundred and two." It could not lease
it in accordance with the provisions of Chapter III of the said act, for wise, not exceeding sixteen hectares to any one person and for the
All persons who by themselves or their predecessors in interest have
section 22 relating to leases limits them to "nonmineral public lands, sale and conveyance of not more than one thousand and twenty-four
been in the open, continuous exclusive, and notorious possession
as defined by section eighteen and twenty of the act of Congress hectares to any corporation or association of persons: Provided, that
and occupation of agricultural public lands, as defined by said act of
approved July first, nineteen hundred and two." It may be noted in the grant or sale of such lands, whether the purchase price be paid at
Congress of July first, nineteen hundred and two, under a bona fide
passing that there is perhaps some typographical or other error in this once or in partial payments shall be conditioned upon actual and
claim of ownership except as against the Government, for a period of
reference to sections 18 and 20, because neither one of these continued occupancy, improvement, and cultivation of the premises
ten years next preceding the taking effect of this act, except when
sections mentions agricultural lands. The Government could not give sold for a period of not less than five years, during which time the
prevented by war, or force majeure, shall be conclusively presumed to
a free patent to this land to a native settler, in accordance with the purchaser or grantee can not alienate or encumber said land or the
have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant
provisions of Chapter IV, for that relates only to "agricultural public title thereto; but such restriction shall not apply to transfers of rights
and to have received the same, and shall be entitled to a certificate of
land, as defined by act of Congress of July first, nineteen hundred and and title of inheritance under the laws for the distribution of the
title to such land under the provisions of this chapter.
two." In fact, by virtue of the provisions of Act No. 926, the estates of decedents.
The only question submitted to the court below or to this court by the Government could do nothing with this land except to lay out a town
site thereon in accordance with the provisions of Chapter V, for It is seen that neither one of these sections gives any express
Attorney-General is the question whether the land in controversy is
section 36 relating to that matter, says nothing about agricultural land. definition of the phrase "agricultural land." In fact, in section 15 the
agricultural land within the meaning of the section above quoted. The
word "agricultural" does not occur.
findings of the court below upon that point are as follows:
The question before us is not what is agricultural land, but what
definition has been given to that phrase by the act of Congress. An There seem to be only three possible ways of deciding this question.
From the evidence adduced it appears that the land in question is
examination of that act will show that the only sections thereof The first is to say that no definition of the phrase "agricultural land"
lowland, and has been uninterruptedly, for more than twenty years, in
wherein can be found anything which could be called a definition of can be found in the act of Congress; the second, that there is a
the possession of the petitioner and his ancestors as owners and the
the phrase are sections 13 and 15. Those sections are as follows: definition of that phrase in the act and that it means land which in its
same has been used during the said period, and up to the present, as
nature is agricultural; and, third, that there is a definition in the act and
fish ponds, nipa lands, and salt deposits. The witnesses declare that
SEC. 13. That the Government of the Philippine Islands, subject to the that the phrase means all of the public lands acquired from Spain
the land is far from the sea, the town of Molo being between the sea
provisions of this act and except as herein provided, shall classify except those which are mineral or timber lands. The court below
and the said land.
adopted this view, and held that the land, not being timber or mineral
land, came within the definition of agricultural land, and that therefore The most arid mountain and the poorest soil are susceptible of After homesteads have been entered, lands, sold, and leases made
Section 54 paragraph 6, Act No. 926 was applicable thereto. cultivation by the hand of man. The land in question in this case, by the administrative officers on the theory that the lands were
which is used as a fishery, could be filled up and any kind of crops agricultural lands by their nature, to leave the matter of their true
1. There are serious objections to holding that there is no raised thereon. Mineral and timber lands are expressly excluded, but character open for subsequent action by the courts would be to
definition in the act of the phrase "agricultural land." The Commission it would be difficult to say that any other particular tract of land was produce an evil that should if possible be avoided.
in enacting Act No. 926 expressly declared that such a definition not agricultural in nature. Such lands may be found within the limits of
could be found therein. The President approved this act and it might any city. There is within the city of Manila, and within a thickly 3. We hold that there is to be found in the act of Congress a
be said that Congress, by failing to reject or amend it, tacitly approved inhabited part thereof an experimental far. This land is in its nature definition of the phrase "agricultural public lands," and after a careful
it. Moreover, if it should be said that there is no definition in the act of agricultural. Adjoining the Luneta, in the same city, is a large tract of consideration of the question we are satisfied that the only definition
Congress of the phrase "agricultural land," we do not see how any land, Camp Wallace, devoted to sports. The land surrounding the city which exists in said act is the definition adopted by the court below.
effect could be given to the provisions of Act No. 916, to which we walls of Manila, between them and the Malecon Drive on the west, the Section 13 says that the Government shall "Make rules and
have referred. If the phrase is not defined in the act of Congress, then Luneta on the south, and Bagumbayan Drive on the south and east, is regulations for the lease, sale, or other disposition of the public lands
the lands upon which homesteads can be granted can not be of many hectares in extent and is in nature agricultural. The Luneta other than timber or mineral lands." To our minds, that is the only
determined. Nor can it be known what land the Government has the itself could at any time be devoted to the growing of crops. definition that can be said to be given to acricultural lands. In other
right to sell in accordance with the provisions of Chapter II, nor what words, that the phrase "agricultural land" as used in Act No. 926
lands it can lease in accordance with the provisions of Chapter III, nor The objection to adopting this construction on account of its means those public lands acquired from Spain which are not timber or
the lands for which it can give free patents to native settlers in uncertainty is emphasized when we consider that whether certain mineral lands. As was said in the case of Jones vs. The Insular
accordance with the provisions of Chapter IV, and it would seem to land was or was not agricultural land, as defined by the act of Government (6 Phil Rep., 122, 133) where these same section of the
follow, necessarily, that none of those chapters could be put into force Congress, and therefore subject to homestead entry, to sale, or to act of Congress were under discussion:
and that all that had up to this time been done by virtue thereof would lease in accordance with the provisions of Act No. 926, would be a
be void. question that would finally have to be determined by the courts, The meaning of these sections is not clear and it is difficult to give to
unless there is some express provision of the law authorizing the them a construction that would be entirely free from objection. But the
2. The second way of disposing of the question is by saying administrative officers to determine this question for themselves. construction we have adopted, to our minds, is less objectionable
that Congress has defined agricultural lands as those lands which Section 2 of Act No. 926 relating to homesteads provides that the than any other one that has been suggested.
are, as the Attorney-General says, by their nature agricultural. As has Chief of The Bureau of Public Lands shall summarily determine
been said before, the word "agricultural" does not occur in section 15. whether the land described is prima facie under the law subject to There is nothing in this case of Jones vs. The Insular Government
Section 13 says that the Government "shall classify according to its homestead settlement. Section 13, relating to the sale of public lands, which at all conflicts with the result here arrived at. The question as to
agricultural character and productiveness and shall immediately make provides simply that the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands shall whether the lands there involved were or were not agricultural lands
rules and regulations for the lease, sale, or other disposition of the determine from the certificate of the Chief of the Bureau of Forestry within the meaning of the sections was neither discussed nor decided.
public lands other than timber or mineral land." This is the same thing whether the land applied for is more valuable for agricultural than for In fact, it appears from the decision that those lands, which were in
as saying that the Government shall classify the public lands other timber purposes, but it says nothing about his decisions as to whether the Province of Benguet, were within the strictest definition of the
than timber or mineral lands according to its agricultural character and it is or is not agricultural land in its nature. Section 26 relating to the phrase "agricultural lands." It appears that such lands had been
productiveness; in other words, that it shall classify all the public lands lease of public lands provides that the Chief of the Bureau of Public cultivated for more than twelve years. What that case decided was,
acquired from Spain, and that this classification shall be made Lands shall determine from the certificate of the Chief of the Bureau not that the lands therein involved and other lands referred to in the
according to the agricultural character of the land and according to its of Forestry whether the land applied for is more valuable for decision by way of illustration were not agricultural lands but that the
productiveness. agricultural than for timber purposes and further summarily determine law there in question and the other laws mentioned therein were not
from available records whether the land is or is not mineral and does rules and regulations within the meaning of section 13.
One objection to adopting this view is that it is so vague and indefinite not contain deposits of coal or salts. Section 34 relating to fee patents
that it would be very difficult to apply it in practice. What lands are to native settlers makes no provision for any determination by the The judgment of the court below is affirmed, with the costs of this
agricultural in nature? The Attorney-General himself in his brief in this Chief of Bureau of Public Lands in regard to the character of the land instance against the appellant. So ordered.
case says: applied for.
G.R. No. 1413 March 30, 1904 written protest, however, having been entered against these The case presents, therefore, the important question whether or not
proceedings by the plaintiff Andres Valenton. during the years from 1860 to 1890 a private person, situated as the
ANDRES VALENTON, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellants, vs.MANUEL plaintiffs were, could have obtained as against the State the
MURCIANO, defendant-appellee. Sixth. That on the 14th day of July, 1892, Don Enrique Castellvie ownership of the public lands of the State by means of occupation.
Ibarrola, secretary of the treasury of the Province of Tarlac, in his The court finds that at the time of the entry by the plaintiff in 1860 the
WILLARD, J.: official capacity as such secretary, executed a contract of purchase lands were vacant and were public lands belonging to the then
and sale, by which said lands were sold and conveyed by him to the existing Government. The plaintiffs do not claim to have ever obtained
I. The findings of fact made by the court below in its decision are as defendant, Manuel Murciano, as attorney for the said Candido from the Government any deed for the lands, nor any confirmation of
follows: Capulong. their possession.

