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G.R. No.

194617, August 05, 2015


LA TONDEA, INC., Petitioner, v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES Respondent.
DECISION
LEONEN, J.:
La Tonde 164a, Inc. (La Tondea) applied for registration of a 14,286- square-meter
parcel of land, with La Tondea 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 (DENRCENRO) 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.
This case involves an application of Section 14(1) of Property Registration Decree in
relation to Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, on the requisites
for judicial confirmation of imperfect title.1 This Petition for Review on Certiorari2 assails
the Court of Appeals August 10, 2010 Decision3 that reversed and set aside the
Municipal Trial Court December 15, 2005 Decision4granting La Tondea's application for
land registration.5 La Tondea prays that this court reverse and set aside the Court of
Appeals Decision and Resolution,6 then affirm in toto the Municipal Trial Court Decision
or, in the altemative, remand the case for further reception of evidence. 7redarclaw
On September 28, 2004, La Tondea, through its Vice President Rosendo A.
Bautista,8 filed an Application9 for the registration of a 14,286- square-meter parcel of
land in Central West, Bauang, La Union.10redarclaw
La Tondea 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."11redarclaw
On October 15, 2004, the Land Registration Authority Administrator forwarded the entire
records to the Municipal Trial Court.12 On December 17, 2004, the trial court sent a
Notice of Initial Hearing to the Office of the Solicitor General. 13redarclaw
On March 21, 2005, during the initial hearing, the trial court entered an Order of Special
Default against the whole world except against the Republic of the Philippines that filed a
formal written opposition to the application.14redarclaw
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 Tondea'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

1999.17redarclaw
On May 30, 2005, La Tondea'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 Tondea'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.19redarclaw
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, 1987.20 The trial court summarized the Report's contents in its
Decision:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
In the investigation report submitted by Special Investigator Wilfreda B. Valera of the
DENR, CENRO, San Fernando City, La Union, the land is covered by Survey Plan No. AP01-004436 approved by the Regional Land District/Land Management Bureau, Region I,
pursuant to P.D. No. 239 dated September 1973; that it consists of 14,286 square
meters and is located in Brgy. Central West, Bauang, La Union; that the entire area is
within the alienable and disposable zone as classified under Project No. 9, LC
No. 3330 and released as well as certified as such on January 21, 1987; that this
parcel of land is not within any civil or military reservations, and is outside of any forest
zone and watershed reservations; that it is not covered by any previously issued land
patent, decree or title; that this land was declared for the first time in the year 1948
under Tax declaration No. 1745 in the name of La Tondea Distilleries with an area of
13,292 square meters; that this land is now covered by Tax declaration No. 27726 in the
name of La Tondea Distilleria Incorporada; that the corresponding realty taxes as per
record of the Municipal Treasurer of Bauang, La Union have been paid since 1948; that
this lot has not been earmarked for public use and not reserved for any future
government projects; that this lot is flat in terrain, presently for agricultural purposes,
with bamboos and some fruit trees planted in it and about .00365 kilometers from the
poblacion; that this lot was found to be free from adverse claims and conflicts during the
inspection; that La Tondea Distilleria Incorporada is in actual occupation and possession
of the land; that this lot does not encroach upon any bodies of water, Right of Way, and
park sites that are devoted to the public; and that during the investigation and ocular
inspection of the area, applicant La Tondea Inc. thru its authorized representative,
presented the following documents, to wit: Print copy of AP-01-004436 and tax
declarations from the year 1948 up to the present?21 (Emphasis supplied)
La Tondea alleged that this Report was not presented and formally offered during the
proceedings, and it only learned of its existence during appeal. 22redarclaw
The Municipal Trial Court, in its Decision dated December 15, 2005, approved La
Tondea's application for registration:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
Considering that the government represented by the Asst. Provincial Prosecutor, Bauang,
La Union for and in behalf of the Solicitor General (SOLGEN) is not presenting any
evidence, documentary or testimonial to substantiate the formal written opposition
which was filed, the said formal written opposition is hereby ordered dismissed for lack

