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SECRETARY OF THE DENR vs.

YAP
G.R. No. 173775, 8 October 2008

Facts
The Court of Appeals affirmed RTC Kalibo’s decision to grant the petition for declaratory relief filed by Boracay Mayor
Jose Yap et al. to have a judicial confirmation of imperfect title or survey of land for titling purposes for the land they
have been occupying in Boracay. Yap et al alleged that Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 raised doubts on
their right to secure titles over their occupied lands. They declared that they themselves, or through their predecessors-
in-interest, had been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation in Boracay since June 12,
1945, or earlier since time immemorial. They declared their lands for tax purposes and paid realty taxes on them. Later in
2006, President Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 1064 classifying Boracay Island into 400 hectares of reserved forest land
and 628.96 hectares of agricultural land (alienable and disposable).

Issue

Whether Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 pose any legal obstacle for respondents, and all those
similarly situated, to acquire title to their occupied lands in Boracay Island.

Ruling

The SC ruled against Yap et al. and Sacay et al.

Yes, because the Philippine Bill of 1902, Act No. 926, and Proclamation No. 1801 did not convert portions of Boracay
Island into an agricultural land. The island remained an unclassified land of the public domain and, applying the Regalian
doctrine, is considered State property. The Regalian Doctrine dictates that all lands of the public domain belong to the
State, that the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership of land and charged with the conservation of such
patrimony. All lands that have not been acquired from the government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the
State as part of the inalienable public domain.

Private claimants’ bid for judicial confirmation of imperfect title, relying on the Philippine Bill of 1902, Act No. 926, and
Proclamation No. 1801, must fail because of the absence of the second element of alienable and disposable land. Their
entitlement to a government grant under our present Public Land Act presupposes that the land possessed and applied
for is already alienable and disposable. Where the land is not alienable and disposable, possession of the land, no
matter how long, cannot confer ownership or possessory rights.

It is plain error for petitioners to argue that under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Public Land Act No. 926, mere
possession by private individuals of lands creates the legal presumption that the lands are alienable and disposable.

Except for lands already covered by existing titles, Boracay was an unclassified land of the public domain prior to
Proclamation No. 1064. Such unclassified lands are considered public forest under PD No. 705.

The private claimants cannot apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under Proclamation No. 1064, with respect
to those lands which were classified as agricultural lands. Private claimants failed to prove the first element of open,
continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession of their lands in Boracay since June 12, 1945.

Republic of the Philippines vs. Celestina Naguiat (2006)

Facts:
• Celestina Naguiat applied for registration of title to 4 parcels of land (located in Botolan, Zambales) with RTC
Zambales.

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o She claimed to have acquired it from LID Corporation, who in turn had acquired it from Calderon, Moraga and
Monje and their predecessors-in-interest who have been in possession for more than 30 years.
• Republic of the Philippines (through the OSG) filed an opposition to the application.
o They claim that neither Naguiat nor her predecessors-in-interest have been in possession since 12 June 1945,
that the muniments of title and tax payment receipts aren’t sufficient evidence of a bona fide acquisition of the lands,
that Naguiat’s Spanish title can no longer be availed of and finally, that said lands are part of the public domain and not
subject of private appropriation.
• RTC rendered a decision in favour of Naguiat and decreed the registration of said lands in her name.
• Petitioner Republic of the Phils brought case to the CA.
• CA affirmed RTC decision.

Issue: Whether or not the areas in question have ceased to have the status of forest or other inalienable lands of the
public domain.

Decision: No. Naguiat was unable to provide sufficient evidence that such parcels of land are no longer a part of the
public domain.

Public forest lands or forest reserves, unless declassified and released by positive act of the Government so that they
may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public domain, are not capable of private appropriation. As to
these assets, the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do not apply.
Forests, in the context of both the Public Land Act and the Constitution classifying lands of the public domain into
"agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands and national parks," do not necessarily refer to a large tract of wooded land
or an expanse covered by dense growth of trees and underbrush. As we stated in Heirs of Amunategui:
“A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain does not lose such classification simply because
loggers or settlers have stripped it of its forest cover. Parcels of land classified as forest land may actually be
covered with grass or planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other farmers. "Forest lands" do not have to be
on mountains or in out of the way places. xxx. The classification is merely descriptive of its legal nature or status
and does not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like. xxx”
Under Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution, which embodies the Regalian doctrine, all lands of the public domain
belong to the State – the source of any asserted right to ownership of land. All lands not appearing to be clearly of
private dominion presumptively belong to the State. Accordingly, public lands not shown to have been reclassified or
released as alienable agricultural land or alienated to a private person by the State remain part of the inalienable public
domain. Under Section 6 of the Public Land Act, the prerogative of classifying or reclassifying lands of the public domain,
i.e., from forest or mineral to agricultural and vice versa, belongs to the Executive Branch of the government and not the
court. Needless to stress, the onus to overturn, by incontrovertible evidence, the presumption that the land subject of an
application for registration is alienable or disposable rests with the applicant.
In the case at bar, the CA only granted the petition because it assumed that the lands in question are already alienable
and disposable, which is found by the SC to not be in this case.
Here, respondent never presented the required certification from the proper government agency or official proclamation
reclassifying the land applied for as alienable and disposable. Matters of land classification or reclassification cannot be
assumed. It calls for proof. Aside from tax receipts, respondent submitted in evidence the survey map and technical
descriptions of the lands, which, needless to state, provided no information respecting the classification of the property.
These documents are not sufficient to overcome the presumption that the land sought to be registered forms part of the
public domain.