First. That in the year 1860, the plaintiffs, and each one of them, Seventh. That on the 19th day of July, 1892, said Candido Capulong Whether in the absence of any special legislation on the subject a
entered into the peaceful and quiet occupation and possession of the executed a contract of purchase and sale, by which he sold and general statute of limitations in which the State was not expressly
larger part of the lands described in the complaint of the plaintiffs, to conveyed the said lands to the defendants, Manuel Murciano. excepted would run against the State as to its public lands we do not
wit [description]: find it necessary to decide. Reasons based upon public policy could
Eight. That from the said 14th day of July, 1892, Manuel Murciano be adduced why it should not, at least as to such public lands as are
Second. That on the date on which the plaintiffs entered into the has at no time occupied or possessed all of the land mentioned, but involved in this case. (See Act No. 926, sec. 67.) We are, however, of
occupation and possession of the said lands, as above set forth, has possessed only certain in distinct and indefinite portions of the the opinion that the case at bar must be decided, not by the general
these lands and every part thereof were public, untilled, and same. That during all this time the plaintiffs have opposed the statute of limitation contained in the Partidas, but by those special
unoccupied, and belonged to the then existing Government of the occupation of the defendant, and said plaintiffs during all the time in laws which from the earliest times have regulated the disposition of
Philippine Islands. That immediately after the occupation and question have been and are in the possession and occupation of part the public lands in the colonies.
possession of the said lands by the plaintiffs, the plaintiffs began to of the said lands, tilling them and improving them by themselves and
cultivate and improve them in a quiet and peaceful manner. by their agents and tenants. Did these special laws recognize any right of prescription against the
State as to these lands; and if so, to what extend was it recognizes?
Third. That from the said year 1860, the plaintiffs continued to occupy Ninth. That never, prior to the said 14th day of July,, 1892, has the Laws of very early date provided for the assignment of public lands to
and possess the said lands, quietly and peacefully, until the year defendant, Manuel Murciano, been in the peaceful and quiet the subjects of the Crown. Law 1, title 12, book 4 of the Recopilacion
1892, by themselves, by their agents and tenants, claiming that they possession and occupation of the said lands, or in the peaceful and de Leyes de las Indias is an example of them, and is as follows:
were the exclusive owners of said lands. quiet occupation of any part thereof.
In order that our subjects may be encouraged to undertake the
Fourth. That on or about the 16th day of January, 1892, Manuel Upon these facts the Court of First Instance ordered judgment for the discovery and settlement of the Indies, and that they may live with the
Murciano, defendant in this proceeding, acting on behalf of and as defendant on the ground that the plaintiffs had lost all right to the land comfort and convenience which we desire, it is our will that there shall
attorney in fact of Candido Capulong, by occupation a cook, by not pursuing their objections to the sale mentioned in the sixth be distributed to all those who shall go out to people the new
denounced the said lands to the then existing Government of the finding. The plaintiffs excepted to the judgment and claim in this court territories, houses, lots, lands, peonias, and caballerias in the towns
Philippine Islands, declaring that the said lands every part thereof that upon the facts found by the court below judgment should have and places which may be assigned to them by the governor of the
were public, untilled, and unoccupied lands belonging to the then been entered in their favor. Their contention is that in 1890 they had new settlement, who in apportioning the lands, will distinguish
existing Government of the Philippine Islands, and petitioned for the been in the adverse possession of the property for thirty years; that, between gentlemen and peasants, and those of lower degree and
sale of the same to him. applying the extra ordinary period of prescription of thirty years, found merit, and who will add to the possessions and better the condition of
as well in the Partidas as in the Civil Code, they then became the the grantees, according to the nature of the services rendered by
Fifth. That before the execution of the sale heretofore mentioned, absolute owners of the land as against everyone, including the State, them, and with a view to the promotion of agriculture and stock
various proceedings were had for the survey and measurement of the and that when the State in 1892 deeded the property to the raising. To those who shall have labored and established a home on
lands in question at the instance of the defendant, Murciano, the latter defendant, nothing passed by the deed because the State had said lands and who shall have resided in the said settlement for a
acting as agent and attorney in fact of said Candido Capulong, a nothing to convey. period of four years we grant the right thereafter to sell and in every
other manner to exercise their free will over said lands as over their
own property. And we further command that, in accordance with their be for the grant of waters and lands for mercantile purpose, it shall be receipts, or by virtue of just prescriptive right shall be protected, and
rank and degree, the governor, or whoever may be invested with our presented to the viceroy or municipal president, who will transmit it to all the rest shall be restored to us to be disposed of at our will.
authority, shall allot the Indians to them in any distribution made, so the council. If the latters shall vote to make the grant, one of the
that they may profit by their labor and fines in accordance with the magistrates will carry its decision to the viceroy or president, to the While the State has always recognized the right of the occupant to
tributes required and the law controlling such matters. end that, upon consideration of the matter by him, the proper action deed if he proves a possession for a sufficient length of time, yet it
may be taken. has always insisted that he must make that proof before the proper
And in order that, in allotting said lands, there may be no doubt as to administrative officers, and obtain from them his deed, and until he
the area of each grant, we declare that a peonia shall consist of a It happened, in the course of time, that tracts of the public land were did that the State remained the absolute owner.
tract fifty feet in breadth by one hundred in length, with arable land found in the possession of persons who either had no title papers
capable of producing one hundred bushels of wheat or barley, ten therefor issued by the State, or whose title papers were defective, In the preamble of this law there is, as is seen, a distinct statement
bushels of maize, as much land for an orchard as two yokes of oxen either because the proper procedure had not been followed or that all those lands belong to the Crown which have not been granted
may plough in a day, and for the planting of other trees of a hardy because they had been issued by persons who had no authority to do by Philip, or in his name, or by the kings who proceeded him. This
nature as much as may be plowed with eight yokes in a day, and so. Law 14, title 12 book 4 of said compilation (referred to in the statement excludes the idea that there might be lands no so granted,
including pasture for twenty cows, five mares, one hundred sheep, regulations of June 25, 1880, for the Philippines) was the first of a that did not being to the king. It excludes the idea that the king was
twenty goats, and ten breeding pigs. A caballeria shall be a tract one long series of legislative acts intended to compel those in possession not still the owner of all ungranted lands, because some private
hundred feet in breadth and two hundred in length, and in other of the public lands, without written evidence of title, or with defective person had been in the adverse occupation of them. By the
respects shall equal five peonias — that is, it will include arable land title papers, to present evidence as to their possession or grants, and mandatory part of the law all the occupants of the public lands are
capable of producing five hundred bushels of wheat or barley and fifty obtain the confirmation of their claim to ownership. That law is as required to produce before the authorities named, and within a time to
bushels of maize, as much land for an orchard as may be ploughed follows: be fixed by them, their title papers. And those who had good title or
with ten yokes of oxen in a day, and for the planting of other hardy showed prescription were to be protected in their holdings. It is
trees as much as forty yokes may plough in a day, together with We having acquitted full sovereignty over the Indies, and all lands apparent that it was not the intention of the law that mere possession
pasturage for one hundred cows, twenty mares, five hundred sheep, territories, and possession not heretofore ceded away by our royal for a length of time should make the possessors the owners of the
one hundred goats, and fifty breeding pigs. And we order that the predecessors, or by, or in our name, still pertaining to the royal crown lands possessed by them without any action on the part of the
distribution be made in such a manner that all may receive equal and patrimony, it is our will that all lands which are held without proper authorities. It is plain that they were required to present their claims to
benefit therefrom, and if this be impracticable, then that each shall be and true deeds of grants be restored to us according as they belong the authorities and obtain a confirmation thereof. What the period of
given his due. to us, in order that after reserving before all what to us or to our prescription mentioned in this law was does not appear, but latter, in
viceroys, audiencias, and governors may seem necessary for public 1646, law 19 of the same title declared "that no one shall be 'admitted
But it was necessary, however, that action should in all cases be squares, ways, pastures, and commons in those places which are to adjustment' unless he has possessed the lands for ten years."
taken by the public officials before any interest was acquired by the peopled, taking into consideration not only their present condition, but
subject. also the future and their probable increase, and after distributing to In law 15, title 12, book 4 of the same compilation, there is a
the natives what may be necessary for tillage and pasturage, command that those lands as to which there has been no adjustment
Law 8 of said title 12 is as follows: confirming them in what they now have and giving them more if with the Government be sold at auction to the highest bidder. That law
necessary, all the rest of said lands may remain free and is as follows:
We command that if a petition shall be presented asking the grant of a unencumbered for us to dispose of as we may wish.
lot or tract of land in a city or town in which one of our courts may be For the greater good of our subjects, we order and command that our
located, the presentation shall be made to the municipal council. If the We therefore order and command that all viceroys and presidents of viceroys and governing presidents shall do nothing with respect to
latter shall approve the petition, two deputy magistrates will be pretorial courts designated, at such time as shall to them seem most lands the claims to which have been adjusted by their predecessors,
appointed, who will acquaint the viceroy or municipal president with expedient, a suitable period within which all possessors of tracts, tending to disturb the peaceful possession of the owners thereof. As
the council's judgment in the matter. After consideration thereof by the farms, plantations, and estates shall exhibit to them, and to the court to those who shall have extended their possession beyond the limits
viceroy or president and the deputy magistrates, all will sign the officers appointed by them for this purpose, their title deeds thereto. fixed in the original grants, they will be admitted to a moderate
grants, in the presence of the clerk of the council, in order that the And those who are in possession by virtue of proper deeds and adjustment with respect to the excess, and new title deeds will be
matter may be duly recorded in the council book. If the petition shall issued therefor. And all those lands as to which no adjustment has
been made shall, without exception, be sold at public auction to the proportionate to the distance the interested party may have to travel and adjustments. After the proceedings outlined by the subdelegates
highest bidder, the purchase price therefor to be payable either in for the purpose of making the presentation. Said subdelegates will at in their order with respect to the measurement and valuation of the
cash or in the form of quitrent, in accordance with the laws and royal the same time warn the parties interested that in case of their failure said lands, and with reference to the title issued therefor, shall have
ordinances of the kingdoms of Castile. We leave to the viceroys and to present their title deeds within the term designated, without a just been duly completed, said courts and officials will make an
president the mode and from in which what is here ordered shall be and valid reason therefor, they will be deprived of an evicted from examination of the same for the purpose of ascertaining whether the
carried into effect in order that they may provide for it at the least their lands, and they will be granted to others. sale or adjustment has been made without fraud and collusion, and
possible cost; and in order that all unnecessary expense with respect for an adequate and equitable price, and a similar examination shall
to the collections for said lands may be avoided, we command that 4. If it shall appear from the titles or instruments presented, or be made by the prosecuting attorney of the district, to the end that, in
the same be made by our royal officers in person, without the if it shall be shown in any other legal manner that said persons are in view of all the proceedings and the purchase or adjustment price of
employment of special collectors, and to that end availing themselves possession of such royal lands by virtue of a sale or adjustment the land, and the media anata having been duly, etc., paid into the
of the services of our royal courts, and, in places where courts shall consummated by duly authorized subdelegates prior to the said year royal treasury, as well as such additional sum as may be deemed
not have been established, of the town mayors. 1700, although such action may not have been confirmed by my royal proper, there will be issued to the possessor, in my royal name, a
person, or by a viceroy or president, they shall in no wise be confirmation of his title, by virtue of which his possession and
And whereas, title deeds to lands have been granted by officers not molested, but shall be left in the full and quiet possession of the ownership of lands and waters which it represents will be fully
authorized to issue them, and such titles have been confirmed by us same; nor shall they be required to pay any fee on account of these legalized, to the end that at no time will he or his heirs or assigns be
in council, we command that those holding such a certificate of proceedings, in accordance with law 15, title 12, book 4 of the disturbed or molested therein.
confirmation may continue to possess the lands to which it refers, and Recopilacion de los Indias, above cited. A note shall be made upon
will, within the limits stated in the confirmation certificate, be protected said title deeds to the effect that his obligation has been complied The wording of this law is much stronger than that of law 14. As is
in their possession; and with respect to any encroachment beyond with, to the end that the owners of such rival lands and their seen by the terms of article 3, any person whatever who occupied any
such limits will be admitted to the benefits of this law. successors may hereafter be free from denunciation, summons, or public land was required to present the instruments by virtue of which
other disturbance in their possession. he was in possession, within a time to be fixed by the authorities, and
Another legislative act of the same character was the royal cedula of he was warned that if he did not do so he would be evicted from his
October 15, 1754 (4 Legislacion Ultramarina, Rodriguez San Pedro, Where such possessors shall not be able to produce title deeds it land and it would be granted to others. By terms of article 4 those
673). Articles 3, 4, and 5 of this royal cedula as follows: shall be sufficient if they shall show that ancient possession, as a possessors to whom grants had been made prior to 1700, were
valid title by prescription; provided, however, that if the lands shall not entitled to have such grants confirmed, and it was also provided that
3. Upon each principal subdelegate's appointment, which will be in state of cultivation or tillage, the term of three months prescribed not being able to prove any grants it should be sufficient to prove "that
be made in the manner prescribed in article 1 of this cedula, and upon by law 11 of the title and book cited, or such other period as may be ancient possession," as a sufficient title by prescription, and they
his receipts of these instructions, of which every principal subdelegate deemed adequate, shall be designated as the period within which the should be confirmed in their holdings. "That ancient possession"
already designated or who may hereafter be appointed shall be lands must be reduced to cultivation, with the warning that in case of would be at least fifty-four years, for it would have to date from prior to
furnished a copy, said subdelegate will in his turn issue a general their failure so to do the lands will be granted, with the same 1700. Under article 5, where the possession dated from 1700, no
order to the courts in the provincial capitals and principal towns of his obligation to cultivate them, to whomsoever may denounce them. confirmation could be granted on proof of prescription alone.
district, directing the publication therein, in the manner followed in
connection with the promulgation or general orders of viceroys, 5. Likewise neither shall possessors of lands sold or adjusted The length of possession required to be proved before the
presidents, and administrative courts in matters connected with my by the various subdelegates from the year 1700 to the present time Government would issue a deed has varied in different colonies and
service, of these instructions, to the end that any and all persons who, be molested, disturbed, or denounced, now or at any other time, with at different times. In the Philippines, as has been seen, it was at one
since the year 1700, and up to the date of the promulgation and respect to such possession, if such sales or adjustments shall have time ten years, at another time fifty-four years at least. In Cuba, by the
publication of said order, shall have occupied royal lands, whether or been confirmed by me, or by the viceroy or the president of the court royal cedula of April 24, 1833, to obtain a deed one had to prove, as
not the same shall be cultivated of tenanted, may, either in person or of the district in which the lands are located while authorized to to uncultivated lands, a possession of one hundred years, and as to
through their attorneys or representatives, appear and exhibit to said exercise this power. In cases where the sales of adjustments shall not cultivated lands a possession of fifty years. In the same islands, by
subdelegates the titles and patents by virtue of which said lands are have been so confirmed, the possessors will present to the courts of the royal order of July 16, 1819, a possession of forty years was
occupied. Said subdelegates will designate as the period within which their respective district and to the other officials hereby empowered to sufficient.
such documents must be presented a term sufficient in length and receive the same, a petition asking for the confirmation of said sales
In the Philippines at a later date royal of September 21, 1797 (4 ART. 5. In the same manner, those who without such title deeds may any action on their part, or that of the State, or do they declare that
Legislacion Ultramarina, Rodriguez San Pedro, p. 688), directed the prove that they have possessed their said lands without interruption such persons must seek an adjustment and obtain a deed from the
observation of the said royal cedula of 1754, but apparently without for a period of twenty years if in a state of cultivation, or for a period of State, and if they do not do so within the time named in article 8 they
being subject to the period of prescription therein assigned. thirty years if uncultivated, shall be regarded as proprietors thereof. In lose all interest in the lands?
order that a tract of land may be considered cultivated, it will be
The royal order of July 5, 1862 (Gaceta de Manila, November 15, necessary to show that it has been broken within the last three years. It must be admitted from the wording of the law that the question is
1864), also ordered that until regulations on the subject could be not free from doubt. Upon a consideration, however, of the whole
prepared the authorities of the Islands should follow strictly the Laws ART. 6. Interested parties not included within the two preceding matter, that doubt must, we think, be resolved in favor of the State.
of the Indies, the Ordenanza of the Intendentes of 1786, and the said articles may legalize their possession and thereby acquire the full The following are some of the reasons which lead us to that
royal cedula of 1754. ownership of the said lands, by means of adjustment proceedings, to conclusion:
be conducted in the following manner: . . .
The royal order of November 14, 1876 (Guia del Comprador de (1) It will be noticed that article 4 does not say that those persons
Terrenos, p. 51), directed the provincial governors to urge those in (5) Those who, entirely without title deeds, may be in possession of shall be considered as owners who have occupied the lands for ten
unlawful possession of public lands to seek an adjustment with the lands belonging to the State and have reduced said lands to a state of years, which would have been the language naturally used if an
State in accordance with the existing laws. The regulations as to the cultivation, may acquire the ownership thereof by paying into the absolute grant had been intended. It says, instead, that those shall be
adjustment (composicion) of the titles to public lands remained in this public treasury the value of the lands at the time such possessors or considered owners who may prove that they have been in possession
condition until the regulations of June 25, 1880. This is the most their representatives began their unauthorized enjoyment of the ten years. Was this proof to be made at any time in the future when
important of the modern legislative acts upon the matter of same. the question might arise, or was it to be made in the proceedings
"adjustment" as distinguished from that of the sale of the public lands. which these very regulations provided for that purpose? We think that
(6) In case said lands shall never have been ploughed, but are still in the latter is the proper construction.
The royal degree approving these regulations is dated June 25, 1880, a wild state, or covered with forest, the ownership of the same may be
and is as follows:1 acquired by paying their value at the time of the filing of the claim, as (2) Article 1 declares in plain terms that all those lands as to which the
stated in the fourth paragraph." State has never executed any deeds are the property of the State —
Upon the suggestion of the colonial minister, made in conformity with that is, that on June 25, 1880, no public lands belonged to individuals
the decree of the full meeting of the council of state, I hereby approve ART. 8. If the interested parties shall not ask an adjustment of the unless they could exhibit a State deed therefor. This is entirely
the attached regulations for the adjustment of royal lands wrongfully lands whose possession they are unlawfully enjoying within the time inconsistent with the idea that the same law in its article 4 declares
occupied by private individuals in the Philippine Islands. of one year, or, the adjustment having been granted by the that the lands in question in this case became the property of the
authorities, they shall fail to fulfill their obligation in connection with the plaintiffs in 1870, and were not in 1880 the property of the State,
Articles 1, 4, 5, 8, and part of article 6 are as follows: compromise, by paying the proper sum into the treasury, the latter though the State had never given any deed for them.
will, by virtue of the authority vested in it, reassert the ownership of
ART. 1. For the purpose of these regulations and in conformity with the State over the lands, and will, after fixing the value thereof, (3) The royal decree, by its terms, relates to lands wrongfully withheld
law 14, title 12, book 4 of the Recompilation of Laws of the Indies, the proceed to sell at public auction that part of the same which either by private persons. The word detentados necessarily implies this.
following will be regarded as royal lands: All lands whose lawful because it may have been reduced to cultivation or is not located This is inconsistent with the idea that by article 4 of the plaintiffs, in
ownership is not vested in some private, persons, or, what is the within the forest zone is not deemed advisable to preserve as the 1870, became the absolute owners of the lands in question, and were
same thing, which have never passed to private ownership by virtue State forest reservation. not therefore, in 1880, withholding what did not belong to them.
of cession by competent authorities, made either gratuitously or for a
consideration. The other articles of the regulations state the manner in which (4) In the preface to this decree and regulations, the following
applications should be made for adjustment, and the proceedings language is used:
ART. 4. For all legal effects, those will be considered proprietors of thereon.
the royal lands herein treated who may prove that they have SIR: The uncertain, and it may be said the precarious, state of real
possessed the lands without interruption during the period of ten Do these regulations declare that those who are included in article 4 property in various parts of the Philippine Islands, as yet sparsely
years, by virtue of a good title and in good faith. and 5 are the absolute owners of the land occupied by them without populated; the necessity for encouraging the cultivation of these
lands; the advantage of increasing the wealth and products of the In determining the meaning of a law where a doubt exists the If no protest or claim shall be filed, and the adjustment must be free
Archipelago; the immense and immediate profit which must result to construction placed upon it by the officers whose duty it is to because the occupant has proved title by prescription, as provided in
all classes of interests, public as well as private, from the substitution administer it is entitled to weight. articles 4 and 5 of the regulations promulgated June 25, 1880, the
of full ownership, with all the privileges which by law accompany this proceedings shall be duty approved, and the head officer of the
real right, for the mere possession of the lands, have long counseled (6) There is, moreover, legislative construction of these regulations province will, in his capacity of deputy director general of the civil
the adoption of the provisions contained in the following regulations, upon this point found in subsequent laws. The royal decree of administration, issue the corresponding title deed.
which, after consulation with the Philippine council, and in conformity December 26, 1884, (Berriz Anuario, 1888, p. 117), provides in
with an order passed at a full meeting of the council of state, the articles 1 that — The policy pursued by the Spanish Government from the earliest
subscribing minister has the honor to submit for the royal approval. times, requiring settlers on the public lands to obtain deeds therefor
These regulations refer not only to tenants of royal lands in good faith All those public lands wrongfully withheld by private person in the from the State, has been continued by the American Government in
and by virtue of a valid title, but also to those who, lacking these, may, Philippines which, in accordance with the regulations of June 25, Act No. 926, which takes effect when approved by Congress. Section
either by themselves reducing such lands to cultivation or by the 1880, are subject to adjustment with the treasury, shall be divided into 54, sixth paragraph of that act, declares that the persons named in
application of intelligence and initiative, causing their cultivation by three groups, of which the first shall include those which, because said paragraph 6 "shall be conclusively presumed to have performed
others who lack these qualities, be augmenting the wealth of the they are included in articles 4 and 5, and the first paragraph of article all the conditions essential to a Government grant and to have
Archipelago.2 7, are entitled to free adjustment. received the same." Yet such persons are required by section 56 to
present a petition to the Court of Land Registration for a confirmation
This preface is the most authoritative commentary on the law, and There were exceptions to this rule which are not here important. of these titles.
shows without doubt that those who held with color of title and good Article 10 provides that if the adjustment is free for those mentioned in
faith were, notwithstanding, holding wrongfully, and that true articles 4 and 5, who are included in the second group, the deed shall We have considered the regulations relating to adjustment — that is,
ownership should be substituted for their possession. be issued by the governor of the province. Article 11 says that if the those laws under which persons in possession might perfect their
adjustment is not free, because the applicant has not proved his right titles. But there were other laws relating to the sale of public lands
(5) This doubt suggested by the wording of the law was the subject of by prescription, then no deed can be issued until the proper payment which contained provisions fatal to the plaintiff's claims. The royal
inquiries directed to the officers in Manila charged with its execution. has been made. The whole decree shows clearly that the legislator decree of January 26, 1889 (Gaceta de Manila, March 20, 1889),
These inquiries were answered in the circular of August 10, 1881, intended that those mentioned in article 4 and 5 should apply for a approved the regulations for the sale of public lands in the Philippines,
published in the Gaceta de Manila August 11, 1881, as follows: confirmation of their titles by prescription, as well as those mentioned and it was in accordance with such regulations that the appellee
in article 6. In fact, for the adjustment of those of the first group, which acquired his title. Article 4 of those regulations required the
Should possessors of royal lands under color of title and in good faith necessarily included only those found within articles 4 and 5, a board publication in the Gaceta de Manila of the application to purchase,
seek adjustment? was organized (art. 15) in each pueblo whose sole duty it was to with a description of the lands, and gave sixty days within which
dispatch applications made said two articles. anyone could object to the sale. A similar notice in the dialect of the
It is evident that they must do so, for it is to them that article 4 of the locality was required to be posted on the municipal building of the
regulations refers, as also the following article covers other cases of (7) The royal decree of August 31, 1888 (Berriz Anuario, 1888, p. town in which the land was situated, and to be made public by the
possession under different circumstances. It should be well 120), is another legislative construction of this regulation. That decree crier. Articles 5 and 6 declared to whom such objections shall be
understood by you, and you should in turn have it understood by repealed the decree of 1884, and divided all lands subjects to made and the course which they should take. Article 8 is as follows:
other, that the adjustment of lands whose ownership has not passed adjustment under the regulations of June 25, 1880, into two groups. In
to private individuals by virtue of cession by competent authorities, is the first group were all those lands which bordered at any points on ART. 8. In no case will the judicial authorities take cognizance of the
optional only for those within the limits of the common district (legua other State lands, and those which, though not bordering on State suit against the decrees of the civil administration concerning the sale
comunal) as provided by article 7. In all other cases where the lands, measured more than 30 hectares. In the second group were of royal lands unless the plaintiff shall attach to the complaint
interested parties shall fail to present themselves for the adjustment of those which were bounded entirely by lands of private persons and documents which show that he has exhausted the administrative
the lands occupied by them shall suffer the penalties set forth in did not exceed 30 hectares. For the second group a provincial board remedy. After the proceeding in the executive department shall have
article 8 of said regulations. was organized, and article 10 provides a hearing before this board, been terminated and the matter finally passed upon, anyone
and declares — considering his interests prejudiced thereby may commence a suit in
the court against the State; but in no case shall an action be brought and survey of the land were being carried on, but that they did not means of such evidence damages could have been recovered against
against the proprietor of the land. follow up their protest. This, as held by the court below, is a bar their the State for lands sold by the State to which third persons might
recovery in this action, under the articles above cited. thereafter prove ownership but prescription. The unreliability of parol
Similar provisions are found in the regulations of 1883, approved the testimony on the subject of possession is well known. In this case in
second time by royal order of February 16 (Gaceta de Manila, June The plaintiff state in their brief that a great fraud was committed on the report which the law required to be made before a sale could be
28, 1883). Articles 18 and 23 of said regulations are as follows: them and the State by the defendant in applying for the purchase of had it is stated by an Ayudante de Montes that the tract had an area
this lands as vacant and belonging to the public, when they were in of 429 hectares, 77 ares, and 96 centares uncultivated, and 50
ART. 18. Possessors of such lands as may fall within the class of the actual adverse possession of the plaintiffs. hectares, 19 ares, and 73 centares broken for cultivation. The official
alienable royal lands shall be obliged to apply for the ownership of the report also says (1890) that the breaking is recent. Notwithstanding
same, or for the adjustment thereof within the term of sixty days from We have seen nothing in the regulations relating to the sale of the this official report, the plaintiffs introduced evidence from which the
the time of the publication in the bulletin of Sales of the notice of sale public lands which limited their force to vacant lands. On the contrary court found that the greater part of the tract had been occupied and
thereof. there are provisions which indicate the contrary. In the application for cultivated by the plaintiffs since 1860.
the purchase the petitioner is article 3 of the regulations of 1889
ART. 23. The judicial authorities shall take cognizance of no required to state whether any portion of the land sought has been It is hardly conceivable that the State intended to put in force
complaint against the decrees of the treasury department concerning broken for cultivation, and to whom such improvements belong. legislation under which its property rights could be so prejudiced.
the sale of lands pertaining to the state unless the complainant shall Article 9 provides that if one in possession applies to purchase the
attached to the complaint documents which proved that he has land, he renounces his right to a composicion under the laws relating We hold that from 1860 to 1892 there was no law in force in these
exhausted the administrative remedy to that subject. By article 13 the report of the officials making the Islands by which the plaintiffs could obtain the ownership of these
survey must contain a statement as to whether any part of the land is lands by prescription, without any action by the State, and that the
This prohibition appears also in the royal order of October 26, 1881 cultivated or not and if the applicant claims to be the owner of such judgment below declaring the defendant the owner of the lands must
(Gaceta de Manila, December 18, 1881) which relates evidently both cultivated part. be affirmed.
to sales of public lands and also to the adjustments with the
occupants. In the regulations of January 19, 1883 (Gaceta de Manila, June 28, II. What has been said heretofore makes it unnecessary to consider
1883) is the following article: the motion for a new trial, made by the defendant on the ground that
Article 5 of this royal order is as follows: the findings of fact are not supported by the evidence.
ART. 18. Possessors of such lands as may fall within the class of
During the pendency of proceedings in the executive department with royal alienable lands shall be obliged to apply for the ownership of the III. The exception of the defendant to the order vacating the
respect to grants of land, interested parties may present through same, or for the adjustment thereof, within the term of sixty days from appointment of the receiver can not be sustained. The defendant at
executive channels such protest as they may deemed advisable for the time of the publication in the Bulletin of Sales of the notice of sale no time made any showing sufficient to authorize the appointment of a
the protection of their right and interests. The proceeding having once thereof. receiver.
been completed, and the grant made, those who consider their
interests prejudiced thereby may proceed in court against the State, In view of all these provisions it seems impossible to believe that the The case does not fall under No. 4 of section 174 of the Code of Civil
but under no circumstances against the grantees of the land. legislators even intended to leave the validity of any sale made by the Procedure. Neither party in his pleadings asked any relief as to the
State to be determined at any time in the future by the ordinary courts crops. They were not, therefore, "the property which is the subject of
The American legislation creating the Court of Land Registration is on parol testimony. Such would be the result if the contention of the litigation."
but an application of this same principle. In both systems the title is plaintiffs is to be sustained. According to their claim, this sale and
guaranteed to the petitioner, after examination by a tribunal. In every other sale made by the State can be set aside if at any time in Neither does the case fall under No. 2 of section 174, for the same
Spanish system this tribunal was called an administrative one, in the the future it can be proved that certain persons had been in reason.
American a judicial one. possession of the land for the term then required for prescription.
Moreover, under No. 2 it must be shown that the property is in danger
The court finds that the plaintiffs made a written protest against the If this claim is allowed it would result that even though written title of being lost. There was no showing of that kind. The pleadings say
sale to the defendants while the proceedings for the measurements from the State would be safe from such attack by parol evidence, by nothing upon the subject. In the motion for the appointment of the
receiver it said that the plaintiffs are insolvent. There is no evidence,
by affidavit or otherwise, to support this statement. A bare, unsworn
statement in a motion that the adverse party is insolvent is not
sufficient to warrant a court in appointing a receiver for property in his
possession.