of merit.
Wherefore, this Court, confirming the Order of Special Default, hereby approves the
application and orders the adjudication and registration of the land described in Survey
Plan No. AP-01-004436 (Exh. "J") and the Technical description of said lot, Lot 4551,
CAD 474-D, Bauang Cadastre (Exh. "K") containing an area of Fourteen thousand two
hundred eighty-six (14,286) square meters situated at Brgy. Central West, Bauang, La
Union.
Once this decision becomes final and executory, let the corresponding decree be issued.
So Ordered.23
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." 25 It raised
the Report dated May 31, 2005 on the land's classification as alienable and disposable
only on January 21, 1987, thus, the land cannot be the subject matter of an application
for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under Commonwealth Act No. 141 that
requires possession from June 12, 1945 or earlier.26redarclaw
Instead of filing its Memorandum, La Tondea filed a Manifestation with Motion to
Remand Case27dated January 29, 2007 to present further evidence that the land was
private land at the time of its acquisition.28 The Court of Appeals noted the Comment of
the Republic of the Philippines, and denied the Motion of La Tondea. 29redarclaw
La Tondea filed a Motion for Reconsideration30 dated December 18, 2008 attaching as
newly discovered evidence the "Plan of Private Land as surveyed for Pablo Rimonin"
under Psu-67458 duly approved on March 5, 1930.31 The Court of Appeals denied
reconsideration.32redarclaw
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 Tondea's
application for registration.33 It also denied reconsideration.34redarclaw
Hence, La Tondea filed this Petition.
La Tondea submits that the Report dated May 31, 2005 should not have been
considered by the trial court since it was not identified and formally offered as
evidence.35 Wilfredo Valera was never presented in court, thus, he was never crossexamined in violation of La Tondea's right to due process. 36 La Tondea alleges that it
only saw a copy of the Report when the case was on appeal. 37redarclaw
In any event, La Tondea raises the survey plan notation confirming that the land was
"inside alienable and disposable area as per Project No. 09, L.C. Map No. 0333 as
certified on Aug. 12, 1934."38 The survey plan was approved by the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources in the performance of its official function that carries
the presumption of regularity.39 La Tondea argues that the Republic of the Philippines
did not controvert this evidence, and Wilfredo Valera's Report dated May 31, 2005 that

was not formally offered as evidence cannot prevail over the survey plan that the trial
court duly admitted as evidence.40redarclaw
Assuming the land was only reclassified on January 21, 1987, La Tondea argues that it
acquired a vested right over the land under the 1935 Constitution that allows a private
corporation to acquire alienable and disposable land of public domain: 41redarclaw
With due indulgence, the Honorable Court of Appeals failed to consider that petitioner
has acquired a vested right over the land sought to be registered under the 1935
Philippine Constitution and prior to the effectivity of the 1973 and 1987 Philippine
Constitutions. As a general rule, constitutional provisions are given prospective
application, not retroactive, unless retroactivity is expressly provided or necessarily
implied (People vs. Isagani, et al., 63 SCRA 4). Hence, due to the prospective application
of the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions, it is the provisions of the 1935 Constitution that
should apply to petitioner's application for registration. Undoubtedly, under the 1935
Philippine Constitution, private corporations are allowed in acquiring alienable and
disposable land of the public domain. (Republic vs. T.A.N. Properties, Inc.[,] GR. No.
154953, June 26, 2008).
Interestingly, the original reckoning point for the required length of possession under the
Public Land Act (C.A. 141) is possession since July 26, 1894. The period of possession
was shortened to thirty (30) years by Republic Act No. 1942, which was enacted on June
22, 1957. Then, on January 25, 1977, Presidential Decree No. 1073 was enacted
pegging the reckoning point of possession to June 12, 1945. Hence, until 1972, prior to
the effectivity of the 1973 Philippine Constitution, the required possession of alienable
public land that would qualify to judicial confirmation under C.A. 141 is at least thirty
(30) years, or at least from the year 1942. If reckoned from 1972, the latest date when
private corporations are allowed to acquire alienable public lands. Therefore, petitioner
already acquired a vested right over the subject property in 1972. 42
La Tondea submits that "its possession was open, continuous, uninterrupted for more
than thirty (30) years until 1972 prior to the effectivity of the 1973 and 1987 Philippine
Constitution[,] [t]hus, the land became a private property by acquisitive prescription in
accordance with the doctrine that open, exclusive and undisputed possession of
alienable land for the period prescribed by law creates the legal fiction whereby the land,
upon completion of the requisite period, ipso jure and without the need of judicial order
or other sanction ceases to be public land and becomes private property." 43redarclaw
La Tondea contends that it presented sufficient evidence for approval of its application
for registration. Alternatively, a remand would allow it to cross-examine Wilfredo Valera
on his Report, and La Tondea can present additional evidence to show that the land was
private land as early as March 5, 1930 as stated in the "Plan of Private Land as Surveyed
for Pablo Rimorin" approved by the Department of Agriculture and Natural
Resources.44redarclaw
The Republic of the Philippines counters that Section 29 of Presidential Decree No. 1529
provides that courts are "duty-bound to consider not only the evidence presented by the
[parties,] but also the reports of the Commissioner of Land Registration and the Director
of Lands[.]"45redarclaw