Therefore, the issue of whether or not Naguiat and her predecessor-in-interest have been in open, exclusive and
continuous possession of the parcels of land in question is now of little moment. For, unclassified land, as here, cannot
be acquired by adverse occupation or possession; occupation thereof in the concept of owner, however long, cannot
ripen into private ownership and be registered as title.
G.R. No. L-37995 August 31, 1987

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BUREAU OF FORESTRY, BUREAU OF LANDS and PHILIPPINE FISHERIES COMMISSION, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and FILOMENO GALLO, respondents.

PARAS, J.:

Before Us is a petition for review on certiorari, which seeks to annul and set aside the Decision 1 (promulgated on April
11, 1973) of the respondent court in CA-G.R. No. 38163-R, affirming the decision 2 (dated April 6, 1966) of the then
Court of First Instance of Iloilo in Land Registration Case No. N-506, G.L.R.O. Record No. N-20783 entitled "Filomeno
Gallo, Applicant vs. Bureau of Forestry, Bureau of Lands, and Philippine Fisheries Commission, oppositors. " The
dispositive portion of the trial court's decision reads as follows:

WHEREFORE, the court Orders the registration of Lots Nos. 2, 3, and 4 and the bigger portion of Lot No. 1 after excluding
the portion Identified as Lot 1-A together with the improvements thereon in the name of Filomeno Gallo, of legal age,
widower, Filipino citizen, and resident of 155 Fuentes Street, Iloilo City, Philippines. Lots Nos. 1, 2 and 3 are subject to the
road right-of-way of 15 meters wide which is presently known as Sto. Rosario Rizal Montpiller provincial Road and
Buenavista-Daraga provincial Road they being properties of the Province of Iloilo and should be registered in the name of
said province. The oppositions of the Director of Lands, Director of Forestry and the Philippine Fisheries Commission are
dismissed. Lot 1-A with an area of 2.6864 hectares which is enclosed in red pencil and is found inside Lot No. 1 in the
plan Exhibit is hereby declared public land. After the decision has become final let the corresponding decree be issued.

SO ORDERED. (p. 38, Joint Record on Appeal Annex "A." p. 25, Rollo)

This appeal also seeks to annul and set aside respondent court's resolution dated December 14, 1973 denying for lack of
merit, herein petitioners' motion for reconsideration.

The basic issue which petitioners raise in this appeal is —

Whether or not the classification of lands of the public domain by the Executive Branch of the Government into
agricultural, forest or mineral can be changed or varied by the court depending upon the evidence adduced before it. (p.
9, Brief for the Petitioners, p. 105, Rollo)

The antecedent facts of the case are as follows:

On July 11, 1961, four (4) parcels of land situated in Buenavista, Iloilo described in Plan Psu-150727, containing an
approximate area of 30.5943 hectares were the subject of an application for registration by Mercedes Diago who alleged
among others that she herself occupied said parcels of land having bought them from the testate estate of the late Jose
Ma. Nava who, in his lifetime, had bought the lands in turn from Canuto Gustilo on June 21, 1934. The Director of Lands
opposed said application on the ground that neither the applicant nor her predecessors-in-interest have sufficient title
over the lands applied for, which could be registered under the Torrens systems, and that they have never been in open,
continuous and exclusive possession of the said lands for at least 30 years prior to the filing of the application. The
Director of Forestry on the other hand anchored his opposition principally on the ground that certain specific portions of
the lands subject matter of the application, with an area of approximately 194,080 square meters are mangrove swamps
and are within Timberland Block "B " L.C. Project No. 38, L.C. Map No. 1971 of Buenavista, Iloilo.

On June 30, 1965, respondent Filomeno Gallo, having purchased the subject parcels of land from Mercedes Diago on
April 27, 1965, moved to be substituted in place of the latter, attaching to his motion an Amended Application for
Registration of Title substantially reproducing the allegations in the application of Mercedes Diago. Petitioner Philippine
Fisheries Commission also moved on August 30, 1965 to be substituted in place of petitioner Bureau of Forestry as

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oppositor over a portion of the land sought to be registered, supervision and control of said portion having been
transferred from the Bureau of Forestry to the Philippine Fisheries Commission.

On April 6, 1966, the trial court rendered its decision ordering the registration of the four (4) parcels of land in the name
of respondent Filomeno Gallo after excluding a portion Identified as Lot "1-A" which is the site of the municipal hall of
Buenavista town, and subjecting Lots Nos. 1, 2 and 3 to the road-of-way of 15 meters width.

Petitioners appealed from said decision to the respondent Court of Appeals assigning the following errors in their brief:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THE REGISTRATION OF THE SUBJECT LAND WHICH CONSISTS OF TIMBERLAND,
FORESHORELAND AND LAND BELONGING TO THE PUBLIC DOMAIN HENCE UNREGISTERABLE.

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE POSSESSION OF THE APPLICANT-APPELLEE AND HIS PREDECESSORS-IN-
INTEREST HAD BEEN PEACEFUL, OPEN, CONTINUOUS, UNINTERRUPTED AND ADVERSE TO CLAIMANTS AND IN THE
CONCEPT OF OWNER. (p. 6, Brief for the Petitioners, p. 105, Rollo)

Respondent court affirmed said decision and denied a motion for reconsideration of the same hence the present petition
with two (2) assigned errors, basically the same issues raised with the respondent court:

RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE DETERMINATION OF WHETHER A PUBLIC LAND IS
AGRICULTURAL OR STILL A FOREST LAND RESTS EXCLUSIVELY UPON THE DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY (NOW DIRECTOR OF
FOREST DEVELOPMENT), THE SECRETARY OF NATURAL RESOURCES) AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE PHILIPPINES.