The judgment of the court below is affirmed. Neither party can recover
costs in this court.
G.R. No. L-24066 December 9, 1925 The evidence shows that on December 18, 1880, Nemesio Pinlac and publicly, personally and through his predecessors, since the year
sold the land in question, then a fish pond, tho Apolonio Garcia and 1880, that is, for about forty-five years. While the judgment of the
VALENTIN SUSI, plaintiff-appellee, vs.ANGELA RAZON and THE Basilio Mendoza for the sum of P12, reserving the right to repurchase Court of First Instance of Pampanga against Angela Razon in the
DIRECTOR OF LANDS, defendants. THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, the same (Exhibit B). After having been in possession thereof for forcible entry case does not affect the Director of Lands, yet it is
appellant. about eight years, and the fish pond having been destroyed, Apolonio controlling as to Angela Razon and rebuts her claim that she had
Garcia and Basilio Mendoza, on September 5, 1899, sold it to been in possession thereof. When on August 15, 1914, Angela Razon
VILLA-REAL, J.: Valentin Susi for the sum of P12, reserving the right to repurchase it applied for the purchase of said land, Valentin Susi had already been
(Exhibit A). Before the execution of the deed of sale, Valentin Susi in possession thereof personally and through his predecessors for
This action was commenced in the Court of First Instance of had already paid its price and sown "bacawan" on said land, availing thirty-four years. And if it is taken into account that Nemesio Pinlac
Pampanga by a complaint filed by Valentin Susi against Angela himself of the firewood gathered thereon, with the proceeds of the had already made said land a fish pond when he sold it on December
Razon and the Director of Lands, praying for judgment: (a) Declaring sale of which he had paid the price of the property. The possession 18, 1880, it can hardly be estimated when he began to possess and
plaintiff the sole and absolute owner of the parcel of land described in and occupation of the land in question, first, by Apolonio Garcia and occupy it, the period of time being so long that it is beyond the reach
the second paragraph of the complaint; (b) annulling the sale made by Basilio Mendoza, and then by Valentin Susi has been open, of memory. These being the facts, the doctrine laid down by the
the Director of Lands in favor of Angela Razon, on the ground that the continuous, adverse and public, without any interruption, except Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Cariño vs.
land is a private property; (c) ordering the cancellation of the during the revolution, or disturbance, except when Angela Razon, on Government of the Philippine Islands (212 U. S., 449 1), is applicable
certificate of title issued to said Angela Razon; and (d) sentencing the September 13, 1913, commenced an action in the Court of First here. In favor of Valentin Susi, there is, moreover, the presumption
latter to pay plaintiff the sum of P500 as damages, with the costs. Instance of Pampanga to recover the possession of said land (Exhibit juris et de jure established in paragraph (b) of section 45 of Act No.
C), wherein after considering the evidence introduced at the trial, the 2874, amending Act No. 926, that all the necessary requirements for
For his answer to the complaint, the Director of Lands denied each
court rendered judgment in favor of Valentin Susi and against Angela a grant by the Government were complied with, for he has been in
and every allegation contained therein and, as special defense,
Razon, dismissing the complaint (Exhibit E). Having failed in her actual and physical possession, personally and through his
alleged that the land in question was a property of the Government of
attempt to obtain possession of the land in question through the court, predecessors, of an agricultural land of the public domain openly,
the United States under the administration and control of the
Angela Razon applied to the Director of Lands for the purchase continuously, exclusively and publicly since July 26, 1894, with a right
Philippine Islands before its sale to Angela Razon, which was made in
thereof on August 15, 1914 (Exhibit C). Having learned of said to a certificate of title to said land under the provisions of Chapter VIII
accordance with law.
application, Valentin Susi filed and opposition thereto on December 6, of said Act. So that when Angela Razon applied for the grant in her
1915, asserting his possession of the land for twenty-five years favor, Valentin Susi had already acquired, by operation of law, not
After trial, whereat evidence was introduced by both parties, the Court
(Exhibit P). After making the proper administrative investigation, the only a right to a grant, but a grant of the Government, for it is not
of First Instance of Pampanga rendered judgment declaring the
Director of Lands overruled the opposition of Valentin Susi and sold necessary that certificate of title should be issued in order that said
plaintiff entitled to the possession of the land, annulling the sale made
the land to Angela Razon. By virtue of said grant the register of deeds grant may be sanctioned by the courts, an application therefore is
by the Director of Lands in favor of Angela Razon, and ordering the
of Pampanga, on August 31, 1921, issued the proper certificate of title sufficient, under the provisions of section 47 of Act No. 2874. If by a
cancellation of the certificate of title issued to her, with the costs
to Angela Razon. Armed with said document, Angela Razon required legal fiction, Valentin Susi had acquired the land in question by a
against Angela Razon. From this judgment the Director of Lands took
Valentin Susi to vacate the land in question, and as he refused to do grant of the State, it had already ceased to be the public domain and
this appeal, assigning thereto the following errors, to wit: (1) The
so, she brought and action for forcible entry and detainer in the justice had become private property, at least by presumption, of Valentin
holding that the judgment rendered in a prior case between the
of the peace court of Guagua, Pampanga, which was dismissed for Susi, beyond the control of the Director of Lands. Consequently, in
plaintiff and defendant Angela Razon on the parcel of land in question
lack of jurisdiction, the case being one of title to real property (Exhibit selling the land in question to Angela Razon, the Director of Lands
is controlling in this action; (2) the holding that plaintiff is entitled to
F and M). Valentin Susi then brought this action. disposed of a land over which he had no longer any title or control,
recover the possession of said parcel of land; the annulment of the
and the sale thus made was void and of no effect, and Angela Razon
sale made by the Director of Lands to Angela Razon; and the ordering
With these facts in view, we shall proceed to consider the questions did not thereby acquire any right.
that the certificate of title issued by the register of deeds of the
raised by the appellant in his assignments of error.lawphi1.net
Province of Pampanga to Angela Razon by virtue of said sale be
The Director of Lands contends that the land in question being of the
cancelled; and (3) the denial of the motion for new trial filed by the It clearly appears from the evidence that Valentin Susi has been in public domain, the plaintiff-appellee cannot maintain an action to
Director of Lands. possession of the land in question openly, continuously, adversely, recover possession thereof.lawphi1.net
If, as above stated, the land, the possession of which is in dispute,
had already become, by operation of law, private property of the
plaintiff, there lacking only the judicial sanction of his title, Valentin
Susi has the right to bring an action to recover possession thereof and
hold it.

For the foregoing, and no error having been found in the judgment
appealed from, the same is hereby affirmed in all its parts, without
special pronouncement as to costs. So ordered.
G.R. No. 167707 October 8, 2008 REYES, R.T., J.: PTA Circular 3-829 dated September 3, 1982, to implement
Proclamation No. 1801.