Assuming the Report dated May 31, 2005 is inadmissible in evidence, La Tondea still
failed to present proof that the land was declared alienable and disposable on or before
June 12, 1945.46 La Tondea cannot rely on the notation on the Sephia Plan of AP-01004436 and its blueprint copy since this is not the proof required by law. 47 Neither can
La Tondea invoke the 30-year prescriptive period under Republic Act No. 1942 since
Presidential Decree No. 1073, already applicable when La Tondea filed its application
for registration in 2004, requires possession from June 12, 1945 or earlier.48 The
Republic of the Philippines quoted at length Heirs of Mario Malabanan v.
Republic49 and Republic v. Rizalvo, Jr.50 on the 30-year rule on land registration.51 Lastly,
La Tondea cannot invoke Article 1113 of the Civil Code since it did not present evidence
that the. state declared the land "no longer intended for public service or for the
development of the national wealth."52redarclaw
The issues for resolution are:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
First, whether petitioner La Tondea, 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;
Second, whether petitioner La Tondea, Inc. acquired a vested right under the 1935
Constitution that allows a private corporation to acquire alienable and disposable land of
public domain; and
Finally, whether the Court of Appeals can consider the Report dated May 31, 2005 that
was not marked, identified, and formally offered as evidence before the trial court.
We deny the Petition.
I
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:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
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:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
...
(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:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
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:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
1. 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:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
1. The applicant, by himself or through his predecessor-in interest, has been in
possession and occupation of the property subject of the
application;chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
2. The possession and occupation must be open, continuous, exclusive, and
notorious;chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
3. The possession and occupation must be under a bona fide claim of
acquisition of ownership;chanRoblesvirtualLawlibrary
4. The possession and occupation must have taken place since June 12, 1945,
or earlier; and
5. The property subject of the application must be an agricultural land of the
public domain.55
Petitioner argues that the survey plan notation stating that the land was confirmed as
alienable and disposable on August 12, 1934 should prevail over the Report dated May
31, 2005 stating that the land was reclassified as alienable and disposable only on
January 21, 1987 since this Report was not formally offered as evidence before the trial
court.56redarclaw
Respondent counters that Section 29 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 mandates the
court to consider the Report dated May 31, 2005, 57 and even assuming this Report is
inadmissible, petitioner still failed to prove that the land was declared alienable and
disposable on or before June 12, 1945.58 Section 29 reads:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
SEC. 29. Judgment confirming title.-All conflicting claims of ownership and interest in
the land subject of the application shall be determined by the court. If the court, after

considering the evidence and the reports of the Commissioner of Land Registration and
the Director of Lands, finds that the applicant or the oppositor has sufficient title
proper for registration, judgment shall be rendered confirming the title of the applicant,
or the oppositor, to the land or portions thereof. (Emphasis supplied)
The parties' arguments on the admissibility of the Report dated May 31, 2005 as
evidence on when the land was classified as alienable and disposable are mooted by this
court's ruling in Heirs of Mario Malabanan v. Republic.59redarclaw
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.60redarclaw
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.''61redarclaw
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 casewere all prior to the September 28, 2004 application date, in compliance with theHeirs
of Mario Malabanan ruling.
II
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." 65redarclaw
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."67redarclaw
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. Republic v. T.A.N Properties, Inc. discussed the required
proof:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
Further, it is not enough for the PENRO or CENRO to certify that a land is alienable and
disposable. The applicant for land registration must prove that the DENR Secretary had
approved the land classification and released the land of the public domain as alienable
and disposable, and that the land subject of the application for registration falls within
the approved area per verification through survey by the PENRO or CENRO. In addition,
the applicant for land registration must present a copy of the original classification
approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of
the official records. These facts must be established to prove that the land is alienable
and disposable. Respondent failed to do so because the certifications presented by
respondent do not, by themselves, prove that the land is alienable and
disposable.70(Emphasis supplied)
Petitioner's contention-that it acquired a vested right over the land in 1972 since
Republic Act No. 1942 was enacted on June 22, 1957 shortened the required possession
to 30 years, thus, until 1972 or prior to the 1973 Constitution and Presidential Decree
No. 1073, the required possession for judicial confirmation is at least 30 years or at least
from 194271-also fails to convince.
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.
III
Petitioner failed to prove possession and occupation since June 12, 1945 or earlier.
Petitioner's evidence consisted of tax declarations, and the testimonies of Rosendo
Bautista and Victor Dumuk.73redarclaw
The trial court granted the application, despite lack of records showing petitioner's
purchase and possession of the land prior to June 12, 1945, by relying on Rosendo
Bautista's testimony:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
Based on the evidences [sic] presented, testimonial and documentary as well, it is
appearing that the applicant company, La Tondea Inc., thru its representative has
established a satisfactory proof that it has a registrable title over the subject property, it
being a corporation duly organized and existing under the law of the Philippines with
principal address at CPJ Bldg., 105 Carlos Palanca, Jr. St., Legaspi Village, Makati City,
Metro Manila, and qualified to own, acquire and possess land in the Philippines, it being
established that its possession dates back to 1948 when it was first declared for
the first time but before that, said applicant La Tondei'ia Inc. has owned the land subject
of this case before the Second World War since the oldest tax declaration recorded which