RESPONDENT COURT ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE LAND IS PRESUMED TO BELONG TO THE PUBLIC DOMAIN AND
PRIVATE RESPONDENT HEREIN HAS NOT CONVINCINGLY SHOWN THAT THE REMOTE PREDECESSOR-IN-INTEREST
POSSESSED THE LAND IN QUESTION SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL. (pp. 9 & 20, Brief for the Petitioners, p. 105, Rollo)

Out of the 30.5943 hectares applied for registration under the Torrens System, 11.1863 hectares are coconut lands and
admittedly within the disposable portion of the public domain. These are more particularly Identified as parcels "B," B-
1", "B-2" and "B-3" of the sketch plan Exh. "1-A." The rest, consisting of 19.4080 hectares and Identified as parcels A, A-1,
A-2 and A-3 of the same plan Exh. "1-A," is now the center of controversy of the present appeal.

Petitioners contend that respondent court completely ignored the undisputed facts that 1) the controverted area is
within Timberland Block "B," L.C. Project No. 38, L.C. Map No. 1971 of Buenavista, Iloilo and that 2) the certification of
February 18, 1956 of the then Director of Forestry to the effect that the area in question is needed for forest purposes.
Respondent court in affirming the decision of the Iloilo trial court ruled that although the controverted portion of
19.4080 hectares are mangrove and nipa swamps within Timberland Block "B," L.C. Project No. 38, same cannot be
considered part of the public forest not susceptible of private ownership since petitioners failed to submit convincing
proof that these lands are more valuable for forestry than for agricultural purposes, and the presumption is that these
are agricultural lands. Respondent court based its conclusion upon the premise that whether or not a controverted
parcel of land is forest land, is a question of fact which should be settled by competent proofs, and if such a question be
an issue in a land registration proceeding, it is incumbent upon the Director of Forestry to submit to the court convincing
proofs that the land in dispute is not more valuable for agriculture than for forest purposes. It is the position of
respondent that respondent court did "not hesitate to apply this presumption with full force particularly where, as in the
case at bar, the lands applied for have been possessed and cultivated by the applicant and his predecessors-in-interest
for a long number of years without the government taking any positive step to dislodge the occupants from their
holdings which have passed from one to another by inheritance or by purchase." (p. 9, Brief for private respondents)
Otherwise stated, it is Our impression that private respondents claim the rule of prescription against the government.

Such contentions of private respondents do not hold water. Admittedly the controversial area is within a timberland
block as classification of the municipality and certified to by the Director of Forestry on February 18, 1956 as lands
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needed for forest purposes and hence they are portions of the public domain which cannot be the subject of registration
proceedings. Clearly therefore the land is public land and there is no need for the Director of Forestry to submit to the
court convincing proofs that the land in dispute is not more valuable for agriculture than for forest purposes, as there
was no question of whether the land is forest land or not. Be it remembered that said forest land had been declared and
certified as such by the Director of the Bureau of Forestry on February 18, 1956, several years before the original
applicant of the lands for registration Mercedes Diago, filed it on July 11, 1961. In the case of Government of the
Philippine Islands vs. Abella, 49 Phil. 49, cited by private respondents themselves in their brief, We held —

Following the decision of Ankon vs. Government of the Philippine Islands (40 Phil. 10), it is again held, that whether a
particular parcel of land is more valuable for forestry purposes than for agricultural purposes, or vice versa, is a fact
which must be established during the trial of the case. Whether the particular land is agricultural, forestry or mineral is a
question to be settled in each particular case unless the Bureau of Forestry has, under the authority conferred upon it by
law, prior to the intervention of private interest, set aside said land for forestry or mineral resources. (Italics for
emphasis)

We also held in the case of Republic vs. Animas, 56 SCRA 499, 503 that-

... As a general rule, timber or forest lands are not alienable or disposable under either the Constitution of 1935 or the
Constitution of 1973.

... It is the Bureau of Forestry that has jurisdiction and authority over the demarcation, protection, management,
reproduction, occupancy and use of all public forests and forest reservations and over the granting of licenses for the
taking of products therefrom, including stone and earth (Section 1816 of the Revised Administrative Code). That the area
in question is a forest or timber land is clearly established by the certification made by the Bureau of Forest Development
that it is within the portion of the area which was reverted to the category of forest land, approved by the President on
March 7, 1958.

As provided for under Sec. 6 of Commonwealth Act No. 141, which was lifted from Act No. 2874, the classification or
reclassification of public lands into alienable or disposable, mineral or forest lands is now a prerogative of the Executive
Department of the government and not of the courts. With these rules, there should be no more room for doubt that it
is not the court which determines the classification of lands of the public domain into agricultural, forest or mineral but
the Executive Branch of the Government, through the Office of the President. Hence, it was grave error and/or abuse of
discretion for the respondent court to ignore the uncontroverted facts that (1) the disputed area is within a timberland
block and (2) as certified to by the then Director of Forestry, the area is needed for forest purposes.

Furthermore, private respondents Cannot claim to have obtained their title by prescription inasmuch as the application
filed by them necessarily implied an admission that the portions applied for are part of the public domain which cannot
be acquired by prescription, unless the law expressly permits it. It is a rule of law that possession of forest lands,
however long, cannot ripen into private ownership (Director of Forestry vs. Munoz, 23 SCRA 1184).

WHEREFORE, in the light of the foregoing, the assailed decision is hereby SET ASIDE, and a new one is hereby rendered,
declaring that:

1) Parcels "B," "B-1," "B-2 and "B-3" of the sketch plan Exhibit "1-A" consisting of 11.1863 hectares of coconut land
and admittedly within the disposable portion of the public domain are hereby ordered registered in the name of the
applicant Filomeno Gallo and/or his successors-in-interest as provided for by the Public Land Law; and

2) Parcels "A," "A-1," and "A-2," and "A-3" of the same plan Exh. "1-A," consisting of 19.4080 hectares, are forest
lands or lands of the public domain of the Republic of the Philippines and are therefore inalienable.