Claiming that Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No 3-82


THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AT stake in these consolidated cases is the right of the present precluded them from filing an application for judicial confirmation of
AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE REGIONAL EXECUTIVE occupants of Boracay Island to secure titles over their occupied lands. imperfect title or survey of land for titling purposes, respondents-
DIRECTOR, DENR-REGION VI, REGIONAL TECHNICAL claimants
DIRECTOR FOR LANDS, LANDS MANAGEMENT BUREAU, There are two consolidated petitions. The first is G.R. No. 167707, a
REGION VI PROVINCIAL ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL petition for review on certiorari of the Decision1 of the Court of Mayor Jose S. Yap, Jr., Libertad Talapian, Mila Y. Sumndad, and
RESOURCES OFFICER OF KALIBO, AKLAN, REGISTER OF Appeals (CA) affirming that2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Aniceto Yap filed a petition for declaratory relief with the RTC in
DEEDS, DIRECTOR OF LAND REGISTRATION AUTHORITY, Kalibo, Aklan, which granted the petition for declaratory relief filed by Kalibo, Aklan.
DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM SECRETARY, DIRECTOR OF respondents-claimants Mayor Jose Yap, et al. and ordered the survey
PHILIPPINE TOURISM AUTHORITY, petitioners, of Boracay for titling purposes. The second is G.R. No. 173775, a In their petition, respondents-claimants alleged that Proclamation No.
petition for prohibition, mandamus, and nullification of Proclamation 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 raised doubts on their right to secure
vs. No. 10645">[3] issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo titles over their occupied lands. They declared that they themselves,
classifying Boracay into reserved forest and agricultural land. or through their predecessors-in-interest, had been in open,
MAYOR JOSE S. YAP, LIBERTAD TALAPIAN, MILA Y. SUMNDAD, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation in
and ANICETO YAP, in their behalf and in behalf of all those similarly The Antecedents Boracay since June 12, 1945, or earlier since time immemorial. They
situated, respondents. declared their lands for tax purposes and paid realty taxes on them.10
G.R. No. 167707
x-------------------------------------------------- Respondents-claimants posited that Proclamation No. 1801 and its
x Boracay Island in the Municipality of Malay, Aklan, with its powdery implementing Circular did not place Boracay beyond the commerce of
white sand beaches and warm crystalline waters, is reputedly a man. Since the Island was classified as a tourist zone, it was
G.R. No. G.R. No. 173775 October 8, 2008 premier Philippine tourist destination. The island is also home to susceptible of private ownership. Under Section 48(b) of
12,003 inhabitants4 who live in the bone-shaped island’s three Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 141, otherwise known as the Public
barangays.5 Land Act, they had the right to have the lots registered in their names
through judicial confirmation of imperfect titles.
DR. ORLANDO SACAY and WILFREDO GELITO, joined by THE On April 14, 1976, the Department of Environment and Natural
LANDOWNERS OF BORACAY SIMILARLY SITUATED NAMED IN A Resources (DENR) approved the National Reservation Survey of The Republic, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG),
LIST, ANNEX "A" OF THIS PETITION, petitioners, Boracay opposed the petition for declaratory relief. The OSG countered that
Boracay Island was an unclassified land of the public domain. It
vs. Island,6 which identified several lots as being occupied or claimed by formed part of the mass of lands classified as "public forest," which
named persons.7 was not available for disposition pursuant to Section 3(a) of
THE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT
Presidential Decree (PD) No. 705 or the Revised Forestry Code,11 as
AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE REGIONAL TECHNICAL
amended.
DIRECTOR FOR LANDS, LANDS MANAGEMENT BUREAU,
REGION VI, PROVINCIAL ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL On November 10, 1978, then President Ferdinand Marcos issued
The OSG maintained that respondents-claimants’ reliance on PD No.
RESOURCES OFFICER, KALIBO, AKLAN, respondents. Proclamation No. 18018 declaring Boracay Island, among other
1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 was misplaced. Their right to judicial
islands, caves and peninsulas in the Philippines, as tourist zones and
confirmation of title was governed by CA No. 141 and PD No. 705.
DECISION marine reserves under the administration of the Philippine Tourism
Since Boracay Island had not been classified as alienable and
Authority (PTA). President Marcos later approved the issuance of
disposable, whatever possession they had cannot ripen into
ownership.
During pre-trial, respondents-claimants and the OSG stipulated on the The RTC upheld respondents-claimants’ right to have their occupied of Proclamation No. 1064.30 They allege that the Proclamation
following facts: (1) respondents-claimants were presently in lands titled in their name. It ruled that neither Proclamation No. 1801 infringed on their "prior vested rights" over portions of Boracay. They
possession of parcels of land in Boracay Island; (2) these parcels of nor PTA Circular No. 3-82 mentioned that lands in Boracay were have been in continued possession of their respective lots in Boracay
land were planted with coconut trees and other natural growing trees; inalienable or could not be the subject of disposition.18 The Circular since time immemorial. They have also invested billions of pesos in
(3) the coconut trees had heights of more or less twenty (20) meters itself recognized private ownership of lands.19 The trial court cited developing their lands and building internationally renowned first class
and were planted more or less fifty (50) years ago; and (4) Sections 8720 and 5321 of the Public Land Act as basis for resorts on their lots.31
respondents-claimants declared the land they were occupying for tax acknowledging private ownership of lands in Boracay and that only
purposes.12 those forested areas in public lands were declared as part of the Petitioners-claimants contended that there is no need for a
forest reserve. proclamation reclassifying Boracay into agricultural land. Being
The parties also agreed that the principal issue for resolution was classified as neither mineral nor timber land, the island is deemed
purely legal: whether Proclamation No. 1801 posed any legal The OSG moved for reconsideration but its motion was denied.23 The agricultural pursuant to the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Act No. 926,
hindrance or impediment to the titling of the lands in Boracay. They Republic then appealed to the CA. known as the first Public Land Act.32 Thus, their possession in the
decided to forego with the trial and to submit the case for resolution concept of owner for the required period entitled them to judicial
upon submission of their respective memoranda.13 On December 9, 2004, the appellate court affirmed in toto the RTC confirmation of imperfect title.
decision, disposing as follows:
Opposing the petition, the OSG argued that petitioners-claimants do
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, judgment is hereby not have a vested right over their occupied portions in the island.
The RTC took judicial notice14 that certain parcels of land in Boracay rendered by us DENYING the appeal filed in this case and Boracay is an unclassified public forest land pursuant to Section 3(a)
Island, more particularly Lots 1 and 30, Plan PSU-5344, were covered AFFIRMING the decision of the lower court.24 of PD No. 705. Being public forest, the claimed portions of the island
by Original Certificate of Title No. 19502 (RO 2222) in the name of the are inalienable and cannot be the subject of judicial confirmation of
Heirs of Ciriaco S. Tirol. These lots were involved in Civil Case Nos. The CA held that respondents-claimants could not be prejudiced by a imperfect title. It is only the executive department, not the courts,
5222 and 5262 filed before the RTC of Kalibo, Aklan.15 The titles declaration that the lands they occupied since time immemorial were which has authority to reclassify lands of the public domain into
were issued on part of a forest reserve. alienable and disposable lands. There is a need for a positive
government act in order to release the lots for disposition.
August 7, 1933.16 Again, the OSG sought reconsideration but it was similarly denied.25
Hence, the present petition under Rule 45. On November 21, 2006, this Court ordered the consolidation of the
RTC and CA Dispositions two petitions as they principally involve the same issues on the land
G.R. No. 173775 classification of Boracay Island.33
On July 14, 1999, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of
respondents-claimants, with a fallo reading: On May 22, 2006, during the pendency of G.R. No. 167707, President Issues
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 106426 classifying
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Court declares that Boracay Island into four hundred (400) hectares of reserved forest G.R. No. 167707
Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 pose no legal land (protection purposes) and six hundred twenty-eight and 96/100
obstacle to the petitioners and those similarly situated to acquire title (628.96) hectares of agricultural land (alienable and disposable). The The OSG raises the lone issue of whether Proclamation No. 1801 and
to their lands in Boracay, in accordance with the applicable laws and Proclamation likewise provided for a fifteen-meter buffer zone on each PTA Circular No. 3-82 pose any legal obstacle for respondents, and
in the manner prescribed therein; and to have their lands surveyed side of the centerline of roads and trails, reserved for right-of-way and all those similarly situated, to acquire title to their occupied lands in
and approved by respondent Regional Technical Director of Lands as which shall form part of the area reserved for forest land protection Boracay Island.34
the approved survey does not in itself constitute a title to the land. purposes.
G.R. No. 173775
SO ORDERED.17 On August 10, 2006, petitioners-claimants Dr. Orlando Sacay,27
Wilfredo Gelito,28 and other landowners29 in Boracay filed with this Petitioners-claimants hoist five (5) issues, namely:
Court an original petition for prohibition, mandamus, and nullification
I. In capsule, the main issue is whether private claimants (respondents- to ownership of land and charged with the conservation of such
claimants in G.R. No. 167707 and petitioners-claimants in G.R. No. patrimony.45 The doctrine has been consistently adopted under the
AT THE TIME OF THE ESTABLISHED POSSESSION OF 173775) have a right to secure titles over their occupied portions in 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions.46
PETITIONERS IN CONCEPT OF OWNER OVER THEIR Boracay. The twin petitions pertain to their right, if any, to judicial
RESPECTIVE AREAS IN BORACAY, SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL confirmation of imperfect title under CA No. 141, as amended. They All lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly within private
OR AT THE LATEST SINCE 30 YRS. PRIOR TO THE FILING OF do not involve their right to secure title under other pertinent laws. ownership are presumed to belong to the State.47 Thus, all lands that
THE PETITION FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF ON NOV. 19, 1997, have not been acquired from the government, either by purchase or
WERE THE AREAS OCCUPIED BY THEM PUBLIC Our Ruling by grant, belong to the State as part of the inalienable public
AGRICULTURAL LANDS AS DEFINED BY LAWS THEN ON domain.48 Necessarily, it is up to the State to determine if lands of the
JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION OF IMPERFECT TITLES OR PUBLIC Regalian Doctrine and power of the executive public domain will be disposed of for private ownership. The
FOREST AS DEFINED BY SEC. 3a, PD 705? government, as the agent of the state, is possessed of the plenary
to reclassify lands of the public domain power as the persona in law to determine who shall be the favored
II. recipients of public lands, as well as under what terms they may be
Private claimants rely on three (3) laws and executive acts in their bid granted such privilege, not excluding the placing of obstacles in the
HAVE PETITIONERS OCCUPANTS ACQUIRED PRIOR VESTED for judicial confirmation of imperfect title, namely: (a) Philippine Bill of way of their exercise of what otherwise would be ordinary acts of
RIGHT OF PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OVER THEIR OCCUPIED 190236 in relation to Act No. 926, later amended and/or superseded ownership.49
PORTIONS OF BORACAY LAND, DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY by Act No. 2874 and CA No. 141;37 (b) Proclamation No. 180138
HAVE NOT APPLIED YET FOR JUDICIAL CONFIRMATION OF issued by then President Marcos; and (c) Proclamation No. 106439 Our present land law traces its roots to the Regalian Doctrine. Upon
IMPERFECT TITLE? issued by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. We shall proceed to the Spanish conquest of the Philippines, ownership of all lands,
determine their rights to apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title territories and possessions in the Philippines passed to the Spanish
III. under these laws and executive acts. Crown.50 The Regalian doctrine was first introduced in the
Philippines through the Laws of the Indies and the Royal Cedulas,
IS THE EXECUTIVE DECLARATION OF THEIR AREAS AS But first, a peek at the Regalian principle and the power of the which laid the foundation that "all lands that were not acquired from
ALIENABLE AND DISPOSABLE UNDER SEC 6, CA 141 [AN] executive to reclassify lands of the public domain. the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public
INDISPENSABLE PRE-REQUISITE FOR PETITIONERS TO OBTAIN domain."51
TITLE UNDER THE TORRENS SYSTEM? The 1935 Constitution classified lands of the public domain into
agricultural, forest or timber.40 Meanwhile, the 1973 Constitution The Laws of the Indies was followed by the Ley Hipotecaria or the
IV. provided the following divisions: agricultural, industrial or commercial, Mortgage Law of 1893. The Spanish Mortgage Law provided for the
residential, resettlement, mineral, timber or forest and grazing lands, systematic registration of titles and deeds as well as possessory
IS THE ISSUANCE OF PROCLAMATION 1064 ON MAY 22, 2006, and such other classes as may be provided by law,41 giving the claims.52
VIOLATIVE OF THE PRIOR VESTED RIGHTS TO PRIVATE government great leeway for classification.42 Then the 1987
OWNERSHIP OF PETITIONERS OVER THEIR LANDS IN Constitution reverted to the 1935 Constitution classification with one
BORACAY, PROTECTED BY THE DUE PROCESS CLAUSE OF addition: national parks.43 Of these, only agricultural lands may be
THE CONSTITUTION OR IS PROCLAMATION 1064 CONTRARY alienated.44 Prior to Proclamation No. 1064 of May 22, 2006, The Royal Decree of 1894 or the Maura Law53 partly amended the
TO SEC. 8, CA 141, OR SEC. 4(a) OF RA 6657. Boracay Island had never been expressly and administratively Spanish Mortgage Law and the Laws of the Indies. It established
classified under any of these grand divisions. Boracay was an possessory information as the method of legalizing possession of
V. unclassified land of the public domain. vacant Crown land, under certain conditions which were set forth in
said decree.54 Under Section 393 of the Maura Law, an informacion
CAN RESPONDENTS BE COMPELLED BY MANDAMUS TO
posesoria or possessory information title,55 when duly inscribed in
ALLOW THE SURVEY AND TO APPROVE THE SURVEY PLANS
the Registry of Property, is converted into a title of ownership only
FOR PURPOSES OF THE APPLICATION FOR TITLING OF THE The Regalian Doctrine dictates that all lands of the public domain after the lapse of twenty (20) years of uninterrupted possession which
LANDS OF PETITIONERS IN BORACAY?35 (Underscoring supplied) belong to the State, that the State is the source of any asserted right must be actual, public, and adverse,56 from the date of its
inscription.57 However, possessory information title had to be On November 29, 1919, Act No. 926 was superseded by Act No. government, such as an official proclamation,80 declassifying
perfected one year after the promulgation of the Maura Law, or until 2874, otherwise known as the second Public Land Act. This new, inalienable public land into disposable land for agricultural or other
April 17, 1895. Otherwise, the lands would revert to the State.58 more comprehensive law limited the exploitation of agricultural lands purposes.81 In fact, Section 8 of CA No. 141 limits alienable or
to Filipinos and Americans and citizens of other countries which gave disposable lands only to those lands which have been "officially
In sum, private ownership of land under the Spanish regime could Filipinos the same privileges. For judicial confirmation of title, delimited and classified."82
only be founded on royal concessions which took various forms, possession and occupation en concepto dueño since time
namely: (1) titulo real or royal grant; (2) concesion especial or special immemorial, or since July 26, 1894, was required.69 The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption of State
grant; (3) composicion con el estado or adjustment title; (4) titulo de ownership of the lands of the public domain is on the person applying
compra or title by purchase; and (5) informacion posesoria or After the passage of the 1935 Constitution, CA No. 141 amended Act for registration (or claiming ownership), who must prove that the land
possessory information title.59> No. 2874 on December 1, 1936. To this day, CA No. 141, as subject of the application is alienable or disposable.83 To overcome
amended, remains as the existing general law governing the this presumption, incontrovertible evidence must be established that
The first law governing the disposition of public lands in the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain other than the land subject of the application (or claim) is alienable or
Philippines under American rule was embodied in the Philippine Bill of timber and mineral lands,70 and privately owned lands which reverted disposable.84 There must still be a positive act declaring land of the
1902.60 By this law, lands of the public domain in the Philippine to the State.71 public domain as alienable and disposable. To prove that the land
Islands were classified into three (3) grand divisions, to wit: subject of an application for registration is alienable, the applicant
agricultural, mineral, and timber or forest lands.61 The act provided Section 48(b) of CA No. 141 retained the requirement under Act No. must establish the existence of a positive act of the government such
for, among others, the disposal of mineral lands by means of absolute 2874 of possession and occupation of lands of the public domain as a presidential proclamation or an executive order; an
grant (freehold system) and by lease (leasehold system).62 It also since time immemorial or since July 26, 1894. However, this provision administrative action; investigation reports of Bureau of Lands
provided the definition by exclusion of "agricultural public lands."63 was superseded by Republic Act (RA) No. 1942,72 which provided for investigators; and a legislative act or a statute.85 The applicant may
Interpreting the meaning of "agricultural lands" under the Philippine a simple thirty-year prescriptive period for judicial confirmation of also secure a certification from the government that the land claimed
Bill of 1902, the Court declared in Mapa v. Insular Government:64 imperfect title. The provision was last amended by PD No. 1073,73 to have been possessed for the required number of years is alienable
which now provides for possession and occupation of the land applied and disposable.86
x x x In other words, that the phrase "agricultural land" as used in Act for since June 12, 1945, or earlier.74
No. 926 means those public lands acquired from Spain which are not In the case at bar, no such proclamation, executive order,
timber or mineral lands. x x x65 (Emphasis Ours) The issuance of PD No. 89275 on February 16, 1976 discontinued the administrative action, report, statute, or certification was presented to
use of Spanish titles as evidence in land registration proceedings.76 the Court. The records are bereft of evidence showing that, prior to
On February 1, 1903, the Philippine Legislature passed Act No. 496, Under the decree, all holders of Spanish titles or grants should apply 2006, the portions of Boracay occupied by private claimants were
otherwise known as the Land Registration Act. The act established a for registration of their lands under Act No. 496 within six (6) months subject of a government proclamation that the land is alienable and
system of registration by which recorded title becomes absolute, from the effectivity of the decree on February 16, 1976. Thereafter, disposable. Absent such well-nigh incontrovertible evidence, the
indefeasible, and imprescriptible. This is known as the Torrens the recording of all unregistered lands77 shall be governed by Section Court cannot accept the submission that lands occupied by private
system.66 194 of the Revised Administrative Code, as amended by Act No. claimants were already open to disposition before 2006. Matters of
3344. land classification or reclassification cannot be assumed. They call for
Concurrently, on October 7, 1903, the Philippine Commission passed proof.87
Act No. 926, which was the first Public Land Act. The Act introduced On June 11, 1978, Act No. 496 was amended and updated by PD No.
the homestead system and made provisions for judicial and 1529, known as the Property Registration Decree. It was enacted to Ankron and De Aldecoa did not make the whole of Boracay Island, or
administrative confirmation of imperfect titles and for the sale or lease codify the various laws relative to registration of property.78 It governs portions of it, agricultural lands. Private claimants posit that Boracay
of public lands. It permitted corporations regardless of the nationality registration of lands under the Torrens system as well as unregistered was already an agricultural land pursuant to the old cases Ankron v.
of persons owning the controlling stock to lease or purchase lands of lands, including chattel mortgages.79 Government of the Philippine Islands (1919)88 and De Aldecoa v.
the public domain.67 Under the Act, open, continuous, exclusive, and The Insular Government (1909).89 These cases were decided under
notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands for the next A positive act declaring land as alienable and disposable is required. the provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Act No. 926. There is
ten (10) years preceding July 26, 1904 was sufficient for judicial In keeping with the presumption of State ownership, the Court has a statement in these old cases that "in the absence of evidence to the
confirmation of imperfect title.68 time and again emphasized that there must be a positive act of the
contrary, that in each case the lands are agricultural lands until the To aid the courts in resolving land registration cases under Act No. mineral land. There must be some proof of the extent and present or
contrary is shown."90 926, it was then necessary to devise a presumption on land future value of the forestry and of the minerals. While, as we have just
classification. Thus evolved the dictum in Ankron that "the courts have said, many definitions have been given for "agriculture," "forestry,"
Private claimants’ reliance on Ankron and De Aldecoa is misplaced. a right to presume, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that in and "mineral" lands, and that in each case it is a question of fact, we
These cases did not have the effect of converting the whole of each case the lands are agricultural lands until the contrary is think it is safe to say that in order to be forestry or mineral land the
Boracay Island or portions of it into agricultural lands. It should be shown."94 proof must show that it is more valuable for the forestry or the mineral
stressed that the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Act No. 926 merely which it contains than it is for agricultural purposes. (Sec. 7, Act No.
provided the manner through which land registration courts would But We cannot unduly expand the presumption in Ankron and De 1148.) It is not sufficient to show that there exists some trees upon the
classify lands of the public domain. Whether the land would be Aldecoa to an argument that all lands of the public domain had been land or that it bears some mineral. Land may be classified as forestry
classified as timber, mineral, or agricultural depended on proof automatically reclassified as disposable and alienable agricultural or mineral today, and, by reason of the exhaustion of the timber or
presented in each case. lands. By no stretch of imagination did the presumption convert all mineral, be classified as agricultural land tomorrow. And vice-versa,
lands of the public domain into agricultural lands. by reason of the rapid growth of timber or the discovery of valuable
Ankron and De Aldecoa were decided at a time when the President of minerals, lands classified as agricultural today may be differently
the Philippines had no power to classify lands of the public domain If We accept the position of private claimants, the Philippine Bill of classified tomorrow. Each case must be decided upon the proof in
into mineral, timber, and agricultural. At that time, the courts were free 1902 and Act No. 926 would have automatically made all lands in the that particular case, having regard for its present or future value for
to make corresponding classifications in justiciable cases, or were Philippines, except those already classified as timber or mineral land, one or the other purposes. We believe, however, considering the fact
vested with implicit power to do so, depending upon the alienable and disposable lands. That would take these lands out of that it is a matter of public knowledge that a majority of the lands in
preponderance of the evidence.91 This was the Court’s ruling in Heirs State ownership and worse, would be utterly inconsistent with and the Philippine Islands are agricultural lands that the courts have a
of the Late Spouses Pedro S. Palanca and Soterranea Rafols Vda. totally repugnant to the long-entrenched Regalian doctrine. right to presume, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that in
De Palanca v. Republic,92 in which it stated, through Justice Adolfo each case the lands are agricultural lands until the contrary is shown.
Azcuna, viz.: The presumption in Ankron and De Aldecoa attaches only to land Whatever the land involved in a particular land registration case is
registration cases brought under the provisions of Act No. 926, or forestry or mineral land must, therefore, be a matter of proof. Its
x x x Petitioners furthermore insist that a particular land need not be more specifically those cases dealing with judicial and administrative superior value for one purpose or the other is a question of fact to be
formally released by an act of the Executive before it can be deemed confirmation of imperfect titles. The presumption applies to an settled by the proof in each particular case. The fact that the land is a
open to private ownership, citing the cases of Ramos v. Director of applicant for judicial or administrative conformation of imperfect title manglar [mangrove swamp] is not sufficient for the courts to decide
Lands and Ankron v. Government of the Philippine Islands. under Act No. 926. It certainly cannot apply to landowners, such as whether it is agricultural, forestry, or mineral land. It may perchance
private claimants or their predecessors-in-interest, who failed to avail belong to one or the other of said classes of land. The Government, in
xxxx themselves of the benefits of Act No. 926. As to them, their land the first instance, under the provisions of Act No. 1148, may, by
remained unclassified and, by virtue of the Regalian doctrine, reservation, decide for itself what portions of public land shall be
continued to be owned by the State. considered forestry land, unless private interests have intervened
Petitioner’s reliance upon Ramos v. Director of Lands and Ankron v. before such reservation is made. In the latter case, whether the land
In any case, the assumption in Ankron and De Aldecoa was not
Government is misplaced. These cases were decided under the is agricultural, forestry, or mineral, is a question of proof. Until private
absolute. Land classification was, in the end, dependent on proof. If
Philippine Bill of 1902 and the first Public Land Act No. 926 enacted interests have intervened, the Government, by virtue of the terms of
there was proof that the land was better suited for non-agricultural
by the Philippine Commission on October 7, 1926, under which there said Act (No. 1148), may decide for itself what portions of the "public
uses, the courts could adjudge it as a mineral or timber land despite
was no legal provision vesting in the Chief Executive or President of domain" shall be set aside and reserved as forestry or mineral land.
the presumption. In Ankron, this Court stated:
the Philippines the power to classify lands of the public domain into (Ramos vs. Director of Lands, 39 Phil. 175; Jocson vs. Director of
mineral, timber and agricultural so that the courts then were free to Forestry, supra)95 (Emphasis ours)
In the case of Jocson vs. Director of Forestry (supra), the Attorney-
make corresponding classifications in justiciable cases, or were General admitted in effect that whether the particular land in question
Since 1919, courts were no longer free to determine the classification
vested with implicit power to do so, depending upon the belongs to one class or another is a question of fact. The mere fact
of lands from the facts of each case, except those that have already
preponderance of the evidence.93 that a tract of land has trees upon it or has mineral within it is not of
became private lands.96 Act No. 2874, promulgated in 1919 and
itself sufficient to declare that one is forestry land and the other,
reproduced in Section 6 of CA No. 141, gave the Executive the Executive did not have the authority to classify lands as 705. The DENR109 and the National Mapping and Resource
Department, through the President, the exclusive prerogative to agricultural, timber, or mineral. Information Authority110 certify that Boracay Island is an unclassified
classify or reclassify public lands into alienable or disposable, mineral land of the public domain.
or forest.96-a Since then, courts no longer had the authority, whether Private claimants’ continued possession under Act No. 926 does not
express or implied, to determine the classification of lands of the create a presumption that the land is alienable. Private claimants also PD No. 705 issued by President Marcos categorized all unclassified
public domain.97 contend that their continued possession of portions of Boracay Island lands of the public domain as public forest. Section 3(a) of PD No.
for the requisite period of ten (10) years under Act No. 926106 ipso 705 defines a public forest as "a mass of lands of the public domain
facto converted the island into private ownership. Hence, they may which has not been the subject of the present system of classification
apply for a title in their name. for the determination of which lands are needed for forest purpose
Here, private claimants, unlike the Heirs of Ciriaco Tirol who were and which are not." Applying PD No. 705, all unclassified lands,
issued their title in 1933,98 did not present a justiciable case for A similar argument was squarely rejected by the Court in Collado v. including those in Boracay Island, are ipso facto considered public
determination by the land registration court of the property’s land Court of Appeals.107 Collado, citing the separate opinion of now forests. PD No. 705, however, respects titles already existing prior to
classification. Simply put, there was no opportunity for the courts then Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno in Cruz v. Secretary of Environment its effectivity.
to resolve if the land the Boracay occupants are now claiming were and Natural Resources,107-a ruled:
agricultural lands. When Act No. 926 was supplanted by Act No. 2874 The Court notes that the classification of Boracay as a forest land
in 1919, without an application for judicial confirmation having been "Act No. 926, the first Public Land Act, was passed in pursuance of under PD No. 705 may seem to be out of touch with the present
filed by private claimants or their predecessors-in-interest, the courts the provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902. The law governed the realities in the island. Boracay, no doubt, has been partly stripped of
were no longer authorized to determine the property’s land disposition of lands of the public domain. It prescribed rules and its forest cover to pave the way for commercial developments. As a
classification. Hence, private claimants cannot bank on Act No. 926. regulations for the homesteading, selling and leasing of portions of premier tourist destination for local and foreign tourists, Boracay
the public domain of the Philippine Islands, and prescribed the terms appears more of a commercial island resort, rather than a forest land.
We note that the RTC decision99 in G.R. No. 167707 mentioned and conditions to enable persons to perfect their titles to public lands
Krivenko v. Register of Deeds of Manila,100 which was decided in in the Islands. It also provided for the "issuance of patents to certain Nevertheless, that the occupants of Boracay have built multi-million
1947 when CA No. 141, vesting the Executive with the sole power to native settlers upon public lands," for the establishment of town sites peso beach resorts on the island;111 that the island has already been
classify lands of the public domain was already in effect. Krivenko and sale of lots therein, for the completion of imperfect titles, and for stripped of its forest cover; or that the implementation of Proclamation
cited the old cases Mapa v. Insular Government,101 De Aldecoa v. the cancellation or confirmation of Spanish concessions and grants in No. 1064 will destroy the island’s tourism industry, do not negate its
The Insular Government,102 and Ankron v. Government of the the Islands." In short, the Public Land Act operated on the assumption character as public forest.
Philippine Islands.103 that title to public lands in the Philippine Islands remained in the
government; and that the government’s title to public land sprung from Forests, in the context of both the Public Land Act and the
Krivenko, however, is not controlling here because it involved a totally the Treaty of Paris and other subsequent treaties between Spain and Constitution112 classifying lands of the public domain into
different issue. The pertinent issue in Krivenko was whether the United States. The term "public land" referred to all lands of the "agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands, and national parks," do
residential lots were included in the general classification of public domain whose title still remained in the government and are not necessarily refer to large tracts of wooded land or expanses
agricultural lands; and if so, whether an alien could acquire a thrown open to private appropriation and settlement, and excluded the covered by dense growths of trees and underbrushes.113 The
residential lot. This Court ruled that as an alien, Krivenko was patrimonial property of the government and the friar lands." discussion in Heirs of Amunategui v. Director of Forestry114 is
prohibited by the 1935 Constitution104 from acquiring agricultural particularly instructive:
land, which included residential lots. Here, the issue is whether Thus, it is plain error for petitioners to argue that under the Philippine
unclassified lands of the public domain are automatically deemed Bill of 1902 and Public Land Act No. 926, mere possession by private A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain does not
agricultural. individuals of lands creates the legal presumption that the lands are lose such classification simply because loggers or settlers may have
alienable and disposable.108 (Emphasis Ours) stripped it of its forest cover. Parcels of land classified as forest land
Notably, the definition of "agricultural public lands" mentioned in may actually be covered with grass or planted to crops by kaingin
Krivenko relied on the old cases decided prior to the enactment of Act Except for lands already covered by existing titles, Boracay was an cultivators or other farmers. "Forest lands" do not have to be on
No. 2874, including Ankron and De Aldecoa.105 As We have already unclassified land of the public domain prior to Proclamation No. 1064. mountains or in out of the way places. Swampy areas covered by
stated, those cases cannot apply here, since they were decided when Such unclassified lands are considered public forest under PD No. mangrove trees, nipa palms, and other trees growing in brackish or
sea water may also be classified as forest land. The classification is Clearly, the reference in the Circular to both private and public lands It was Proclamation No. 1064 of 2006 which positively declared part
descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to be merely recognizes that the island can be classified by the Executive of Boracay as alienable and opened the same to private ownership.
descriptive of what the land actually looks like. Unless and until the department pursuant to its powers under CA No. 141. In fact, Section Sections 6 and 7 of CA No. 141120 provide that it is only the
land classified as "forest" is released in an official proclamation to that 5 of the Circular recognizes the then Bureau of Forest Development’s President, upon the recommendation of the proper department head,
effect so that it may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of authority to declare areas in the island as alienable and disposable who has the authority to classify the lands of the public domain into
the public domain, the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do not when it provides: alienable or disposable, timber and mineral lands.121
apply.115 (Emphasis supplied)
Subsistence farming, in areas declared as alienable and disposable In issuing Proclamation No. 1064, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
There is a big difference between "forest" as defined in a dictionary by the Bureau of Forest Development. merely exercised the authority granted to her to classify lands of the
and "forest or timber land" as a classification of lands of the public public domain, presumably subject to existing vested rights.
domain as appearing in our statutes. One is descriptive of what Therefore, Proclamation No. 1801 cannot be deemed the positive act Classification of public lands is the exclusive prerogative of the
appears on the land while the other is a legal status, a classification needed to classify Boracay Island as alienable and disposable land. If Executive Department, through the Office of the President. Courts
for legal purposes.116 At any rate, the Court is tasked to determine President Marcos intended to classify the island as alienable and have no authority to do so.122 Absent such classification, the land
the legal status of Boracay Island, and not look into its physical layout. disposable or forest, or both, he would have identified the specific remains unclassified until released and rendered open to
Hence, even if its forest cover has been replaced by beach resorts, limits of each, as President Arroyo did in Proclamation No. 1064. This disposition.123
restaurants and other commercial establishments, it has not been was not done in Proclamation No. 1801.
automatically converted from public forest to alienable agricultural Proclamation No. 1064 classifies Boracay into 400 hectares of
land. The Whereas clauses of Proclamation No. 1801 also explain the reserved forest land and 628.96 hectares of agricultural land. The
rationale behind the declaration of Boracay Island, together with other Proclamation likewise provides for a 15-meter buffer zone on each
Private claimants cannot rely on Proclamation No. 1801 as basis for islands, caves and peninsulas in the Philippines, as a tourist zone and side of the center line of roads and trails, which are reserved for right
judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The proclamation did not marine reserve to be administered by the PTA – to ensure the of way and which shall form part of the area reserved for forest land
convert Boracay into an agricultural land. However, private claimants concentrated efforts of the public and private sectors in the protection purposes.
argue that Proclamation No. 1801 issued by then President Marcos in development of the areas’ tourism potential with due regard for
1978 entitles them to judicial confirmation of imperfect title. The ecological balance in the marine environment. Simply put, the Contrary to private claimants’ argument, there was nothing invalid or
Proclamation classified Boracay, among other islands, as a tourist proclamation is aimed at administering the islands for tourism and irregular, much less unconstitutional, about the classification of
zone. Private claimants assert that, as a tourist spot, the island is ecological purposes. It does not address the areas’ alienability.119 Boracay Island made by the President through Proclamation No.
susceptible of private ownership. 1064. It was within her authority to make such classification, subject
More importantly, Proclamation No. 1801 covers not only Boracay to existing vested rights.
Proclamation No. 1801 or PTA Circular No. 3-82 did not convert the Island, but sixty-four (64) other islands, coves, and peninsulas in the
whole of Boracay into an agricultural land. There is nothing in the law Philippines, such as Fortune and Verde Islands in Batangas, Port Proclamation No. 1064 does not violate the Comprehensive Agrarian
or the Circular which made Boracay Island an agricultural land. The Galera in Oriental Mindoro, Panglao and Balicasag Islands in Bohol, Reform Law. Private claimants further assert that Proclamation No.
reference in Circular No. 3-82 to "private lands"117 and "areas Coron Island, Puerto Princesa and surrounding areas in Palawan, 1064 violates the provision of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform
declared as alienable and disposable"118 does not by itself classify Camiguin Island in Cagayan de Oro, and Misamis Oriental, to name a Law (CARL) or RA No. 6657 barring conversion of public forests into
the entire island as agricultural. Notably, Circular No. 3-82 makes few. If the designation of Boracay Island as tourist zone makes it agricultural lands. They claim that since Boracay is a public forest
reference not only to private lands and areas but also to public alienable and disposable by virtue of Proclamation No. 1801, all the under PD No. 705, President Arroyo can no longer convert it into an
forested lands. Rule VIII, Section 3 provides: other areas mentioned would likewise be declared wide open for agricultural land without running afoul of Section 4(a) of RA No. 6657,
private disposition. That could not have been, and is clearly beyond, thus:
No trees in forested private lands may be cut without prior authority the intent of the proclamation.
from the PTA. All forested areas in public lands are declared forest SEC. 4. Scope. – The Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988
reserves. (Emphasis supplied) shall cover, regardless of tenurial arrangement and commodity
produced, all public and private agricultural lands as provided in
Proclamation No. 131 and Executive Order No. 229, including other Forestry Code, there can be no "reclassification of forest lands" to failed to prove the first element of open, continuous, exclusive, and
lands of the public domain suitable for agriculture. speak of within the meaning of Section 4(a). notorious possession of their lands in Boracay since June 12, 1945.