is Tax declaration No. 1745 series of 1948 cancelled Tax declaration No. 6590. Besides,
this Court believes the testimony of Rosendo Bautista to be trustworthy being
given in the ordinary course of business when he stated that La Tondea Inc.
acquired this property by purchase from a certain Pablo Rimorin but he had no
records about that transaction and all that the company has are tax
declarations as early as 1948 and tax receipt. Hence, applicant La Tondea Inc. has
established a satisfactory proof that it has a reg[i]strable title to the said land subject of
this case since it has owned it for more than fifty-seven (57) years or more. 74
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:LawlibraryofCRAlaw
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. 77redarclaw
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."80redarclaw
Petitioner claims possession even before the Second World War, yet petitioner only
produced nine (9) tax declarations.81 This court has held that "intermittent and sporadic
assertion of alleged ownership does not prove open, continuous, exclusive and notorious
possession and occupation."82redarclaw
This court has also held that "it is only when these tax declarations are coupled with
proof of actual possession of the property that they may become the basis of a claim of
ownership."83redarclaw
On property administrator Victor Dumuk's testimony, he mentioned that his father was
property administrator before the Second World War until he died in 1984 after which his
mother, Felicidad Dumuk, took over.84 While the tax declarations indicated his father as
property administrator,85again, none of these were issued on or before June 12, 1945.

The letter dated March 23, 199486 of petitioner's VP Treasurer Amando C. Ramat, Jr. to
Victor Dumuk confirming Victor Dumuk as caretaker of all petitioner's properties in
Bauang, La Union effective January 1, 199487 also does not prove possession on or
before June 12, 1945.
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.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED.
SO ORDERED.cralawlawlibrary

G.R. No. 73002 December 29, 1986


THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, petitioner,
vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and ACME PLYWOOD & VENEER CO. INC.,
ETC., respondents.
D. Nacion Law Office for private respondent.

NARVASA, J.:
The Director of Lands has brought this appeal by certiorari from a judgment of the Intermediate
Appellate Court affirming a decision of the Court of First Instance of Isabela, which ordered
registration in favor of Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc. of five parcels of land measuring 481, 390
square meters, more or less, acquired by it from Mariano and Acer Infiel, members of the Dumagat
tribe.
The registration proceedings were for confirmation of title under Section 48 of Commonwealth Act No.
141 (The Public Land Act). as amended: and the appealed judgment sums up the findings of the trial
court in said proceedings in this wise:
1. That Acme Plywood & Veneer Co. Inc., represented by Mr. Rodolfo Nazario is a corporation
duly organized in accordance with the laws of the Republic of the Philippines and registered
with the Securities and Exchange Commission on December 23, 1959;
2. That Acme Plywood & Veneer Co. Inc., represented by Mr. Rodolfo Nazario can acquire real
properties pursuant to the provisions of the Articles of Incorporation particularly on the
provision of its secondary purposes (paragraph (9), Exhibit 'M-l');
3. That the land subject of the Land Registration proceeding was ancestrally acquired by Acme
Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., on October 29, 1962, from Mariano Infiel and Acer Infiel, both
members of the Dumagat tribe and as such are cultural minorities;
4. That the constitution of the Republic of the Philippines of 1935 is applicable as the sale took
place on October 29, 1962;
5. That the possession of the Infiels over the land relinquished or sold to Acme Plywood &
Veneer Co., Inc., dates back before the Philippines was discovered by Magellan as the
ancestors of the Infiels have possessed and occupied the land from generation to generation
until the same came into the possession of Mariano Infiel and Acer Infiel;
6. That the possession of the applicant Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., is continuous,
adverse and public from 1962 to the present and tacking the possession of the Infiels who
were granted from whom the applicant bought said land on October 29, 1962, hence the
possession is already considered from time immemorial.
7. That the land sought to be registered is a private land pursuant to the provisions of Republic
Act No. 3872 granting absolute ownership to members of the non-Christian Tribes on land

occupied by them or their ancestral lands, whether with the alienable or disposable public land
or within the public domain;
8. That applicant Acme Plywood & Veneer Co. Inc., has introduced more than Forty-Five
Million (P45,000,000.00) Pesos worth of improvements, said improvements were seen by the
Court during its ocular investigation of the land sought to be registered on September 18,
1982;
9. That the ownership and possession of the land sought to be registered by the applicant was
duly recognized by the government when the Municipal Officials of Maconacon, Isabela, have
negotiated for the donation of the townsite from Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., and this
negotiation came to reality when the Board of Directors of the Acme Plywood & Veneer Co.,
Inc., had donated a part of the land bought by the Company from the Infiels for the townsite of
Maconacon Isabela (Exh. 'N') on November 15, 1979, and which donation was accepted by
the Municipal Government of Maconacon, Isabela (Exh. 'N-l'), during their special session on
November 22, 1979.
The Director of Lands takes no issue with any of these findings except as to the applicability of the
1935 Constitution to the matter at hand. Concerning this, he asserts that, the registration proceedings
have been commenced only on July 17, 1981, or long after the 1973 Constitution had gone into
effect, the latter is the correctly applicable law; and since section 11 of its Article XIV prohibits private
corporations or associations from holding alienable lands of the public domain, except by lease not to
exceed 1,000 hectares (a prohibition not found in the 1935 Constitution which was in force in 1962
when Acme purchased the lands in question from the Infiels), it was reversible error to decree
registration in favor of Acme Section 48, paragraphs (b) and (c), of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as
amended, reads:
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:
xxx xxx xxx
(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 or 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 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.
(c) Members of the National Cultural minorities who by themselves or through their
predecessors-in-interest have been in open. continuous, exclusive and notorious possession
and occupation of lands of the public domain suitable to agriculture, whether disposable or not,
under a bona fide claim of ownership for at least 30 years shall be entitled to the rights granted
in subsection (b) hereof.
The Petition for Review does not dispute-indeed, in view of the quoted findings of the trial court which
were cited and affirmed by the Intermediate Appellate Court, it can no longer controvert before this
Court-the fact that Mariano and Acer Infiel, from whom Acme purchased the lands in question on