SO ORDERED.
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Teehankee, C.J., Narvasa, Cruz and Gancayco, JJ., concur.

DIRECTOR OF LANDS vs. COURT OF APPEALS


G.R. NO. 83609
OCTOBER 26, 1989

PONENTE: GRIÑO-AQUINO, J.

FACTS:

On July 20, 1976, Ibarra and Amelia Bisnar, the private respondents, claimed to be the owners of two parcels of lands
situated in Capiz and filed a joint application for registration of title to the said lands.

On December 16, 1976, the Director of Lands and Bureau of Forest Development opposed the application on the
grounds that the respondents were not applicants neither predecessors-in-interest to possess sufficient title to acquire
ownership and that the lands in question are a portion of the public domain belonging to the State.

On February 24, 1977, the respondents filed an amended application which was approved on March 14, 1977.

The CFI of Capiz held on granting the application for confirmation and registration of the two parcels of land filed by
private respondents. It found that applicants and their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, public, continuous,
peaceful and adverse possession of the subject parcels of land under bona fide claims of ownership for more than eighty
(80) years (not only 30) prior to the filing of the application for registration, introduced improvements on the lands by
planting coconuts, bamboos and other plants, and converted a part of the land into productive fishponds.

The respondent court affirmed the decision in toto, and it held that the classification of the lots as timberland by the
Director of Forestry cannot prevail in the absence of proof that the said lots are indeed more valuable as forest land than
as agricultural land. Thereafter, the Director of Lands through the OSG filed a petition before this Court for the review of
the said decision.

ISSUE:

Whether the lots in question may be registered under Section 48(b) of CA 141

HELD:

No. The lots cannot be registered under Section 48(b) of CA 141.

A positive act of the government is needed to declassify land which is classified as forest and to convert it into alienable
or disposable land for agricultural or other purposes. A parcel of forest land is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the
Bureau of Forestry and beyond the power and jurisdiction of the cadastral court to register under the Torrens System

Hence, Section 48 (b) of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, applies exclusively to public agricultural land. Forest
lands or areas covered with forests are excluded.

Collado vs. CA G. R. No. 107764


October 4, 2002

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FACTS: Petitioner Collado filed with the land registration court an application for registration of a parcel of land with an
approximate area of 120.0766 hectares ("Lot" for brevity). The Lot is situated inBarangay San Isidro, Antipolo, Rizal, and
covered by Survey Plan Psu-162620. Attached to the application was the technical description of the Lot as Lot Psu-
162620 signed by Robert C. Pangyarihan, Officer-in-Charge of the Survey Division, Bureau of Lands, which stated, "[t]his
survey is inside IN-12 Mariquina Watershed." Then petitioner Collado filed an Amended Application to
include additional co-applicants. Subsequently, more applicants joined(collectively referred to as "petitioners" for
brevity).The Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor General, and the Municipality of Antipolo, through its
Municipal Attorney and the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal, filed oppositions to petitioners’ application. Petitioners alleged that
they have occupied the Lot since time immemorial. Their possession has been open, public, notorious and in the concept
of owners. The Lot was surveyed in the name of Sesinando Leyva, one of their predecessors-in-interest, as early as March
22, 1902.

ISSUES: Whether petitioners have registrable title over the Lot.

HELD: Under the Regalian Doctrine, all lands of the public domain as well as all natural resources belong to the State.
Watersheds are considered natural resources which are not susceptible of occupancy, disposition, conveyance or
alienation. The statute of limitations with regard to public land does not operate against the State.

Menguito vs. Republic Case Digest (G.R. No. 134308. December 14, 2000)

This is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the decision and resolution of the Court of
Appeals which reversed and set aside the decision of the RTC of Pasig City, granting the application for registration of the
lands in question to the petitioners.

FACTS:

On November 10, 1987, an application for Registration of Title was filed with the RTC of Pasig City by herein petitioners
who were successors-in-interest of the deceased spouses Cirilo Froilan Menguito and Generoso Menguito.The
petitioners sought to have parcels of land, situated in Barrio of Ususan, Municipality of Taguig, Metro Manila, be brought
under the operation of Land Registration Act as amended by the Property Registration Decree No. 1529 and to have their
title thereto registered, conformed and be declared as owners in fee simple of said parcels of land. The petitioners also
asked the Court to declare that they acquired the said parcels of land through inheritance and that said lands were
occupied by applicants and their predecessors-in-interest in actual, open, peaceful, continuous, and adverse possession,
in the concept of owners for more than 30 years. Petitioners, in their application, opted to apply for the benefit of
Chapter VIII of Commonwealth Act No. 141 as amended, should the Land Registration Act invoked be not applicable in
the instant case.

Acting on the foregoing application, the lower court issued a notice of hearing addressed to: the Solicitor General, the
Director of Land Management Bureau, the Secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Secretary of
the Department of Agrarian Reform, the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development, and the owners of adjacent
properties as mentioned in the application. The hearing was scheduled on April 25, 1989.The addressees were then
ordered ‘to present such claims as you may have to said lands or any portion thereof, and to submit evidence in support
of such claims and unless you appear at said court at the time and place aforesaid, your default will be recorded and the
title to the lands will be adjudicated and determined in accordance with law and the evidence before the Court, and
thereafter, you will forever be barred from contesting said application or any decree entered thereon.'