More specifically, the following lands are covered by the Thus, obviously, the prohibition in Section 4(a) of the CARL against We cannot sustain the CA and RTC conclusion in the petition for
Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program: the reclassification of forest lands to agricultural lands without a prior declaratory relief that private claimants complied with the requisite
law delimiting the limits of the public domain, does not, and cannot, period of possession.
(a) All alienable and disposable lands of the public domain devoted to apply to those lands of the public domain, denominated as "public
or suitable for agriculture. No reclassification of forest or mineral lands forest" under the Revised Forestry Code, which have not been The tax declarations in the name of private claimants are insufficient
to agricultural lands shall be undertaken after the approval of this Act previously determined, or classified, as needed for forest purposes in to prove the first element of possession. We note that the earliest of
until Congress, taking into account ecological, developmental and accordance with the provisions of the Revised Forestry Code.127 the tax declarations in the name of private claimants were issued in
equity considerations, shall have determined by law, the specific limits 1993. Being of recent dates, the tax declarations are not sufficient to
of the public domain. Private claimants are not entitled to apply for judicial confirmation of convince this Court that the period of possession and occupation
imperfect title under CA No. 141. Neither do they have vested rights commenced on June 12, 1945.
That Boracay Island was classified as a public forest under PD No. over the occupied lands under the said law. There are two requisites
705 did not bar the Executive from later converting it into agricultural for judicial confirmation of imperfect or incomplete title under CA No. Private claimants insist that they have a vested right in Boracay,
land. Boracay Island still remained an unclassified land of the public 141, namely: (1) open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious having been in possession of the island for a long time. They have
domain despite PD No. 705. possession and occupation of the subject land by himself or through invested millions of pesos in developing the island into a tourist spot.
his predecessors-in-interest under a bona fide claim of ownership They say their continued possession and investments give them a
In Heirs of the Late Spouses Pedro S. Palanca and Soterranea Rafols since time immemorial or from June 12, 1945; and (2) the vested right which cannot be unilaterally rescinded by Proclamation
v. Republic,124 the Court stated that unclassified lands are public classification of the land as alienable and disposable land of the No. 1064.
forests. public domain.128
The continued possession and considerable investment of private
While it is true that the land classification map does not categorically As discussed, the Philippine Bill of 1902, Act No. 926, and claimants do not automatically give them a vested right in Boracay.
state that the islands are public forests, the fact that they were Proclamation No. 1801 did not convert portions of Boracay Island into Nor do these give them a right to apply for a title to the land they are
unclassified lands leads to the same result. In the absence of the an agricultural land. The island remained an unclassified land of the presently occupying. This Court is constitutionally bound to decide
classification as mineral or timber land, the land remains unclassified public domain and, applying the Regalian doctrine, is considered cases based on the evidence presented and the laws applicable. As
land until released and rendered open to disposition.125 (Emphasis State property. the law and jurisprudence stand, private claimants are ineligible to
supplied) apply for a judicial confirmation of title over their occupied portions in
Private claimants’ bid for judicial confirmation of imperfect title, relying Boracay even with their continued possession and considerable
Moreover, the prohibition under the CARL applies only to a on the Philippine Bill of 1902, Act No. 926, and Proclamation No. investment in the island.
"reclassification" of land. If the land had never been previously 1801, must fail because of the absence of the second element of
classified, as in the case of Boracay, there can be no prohibited alienable and disposable land. Their entitlement to a government One Last Note
reclassification under the agrarian law. We agree with the opinion of grant under our present Public Land Act presupposes that the land
the Department of Justice126 on this point: possessed and applied for is already alienable and disposable. This is The Court is aware that millions of pesos have been invested for the
clear from the wording of the law itself.129 Where the land is not development of Boracay Island, making it a by-word in the local and
Indeed, the key word to the correct application of the prohibition in alienable and disposable, possession of the land, no matter how long, international tourism industry. The Court also notes that for a number
Section 4(a) is the word "reclassification." Where there has been no cannot confer ownership or possessory rights.130 of years, thousands of people have called the island their home.
previous classification of public forest [referring, we repeat, to the While the Court commiserates with private claimants’ plight, We are
mass of the public domain which has not been the subject of the Neither may private claimants apply for judicial confirmation of bound to apply the law strictly and judiciously. This is the law and it
present system of classification for purposes of determining which are imperfect title under Proclamation No. 1064, with respect to those should prevail. Ito ang batas at ito ang dapat umiral.
needed for forest purposes and which are not] into permanent forest lands which were classified as agricultural lands. Private claimants
or forest reserves or some other forest uses under the Revised
All is not lost, however, for private claimants. While they may not be resources. It is of common knowledge by now that absence of the
eligible to apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under necessary green cover on our lands produces a number of adverse or
Section 48(b) of CA No. 141, as amended, this does not denote their ill effects of serious proportions. Without the trees, watersheds dry up;
automatic ouster from the residential, commercial, and other areas rivers and lakes which they supply are emptied of their contents. The
they possess now classified as agricultural. Neither will this mean the fish disappear. Denuded areas become dust bowls. As waterfalls
loss of their substantial investments on their occupied alienable lands. cease to function, so will hydroelectric plants. With the rains, the
Lack of title does not necessarily mean lack of right to possess. fertile topsoil is washed away; geological erosion results. With erosion
come the dreaded floods that wreak havoc and destruction to property
For one thing, those with lawful possession may claim good faith as – crops, livestock, houses, and highways – not to mention precious
builders of improvements. They can take steps to preserve or protect human lives. Indeed, the foregoing observations should be written
their possession. For another, they may look into other modes of down in a lumberman’s decalogue.135
applying for original registration of title, such as by homestead131 or
sales patent,132 subject to the conditions imposed by law. WHEREFORE, judgment is rendered as follows:

More realistically, Congress may enact a law to entitle private 1. The petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 167707 is GRANTED and the
claimants to acquire title to their occupied lots or to exempt them from Court of Appeals Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 71118 REVERSED
certain requirements under the present land laws. There is one such AND SET ASIDE.
bill133 now pending in the House of Representatives. Whether that
bill or a similar bill will become a law is for Congress to decide. 2. The petition for certiorari in G.R. No. 173775 is DISMISSED for
lack of merit.
In issuing Proclamation No. 1064, the government has taken the step
necessary to open up the island to private ownership. This gesture SO ORDERED.
may not be sufficient to appease some sectors which view the
classification of the island partially into a forest reserve as absurd.
That the island is no longer overrun by trees, however, does not
becloud the vision to protect its remaining forest cover and to strike a
healthy balance between progress and ecology. Ecological
conservation is as important as economic progress.

To be sure, forest lands are fundamental to our nation’s survival.


Their promotion and protection are not just fancy rhetoric for
politicians and activists. These are needs that become more urgent as
destruction of our environment gets prevalent and difficult to control.
As aptly observed by Justice Conrado Sanchez in 1968 in Director of
Forestry v. Munoz:134

The view this Court takes of the cases at bar is but in adherence to
public policy that should be followed with respect to forest lands.
Many have written much, and many more have spoken, and quite
often, about the pressing need for forest preservation, conservation,
protection, development and reforestation. Not without justification.
For, forests constitute a vital segment of any country's natural
G.R. No. L-3894 March 12, 1909 Evidence was adduced by the petitioner at the trial of the case, and SEC. 54. The following-described persons or their legal successors in
on February 2, 1907, the judge of the Court of Land Registration right, occupying public lands in the Philippine Islands, or claiming to
JUAN IBAÑEZ DE ALDECOA, petitioner-appellant, vs. entered his decision in the matter and, in view of the opposition own any such lands or an interest therein, but whose titles to such
offered by the Insular Government denied the petition without costs, lands have not been perfected, may apply to the Court of Land
THE INSULAR GOVERNMENT, respondent-appellee. and ordered the cancellation of the entry made of the said property in Registration of the Philippine Islands for confirmation of their claims
the record under No. 408, folio 206 of volume 2 of the municipality of and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor to wit:
TORRES, J.: Surigao.
6. All persons who by themselves or their predecessors in interest
On the 8th of March, 1904, in accordance with the new Land The applicant excepted to this decision and moved for a new trial; his have been in the open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious
Registration Act, Juan Ibañez de Aldecoa applied for the registration motion was overruled to which he also excepted and presented the possession and occupation of agricultural public lands, as defined by
of his title to a parcel of land, 3,375 square meters in extent, situated corresponding bill of exceptions which was approved and submitted to said Act of Congress of July first, nineteen hundred and two, under a
in the town of Surigao; a plan and technical description of said parcel this court. bona fide claim of ownership except as against the Government, for a
was attached to his application. period of ten years next preceding the taking effect of this Act, except
The question set up in these proceedings by virtue of the appeal when prevented by a war or force majeure, shall be conclusively
After the formalities of the law were complied with, and an opinion of interposed by counsel for Juan Ibañez de Aldecoa, is whether or not a presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a
the examiner of titles opposing the request of the applicant, had been parcel of land that is susceptible of being cultivated, and, ceasing to government grant and to have received the same, and shall be
rendered, the Attorney-General by a writing dated March 21, 1905, be agricultural land, was converted into a building lot, is subject to the entitled to a certificate of title to such land under the provisions of this
objected to the registration applied for, alleging that the land in legal provisions in force regarding Government public lands which chapter.
question was the property of the Government of the United States, may be alienated in favor of private individuals or corporations. While
and is now under the control of the Insular Government; that the title from the remote time of the conquest of this Archipelago the All applicants for lands under paragraph one, two, three, four, and five
of ownership issued by the politico-militar governor of Surigao, occupation or material possession together with the improvement and of this section must establish by proper official records or documents
Mindanao, issued on the 19th of June, 1889, to Telesforo Ibañez de cultivation for a certain number of years, as fixed by the laws of the that such proceedings as are therein required were taken and the
Aldecoa, antecessor of the petitioner with respect to the land in Indies, of given portions of vacant Government lands, was the method necessary conditions complied with: Provided, however, That such
question, was entirely null and void, for the reason that said grant had established by the Government to facilitate the acquisition thereof by requirements shall not apply to the fact of adverse possession.
not been made in accordance with the laws then in force on the private persons, later, by the royal decrees of June 25, 1880, and
subject, and because the said governor had no authority to make December 26, 1884, the system of composition with the State and Given the above legal provisions and the data contained in the record,
such a grant; he prayed the court below to dismiss the application that of sales by public auction were instituted as the means of it is seen that the land, the registration of which is claimed, was of the
with costs. acquiring such lands. class of vacant crown or public land which the State could alienate to
private persons, and being susceptible of cultivation, since at any time
As the case stood the applicant, Aldecoa, on the 8th of April, 1905, In view of the difficulties which prevented the rapid dispatch of the the person in possession desired to convert it into agricultural land he
amended his former petition, and relying upon the provisions of proceedings instituted for this purpose, the royal decree of February might do so in the same manner that he had made a building lot of it,
paragraph 5 and 6 of section 54 of Act No. 926, alleged that at the 13, 1894, was promulgated, establishing the possessory information it undoubtedly falls within the terms of the said Act of Congress, as
time he requested the registration of the land in question, comprised as the method of legalizing possession of vacant Crown land, under well as the provisions of the abovecited section 54 and paragraph 6
in the plan then submitted, the aforesaid Act No. 926 was not yet in certain conditions which were set out in said decree. thereof of Act No. 926, for the reason that the said land is neither
force, and as the latter affords better facilities for securing titles to mining nor timber land.
property unprovided with them, as in the case with the land in After the change of sovereignty, the Commission enacted Act No.
question, the applicant availing himself of the benefits granted by the 926, relating to public lands, in accordance with the provisions of We refrain from mentioning herein what originally was the nature of
said Act, prayed that the same be applied to the inscription of his sections 13, 14, and 15 of the Act of the Congress of the United the land whereon was built the greatest cities of the world; and
land, inasmuch as it was included within paragraphs 5 and 6 of States of July 1, 1902, section 54, paragraph 6 of which (Act No. 926) confining ourselves to that on which the cities and towns in these
section 54, Chapter VI, thereof, and prayed the court to take into is as follows: Islands were erected, it can not be denied that, at the commencement
consideration the amendment of his petition. of the occupation of this Archipelago by the Spaniards, and at the
time of the distribution of lands, the latter were rural and agricultural in
their nature. Rural also were the old towns, the cradle and foundation that titles to the building lots within the confines of such towns had From the language of the foregoing provisions of the law, it is
of the present cities and large towns of the Philippines, and as the been duly acquired; therefore, in special cases like the present one, deduced that, with the exception of those comprised within the
inhabitants increased, and added to the number of their dwellings, the wherein is sought the registration of a lot situated within a town mineral and timber zone, all lands owned by the State or by the
farms gradually became converted into town lots. created and acknowledged administratively, it is proper to apply sovereign nation are public in character, and per se alienable and,
thereto the laws in force and classify it as agricultural land, inasmuch provided they are not destined to the use of the public in general or
as it was agricultural prior to its conversion into a building lot, and is reserved by the Government in accordance with law, they may be
subject at any time to further rotation and cultivation; moreover, it acquired by any private or judicial person; and considering their origin
In provincial towns, and in the suburbs of Manila, many houses are to does not appear that it was ever mining or forest land. and primitive state and the general uses to which they were accorded,
be seen that are erected on lots that form part of land used for they are called agricultural lands, urban lands or building lots being
agricultural purposes. If for the time being, and to the advantage of It should be noted that article 1 of the royal decree and regulation of included in this classification for the purpose of distinguishing rural
the possessors thereof, they have ceased to be such agricultural the 25th of June, 1880, says: "In the Philippine Islands, all vacant and urban estates from mineral and timber lands; the transformation
lands, they may later on again become transformed into farming land lands, soils, and grounds without a lawful private owner, or, which they may have undergone is no obstacle to such classification as the
and, by the industry of the owner, again be made to yield fruit. have never been under private control, shall be deemed to be possessors thereof may again convert them into rural estates.
alienable crown lands for the effects of the regulation, and in
Hence, any parcel of land or building lot is susceptible of cultivation, accordance with law 14, title 12, book 4, of the Novísima If the land sought to be registered is neither mineral nor timber land,
and may be converted into a field, and planted with all kind of Recopilación;" that article 1 of the royal decree of the 14th of and on the other hand is susceptible of cultivation the Act of Congress
vegetation; for this reason, where land is not mining or forestall in its February, 1894, states: "Vacant lands, soils, grounds, and mountains contains no provision whatever that would exclude it from being
nature, it must necessarily be included within the classification of in the Philippine Islands shall be deemed to be alienable Crown lands, classified as agricultural land, and assuming that it falls within that
agricultural land, not because it is actually used for the purposes of provided they are not included within the following exceptions: (1) classification, the benefits of paragraph 6, section 54, of Act No. 926,
agriculture, but because it was originally agricultural and may again Those of private ownership; (2) those belonging to the forest zone; (3) must forthwith be applied for the reason that it has been fully proven
become so under other circumstances; besides, the Act of Congress those comprised in the communal laws, or within zones reserved for that the applicant was in possession thereof for more than 13 years
contains only three classifications, and makes no special provision the use in common by residents of the community; and (4) those prior to the 26th of July, 1904, when the said Act went into effect.
with respect to building lots or urban lands that have ceased to be lands which are susceptible of private appropriation by means of Furthermore, there is no legal reason or cause to exclude urban lands
agricultural land. composition or possessory information;" and that although section 13 from the benefits of the aforesaid Act; on the contrary, the
of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, directs the Government of the interpretation that urban real estate, that is not mineral or forestall in
In the decision rendered by this court in the case of Mapa vs. The Philippine Islands to classify public lands that are neither forest nor character, be understood to fall within the classification of agricultural
Insular Government, No. 3793 (10 Phil. Rep., 175), the legislation in mining lands according to their agricultural character and land, is deemed to be most rational and beneficial to public interests.
force was interpreted in a similar sense. productiveness, section 14 authorizes and empowers the said
Government "to enact rules and regulations and to prescribe terms Therefore, in view of the foregoing, it is our opinion that the judgment
It is not to be believed that it was the sense of the two sovereign appealed from should be reversed, and that it should be, as it is,
and conditions to enable persons to perfect their title to public lands in
powers that have successively promulgated the said laws, to place hereby ordered, that, after holding in general default all such persons
said Islands, who, prior to the transfer of sovereignty from Spain to
those in possession of building lots under title of ownership in an as may have any interest in the said parcel of land, the registration of
the United States, had fulfilled all or some of the conditions required
anomalous, uncertain and insecure position, rendering it impossible the same shall be granted in accordance with the Land Registration
by the Spanish laws and royal decrees of the Kingdom of Spain for
for them to obtain legal titles to the lands appropriated by them, and Act. No special ruling is made as to costs. So ordered.
the acquisition of legal title thereto, yet failed to secure conveyance of
denying them the care and protection of the law to which they were
title, etc.;" and section 15 authorizes and empowers the said
certainly entitled on account of the efforts they have made, both in
Government of the Philippine Islands "on such terms as it may
their behalf, and for the benefit of the cities and towns in which they
prescribed, by general legislation, to provide for the granting, or sale
reside, contributing to the wealth and increase of the country. Willard, J., concurs.
and conveyance to actual occupants and settlers and other citizens of
said Islands such parts and portions of the public domain, other than
In the case at bar we have to deal with laws that were enacted after Carson, J., concurs in the result.
timber and mineral lands of the United States on said Islands, as it
almost all the towns of this Archipelago were established, and it must
may deem wise, etc."
be assumed that the lawmakers have started from the supposition
On November 10, 1998, a group of intervenors, composed of Sen. "(2) Section 5, in relation to section 3(a), which provides that ancestral
Juan Flavier, one of the authors of the IPRA, Mr. Ponciano Bennagen, domains including inalienable public lands, bodies of water, mineral
G.R. No. 135385 December 6, 2000 a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, and the leaders and other resources found within ancestral domains are private but
and members of 112 groups of indigenous peoples (Flavier, et. al), community property of the indigenous peoples;
ISAGANI CRUZ and CESAR EUROPA, petitioners, filed their Motion for Leave to Intervene. They join the NCIP in
defending the constitutionality of IPRA and praying for the dismissal of "(3) Section 6 in relation to section 3(a) and 3(b) which defines the
vs. the petition. composition of ancestral domains and ancestral lands;

SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, On March 22, 1999, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) "(4) Section 7 which recognizes and enumerates the rights of the
SECRETARY OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT and CHAIRMAN likewise filed a Motion to Intervene and/or to Appear as Amicus indigenous peoples over the ancestral domains;
and COMMISSIONERS OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON Curiae. The CHR asserts that IPRA is an expression of the principle
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, respondents. of parens patriae and that the State has the responsibility to protect (5) Section 8 which recognizes and enumerates the rights of the
and guarantee the rights of those who are at a serious disadvantage indigenous peoples over the ancestral lands;
RESOLUTION
like indigenous peoples. For this reason it prays that the petition be
dismissed. "(6) Section 57 which provides for priority rights of the indigenous
PER CURIAM: peoples in the harvesting, extraction, development or exploration of
On March 23, 1999, another group, composed of the Ikalahan minerals and other natural resources within the areas claimed to be
Petitioners Isagani Cruz and Cesar Europa brought this suit for their ancestral domains, and the right to enter into agreements with
Indigenous People and the Haribon Foundation for the Conservation
prohibition and mandamus as citizens and taxpayers, assailing the nonindigenous peoples for the development and utilization of natural
of Natural Resources, Inc. (Haribon, et al.), filed a motion to Intervene
constitutionality of certain provisions of Republic Act No. 8371 (R.A. resources therein for a period not exceeding 25 years, renewable for
with attached Comment-in-Intervention. They agree with the NCIP
8371), otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of not more than 25 years; and
and Flavier, et al. that IPRA is consistent with the Constitution and
1997 (IPRA), and its Implementing Rules and Regulations
pray that the petition for prohibition and mandamus be dismissed.
(Implementing Rules). "(7) Section 58 which gives the indigenous peoples the responsibility
The motions for intervention of the aforesaid groups and to maintain, develop, protect and conserve the ancestral domains and
In its resolution of September 29, 1998, the Court required portions thereof which are found to be necessary for critical
organizations were granted.
respondents to comment.1 In compliance, respondents Chairperson watersheds, mangroves, wildlife sanctuaries, wilderness, protected
and Commissioners of the National Commission on Indigenous areas, forest cover or reforestation."2
Oral arguments were heard on April 13, 1999. Thereafter, the parties
Peoples (NCIP), the government agency created under the IPRA to
and intervenors filed their respective memoranda in which they
implement its provisions, filed on October 13, 1998 their Comment to Petitioners also content that, by providing for an all-encompassing
reiterate the arguments adduced in their earlier pleadings and during
the Petition, in which they defend the constitutionality of the IPRA and definition of "ancestral domains" and "ancestral lands" which might
the hearing.
pray that the petition be dismissed for lack of merit. even include private lands found within said areas, Sections 3(a) and
Petitioners assail the constitutionality of the following provisions of the 3(b) violate the rights of private landowners.3
IPRA and its Implementing Rules on the ground that they amount to
an unlawful deprivation of the State’s ownership over lands of the In addition, petitioners question the provisions of the IPRA defining
On October 19, 1998, respondents Secretary of the Department of the powers and jurisdiction of the NCIP and making customary law
public domain as well as minerals and other natural resources therein,
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and Secretary of the applicable to the settlement of disputes involving ancestral domains
in violation of the regalian doctrine embodied in Section 2, Article XII
Department of Budget and Management (DBM) filed through the and ancestral lands on the ground that these provisions violate the
of the Constitution:
Solicitor General a consolidated Comment. The Solicitor General is of due process clause of the Constitution.4
the view that the IPRA is partly unconstitutional on the ground that it
"(1) Section 3(a) which defines the extent and coverage of ancestral
grants ownership over natural resources to indigenous peoples and These provisions are:
domains, and Section 3(b) which, in turn, defines ancestral lands;
prays that the petition be granted in part.
"(1) sections 51 to 53 and 59 which detail the process of delineation "(3) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Secretary of the unconstitutional. Justices Melo, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and
and recognition of ancestral domains and which vest on the NCIP the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to cease and De Leon join in the separate opinions of Justices Panganiban and
sole authority to delineate ancestral domains and ancestral lands; desist from implementing Department of Environment and Natural Vitug.
Resources Circular No. 2, series of 1998;
"(2) Section 52[i] which provides that upon certification by the NCIP As the votes were equally divided (7 to 7) and the necessary majority
that a particular area is an ancestral domain and upon notification to "(4) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Secretary of was not obtained, the case was redeliberated upon. However, after
the following officials, namely, the Secretary of Environment and Budget and Management to cease and desist from disbursing public redeliberation, the voting remained the same. Accordingly, pursuant
Natural Resources, Secretary of Interior and Local Governments, funds for the implementation of the assailed provisions of R.A. 8371; to Rule 56, Section 7 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, the petition is
Secretary of Justice and Commissioner of the National Development and DISMISSED.
Corporation, the jurisdiction of said officials over said area terminates;
"(5) The issuance of a writ of mandamus commanding the Secretary Attached hereto and made integral parts thereof are the separate
"(3) Section 63 which provides the customary law, traditions and of Environment and Natural Resources to comply with his duty of opinions of Justices Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, and
practices of indigenous peoples shall be applied first with respect to carrying out the State’s constitutional mandate to control and Panganiban.
property rights, claims of ownership, hereditary succession and supervise the exploration, development, utilization and conservation
settlement of land disputes, and that any doubt or ambiguity in the of Philippine natural resources."7 SO ORDERED.
interpretation thereof shall be resolved in favor of the indigenous
peoples; After due deliberation on the petition, the members of the Court voted
as follows:
"(4) Section 65 which states that customary laws and practices shall
be used to resolve disputes involving indigenous peoples; and Seven (7) voted to dismiss the petition. Justice Kapunan filed an
opinion, which the Chief Justice and Justices Bellosillo, Quisumbing,
"(5) Section 66 which vests on the NCIP the jurisdiction over all claims and Santiago join, sustaining the validity of the challenged provisions
and disputes involving rights of the indigenous peoples."5 of R.A. 8371. Justice Puno also filed a separate opinion sustaining all
challenged provisions of the law with the exception of Section 1, Part
Finally, petitioners assail the validity of Rule VII, Part II, Section 1 of II, Rule III of NCIP Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1998, the
the NCIP Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1998, which provides Rules and Regulations Implementing the IPRA, and Section 57 of the
that "the administrative relationship of the NCIP to the Office of the IPRA which he contends should be interpreted as dealing with the
President is characterized as a lateral but autonomous relationship for large-scale exploitation of natural resources and should be read in
purposes of policy and program coordination." They contend that said conjunction with Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. On the
Rule infringes upon the President’s power of control over executive other hand, Justice Mendoza voted to dismiss the petition solely on
departments under Section 17, Article VII of the Constitution.6 the ground that it does not raise a justiciable controversy and
petitioners do not have standing to question the constitutionality of
Petitioners pray for the following: R.A. 8371.

"(1) A declaration that Sections 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 52[I], 57, 58, 59, 63, 65 Seven (7) other members of the Court voted to grant the petition.
and 66 and other related provisions of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional Justice Panganiban filed a separate opinion expressing the view that
and invalid; Sections 3 (a)(b), 5, 6, 7 (a)(b), 8, and related provisions of R.A. 8371
are unconstitutional. He reserves judgment on the constitutionality of
"(2) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Chairperson and Sections 58, 59, 65, and 66 of the law, which he believes must await
Commissioners of the NCIP to cease and desist from implementing the filing of specific cases by those whose rights may have been
the assailed provisions of R.A. 8371 and its Implementing Rules; violated by the IPRA. Justice Vitug also filed a separate opinion
expressing the view that Sections 3(a), 7, and 57 of R.A. 8371 are
G.R. No. 164584 June 22, 2009 representing unrealized income for the residential building and
cottages computed monthly from July 1992 up to the time the property
PHILIP MATTHEWS, Petitioner, vs. BENJAMIN A. TAYLOR and Claiming that the Agreement was null and void since it was entered in question is restored to plaintiff; and
JOSELYN C. TAYLOR, Respondents. into by Joselyn without his (Benjamin’s) consent, Benjamin instituted
an action for Declaration of Nullity of Agreement of Lease with 3. Defendants are hereby ordered, jointly and severally, to pay plaintiff
DECISION Damages11 against Joselyn and the petitioner. Benjamin claimed that the sum of TWENTY THOUSAND (₱20,000.00) PESOS, Philippine
his funds were used in the acquisition and improvement of the Currency, for attorney’s fees and other incidental expenses.
NACHURA, J.: Boracay property, and coupled with the fact that he was Joselyn’s
husband, any transaction involving said property required his consent. SO ORDERED.15
Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari are the Court of
Appeals (CA) December 19, 2003 Decision1 and July 14, 2004 No Answer was filed, hence, the RTC declared Joselyn and the The RTC considered the Boracay property as community property of
Resolution2 in CA-G.R. CV No. 59573. The assailed decision affirmed petitioner in defeault. On March 14, 1994, the RTC rendered Benjamin and Joselyn; thus, the consent of the spouses was
and upheld the June 30, 1997 Decision3 of the Regional Trial Court judgment by default declaring the Agreement null and void.12 The necessary to validate any contract involving the property. Benjamin’s
(RTC), Branch 8, Kalibo, Aklan in Civil Case No. 4632 for Declaration decision was, however, set aside by the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. right over the Boracay property was bolstered by the court’s findings
of Nullity of Agreement of Lease with Damages. 34054.13 The CA also ordered the RTC to allow the petitioner to file that the property was purchased and improved through funds
his Answer, and to conduct further proceedings. provided by Benjamin. Although the Agreement was evidenced by a
On June 30, 1988, respondent Benjamin A. Taylor (Benjamin), a public document, the trial court refused to consider the alleged
British subject, married Joselyn C. Taylor (Joselyn), a 17-year old In his Answer,14 petitioner claimed good faith in transacting with participation of Benjamin in the questioned transaction primarily
Filipina.4 On June 9, 1989, while their marriage was subsisting, Joselyn. Since Joselyn appeared to be the owner of the Boracay because his signature appeared only on the last page of the
Joselyn bought from Diosa M. Martin a 1,294 square-meter lot property, he found it unnecessary to obtain the consent of Benjamin. document and not on every page thereof.
(Boracay property) situated at Manoc-Manoc, Boracay Island, Malay, Moreover, as appearing in the Agreement, Benjamin signed as a
Aklan, for and in consideration of ₱129,000.00.5 The sale was witness to the contract, indicating his knowledge of the transaction On appeal to the CA, petitioner still failed to obtain a favorable
allegedly financed by Benjamin.6 Joselyn and Benjamin, also using and, impliedly, his conformity to the agreement entered into by his decision. In its December 19, 2003 Decision,16 the CA affirmed the
the latter’s funds, constructed improvements thereon and eventually wife. Benjamin was, therefore, estopped from questioning the validity conclusions made by the RTC. The appellate court was of the view
converted the property to a vacation and tourist resort known as the of the Agreement. that if, indeed, Benjamin was a willing participant in the questioned
Admiral Ben Bow Inn.7 All required permits and licenses for the transaction, the parties to the Agreement should have used the
operation of the resort were obtained in the name of Ginna Celestino, There being no amicable settlement during the pre-trial, trial on the phrase "with my consent" instead of "signed in the presence of." The
Joselyn’s sister.8 merits ensued. CA noted that Joselyn already prepared an SPA in favor of Benjamin
involving the Boracay property; it was therefore unnecessary for
However, Benjamin and Joselyn had a falling out, and Joselyn ran On June 30, 1997, the RTC disposed of the case in this manner: Joselyn to participate in the execution of the Agreement. Taken
away with Kim Philippsen. On June 8, 1992, Joselyn executed a together, these circumstances yielded the inevitable conclusion that
Special Power of Attorney (SPA) in favor of Benjamin, authorizing the WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in the contract was null and void having been entered into by Joselyn
latter to maintain, sell, lease, and sub-lease and otherwise enter into favor of the plaintiff and against the defendants as follows: without the consent of Benjamin.
contract with third parties with respect to their Boracay property.9
1. The Agreement of Lease dated July 20, 1992 consisting of eight (8) Aggrieved, petitioner now comes before this Court in this petition for
On July 20, 1992, Joselyn as lessor and petitioner Philip Matthews as pages (Exhibits "T", "T-1", "T-2", "T-3", "T-4", "T-5", "T-6" and "T-7") review on certiorari based on the following grounds:
lessee, entered into an Agreement of Lease10 (Agreement) involving entered into by and between Joselyn C. Taylor and Philip Matthews
the Boracay property for a period of 25 years, with an annual rental of before Notary Public Lenito T. Serrano under Doc. No. 390, Page 79, 4.1. THE MARITAL CONSENT OF RESPONDENT BENJAMIN
₱12,000.00. The agreement was signed by the parties and executed Book I, Series of 1992 is hereby declared NULL and VOID; TAYLOR IS NOT REQUIRED IN THE AGREEMENT OF LEASE
before a Notary Public. Petitioner thereafter took possession of the DATED 20 JULY 1992. GRANTING ARGUENDO THAT HIS
property and renamed the resort as Music Garden Resort.1avvphi1 2. Defendants are hereby ordered, jointly and severally, to pay plaintiff CONSENT IS REQUIRED, BENJAMIN TAYLOR IS DEEMED TO
the sum of SIXTEEN THOUSAND (₱16,000.00) PESOS as damages HAVE GIVEN HIS CONSENT WHEN HE AFFIXED HIS SIGNATURE
IN THE AGREEMENT OF LEASE AS WITNESS IN THE LIGHT OF sought the nullification of the contract on two grounds: first, that he corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the
THE RULING OF THE SUPREME COURT IN THE CASE OF was the actual owner of the property since he provided the funds public domain in the Philippines."
SPOUSES PELAYO VS. MELKI PEREZ, G.R. NO. 141323, JUNE 8, used in purchasing the same; and second, that Joselyn could not
2005. enter into a valid contract involving the subject property without his This constitutional provision closes the only remaining avenue
consent. through which agricultural resources may leak into alien’s hands. It
4.2. THE PARCEL OF LAND SUBJECT OF THE AGREEMENT OF would certainly be futile to prohibit the alienation of public agricultural
LEASE IS THE EXCLUSIVE PROPERTY OF JOCELYN C. TAYLOR, The trial and appellate courts both focused on the property relations lands to aliens if, after all, they may be freely so alienated upon their
A FILIPINO CITIZEN, IN THE LIGHT OF CHEESMAN VS. IAC, G.R. of petitioner and respondent in light of the Civil Code and Family becoming private agricultural lands in the hands of Filipino citizens. x
NO. 74833, JANUARY 21, 1991. Code provisions. They, however, failed to observe the applicable xx
constitutional principles, which, in fact, are the more decisive.
4.3. THE COURTS A QUO ERRONEOUSLY APPLIED ARTICLE 96 xxxx
OF THE FAMILY CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES WHICH IS A Section 7, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution states:18
PROVISION REFERRING TO THE ABSOLUTE COMMUNITY OF If the term "private agricultural lands" is to be construed as not
PROPERTY. THE PROPERTY REGIME GOVERNING THE Section 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands including residential lots or lands not strictly agricultural, the result
PROPERTY RELATIONS OF BENJAMIN TAYLOR AND JOSELYN shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, would be that "aliens may freely acquire and possess not only
TAYLOR IS THE CONJUGAL PARTNERSHIP OF GAINS BECAUSE or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public residential lots and houses for themselves but entire subdivisions, and
THEY WERE MARRIED ON 30 JUNE 1988 WHICH IS PRIOR TO domain.1avvphi1 whole towns and cities," and that "they may validly buy and hold in
THE EFFECTIVITY OF THE FAMILY CODE. ARTICLE 96 OF THE their names lands of any area for building homes, factories, industrial
FAMILY CODE OF THE PHILIPPINES FINDS NO APPLICATION IN Aliens, whether individuals or corporations, have been disqualified plants, fisheries, hatcheries, schools, health and vacation resorts,
THIS CASE. from acquiring lands of the public domain. Hence, by virtue of the markets, golf courses, playgrounds, airfields, and a host of other uses
aforecited constitutional provision, they are also disqualified from and purposes that are not, in appellant’s words, strictly agricultural."
4.4. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS IGNORED THE acquiring private lands.19 The primary purpose of this constitutional (Solicitor General’s Brief, p. 6) That this is obnoxious to the
PRESUMPTION OF REGULARITY IN THE EXECUTION OF provision is the conservation of the national patrimony.20 Our conservative spirit of the Constitution is beyond question.24
NOTARIAL DOCUMENTS. fundamental law cannot be any clearer. The right to acquire lands of
the public domain is reserved only to Filipino citizens or corporations The rule is clear and inflexible: aliens are absolutely not allowed to
4.5. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS FAILED TO PASS at least sixty percent of the capital of which is owned by Filipinos.21 acquire public or private lands in the Philippines, save only in
UPON THE COUNTERCLAIM OF PETITIONER DESPITE THE constitutionally recognized exceptions.25 There is no rule more
FACT THAT IT WAS NOT CONTESTED AND DESPITE THE In Krivenko v. Register of Deeds,22 cited in Muller v. Muller,23 we settled than this constitutional prohibition, as more and more aliens
PRESENTATION OF EVIDENCE ESTABLISHING SAID CLAIM.17 had the occasion to explain the constitutional prohibition: attempt to circumvent the provision by trying to own lands through
another. In a long line of cases, we have settled issues that directly or
The petition is impressed with merit. Under Section 1 of Article XIII of the Constitution, "natural resources, indirectly involve the above constitutional provision. We had cases
with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated," where aliens wanted that a particular property be declared as part of
In fine, we are called upon to determine the validity of an Agreement and with respect to public agricultural lands, their alienation is limited their father’s estate;26 that they be reimbursed the funds used in
of Lease of a parcel of land entered into by a Filipino wife without the to Filipino citizens. But this constitutional purpose conserving purchasing a property titled in the name of another;27 that an implied
consent of her British husband. In addressing the matter before us, agricultural resources in the hands of Filipino citizens may easily be trust be declared in their (aliens’) favor;28 and that a contract of sale
we are confronted not only with civil law or conflicts of law issues, but defeated by the Filipino citizens themselves who may alienate their be nullified for their lack of consent.29
more importantly, with a constitutional question. agricultural lands in favor of aliens. It is partly to prevent this result
that Section 5 is included in Article XIII, and it reads as follows: In Ting Ho, Jr. v. Teng Gui,30 Felix Ting Ho, a Chinese citizen,
It is undisputed that Joselyn acquired the Boracay property in 1989. acquired a parcel of land, together with the improvements thereon.
Said acquisition was evidenced by a Deed of Sale with Joselyn as the "Section 5. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private Upon his death, his heirs (the petitioners therein) claimed the
vendee. The property was also declared for taxation purposes under agricultural land will be transferred or assigned except to individuals, properties as part of the estate of their deceased father, and sought
her name. When Joselyn leased the property to petitioner, Benjamin the partition of said properties among themselves. We, however,
excluded the land and improvements thereon from the estate of Felix sold the land to a third person without the knowledge of the petitioner. G.R. CV No. 59573, are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and a new one
Ting Ho, precisely because he never became the owner thereof in The petitioner then sought the nullification of the sale as he did not is entered DISMISSING the complaint against petitioner Philip
light of the above-mentioned constitutional prohibition. give his consent thereto. The Court held that assuming that it was his Matthews.
(petitioner’s) intention that the lot in question be purchased by him
In Muller v. Muller,31 petitioner Elena Buenaventura Muller and and his wife, he acquired no right whatever over the property by virtue SO ORDERED.
respondent Helmut Muller were married in Germany. During the of that purchase; and in attempting to acquire a right or interest in
subsistence of their marriage, respondent purchased a parcel of land land, vicariously and clandestinely, he knowingly violated the
in Antipolo City and constructed a house thereon. The Antipolo Constitution; thus, the sale as to him was null and void.
property was registered in the name of the petitioner. They eventually
separated, prompting the respondent to file a petition for separation of
property. Specifically, respondent prayed for reimbursement of the
funds he paid for the acquisition of said property. In deciding the case In light of the foregoing jurisprudence, we find and so hold that
in favor of the petitioner, the Court held that respondent was aware Benjamin has no right to nullify the Agreement of Lease between
that as an alien, he was prohibited from owning a parcel of land Joselyn and petitioner. Benjamin, being an alien, is absolutely
situated in the Philippines. He had, in fact, declared that when the prohibited from acquiring private and public lands in the Philippines.
spouses acquired the Antipolo property, he had it titled in the name of Considering that Joselyn appeared to be the designated "vendee" in
the petitioner because of said prohibition. Hence, we denied his the Deed of Sale of said property, she acquired sole ownership
attempt at subsequently asserting a right to the said property in the thereto. This is true even if we sustain Benjamin’s claim that he
form of a claim for reimbursement. Neither did the Court declare that provided the funds for such acquisition. By entering into such contract
an implied trust was created by operation of law in view of petitioner’s knowing that it was illegal, no implied trust was created in his favor;
marriage to respondent. We said that to rule otherwise would permit no reimbursement for his expenses can be allowed; and no
circumvention of the constitutional prohibition. declaration can be made that the subject property was part of the
conjugal/community property of the spouses. In any event, he had
In Frenzel v. Catito,32 petitioner, an Australian citizen, was married to and has no capacity or personality to question the subsequent lease
Teresita Santos; while respondent, a Filipina, was married to Klaus of the Boracay property by his wife on the theory that in so doing, he
Muller. Petitioner and respondent met and later cohabited in a was merely exercising the prerogative of a husband in respect of
common-law relationship, during which petitioner acquired real conjugal property. To sustain such a theory would countenance
properties; and since he was disqualified from owning lands in the indirect controversion of the constitutional prohibition. If the property
Philippines, respondent’s name appeared as the vendee in the deeds were to be declared conjugal, this would accord the alien husband a
of sale. When their relationship turned sour, petitioner filed an action substantial interest and right over the land, as he would then have a
for the recovery of the real properties registered in the name of decisive vote as to its transfer or disposition. This is a right that the
respondent, claiming that he was the real owner. Again, as in the Constitution does not permit him to have.34
other cases, the Court refused to declare petitioner as the owner
mainly because of the constitutional prohibition. The Court added that In fine, the Agreement of Lease entered into between Joselyn and
being a party to an illegal contract, he could not come to court and petitioner cannot be nullified on the grounds advanced by Benjamin.
ask to have his illegal objective carried out. One who loses his money Thus, we uphold its validity.
or property by knowingly engaging in an illegal contract may not
maintain an action for his losses. With the foregoing disquisition, we find it unnecessary to address the
other issues raised by the petitioner.
Finally, in Cheesman v. Intermediate Appellate Court,33 petitioner (an
American citizen) and Criselda Cheesman acquired a parcel of land WHEREFORE, premises considered, the December 19, 2003
that was later registered in the latter’s name. Criselda subsequently Decision and July 14, 2004 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. No. 102858 July 28, 1997 On December 8, 1986, Private Respondent Teodoro Abistado filed a case. As to the second, publication of the notice of initial hearing also
petition for original registration of his title over 648 square meters of in a newspaper of general circulation is indispensably necessary as a
THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, petitioner, vs. land under Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1529.5 The application was requirement of procedural due process; otherwise, any decision that
docketed as Land Registration Case (LRC) No. 86 and assigned to the court may promulgate in the case would be legally infirm.
COURT OF APPEALS and TEODORO ABISTADO, substituted by Branch 44 of the Regional Trial Court of Mamburao, Occidental
MARGARITA, MARISSA, MARIBEL, ARNOLD and MARY ANN, all Mindoro.6 However, during the pendency of his petition, applicant Unsatisfied, private respondents appealed to Respondent Court of
surnamed ABISTO, respondents. died. Hence, his heirs — Margarita, Marissa, Maribel, Arnold and Appeals which, as earlier explained, set aside the decision of the trial
Mary Ann, all surnamed Abistado — represented by their aunt Josefa court and ordered the registration of the title in the name of Teodoro
PANGANIBAN, J.: Abistado, who was appointed their guardian ad litem, were substituted Abistado.
as applicants.
Is newspaper publication of the notice of initial hearing in an original The subsequent motion for reconsideration was denied in the
land registration case mandatory or directory? The land registration court in its decision dated June 13, 1989 challenged CA Resolution dared November 19, 1991.
dismissed the petition "for want of jurisdiction." However, it found that
Statement of the Case The Director of Lands represented by the Solicitor General thus
the applicants through their predecessors-in-interest had been in
open, continuous, exclusive and peaceful possession of the subject elevated this recourse to us. This Court notes that the petitioner's
The Court of Appeals ruled that it was merely procedural and that the counsel anchored his petition on Rule 65. This is an error. His remedy
land since 1938.
failure to cause such publication did not deprive the trial court of its should be based on Rule 45 because he is appealing a final
authority to grant the application. But the Solicitor General disagreed disposition of the Court of Appeals. Hence, we shall treat his petition
In dismissing the petition, the trial court reasoned:7
and thus filed this petition to set aside the Decision1 promulgated on as one for review under Rule 45, and not for certiorari under Rule
July 3, 1991 and the subsequent Resolution2 promulgated on . . . However, the Court noted that applicants failed to comply with the 65.9
November 19, 1991 by Respondent Court of Appeals3 in CA-G.R. CV provisions of Section 23 (1) of PD 1529, requiring the Applicants to
No. 23719. The dispositive portion of the challenged Decision reads:4 publish the notice of Initial Hearing (Exh. "E") in a newspaper of The Issue
general circulation in the Philippines. Exhibit "E" was only published in
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the judgment of dismissal Petitioner alleges that Respondent Court of Appeals committed "grave
the Official Gazette (Exhibits "F" and "G"). Consequently, the Court is
appealed from is hereby set aside, and a new one entered confirming abuse of discretion"10 in holding —
of the well considered view that it has not legally acquired jurisdiction
the registration and title of applicant, Teodoro Abistado, Filipino, a
over the instant application for want of compliance with the mandatory
resident of Barangay 7, Poblacion Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro, . . . that publication of the petition for registration of title in LRC Case
provision requiring publication of the notice of initial hearing in a
now deceased and substituted by Margarita, Marissa, Maribel, Arnold No. 86 need not be published in a newspaper of general circulation,
newspaper of general circulation.
and Mary Ann, all surnamed Abistado, represented by their aunt, Miss and in not dismissing LRC Case No. 86 for want of such publication.
Josefa Abistado, Filipinos, residents of Poblacion Mamburao, The trial court also cited Ministry of Justice Opinion No. 48, Series of
Occidental Mindoro, to the parcel of land covered under MSI (IV-A-8) 1982, which in its pertinent portion provides:8 Petitioner points out that under Section 23 of PD 1529, the notice of
315-D located in Poblacion Mamburao, Occidental Mindoro. initial hearing shall be "published both in the Official Gazette and in a
It bears emphasis that the publication requirement under Section 23 newspaper of general circulation." According to petitioner, publication
The oppositions filed by the Republic of the Philippines and private [of PD 1529] has a two-fold purpose; the first, which is mentioned in in the Official Gazette is "necessary to confer jurisdiction upon the trial
oppositor are hereby dismissed for want of evidence. the provision of the aforequoted provision refers to publication in the court, and . . . in . . . a newspaper of general circulation to comply with
Official Gazette, and is jurisdictional; while the second, which is the notice requirement of due process."11
Upon the finality of this decision and payment of the corresponding
mentioned in the opening clause of the same paragraph, refers to
taxes due on this land, let an order for the issuance of a decree be Private respondents, on the other hand, contend that failure to comply
publication not only in the Official Gazette but also in a newspaper of
issued. with the requirement of publication in a newspaper of general
general circulation, and is procedural. Neither one nor the other is
dispensable. As to the first, publication in the Official Gazette is circulation is a mere "procedural defect." They add that publication in
The Facts the Official Gazette is sufficient to confer jurisdiction.12
indispensably necessary because without it, the court would be
powerless to assume jurisdiction over a particular land registration
In reversing the decision of the trial court, Respondent Court of of initial hearing to be published once in the Official Gazette and once
Appeals ruled:13 in a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines: Provided,
however, that the publication in the Official Gazette shall be sufficient It should be noted further that land registration is a proceeding in rem.
. . . although the requirement of publication in the Official Gazette and to confer jurisdiction upon the court. Said notice shall be addressed to 17 Being in rem, such proceeding requires constructive seizure of the
in a newspaper of general circulation is couched in mandatory terms, all persons appearing to have an interest in the land involved land as against all persons, including the state, who have rights to or
it cannot be gainsaid that the law also mandates with equal force that including the adjoining owners so far as known, and "to all whom it interests in the property. An in rem proceeding is validated essentially
publication in the Official Gazette shall be sufficient to confer may concern." Said notice shall also require all persons concerned to through publication. This being so, the process must strictly be
jurisdiction upon the court. appear in court at a certain date and time to show cause why the complied with. Otherwise, persons who may be interested or whose
prayer of said application shall not be granted. rights may be adversely affected would be barred from contesting an
Further, Respondent Court found that the oppositors were afforded application which they had no knowledge of. As has been ruled, a
the opportunity "to explain matters fully and present their side." Thus, xxx xxx xxx party as an owner seeking the inscription of realty in the land
it justified its disposition in this wise:14 registration court must prove by satisfactory and conclusive evidence
Admittedly, the above provision provides in clear and categorical not only his ownership thereof but the identity of the same, for he is in
. . . We do not see how the lack of compliance with the required terms that publication in the Official Gazette suffices to confer the same situation as one who institutes an action for recovery of
procedure prejudiced them in any way. Moreover, the other jurisdiction upon the land registration court. However, the question realty.18 He must prove his title against the whole world. This task,
requirements of: publication in the Official Gazette, personal notice by boils down to whether, absent any publication in a newspaper of which rests upon the applicant, can best be achieved when all
mailing, and posting at the site and other conspicuous places, were general circulation, the land registration court can validly confirm and persons concerned — nay, "the whole world" — who have rights to or
complied with and these are sufficient to notify any party who is register the title of private respondents. interests in the subject property are notified and effectively invited to
minded to make any objection of the application for registration. come to court and show cause why the application should not be
We answer this query in the negative. This answer is impelled by the granted. The elementary norms of due process require that before the
The Court's Ruling demands of statutory construction and the due process rationale claimed property is taken from concerned parties and registered in the
behind the publication requirement. name of the applicant, said parties must be given notice and
We find for petitioner.
opportunity to oppose.
The law used the term "shall" in prescribing the work to be done by
Newspaper Publication Mandatory the Commissioner of Land Registration upon the latter's receipt of the It may be asked why publication in a newspaper of general circulation
court order setting the time for initial hearing. The said word denotes should be deemed mandatory when the law already requires notice
The pertinent part of Section 23 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 an imperative and thus indicates the mandatory character of a by publication in the Official Gazette as well as by mailing and
requiring publication of the notice of initial hearing reads as follows: statute.15 While concededly such literal mandate is not an absolute posting, all of which have already been complied with in the case at
rule in statutory construction, as its import ultimately depends upon its hand. The reason is due process and the reality that the Official
Sec. 23. Notice of initial hearing, publication, etc. — The court shall,
context in the entire provision, we hold that in the present case the Gazette is not as widely read and circulated as newspapers and is
within five days from filing of the application, issue an order setting the
term must be understood in its normal mandatory meaning. In oftentimes delayed in its circulation, such that the notices published
date and hour of the initial hearing which shall not be earlier than
Republic vs. Marasigan,16 the Court through Mr. Justice Hilario G. therein may not reach the interested parties on time, if at all.
forty-five days nor later than ninety days from the date of the order.
Davide, Jr. held that Section 23 of PD 1529 requires notice of the Additionally, such parties may not be owners of neighboring
initial hearing by means of (1) publication, (2) mailing and (3) posting, properties, and may in fact not own any other real estate. In sum, the
The public shall be given notice of initial hearing of the application for
all of which must be complied with. "If the intention of the law were all-encompassing in rem nature of land registration cases, the
land registration by means of (1) publication; (2) mailing; and (3)
otherwise, said section would not have stressed in detail the consequences of default orders issued against the whole world and
posting.
requirements of mailing of notices to all persons named in the petition the objective of disseminating the notice in as wide a manner as
1. By publication. — who, per Section 15 of the Decree, include owners of adjoining possible demand a mandatory construction of the requirements for
properties, and occupants of the land." Indeed, if mailing of notices is publication, mailing and posting.
Upon receipt of the order of the court setting the time for initial essential, then by parity of reasoning, publication in a newspaper of
hearing, the Commissioner of Land Registration shall cause a notice general circulation is likewise imperative since the law included such Admittedly, there was failure to comply with the explicit publication
requirement in its detailed provision. requirement of the law. Private respondents did not proffer any
excuse; even if they had, it would not have mattered because the
statute itself allows no excuses. Ineludibly, this Court has no authority
to dispense with such mandatory requirement. The law is
unambiguous and its rationale clear. Time and again, this Court has
declared that where the law speaks in clear and categorical language,
there is no room for interpretation, vacillation or equivocation; there is
room only for application.19 There is no alternative. Thus, the
application for land registration filed by private respondents must be
dismissed without prejudice to reapplication in the future, after all the
legal requisites shall have been duly complied with.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the assailed Decision