October 29, 1962, are members of the national cultural minorities who had, by themselves and
through their progenitors, possessed and occupied those lands since time immemorial, or for more
than the required 30-year period and were, by reason thereof, entitled to exercise the right granted in
Section 48 of the Public Land Act to have their title judicially confirmed. Nor is there any pretension
that Acme, as the successor-in-interest of the Infiels, is disqualified to acquire and register ownership
of said lands under any provisions of the 1973 Constitution other than Section 11 of its Article XIV
already referred to.
Given the foregoing, the question before this Court is whether or not the title that the Infiels had
transferred to Acme in 1962 could be confirmed in favor of the latter in proceedings instituted by it in
1981 when the 1973 Constitution was already in effect, having in mind the prohibition therein against
private corporations holding lands of the public domain except in lease not exceeding 1,000 hectares.
The question turns upon a determination of the character of the lands at the time of institution of the
registration proceedings in 1981. If they were then still part of the public domain, it must be answered
in the negative. If, on the other hand, they were then already private lands, the constitutional
prohibition against their acquisition by private corporations or associations obviously does not apply.
In this regard, attention has been invited to Manila Electric Company vs. Castro-Bartolome, et
al, 1 where a similar set of facts prevailed. In that case, Manila Electric Company, a domestic
corporation more than 60% of the capital stock of which is Filipino-owned, had purchased in 1947 two
lots in Tanay, Rizal from the Piguing spouses. The lots had been possessed by the vendors and,
before them, by their predecessor-in-interest, Olimpia Ramos, since prior to the outbreak of the
Pacific War in 1941. On December 1, 1976, Meralco applied to the Court of First Instance of Rizal,
Makati Branch, for confirmation of title to said lots. The court, assuming that the lots were public land,
dismissed the application on the ground that Meralco, a juridical person, was not qualified to apply for
registration under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act which allows only Filipino citizens or natural
persons to apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect titles to public land. Meralco appealed, and a
majority of this Court upheld the dismissal. It was held that:
..., the said land is still public land. It would cease to be public land only upon the issuance of
the certificate of title to any Filipino citizen claiming it under section 48(b). Because it is still
public land and the Meralco, as a juridical person, is disqualified to apply for its registration
under section 48(b), Meralco's application cannot be given due course or has to be dismissed.
Finally, it may be observed that the constitutional prohibition makes no distinction between (on
the one hand) alienable agricultural public lands as to which no occupant has an imperfect title
and (on the other hand) alienable lands of the public domain as to which an occupant has on
imperfect title subject to judicial confirmation.
Since section 11 of Article XIV does not distinguish, we should not make any distinction or
qualification. The prohibition applies to alienable public lands as to which a Torrens title may be
secured under section 48(b). The proceeding under section 48(b) 'presupposes that the land is
public' (Mindanao vs. Director of Lands, L-19535, July 30, 1967, 20 SCRA 641, 644).
The present Chief Justice entered a vigorous dissent, tracing the line of cases beginning
with Carino in 1909 2thru Susi in 1925 3 down to Herico in 1980, 4 which developed, affirmed and
reaffirmed the doctrine that open, exclusive and undisputed possession of alienable public land for
the period prescribed by law creates the legal fiction whereby the land, upon completion of the
requisite period ipso jure and without the need of judicial or other sanction, ceases to be public land
and becomes private property. That said dissent expressed what is the better and, indeed, the
correct, view-becomes evident from a consideration of some of the principal rulings cited therein,