The Solicitor General filed its opposition to the application for registration contending that neither the applicant nor his
predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the land
in question since June 12, 1945 or prior thereto. The muniments of title and tax payment receipts of applicant, according
to the Solicitor General, do not constitute competent and sufficient evidence of a bona fide acquisition of the lands
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applied for and the said muniments of title do not appear to be genuine and indicate the pretended possession of
applicant to be of recent vintage. The Solicitor General further contends that the claim of ownership in fee simple on the
basis of Spanish title or grant can no longer be availed of by the applicant who has failed to file an appropriate
application for registration within the period of six (6) months from February 16, 1976 as required by Presidential Decree
No. 892. From the records, it appears that the instant application was filed on July 31, 1990. The Solicitor General
claimed that the parcel applied is part of the public domain belonging to the Republic of the Philippines not subject to
private appropriation and thus, prayed for the the denial of the application for registration and for the declaration of the
properties subject thereof as part of the public domain belonging to the Republic of the Philippines.

On April 25, 1989, at the initial hearing, a certain Jose Tangco, Jr. appeared and registered a verbal opposition to the
application.

The lower court then issued an Order of General Default against the whole world, except as against the oppositors
Republic of the Philippines and Jose Tangco, Jr., who was directed to file his written opposition but never did. Thereafter,
trial on the merits ensued.

On June 13, 1990, the applicants filed their ‘Formal Offer of Evidence,’ together with documentary exhibits.

On September 12, 1990, the oppositor Republic filed its Manifestation and Opposition to applicants’ formal offer of
evidence. In the manifestation, it objected to the extrajudicial settlement and partition dated December 12, 1985 for
being self serving and the tax declarations for being incompetent and insufficient proof of possession of the lot in
question by applicants or their predecessors-in interest. the oppositor Republic also objected to the tax receipts
submitted by the applicants, the same being incompetent and insufficient to prove possession since June 12, 1945. It
also objected to the Kasulatan ng Pagkakaloob dated May 7, 1969 executed by Cirilo Menguito in favor of Pedro
Menguito submitted by the applicants as being self-serving and a mere photocopy. The first page of the Deed of Partition
dated November 7, 1990 executed by the applicants was also claimed by the oppositors as self-serving and mere
photocopy. The second page of said deed was also attacked as referring to different parcels of land other than those
being applied for. Oppositor respectfully prayed that the application for registration be denied and that the land applied
for be declared as part of the public domain belonging to the Republic of the Philippines and that there is no need for it
to submit evidence in support of its opposition.

On May 15, 1991, the lower court rendered its decision affirming the order of general default against the whole world
and confirming the registerable title of the applicants.

On June 11, 1991, the oppositor Republic, through the Solicitor General, moved for a reconsideration of the lower court
decision, to which a written opposition was interposed by the applicants.

On July 8, 1991, the lower court issued an order denying the motion for reconsideration for lack of merit.

The case was then elevated to the Court of Appeals where the decision was reversed due to the failure of the lower court
to consider the legal requirements for registration of imperfect titles. The Court of Appeals was not convinced that the
land in question had been classified as alienable or disposable and that petitioners or their predecessors-in-interest had
been in possession of it since June 12, 1945.

Hence, this petition.

ISSUES: whether or not the court a quo erred in reversing the findings of facts of the trial court.

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RULING: The Supreme Court held that by virtue of Section 48 of Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 141, the petitioners were
duty-bound to prove two legal requirements: : (1) the land applied for was alienable and disposable; and (2) the
applicants and their predecessors-in-interest had occupied and possessed the land openly, continuously, exclusively, and
adversely since June 12, 1945. The records show that petitioners failed to establish this two requisites.

Petitioners relied on a surveyor-geodetic engineer’s notation in Exhibit “E” indicating that the survey was inside alienable
and disposable land. This proof is insufficient. Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution provides that "All lands of
the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries,
forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State." The petitioners must
overcome the presumption that the land sought to be registered forms part of public domain.

If the land was indeed alienable, petitioners still needs to establish possession of the lots in question in an open,
continuous, exclusive and adverse in the concept of owner for at least 30 years, since June 12, 1945. Although petitioners
can trace their possession of the land from as far back as 1968 only, they would tack it to that of their predecessors, who
had supposedly been in possession thereof even before the Second World War. There is not enough convincing proof,
however, to support such claim. Petitioners presented evidence that they had been paying real estate taxes since 1974.
Their predecessors-in-interest, they claimed, have also been paying taxes on the land for several years before them, and
Cirilo Menguito had declared the land for tax purposes in 1943. However, they did not present any documents or any
other satisfactory proof to substantiate this claim. General statements, which are mere conclusions of law and not
proofs of possession, are unavailing and cannot suffice.

Cirilo’s children were the best witnesses because they could have substantiated petitioners’ claim that indeed the lots in
question had been donated to Pedro Menguito and they may even have in their possession documents that can
adequately support their supposed claim. However, they were not presented as witnesses. Instead, petitioners
presented only Raymunda Bautista, the alleged tenant of Cirilo Menguito, who had tilled the land before petitioners built
their houses thereon. Tax declarations, tax receipts and the Municipal Treasurer’s certifications of tax payments
presented in evidence by the petitioners were incompetent and insufficient because they are of recent vintage.

The decision of the Court of Appeals was affirmed.

Balboa v Farrales
G.R. No. L-27059 February 14, 1928

FACTS:
Sometime in the year 1913, the plaintiff Buenaventura Balboa filled with the Bureau of Lands an application for
homestead, No. 10619, under the provisions of Act No. 926, covering a tract of land in Culis, Hermosa, Bataan. On July 1,
1919, said Act No. 926 was repealed by Act No. 2874.