and Resolution are REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The application of
private respondent for land registration is DISMISSED without
prejudice. No costs.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 83290 September 21, 1990 In 1985, respondent Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor ...after deliberating extensively on it, the Court finds the need to hear
General, filed with the Court of Appeals a complaint for the annulment the oral arguments of the parties on issues which are considered
STA. MONICA INDUSTRIAL AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, of the decree in LRC No. 6431, OCT No. 48 (issued to De Perio), TCT determinative of the case, including the following:
petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS AND THE REPUBLIC OF No. T-1369 (issued to De Valencia) and TCT No. T-7696 (issued to
THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. Baloy). Respondent alleged that the decree in LRC No. 6431 was null 1. the nature and classification, under the pertinent laws traced
and void for lack of jurisdiction because the land was inside the U.S. back to the turn of the century, of the two parcels of land decreed and
CORTES, J.: naval reservation and that it was still within the forest zone in 1912, originally titled in 1912 to De Perio; and
having been released therefrom only in 1961, and hence cannot be
This case arose from proceedings to annul a 1912 decision of the the subject of disposition or alienation as private property. Named 2. the legal considerations that compelled the Government to
land registration court. defendants were De Valencia and her husband, Baloy and his wife seek the annulment of the decree of the Court of Land Registration
and the Register of Deeds of Zambales. The case was docketed as issued in favor of De Perio, his title, and the titles of his successors-in-
In 1912, the Tribuna del Registro de la Propiedad (Court of Land interest.
CA-G.R. SP No. 06259.
Registration) of Zambales, through Judge James Ostrand, in Land
Registration Case (LRC) No. 6431, confirmed the title of Justo de The Baloy spouses filed their answer to the complaint. The parties were heard in oral argument and thereafter they were
Perio over two (2) parcels of land in Zambales. On August 28, 1912, required to submit their memoranda in amplification of their
Decree No. 9328 was issued by the court ordering the registration of With leave of court, petitioner intervened and filed an answer-in- arguments.
the two (2) parcels of land in the name of De Perio. On December 6, intervention. Later, petitioner filed its first motion for preliminary
1912, Original Certificate of Title No. 48 of the Registry of Deeds of hearing on the affirmative defense of res judicata, which the Court of The question presented before the Court is whether or not respondent
Zambales was issued to De Perio. Parcel No. 1 consists of an area of Appeals denied. Petitioner did not seek reconsideration thereof. CA committed reversible error of law in denying petitioner's motion for
eleven thousand six hundred ninety-seven square meters (11,697 preliminary hearing on its affirmative defense of res judicata.
sq.m.) while Parcel No. 2 consists of three hundred forty thousand Trial on the merits ensued. The Republic offered its evidence,
eight hundred twenty square meters (340,820 sq.m.). In 1936, a consisting of a land classification map prepared by the Director of As iterated in a long line of cases, the following requisites must
portion consisting of ten thousand four hundred square meters Forestry in 1961 to prove that the land became alienable and concur for a prior judgment to constitute a bar to a subsequent case:
(10,400 sq.m.) of Parcel No. 2 was sold to the Province of Zambales. disposable only in 1961, and rested its case. Petitioner then (1) the judgment must be final; (2) the judgment must have been
The sale was annotated at the back of OCT No. 48. In 1954, OCT No. proceeded to present its evidence. This was, however, cut short when rendered by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and the
48 was cancelled and TCT No. T-1369 was issued to Mercedes de the Republic moved to amend its complaint to include as party parties; (3) the judgment must be on the merits; and (4) there must be
Valencia pursuant to an extrajudicial settlement of De Perio's estate. defendants all the other transferees of the land and, thereafter, filed between the first and second actions, Identity of parties, of subject
In 1962, De Valencia sold Parcel No. 1 to Ricardo Baloy. Baloy was its amended complaint. Petitioner again moved for a preliminary matter, and of causes of action [San Diego v. Cardona, 70 Phil. 281
issued TCT No. T-7696 in 1966. In 1967, De Valencia subdivided hearing on its affirmative defense of res judicata in an effort to shorten (1940); Ipekdjian Merchandising Co., Inc. v. Court of Tax Appeals,
Parcel No. 2 into five (5) lots (Lots 2-A to 2-E). TCT No. T-1369 was the proceedings. G.R. No. L-15430, September 30, 1963, 9 SCRA 72; Yusingco v. Ong
cancelled and TCT Nos. 11865, 11866, 11867, and 11869 were Hing Lian, G. R. No. L-26523, December 24, 1971, 42 SCRA 589;
issued to De Valencia. TCT No. 11 868, corresponding to the portion The Court of Appeals, holding that res judicata cannot be invoked as Aroc v. People's Homesite and Housing Corporation, G.R. No. L-
previously sold to the Province of Zambales, was issued to the a bar to an action for annulment of judgment on the ground of lack of 39674, January 31, 1978, 81 SCRA 350; Republic v. Alagad, G.R.
Republic of the Philippines. In 1970, De Valencia sold the lots jurisdiction, denied the motion. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration No. 66807, January 26, 1989, 169 SCRA 455; Vencilao v. Vano G.R.
covered by TCT Nos. 11865 and 11866 to petitioner Sta. Monica was also denied, hence this petition. No.
Industrial and Development Corporation. TCT Nos. 11865 and 11866
were cancelled and TCT Nos. T-12054 and T-12055 were issued to After the comment and reply were filed, the Court gave due course to L-25660, February 23, 1990].
petitioner. Petitioner consolidated the two (2) parcels of land and the petition and, as required, the parties filed their respective
subdivided them into five hundred thirty-six (536) residential lots memoranda. In contending that the judgment in LRC No. 6431 should be annulled
which it sold to individual buyers. because the land registration court had no jurisdiction over the subject
On April 2, 1990, the Court set the case for hearing on May 7, 1990 matter of the case, the respondent Republic puts in issue the
because, as stated in the resolution: presence of the second requisite. Therefore, the ultimate issue before
the Court is whether or not the land registration court had jurisdiction SEC. 54. The following-described persons or their legal successors in
over the two (2) parcels of land claimed by De Perio, the predecessor- right, occupying public lands in the Philippine Islands, or claiming to
in-interest of the petitioner herein. Records disclose that by virtue of Proclamation dated November 11, own any such lands or an interest therein, but whose titles to such
1908, then Governor-General James F. Smith reserved for naval lands have not been perfected, may apply to the Court of Land
Necessarily, the resolution of this issue requires an inquiry into the purposes certain lands of the public domain in Subic, Zambales which Registration of the Philippine Islands for confirmation of their claims
nature of the subject parcels of land in light of the laws prevailing at included the parcels of land embraced under Original Certificate of and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor to wit:
the time the judgment in the land registration case was rendered. Title (OCT) No. 48 secured by De Perio in 1912. It was only in 1961
that such Proclamation was revoked by a subsequent issuance, xxx xxx xxx
Petitioner's primary argument, as summarized in its memorandum, Proclamation No. 731, issued by then President Garcia on February
was as follows: 2, 1961 and such portions already classified as alienable and 6. All persons who by themselves or their predecessors in
disposable and not needed for government purposes were declared interest have been in the open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious
17. It must, therefore, be presumed that in LRC Case No. 6431, the open for disposition under R.A. No. 274, in relation to C.A. 141 and possession and occupation of agricultural public lands, as defined by
court found from the evidence adduced by the parties that (1) the two Act No. 3038. This means that the lands, subject matter of the case, said act of Congress of July first, nineteen hundred and two, under a
parcels of land in question were agricultural lands as the phrase is were portions of the U.S. naval reservation and were declared open bona fide claim of ownership except as against the Government, for a
used in Act No. 926, (2) Justo de Perio had been in the open, for disposition only on February 2, 1961 [Public Respondent's period of ten years next preceding the taking effect of this Act, except
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession thereof for at least 10 Memorandum, p. 3; Rollo, p. 230]. when prevented by war or force majeure shall be conclusively
years, before July 26, 1912, and (3) his possession of the said parcels presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a
of land was in the concept of owner; and thus the court confirmed Public respondent then reiterated that "[a]t the time Original Certificate government grant and to have received the same, and shall be
Justo de Perio's title thereto and ordered their registration in his of Title No. 48 was issued on December 9, 1912, the parcel of land entitled to a certificate of title to such land under the provisions of this
name. If the Attorney General, the Director of Forestry, the Director of covered by the title was still within the forest zone and it was not until chapter.
Lands and the Director of Public Works opposed the application, then January 31, 1961 that said land was released by the Bureau of Forest
it must be presumed that the court declared the said two parcels of Development as alienable and disposable under Land Classification
land to be agricultural lands over their opposition. If they did not Map No. 2427" [Ibid].
oppose, then it must be presumed that they agreed with the court that xxx xxx xxx
the said lands were really agricultural lands. It must be pointed out It also added that "Land Classification Map No. 665 dated June 7,
that the question as to whether the two parcels of land in question are 1927 ... shows that the parcels of land covered by OCT No. 48 were
agricultural lands and not timber lands is a question of fact and the still part of the unclassified public forest at the time of the registration"
finding of Judge Ostrand that they are agricultural can not be [Public Respondent's Memorandum, p. 4; Rollo, p. 231]. In other words, a person who had been in open, continuous, exclusive
reviewed by this Honorable Court at this point in time [Petitioner's and notorious session and occupation of public agricultural land for a
Memorandum, pp. 8-9; Rollo, pp. 211-212]. Weighing the arguments raised by the parties, we find that the period of at least ten (10) years prior to July 24, 1904 could petition
Republic has failed to make out a convincing case for the annulment for the confirmation of his title over the land he had so possessed and
Additionally, petitioner argued that the boundaries of the two parcels of the decree in Land Registration Case No. 6431. It has been occupied.
of land, as described in Decree No. 9328, debunk the contention that established that the land registration court had jurisdiction over the
they are forest lands. The parcels of land were bounded by privately two (2) parcels of land, and that OCT No. 48 and the Transfer The land registration court confirmed De Perio's title to the two (2)
owned property. Moreover, they were described in the notice Certificates of Title (TCT) derived from OCT No. 48 are valid. parcels of land after due notice and hearing. From this, the following
published in the March 1912 issue of the Official Gazette, pp. 766-767 conclusions may be derived:
as "lying within the Civil Reservation, town site of Olongapo, situated Act No. 926, known as the Public Land Act, which was enacted into
law on October 7, 1903 but which took effect on July 26, 1904, was 1. that the two (2) parcels of land are agricultural as defined by
in the municipality of Olongapo, Province of Zambales, P. I." [Annex
the law applicable to De Perio's petition for confirmation of his title to law, i.e., that they are neither timber land nor mineral land [Mapa v.
"A" of Petitioner's Memorandum; Rollo, pp. 222-223].
the two (2) parcels of land. It provided: Insular Government, 10 Phil. 175 (1908)];
On the other hand, the public respondent, through the Office of the
Solicitor General, contended:
2. that De Perio had been in open, continuous, exclusive and hundreds of residences have been built thereon. At this point in time,
notorious possession and occupation of the two (2) parcels of land for that portion of land developed into a subdivision cannot, by any
at least ten (10) years prior to 1904; stretch of imagination, be conceived as forest land. Anyway, the area
wherein the two (2) parcels of land are found, were released from the
3. that his possession and occupancy was under a bona fide unclassified public forest and the territory comprising the Subic naval
claim of ownership; and reservation way back in 1961.