The main theme was given birth, so to speak, in Carino involving the Decree/Regulations of June 25,
1880 for adjustment of royal lands wrongfully occupied by private individuals in the Philippine Islands.
It was ruled that:
It is true that the language of articles 4 and 5 5 attributes title to those 'who may prove'
possession for the necessary time and we do not overlook the argument that this means may
prove in registration proceedings. It may be that an English conveyancer would have
recommended an application under the foregoing decree, but certainly it was not calculated to
convey to the mind of an Igorot chief the notion that ancient family possessions were in
danger, if he had read every word of it. The words 'may prove' (acrediten) as well or better, in
view of the other provisions, might be taken to mean when called upon to do so in any
litigation. There are indications that registration was expected from all but none sufficient to
show that, for want of it, ownership actually gained would be lost. The effect of the proof,
wherever made, was not to confer title, but simply to establish it, as already conferred by the
decree, if not by earlier law. ...
That ruling assumed a more doctrinal character because expressed in more categorical language,
in Susi:
.... In favor of Valentin Susi, there is, moreover, the presumption juris et de jure established in
paragraph (b) of section 45 of Act No. 2874, amending Act No. 926, that all the necessary
requirements for a grant by the Government were complied with, for he has been in actual and
physical possession, personally and through his predecessors, of an agricultural land of the
public domain openly, continuously, exclusively and publicly since July 26, 1984, with a right to
a certificate of title to said land under the provisions of Chapter VIII of said Act. So that when
Angela Razon applied for the grant in her favor, Valentin Susi had already acquired, by
operation of law not only a right to a grant, but a grant of the Government, for it is not
necessary that a certificate of title should be issued in order that said grant may be sanctioned
by the courts, an application therefore is sufficient, under the provisions of section 47 of Act
No. 2874. If by a legal fiction, Valentin Susi had acquired the land in question by a grant of the
State, it had already ceased to be of the public domain and had become private property, at
least by presumption, of Valentin Susi, beyond the control of the Director of Lands.
Consequently, in selling the land in question of Angela Razon, the Director of Lands disposed
of a land over which he had no longer any title or control, and the sale thus made was void and
of no effect, and Angela Razon did not thereby acquire any right. 6
Succeeding cases, of which only some need be mentioned, likeof Lacaste vs. Director of
Lands, 7 Mesina vs. Vda. de Sonza, 8 Manarpac vs. Cabanatuan, 9 Miguel vs. Court of
Appeals 10 and Herico vs. Dar, supra, by invoking and affirming the Susi doctrine have firmly rooted it
in jurisprudence.
Herico, in particular, appears to be squarely affirmative:

11

.... Secondly, under the provisions of Republic Act No. 1942, which the respondent Court held
to be inapplicable to the petitioner's case, with the latter's proven occupation and cultivation for
more than 30 years since 1914, by himself and by his predecessors-in-interest, title over the
land has vested on petitioner so as to segregate the land from the mass of public
land. Thereafter, it is no longer disposable under the Public Land Act as by free patent. ....
xxx xxx xxx

As interpreted in several cases, when the conditions as specified in the foregoing provision are
complied with, the possessor is deemed to have acquired, by operation of law, a right to a
grant, a government grant, without the necessity of a certificate of title being issued. The land,
therefore, ceases to be of the public domain and beyond the authority of the Director of Lands
to dispose of. The application for confirmation is mere formality, the lack of which does not
affect the legal sufficiency of the title as would be evidenced by the patent and the Torrens title
to be issued upon the strength of said patent. 12
Nothing can more clearly demonstrate the logical inevitability of considering possession of public land
which is of the character and duration prescribed by statute as the equivalent of an express grant
from the State than the dictum of the statute itself 13 that the possessor(s) "... shall be conclusively
presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled
to a certificate of title .... " No proof being admissible to overcome a conclusive presumption,
confirmation proceedings would, in truth be little more than a formality, at the most limited to
ascertaining whether the possession claimed is of the required character and length of time; and
registration thereunder would not confer title, but simply recognize a title already vested. The
proceedings would not originally convert the land from public to private land, but only confirm such a
conversion already affected by operation of law from the moment the required period of possession
became complete. As was so well put in Carino, "... (T)here are indications that registration was
expected from all, but none sufficient to show that, for want of it, ownership actually gained would be
lost. The effect of the proof, wherever made, was not to confer title, but simply to establish it, as
already conferred by the decree, if not by earlier law."
If it is accepted-as it must be-that the land was already private land to which the Infiels had a legally
sufficient and transferable title on October 29, 1962 when Acme acquired it from said owners, it must
also be conceded that Acme had a perfect right to make such acquisition, there being nothing in the
1935 Constitution then in force (or, for that matter, in the 1973 Constitution which came into effect
later) prohibiting corporations from acquiring and owning private lands.
Even on the proposition that the land remained technically "public" land, despite immemorial
possession of the Infiels and their ancestors, until title in their favor was actually confirmed in
appropriate proceedings under the Public Land Act, there can be no serious question of Acmes right
to acquire the land at the time it did, there also being nothing in the 1935 Constitution that might be
construed to prohibit corporations from purchasing or acquiring interests in public land to which the
vendor had already acquired that type of so-called "incomplete" or "imperfect" title. The only limitation
then extant was that corporations could not acquire, hold or lease public agricultural lands in excess
of 1,024 hectares. The purely accidental circumstance that confirmation proceedings were brought
under the aegis of the 1973 Constitution which forbids corporations from owning lands of the public
domain cannot defeat a right already vested before that law came into effect, or invalidate
transactions then perfectly valid and proper. This Court has already held, in analogous
circumstances, that the Constitution cannot impair vested rights.
We hold that the said constitutional prohibition 14 has no retroactive application to the sales
application of Binan Development Co., Inc. because it had already acquired a vested right to
the land applied for at the time the 1973 Constitution took effect.
That vested right has to be respected. It could not be abrogated by the new Constitution.
Section 2, Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution allows private corporations to purchase public
agricultural lands not exceeding one thousand and twenty-four hectares. Petitioner' prohibition
action is barred by the doctrine of vested rights in constitutional law.
xxx xxx xxx