On August 11, 1924, said Buenaventura Balboa, for and in consideration of the sum of P950, sold said land to the
defendant Cecilio L. Farrales.
On March 6, 1926, the plaintiff commenced the present action for the purpose of having said sale declared null and void
on the ground of lack of consent on his part and fraud on the part of the defendant, and on the further ground that said
sale was contrary to, and in violation of the provisions of section 116 of Act No. 2874.
trial judge rendered a judgment in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant, ordering the latter to return to the
plaintiff the land

ISSUE:
which of the two Acts — 926 and 2874 — shall be applied in determining whether the sale in question is valid or not?
RULING:
Act 926 applies and the sale is valid.

9
The moment the plaintiff had received a certificate from the Government and had done all that was necessary under the
law to secure his patent, his right had become vested before the patent was issued. His right had already vested prior to
the issuance of the patent, and his rights to the land cannot be affected by a subsequent law or by a subsequent grant by
the Government to any other person.

It follows, therefore that the sale of the land in question by the plaintiff Buenventura Balboa to the defendant Cecilio L.
Farrales does not infringe said prohibition, and consequently said sale is valid and binding, and should be given full force
and effect.

LA TONDEÑA v. REPUBLIC, GR No. 194617, 2015-08-05

Facts:

La Tonde 164a, Inc. (La Tondeña) applied for registration of a 14,286- square-meter parcel of land, with La Tondeña
alleging acquisition and possession even before the Second Wor1d War.

It argues the inadmissibility of the Department of Environment and

Natural Resources-Community Environment and Natural Resources Office's (DENR-CENRO) Report on the land's
classification as alienable and disposable only on January 21, 1987 as this Report was not formally offered as evidence
before the trial court.

La Tondeña alleged obtaining title or ownership by purchase from one Pablo Rimorin and attached the following
documents with its application: "(a) original tracing plan together with its print copies; (b) technical description of the
land; (c) certification, in lieu of lost

Surveyor's Certificate for registration; (d) certificate of tax assessment from 1948 up to the present; (e) copy of Tax
Declaration No. 27726; and (f) copy of the Secretary's Certificate authorizing Rosendo A. Bautista."

The trial court scheduled the hearing for marking of exhibits on April 12, 2005.[15] Rosendo A. Bautista testified and
identified the documents submitted with the application for registration.[16] He alleged that all records showing La

Tondeña's purchase of the land from one Pablo Rimorin were burned, thus, applicant can only present tax declarations in
its name for years 1948, 1953, 1964, 1974, 1980, 1985, 1994, and 1999.[

On May 30, 2005, La Tondeña's property administrator Victor Dumuk testified that from the time his father, Juan Dumuk,
was property administrator before the Second World War up to Victor Dumuk's present administration, La Tondeña's
ownership ofthe land was uncontested, and its... possession was peaceful, continuous, open, and public.[18] He testified
that property taxes were paid from 1994 to 2005, and that mango trees and a basketball court can be found on the land.
[19]

DENR-CENRO Land Investigator Wilfredo Valera submitted a Report dated May 31, 2005 to the trial court, stating that the
land was declared alienable and disposable only on January 21, 1987.

The Municipal Trial Court, in its Decision dated December 15, 2005, approved La Tondeña's application for registratio

The Republic of the Philippines filed a Notice of Appeal[24] before the Court of Appeals on the ground that the trial
court's Decision was "contrary to law and evidence."

The Court of Appeals, in its Decision dated August 10, 2010, reversed and set aside the Municipal Trial Court December
15, 2005 Decision, and dismissed La Tondeña's application for registration.
10
Hence, La Tondeña filed this Petition.

Issues:

whether petitioner La Tondeña, Inc. complied with all the requirements for land registration under Section 48(b) of
Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, in relation to Section 14(1) of Presidential Decree No. 1529... whether
petitioner La Tondeña, Inc. acquired a vested right under the 1935 Constitution that allows a private corporation to
acquire alienable and disposable land of public domain

Ruling:

We deny the Petition.

Commonwealth Act No. 141 known as The Public Land Act covers matters such as "what lands are open to disposition or
concession[.]"[53] Section 48(b), as amended, governs judicial confirmation of imperfect title:

SEC. 48. The following-described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any
such lands or an interest therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply to the Court of First
Instance of the... province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of
title therefor, under the Land Registration Act, to wit:

...

(b)

Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and
notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim
of... acquisition or ownership, since June 12, 1945, or earlier, immediately preceding the filing of the applications for
confirmation of title except when prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to have
performed all the conditions... essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the
provisions of this chapter.[54] (Emphasis supplied)

Section 14(1) of Presidential Decree No. 1529 known as the Property

Registration Decree similarly reads:

SEC. 14. Who may apply.-The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for
registration of title to land, whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives:

Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and
notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of
ownership since June 12, 1945, or... earlier.

Based on Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act in relation to Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree, an
applicant for land registration must comply with the following requirements:

The applicant, by himself or through his predecessor-in interest, has been in possession and occupation of the property
subject of the application;

The possession and occupation must be open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious;
11
The possession and occupation must be under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership;

The possession and occupation must have taken place since June 12, 1945, or earlier; and

The property subject of the application must be an agricultural land of the public domain.[55]

This court held that "the agricultural land subject of the application needs only to be classified as alienable and
disposable as of the time of the application, provided the applicant's possession and occupation of the land dated back
to June 12, 1945, or earlier.''[61]

Petitioner filed the application for registration on September 28, 2004. All dates claimed as dates of classification of the
land as alienable and disposable-August 12, 1934 as stated in the survey plan notation that petitioner relies upon;
January 21, 1987 as stated in the

Report dated May 31, 2005 that petitioner argues to be inadmissible; and March 5, 1930 as stated in the "Plan of Private
Land as Surveyed for Pablo Rimorin" that petitioner would like to present as additional evidence if the court remands the
case-were all prior to the September

28, 2004 application date, in compliance with the Heirs of Mario Malabanan ruling.