4. that under the law De Perio had title to the land as of 1904, Moreover, it is now almost thirty (30) years since the land was
although it was confirmed only later in 1912. released in 1961. In a few more months, the possessors of the land
would acquire title to the portions they adversely possess through
These conclusions serve as premises to arrive at other conclusions acquisitive prescription, without need of title or of good faith, pursuant
determinative of the case. to the Civil Code [Art. 1137].

If the land is agricultural as defined by law, and as confirmed by


Judge Ostrand, it could not have been forest land as claimed by
public respondent, the subsequent land classification map Finally, we find the need to emphasize that in an action to annul a
notwithstanding. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the two judgment, the burden of proving the judgment's nullity rests upon the
(2) parcels of land were in the Olongapo townsite and were bounded petitioner. The petitioner must establish by clear and convincing
by privately-owned land. evidence that the judgment is fatally defective. When the proceedings
were originally filed by the Republic before the Court of Appeals, the
petitioner contended that when the decree in favor of De Perio was
issued by Judge Ostrand in 1912 the parcels of land were still part of
If De Perio had title to the land in 1904, although still imperfect, then it the inalienable public forests. However, petitioner's case rested solely
could not have been prejudiced by the proclamation of Governor- on land classification maps drawn several years after the issuance of
General Smith in 1908 which reserved for naval purposes land in the decree in 1912. These maps fail to conclusively establish the
Subic, Zambales. Said proclamation recognized the existence of actual classification of the land in 1912 and the years prior to that.
private rights, thus: Before this Court, petitioner reiterates said 'contention and refers, for
the first time, to a 1908 proclamation reserving the land in Zambales
xxx xxx xxx
as a naval reservation and alleging that the subject parcels of land are
parts thereof. These, for reasons discussed earlier, are insufficient to
...por la presente exceptuo de venta o colonizacion hasta nueva
overcome the legal presumption in favor of the decree's regularity,
orden y separo para reserva naval, salvo los derechos privados,
more so when we consider that notice of the application for
todos y cada uno de los terrenos publicos comprendidos dentro de
registration and the date of hearing thereof, addressed to the Attorney
los siguientes limites, a saber: [Proclamation del Gobernador General
General, the Director of Lands, the Director of Public Works and the
de las Islas Filipinos, 11 Noviembre 1908, para. 2, 6 O.G. 1885 (2
Director of Forestry, among others, was published in the Official
December 1908)].
Gazette and that Governor General Smith's Proclamation of 1908
Public respondent has also failed to explain the Republic's sudden itself recognizes private rights.
interest in the annulment of the decree and the certificate of title
WHEREFORE, the petition is granted and the Court of Appeals is
issued to De Perio and the subsequent titles issued to his successors
ordered to DISMISS CA-G.R. SP No. 06259.
after some seventy-three (73) years of inaction and after a portion of
the land has been developed by petitioner into a subdivision and
SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. L-32266. February 27, 1989.] mineral and timber or forest lands. This classification was maintained which would destroy vested interests and prove a public
in the Constitution of the Commonwealth, promulgated in 1935, until it disaster."cralaw virtua1aw library
THE DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY, Petitioner, v. RUPERTO A. was superseded by the Constitution of 1973. That new charter
VILLAREAL, Respondent. expanded the classification of public lands to include industrial or Mangrove swamps were thus considered agricultural lands and so
commercial, residential, resettlement, and grazing lands and even susceptible of private ownership.
DECISION permitted the legislature to provide for other categories. 3 This
provision has been reproduced, but with substantial modifications, in Subsequently, the Philippine Legislature categorically declared,
CRUZ, J.: the present Constitution. 4 despite the above-cited case, that mangrove swamps form part of the
public forests of this country. This it did in the Administrative Code of
The basic question before the Court is the legal classification of Under the Commonwealth Constitution, which was the charter in force 1917, which became effective on October 1 of that year, thus:
mangrove swamps, or manglares, as they are commonly known. If when this case arose, only agricultural lands were allowed to be
they are part of our public forest lands, they are not alienable under alienated. 5 Their disposition was provided for under C.A No. 141. "Section 1820. Words and phrase defined. — For the purpose of
the Constitution. If they are considered public agricultural lands, they Mineral and timber or forest lands were not subject to private this chapter ‘public forest’ includes, except as otherwise specially
may be acquired under private ownership. The private respondent’s ownership unless they were first reclassified as agricultural lands and indicated, all unreserved public land, including nipa and mangrove
claim to the land in question must be judged by these criteria. so released for alienation. swamps, and all forest reserves of whatever character."cralaw
virtua1aw library
The said land consists of 178,113 square meters of mangrove In the leading case of Montano v. Insular Government, 6 promulgated
swamps located in the municipality of Sapian, Capiz. Ruperto Villareal in 1909, mangrove swamps or manglares were defined by the Court It is noteworthy, though, that notwithstanding this definition, the Court
applied for its registration on January 25, 1949, alleging that he and as: maintained the doctrine in the Montano case when two years later it
his predecessors-in-interest had been in possession of the land for held in the case of Jocson v. Director of Forestry: 7
more than forty years. He was opposed by several persons, including ". . . mud flats, alternately washed and exposed by the tide, in which
the petitioner on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines. After trial, grows various kindred plants which will not live except when watered ". . . the words timber land are always translated in the Spanish
the application was approved by the Court of First Instance of Capiz. by the sea, extending their roots deep into the mud and casting their translation of that Act (Act of Congress) as ‘terrenos forestales.’ We
1 The decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. 2 The Director seeds, which also germinate there. These constitute the mangrove think there is an error in this translation and that a better translation
of Forestry then came to this Court in a petition for review on certiorari flats of the tropics, which exist naturally, but which are also, to some would be ‘terrenos madereros. Timber land in English means land
claiming that the land in dispute was forestal in nature and not subject extent cultivated by man for the sake of the combustible wood of the with trees growing on it. The manglar plant would never be cited a
to private appropriation. He asks that the registration be reversed. mangrove and like trees as well as for the useful nipa palm tree in English but a bush, and land which has only bushes, shrubs or
propagated thereon. Although these flats are literally tidal lands, yet aquatic plants growing on it cannot be called ‘timber land.’
we are of the opinion that they cannot be so regarded in the sense in
which that term is used in the cases cited or in general American
It should be stressed at the outset that both the petitioner and the
jurisprudence. The waters flowing over them are not available for
private respondent agree that the land is mangrove land. There is no x x x
purpose of navigation, and they may be disposed of without
dispute as to this. The bone of contention between the parties is the
impairment of the public interest in what remains.
legal nature of mangrove swamps or manglares. The petitioner
claims, it is forestal and therefore not disposable and the private x x x
respondent insists it is alienable as agricultural land. The issue before The fact that there are a few trees growing in a manglare or nipa
us is legal, not factual. swamps does not change the general character of the land from
"Under this uncertain and somewhat unsatisfactory condition of the
manglare to timber land."
law, the custom had grown of converting manglares and nipa lands
For a proper background of this case, we have to go back to the into fisheries which became a common feature of settlement along the
Philippine Bill of 1902, one of the earlier American organic acts in the More to the point, addressing itself directly to above-quoted Section
coast and at the same time of the change of sovereignty constituted
country. By this law, lands of the public domain in the Philippine 1820, the Court declared:
one of the most productive industries of the Islands, the abrogation of
Islands were classified into three grand divisions, to wit, agricultural,
"In the case of Mapa v. Insular Government (10 Phil. Rep., 175), this and the trees growing are not of commercial value as lumber do not "A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain does
Court said that the phrase ‘agricultural lands’ as used in Act No. 926 convert the land into public land. Such lands are not forest in not lose such classification simply because loggers or settlers may
means those public lands acquired from Spain which are not timber or character. They do not form part of the public domain."cralaw have stripped it of its forest cover. Parcels of land classified as forest
mineral lands. virtua1aw library land may actually be covered with grass or planted to crops by
kaingin cultivators or other farmers.’Forested lands’ do not have to be
"Whatever may have been the meaning of the term ‘forestry’ under Only last year, in Republic v. De Porkan, 10 the Court, citing Krivenko on mountains or in out-of-the-way places. Swampy areas covered by
the Spanish law, the Act of Congress of July 1st, 1902, classifies the v. Register of Deeds, 11 reiterated the ruling in the Mapa case that mangrove trees, nipa palms, and other trees growing in brackish or
public lands in the Philippine Islands as timber, mineral or agricultural "all public lands that are not timber or mineral lands are necessarily sea water may also be classified as forest land. The classification is
lands, and all public lands that are not timber or mineral lands are agricultural public lands, whether they are used as nipa swamps, descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to be
necessarily agricultural public lands, whether they are used as nipa manglares, fisheries or ordinary farm lands."cralaw virtua1aw library descriptive of what the land actually looks like. Unless and until the
swamps, manglares, fisheries or ordinary farm lands. land classified as ‘forest’ is released in an official proclamation to that
But the problem is not all that simple. As it happens, there is also a effect so that it may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of
"The definition of forestry as including manglares found in the line of decisions holding the contrary view. the public domain, the rules on confirmation of imperfect titles do not
Administrative Code of 1917 cannot affect rights which vested prior to apply."
its enactment. In Yngson v. Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, 12
promulgated in 1983, the Court ruled "that the Bureau of Fisheries
"These lands being neither timber nor mineral lands, the trial court has no jurisdiction to dispose of swamplands or mangrove lands
should have considered them agricultural lands. If they are forming part of the public domain while such lands are still classified The view was maintained in Vallarta v. Intermediate Appellate Court,
agricultural lands, then the rights of appellants are fully established by as forest lands." 14 where this Court agreed with the Solicitor General’s submission
Act No. 926." that the land in dispute, which he described as "swamp mangrove or
Four months later, in Heirs of Amunategui v. Director of Forestry, 13 forestal land," were not private properties and so not registerable.
The doctrine was reiterated still later in Garchitorena Vda. de the Court was more positive when it held, again through Justice This case was decided only twelve days after the De Porkan case.
Centenera v. Obias, 8 promulgated on March 4, 1933, more than Gutierrez:jgc:
fifteen years after the effectivity of the Administrative Code of 1917. Faced with these apparent contradictions, the Court feels there is a
Justice Ostrand declared for a unanimous Court:jgc: "The Heirs of Jose Amunategui maintain that Lot No. 885 cannot be need for a categorical pronouncement that should resolve once and
classified as forest land because it is not thickly forested but is a for all the question of whether mangrove swamps are agricultural
"The opposition rests mainly upon the proposition that the land ‘mangrove swamps.’ Although conceding that a ‘mangrove swamp’ is lands or forest lands.
covered by the application there are mangrove lands as shown in his included in the classification of forest land in accordance with Section
opponent’s Exh. I, but we think this opposition of the Director of 1820 of the Revised Administrative Code, the petitioners argue that The determination of this question is a function initially belonging to
Forestry is untenable, inasmuch as it has been definitely decided that no big trees classified in Section 1821 of the said Code as first, the legislature, which has the authority to implement the constitutional
mangrove lands are not forest lands in the sense in which this phrase second and third groups are found on the land in question. provision classifying the lands of the public domain (and is now even
is used in the Act of Congress." Furthermore, they contend that Lot 885, even if it is a mangrove permitted to provide for more categories of public lands). The
swamp, is still subject to land registration proceeding because the legislature having made such implementation, the executive officials
No elaboration was made on this conclusion which was merely based property had been in actual possession of private persons for many may then, in the discharge of their own role, administer our public
on the cases of Montano and Jocson. And in 1977, the above ruling years, and therefore, said land was already ‘private land’ better lands pursuant to their constitutional duty "to ensure that the laws be
was reaffirmed in Tongson v. Director of Forestry, 9 with Justice adapted and more valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes faithfully executed" and in accordance with the policy prescribed. For
Fernando declaring that the mangrove lands in litis were agricultural and not required by the public interests to be kept under forest their part the courts will step into the picture if the rules laid down by
in nature. The decision even quoted with approval the statement of classification." the legislature are challenged or, assuming they are valid, it is
the trial court that:jgc: claimed that they are not being correctly observed by the executive.
"The petition is without merit. Thus do the three departments, coordinating with each other, pursue
". . . Mangrove swamps where only trees of mangrove species grow, and achieve the objectives of the Constitution in the conservation and
where the trees are small and sparse, fit only for firewood purposes utilization of our natural resources.
In C.A. No. 141, the National Assembly delegated to the President of The President, upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture More importantly, the said provision has not been challenged as
the Philippines the function of making periodic classifications of public and Natural Resources, shall from time to time make the arbitrary or unrealistic or unconstitutional, assuming the requisite
lands, thus: classifications provided for in this section, and may, at any time and in conditions, to justify our judicial intervention and scrutiny. The law is
a similar manner, transfer lands from one class to another."cralaw thus presumed valid and so must be respected. We repeat our
virtua1aw library statement in the Amunategui case that the classification of mangrove
swamps as forest lands is descriptive of its legal nature or status and
Sec. 6. The President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary As for timber or forest lands, the Revised Administrative Code states does not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like.
of Agriculture and Natural Resources, shall from time to time classify as follows: That determination having been made and no cogent argument
the lands of the public domain into: having been raised to annul it, we have no duty as judges but to apply
"Sec. 1826. Regulation setting apart forest reserves — it. And so we shall.
(a) Alienable or disposable, Revocation of same. — Upon the recommendation of the Director of
Forestry, with the approval of the Department Head, the President of Our previous description of the term in question as pertaining to our
(b) Timber, and the Philippines may set apart forest reserves from the public lands agricultural lands should be understood as covering only those lands
and he shall by proclamation declare the establishment of such over which ownership had already vested before the Administrative
(c) Mineral lands, and may at any time and in a like manner reserves and the boundaries thereof, and thereafter such forest Code of 1917 became effective. Such lands could not be retroactively
transfer such lands from one class to another, for the purposes of reserves shall not be entered, sold, or otherwise disposed of, but shall legislated as forest lands because this would be violative of a duly
their administration and disposition." remain as such for forest uses, and shall be administered in the same acquired property right protected by the due process clause. So we
manner as public forest. ruled again only two months ago in Republic of the Philippines v.
"Sec. 7. For the purposes of the administration and disposition of
Court of Appeals, 15 where the possession of the land in dispute
alienable or disposable lands, the President, upon recommendation "The President of the Philippines may in like manner by proclamation commenced as early as 1909, before it was much later classified as
by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, shall from time alter or modify the boundaries of any forest reserve from time to time, timberland.
to time declare what lands are open to disposition or concession or revoke any such proclamation, and upon such revocation such
under this Act. forest reserve shall be and become part of the public lands as though It follows from all this that the land under contention being admittedly
such proclamation had never been made. a part of the mangrove swamps of Sapian, and for which a minor
With particular regard to alienable public lands, Section 9 of the same
forest license had in fact been issued by the Bureau of Forestry from
law provides:jgc:
1920 to 1950, it must be considered forest land. It could therefore not
"For the purpose of their administration and disposition, the lands of be the subject of the adverse possession and consequent ownership
"Sec. 1827. Assignment of forest land for agricultural purposes. claimed by the private respondent in support of his application for
the public domain alienable or open to disposition shall be classified, — Lands in public forest, not including forest reserves, upon the
according to the use or purposes to which such lands are destined, as registration. To be so, it had first to be released as forest land and
certification of the Director of Forestry that said lands are better reclassified as agricultural land pursuant to the certification the
follows: adapted and more valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes Director of Forestry may issue under Section 1827 of the Revised
and not required by the public interests to be kept under forest, shall Administrative Code.
(a) Agricultural;
be declared by the Department Head to be agricultural lands."With
these principles in mind, we reach the following conclusion: The private respondent invokes the survey plan of the mangrove
(b) Residential, commercial, industrial, or for similar productive
purposes; swamps approved by the Director of Lands, 16 to prove that the land
Mangrove swamps or manglares should be understood as comprised is registerable. It should be plain, however, that the mere existence of
within the public forests of the Philippines as defined in the aforecited such a plan would not have the effect of converting the mangrove
(c) Educational, charitable, or other similar purposes; and
Section 1820 of the Administrative Code of 1917. The legislature swamps, as forest land, into agricultural land. Such approval is
(d) Reservations for townsites and for public and quasi-public having so determined, we have no authority to ignore or modify its ineffectual because it is clearly inofficious. The Director of Lands was
uses. decision, and in effect veto it, in the exercise of our own discretion. not authorized to act in the premises. Under the aforecited law, it is
The statutory definition remains unchanged to date and, no less the Director of Forestry who has the authority to determine whether
noteworthy, is accepted and invoked by the executive department. forest land is more valuable for agricultural rather than forestry uses,
as a basis for its declaration as agricultural land and release for Significantly, the tax declarations made by the private respondent
private ownership were practically the only basis used by the appellate’ court in
sustaining his claim of possession over the land in question. Tax
Thus we held in the Yngson case:jgc: declarations are, of course, not sufficient to prove possession and
much less vest ownership in favor of the declarant, as we have held in
"It is elementary in the law governing the disposition of lands of the countless cases. 18
public domain that until timber or forest lands are released as
disposable and alienable neither the Bureau of Lands nor the Bureau We hold, in sum, that the private respondent has not established his
of Fisheries has authority to lease, grant, sell or otherwise dispose of right to the registration of the subject land in his name. Accordingly,
these lands for homesteads, sales patents, leases for grazing or other the petition must be granted.
purposes, fishpond leases and other modes of utilization.
It is reiterated for emphasis that, conformably to the legislative
"The Bureau of Fisheries has no jurisdiction to administer and dispose definition embodied in Section 1820 of the Revised Administrative
of swamplands or mangrove lands forming part of the public domain Code of 1917, which remains unamended up to now, mangrove
while such lands are still classified as forest land or timber land and swamps or manglares form part of the public forests of the
not released for fishery or other purposes."cralaw virtua1aw library Philippines. As such, they are not alienable under the Constitution
and may not be the subject of private ownership until and unless they
The same rule was echoed in the Vallarta case, thus:jgc: are first released as forest land and classified as alienable agricultural
land.
"It is elementary in the law governing natural resources that forest
land cannot be owned by private persons. It is not registerable. The WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is SET ASIDE
adverse possession which can be the basis of a grant of title in and the application for registration of title of private respondent is
confirmation of imperfect title cases cannot commence until after the DISMISSED, with cost against him. This decision is immediately
forest land has been declared alienable and disposable. Possession executory.
of forest land, no matter how long cannot convert it into private
property." SO ORDERED.

We find in fact that even if the land in dispute were agricultural in


nature, the proof the private respondent offers of prescriptive
possession thereof is remarkably meager and of dubious
persuasiveness. The record contains no convincing evidence of the
existence of the informacion posesoria allegedly obtained by the
original transferor of the property, let alone the fact that the conditions
for acquiring title thereunder have been satisfied. Nowhere has it
been shown that the informacion posesoria has been inscribed or
registered in the registry of property and that the land has been under
the actual and adverse possession of the private respondent for
twenty years as required by the Spanish Mortgage Law. 17 These
matters are not presumed but must be established with definite proof,
which is lacking in this case.