The due process clause prohibits the annihilation of vested rights. 'A state may not impair
vested rights by legislative enactment, by the enactment or by the subsequent repeal of a
municipal ordinance, or by a change in the constitution of the State, except in a legitimate
exercise of the police power'(16 C.J.S. 1177-78).
xxx xxx xxx
In the instant case, it is incontestable that prior to the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution the
right of the corporation to purchase the land in question had become fixed and established and
was no longer open to doubt or controversy.
Its compliance with the requirements of the Public Land Law for the issuance of a patent had
the effect of segregating the said land from the public domain. The corporation's right to obtain
a patent for the land is protected by law. It cannot be deprived of that right without due process
(Director of Lands vs. CA, 123 Phil. 919).<re||an1w> 15
The fact, therefore, that the confirmation proceedings were instituted by Acme in its own name must
be regarded as simply another accidental circumstance, productive of a defect hardly more than
procedural and in nowise affecting the substance and merits of the right of ownership sought to be
confirmed in said proceedings, there being no doubt of Acme's entitlement to the land. As it is
unquestionable that in the light of the undisputed facts, the Infiels, under either the 1935 or the 1973
Constitution, could have had title in themselves confirmed and registered, only a rigid subservience to
the letter of the law would deny the same benefit to their lawful successor-in-interest by valid
conveyance which violates no constitutional mandate.
The Court, in the light of the foregoing, is of the view, and so holds, that the majority ruling
in Meralco must be reconsidered and no longer deemed to be binding precedent. The correct rule, as
enunciated in the line of cases already referred to, is that alienable public land held by a possessor,
personally or through his predecessors-in-interest, openly, continuously and exclusively for the
prescribed statutory period (30 years under The Public Land Act, as amended) is converted to private
property by the mere lapse or completion of said period, ipso jure. Following that rule and on the
basis of the undisputed facts, the land subject of this appeal was already private property at the time
it was acquired from the Infiels by Acme. Acme thereby acquired a registrable title, there being at the
time no prohibition against said corporation's holding or owning private land. The objection that, as a
juridical person, Acme is not qualified to apply for judicial confirmation of title under section 48(b) of
the Public Land Act is technical, rather than substantial and, again, finds its answer in the dissent
in Meralco:
6. To uphold respondent judge's denial of Meralco's application on the technicality that the
Public Land Act allows only citizens of the Philippines who are natural persons to apply for
confirmation of their title would be impractical and would just give rise to multiplicity of court
actions. Assuming that there was a technical error not having filed the application for
registration in the name of the Piguing spouses as the original owners and vendors, still it is
conceded that there is no prohibition against their sale of the land to the applicant Meralco and
neither is there any prohibition against the application being refiled with retroactive effect in the
name of the original owners and vendors (as such natural persons) with the end result of their
application being granted, because of their indisputable acquisition of ownership by operation
of law and the conclusive presumption therein provided in their favor. It should not be
necessary to go through all the rituals at the great cost of refiling of all such applications in
their names and adding to the overcrowded court dockets when the Court can after all these
years dispose of it here and now. (See Francisco vs. City of Davao)

The ends of justice would best be served, therefore, by considering the applications for
confirmation as amended to conform to the evidence, i.e. as filed in the names of the original
persons who as natural persons are duly qualified to apply for formal confirmation of the title
that they had acquired by conclusive presumption and mandate of the Public Land Act and
who thereafter duly sold to the herein corporations (both admittedly Filipino corporations duly
qualified to hold and own private lands) and granting the applications for confirmation of title to
the private lands so acquired and sold or exchanged.
There is also nothing to prevent Acme from reconveying the lands to the Infiels and the latter from
themselves applying for confirmation of title and, after issuance of the certificate/s of title in their
names, deeding the lands back to Acme. But this would be merely indulging in empty charades,
whereas the same result is more efficaciously and speedily obtained, with no prejudice to anyone, by
a liberal application of the rule on amendment to conform to the evidence suggested in the dissent
in Meralco.
While this opinion seemingly reverses an earlier ruling of comparatively recent vintage, in a real
sense, it breaks no precedent, but only reaffirms and re-established, as it were, doctrines the
soundness of which has passed the test of searching examination and inquiry in many past cases.
Indeed, it is worth noting that the majority opinion, as well as the concurring opinions of Chief Justice
Fernando and Justice Abad Santos, in Meralco rested chiefly on the proposition that the petitioner
therein, a juridical person, was disqualified from applying for confirmation of an imperfect title to public
land under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. Reference to the 1973 Constitution and its Article
XIV, Section 11, was only tangential limited to a brief paragraph in the main opinion, and may, in that
context, be considered as essentially obiter. Meralco, in short, decided no constitutional question.
WHEREFORE, there being no reversible error in the appealed judgment of the Intermediate Appellate
Court, the same is hereby affirmed, without costs in this instance.
SO ORDERED.

