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Class 1

By: PJ Degollado

Bureau of Forestry v. CA
Aug 31, 1987, J. Paras
Facts:
1. Mercedes Diago applied for registration under the torrens system of 4 parcels
of land in Buenavista, Iloilo containing an approximate area of 30.5943
hectares. She alleged that she occupied the land, bought them from the testate
estate of Jose Ma. Nava (who bought it from Canuto Gustilo in 1934)
2. The Director of Lands opposed said application saying the she did not have
sufficient title over the lands, and they have never been in open, continuous
and exclusive possession of said lands for at least 30 years prior to the app.
3. The Director of Forestry also opposed on the ground that portions of the land
(194, 080 sqm) are mangrove swamps and are within a Timberland Block
4. Respondent Filomeno Gallo purchased the parcels of land from Diago
5. Petitioner Philippine Fisheries Commission also moved to substitute the
Bureau of Forestry
6. Trial Court: 4 Parcels of land were declared to be in the name of Gallo after
excluding Lot 1-A which is the site of the municipal hall of Buenavista town,
and subjecting Lots 1, 2 and 3 to the road-of-way of 15 meters width
7. Petitioners appealed in the CA alleging that the TC erred in (1) ordering the
registration of the land which consists timberland, foreshore land, and land
belonging to the public domain; (2) holding that the applicant had been in
peaceful, open, continuous, uninterrupted and adverse possession in the
concept of owner
8. CA: affirmed TC decision and denied the MR because (1) the petitioners failed
to submit convincing proof that these lands are more valuable for forestry than
agricultural lands. The presumption is that these are agricultural lands, and it is
incumbent upon the Director of Forestry to submit to the court convincing
proofs to the contrary. (2) The lands applied for have been cultivated by the
applicant and his predecessors-in-interest for a long time without the
government interfering.
Issue/s:
1. Whether or not the determination of whether a public land is agricultural or still
a forest land rests exclusively upon the director of forestry, sec. of natural
resources, and the president YES
2. Whether or not the land is presumed to belong to the public domain YES
Held: Only the 11.1863 ha of coconut land are registered in the name of applicant
Gallo as provided for by Public Land Law; the rest which was the area in dispute
(19.4080ha), are forest lands or lands of public domain and are inalienable
Ratio: 1. The area in dispute is within a timberland block and certified to by the
Director of Forestry. The land is clearly a public land and there is no need for the
director to submit convincing proof to the court that it is more valuable for forest
purposes.
3. Timber or forest lands are not alienable or disposable under the constitution.
4. Executive branch through the office of the president, not the court, determines

the classification of lands of the public domain into agricultural, forest or


mineral lands.
5. Lands of public domain cannot be acquired by prescription unless the law
expressly permits it. Possession of forest lands cannot ripen into private
ownership