Petitioner's vested-right argument based on the 1935 Constitution that allows a private corporation to acquire alienable
and disposable land of public domain[62] must also fail.

Under the 1935 Constitution, private corporations can still acquire public agricultural lands within the limited area
prescribed.[63] In The Director of Lands v. Intermediate Appellate Court,[64] "the land was already private... land when
Acme acquired it from its owners in 1962 and, thus, Acme acquired a registrable title."[65]

In Republic v. TA.N. Properties, Inc.[66] this court found The Director of Lands inapplicable since respondent corporation
"acquired the land on 8 August 1997 from Porting, who, along with his predecessors-in-interest, has not shown to have...
been, as of that date, in open, continuous, and adverse possession of the land for 30 years since 12 June 1945[,] [i]n
short, when respondent acquired the land from Porting, the land was not yet private property."[67]

Similarly, petitioner has not shown any proof of its purchase of the land, alleging that all records of this transaction were
burned.[68] Without evidence on the exact acquisition date, or the character of its predecessor's occupation or
possession of the... land,[69] no proof exists that the property was already private land at the time of petitioner's
acquisition.

Survey notations are not considered substantive evidence of the land's classification as alienable and disposable.

Heirs of Mario Malabanan discussed that the 30-year-period rule in Republic Act No.

1942 was repealed by Presidential Decree No. 1073 in 1977, thus, only applications for registration filed prior to 1977
may invoke Republic Act No. 1942.72 Since petitioner only filed for... registration on September 28, 2004, the June 12,
1945 reckoning date under Presidential Decree No. 1073 applies.

Petitioner failed to prove possession and occupation since June 12, 1945 or earlier.
12
The Court of Appeals did not err in reversing and setting aside the trial court's Decision, and dismissing petitioner's
application for registration. It discussed the insufficiency of proof regarding petitioner's acquisition of the land and,
consequently, the character of the... alleged possession by its predecessor-in-interest:

The OSG correctly points out the property is incapable of being the subject matter of an application for judicial
confirmation of imperfect title under C.A. 141, as amended, even by a natural person because of the requirement that
the period of possession must be... from June 12, 1945 or earlier. Confronted with the DENR-CENRO Report dated May
31, 2005, appellee did not present proof to establish its claim that the property was already alienable and disposable
from the time it acquired the same in 1948, let alone, its allegation that it... acquired the property by purchase. Even
Appellee's exact date of acquisition as purported buyer was not shown with clarity. Neither did it show how its
predecessor-in-interest himself got hold of the property, the character of his possession or occupation, and how long a...
time did he exercise the same on the land, if at all.[75] (Emphasis supplied)

On the tax declarations, the oldest recorded one presented by petitioner was for year 1948.[76] This does not prove
possession on or before June 12, 1945.[77]

Since petitioner failed to comply with all the requisites for registration as provided by law, the Court of Appeals did not
err in reversing the trial court, and dismissing petitioner's application for registration.

Principles:

Heirs of Mario Malabanan clarified that the June 12, 1945 reckoning point refers to date of possession and not to date of
land classification as alienable and disposable.

In Republic v. Heirs of Dorotea Montoya,[78] the only evidence presented to prove occupation and possession from 1940
was a tax declaration for year 1947 with notation that realty tax payments were paid since 1940.[79] This... court
discussed that "[a] tax declaration, much less a tax declaration the existence of which is proved by means of an
annotation, is not a conclusive evidence of ownership, which is, at best, only a basis for inferring possession."[80]

Republic vs Herbieto

Facts:

Respondents are Herbieto brothers, Jeremias and David, who filed with the MTC a single application for registration of
two parcels of land. They claimed to be owners by virtue of its purchase from their parents

Republic filed an opposition arguing that: (1) Respondents failed to comply with the period of adverse possession
required by law; (2) Respondents’ muniments of title were not genuine and did not constitute competent and sufficient
evidence of bona fide acquisition of the Subject Lots; and (3) The Subject Lots were part of the public domain

MTC granted the application for registration of the parcels of land of Jeremias and David.

CA affirmed the decision of MTC holding that the subject property, being alienable since 1963 as shown by CENRO
Report dated June 23, 1963, may now be the object of prescription, thus susceptible of private ownership.

Republic appealed to the SC contending that 1) MTC had no jurisdiction since there was a procedural defect in filing of a
single application for two parcels of land; 2) Respondents failed to establish that they and their predecessors-in-interest
had been in open, continuous, and adverse possession of the Subject Lots in the concept of owners since 12 June 1945
or earlier.

13
ISSUE: W/N there is a procedural defect which resulted to MTC’s lack of jurisdiction

HELD:

YES, but not with the ground stated by the petitioner, but because respondents, failed to comply with the publication
requirements mandated by the Property Registration Decree.

Misjoinder of causes of action and parties do not involve a question of jurisdiction of the court to hear and proceed with
the case.[26] They are not even accepted grounds for dismissal thereof

PUBLICATION: MTC did not acquire jurisdiction because publication on the Freeman and the Banat News was only done 3
months after the hearing which renders inutile the intention of the mandatory publication. In the instant Petition, the
initial hearing was held on 03 September 1999. While the Notice thereof was printed in the issue of the Official Gazette,
dated 02 August 1999, and officially released on 10 August 1999, it was published in The Freeman Banat News only on 19
December 1999, more than three months after the initial hearing. Indubitably, such publication of the Notice, way after
the date of the initial hearing, would already be worthless and ineffective. Whoever read the Notice as it was published
in The Freeman Banat News and had a claim to the Subject Lots was deprived of due process for it was already too late
for him to appear before the MTC on the day of the initial hearing to oppose respondents’ application for registration,
and to present his claim and evidence in support of such claim

With regard to period of possession, Respondents failed to comply with the required period of possession of the Subject
Lots for the judicial confirmation or legalization of imperfect or incomplete title. The said lots are public lands classified
as alienable and disposable only on June 25, 1963 and the respondents were seeking for a confirmation of imperfect or
incomplete title through judicial legalization. Under Sec.48 of the Public Land Act, which is the ruling law in this case,
Respondents were not able to prove their continuous ownership of the land since June 12, 1945 or earlier, because said
lands were only classified as alienable and disposable only on June 25, 1963.

YINLU BICOL MINING CORPORATION v. TRANS-ASIA OIL AND ENERGY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION G.R. No. 207942,
12 January 2015,

FIRST DIVISON (Bersamin, J.) Rights pertaining to mining patents issued pursuant to the Philippine Bill of 1902 and
existing prior to November 15, 1935 are vested rights that cannot be impaired.

An area located in Barrio Larap, Municipality of Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte is the subject of the present
controversy. In 1997, Trans-Asia filed an application for the approval of Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA)
over the area in that Regional Office of the DENR, through the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), in Daraga, Albay.
The application, which was amended in 1999, was granted on July 28, 2007 under MPSA No. 252-2007-V, by which Trans-
Asia was given the exclusive right to explore, develop and utilize the mineral deposits in the portion of the mineral lands.

On August 31, 2007, Yinlu Bicol Mining Corporation (Yinlu) informed the DENR by letter that it had acquired the mining
patents of Philippine Iron Mines, Inc. (PIMI) from Manila Banking Corporation (MBC) / Banco De Oro (BDO) by way of a
deed of absolute sale from PIMI which held mining patent over said area as early as 1930. However, Trans-asia countered
this claim by alleging that Yinlu failed to register the patent. DENR rejected this claim and stated that the patents were
validly transferred and were now owned by Yinlu. The areas covered occupied more than half of the MPSA area of Trans-
Asia.

14
Trans-Asia sought the assistance of the MGB Regional Office V in resolving the issues over the mine. It was at that point
that Trans-Asia learned that the registration of its MPSA had been put on hold because of Yinlu’s request to register the
deed of absolute sale in its favor.

ISSUE: Are the mining patents held by Yinlu valid?

RULING: Yes. Yinlu’s mining patents constituted vested rights that could not be disregarded. The decision of the OP was
actually unassailable in point of law and history.

The lands and minerals covered by Yinlu’s mining patents are private properties. The Government, whether through the
DENR or the MGB, could not alienate or dispose of the lands or mineral through the MPSA granted to Trans-Asia or any
other person or entity. Yinlu had the exclusive right to explore, develop and utilize the minerals therein, and it could
legally transfer or assign such exclusive right. The Court uphold the rulings of the DENR Secretary and the OP to exclude
UST Law Review, Vol. LIX, No. 1, May 2015 the disputed areas that had been established to belong exclusively to Yinlu as
registered owner to be taken out of the coverage of Trans-Asia’s MPSA.

Mining rights acquired under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and prior to the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution were vested
rights that could not be impaired even by the Government. Indeed, the mining patents of Yinlu were issued pursuant to
the Philippine Bill of 1902 and were subsisting prior to the effectivity of the 1935 Constitution. Consequently, Yinlu and
its predecessors-in-interest had acquired vested rights in the disputed mineral lands that could not and should not be
impaired even in light of their past failure to comply with the requirement of registration and annual work obligations.

Republic of the Philippines vs. Rosemoor Mining and Development Corporation, et al.

G.R. No. 149927 March 30, 2004

Panganiban, J.:

Facts: Petitioner Rosemoor Mining and Development Corporation after having been granted permission to prospect for
marble deposits in the mountains of Biak-na-Bato, San Miguel, Bulacan, succeeded in discovering marble deposits of high
quality and in commercial quantities in Mount Mabio which forms part of the Biak-na-Bato mountain range.

The petitioner then applied with the Bureau of Mines, now Mines and Geosciences Bureau, for the issuance of the
corresponding license to exploit said marble deposits.

License No. 33 was issued by the Bureau of Mines in favor of the herein petitioners. Shortly thereafter, Respondent
Ernesto Maceda cancelled the petitioner’s license stating that their license had illegally been issued, because it violated
Section 69 of PD 463; and that there was no more public interest served by the continued existence or renewal of the
license. The latter reason was confirmed by the language of Proclamation No. 84. According to this law, public interest
would be served by reverting the parcel of land that was excluded by Proclamation No. 2204 to the former status of that
land as part of the Biak-na-Bato national park.

Issue: Whether or not Presidential Proclamation No. 84 is valid.


15
Held: Yes. We cannot sustain the argument that Proclamation No. 84 is a bill of attainder; that is, a legislative act which
inflicts punishment without judicial trial.” Its declaration that QLP No. 33 is a patent nullity is certainly not a declaration
of guilt. Neither is the cancellation of the license a punishment within the purview of the constitutional proscription
against bills of attainder.

Too, there is no merit in the argument that the proclamation is an ex post facto law. It is settled that an ex post facto law
is limited in its scope only to matters criminal in nature. Proclamation 84, which merely restored the area excluded from
the Biak-na-Bato national park by canceling respondents’ license, is clearly not penal in character.

Also at the time President Aquino issued Proclamation No. 84 on March 9, 1987, she was still validly exercising legislative
powers under the Provisional Constitution of 1986. Section 1 of Article II of Proclamation No. 3, which promulgated the
Provisional Constitution, granted her legislative power until a legislature is elected and convened under a new
Constitution. The grant of such power is also explicitly recognized and provided for in Section 6 of Article XVII of the 1987
Constitution.

16