CATALINA BALAIS-MABANAG,
assisted by her husband, ELEUTERIO
MABANAG,
Petitioner,

G.R. No. 153142


Present:
CARPIO

- versus -

MORALES,* ActingChairperso
n,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,
PERALTA,**
BERSAMIN, and
ABAD,*** JJ.

THE REGISTER OF DEEDS


OFQUEZON CITY, CONCEPCION D.
ALCARAZ, and RAMONA PATRICIA Promulgated:
ALCARAZ,
Respondents.
March 29, 2010
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION
BERSAMIN, J.:

The issue of citizenship of the registered owner of land cannot anymore be raised to forestall the
execution of a final and executory judgment where the objecting party had the opportunity to raise the issue
prior to the finality of the judgment. The time for assailing the capacity of the winning party to acquire the land
was during the trial, not during the execution of a final decision.

Antecedents
As culled from the assailed decision dated December 5, 2000 of the Court of Appeals (CA),[1] and from
the Courts decision promulgated on October 7, 1996 in G.R. No. 103577,[2] the following are the antecedent
facts.
On January 19, 1985, Romulo A. Coronel, Alarico A. Coronel, Annette A. Coronel, Annabelle C. Gonzales,
Floraida C. Tupper, and Cielito A. Coronel (Coronels) executed a document entitled receipt of down payment,
stipulating that they received from respondent Ramona Patricia Alcaraz (Ramona), through Ramonas mother,
respondent Concepcion D. Alcaraz (Concepcion), the sum of P50,000.00 as downpayment on the total purchase
price of P1,240,000.00 for their inherited house and lot, covered by TCT No. 119627 of the Registry of Deeds
of Quezon City.
The receipt of down payment contained other stipulations, as follows:
We bind ourselves to effect the transfer in our names from our deceased father, Constancio
P. Coronel, the transfer certificate of title immediately upon our receipt of the down payment
above-stated.

On our presentation of the TCT already in our name, we will immediately execute the deed
of absolute sale of said property and Miss Ramona Patricia Alcaraz shall immediately pay the
balance of the P1,190,000.00.[3]

On February 6, 1985, the property originally registered in the name of the Coronels father (Constancio P.
Coronel) was transferred in the name of the Coronels under Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 327043 of
the Registry of Deeds of Quezon City.
On February 18, 1985, the Coronels sold the property covered by TCT No. 327043 to the petitioner for the
higher price of P1,580,000.00 after the latter delivered an initial sum of P300,000.00. For this reason, the
Coronels rescinded their contract with Ramona by depositing her downpayment of P50,000.00 in the bank in
trust for Ramona Patricia Alcaraz.
On February 22, 1985, Concepcion, through one Gloria P. Noel as her attorney-in-fact, filed a complaint for
specific performance and damages in her own name in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Quezon City against
the Coronels, docketed as Civil Case No. Q-44134. [4]Concepcion subsequently caused the annotation of a notice
of lis pendens on TCT No. 327403.
On April 2, 1985, the petitioner had a notice of adverse claim annotated on TCT No. 327403 in the Registry of
Deeds of Quezon City.
On April 25, 1985, the Coronels executed a deed of absolute sale in favor of the petitioner.
On June 5, 1985, TCT No. 351582 was issued in the name of the petitioner.
It is relevant to mention that on May 24, 1985 the petitioner moved to have her answer in intervention admitted
in Civil Case No. Q-44134.[5]Her intervention was allowed on May 31, 1985.[6]
Earlier, on May 19, 1986, Concepcion sought leave of court to amend the complaint for the purpose of
impleading Ramona as a co-plaintiff.[7] The amended complaint naming both Concepcion and Ramona as
plaintiffs was attached to the motion.[8] On June 25, 1986, the amended complaint was admitted.[9]
On March 1, 1989, the RTC rendered its decision,[10] disposing:
WHEREFORE, judgment for specific performance is hereby rendered ordering defendant
to execute in favor of plaintiffs a deed of absolute sale covering that parcel of land embraced in
and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 327403 (now TCT No. 331582) of the Registry
of Deeds for Quezon City, together with all the improvements existing thereon, free from all
liens and encumbrances, and once accomplished, to immediately deliver said document of sale to
plaintiffs, and upon receipt thereof, the plaintiffs are ordered to pay defendants the whole balance
of the purchase price amounting to P1,190,000.00 in cash. Transfer Certificate of Title No.
331582 of the Registry of Deeds for Quezon City in the name of intervenor is hereby cancelled

and declared to be without any force and effect. Defendants and intervenor and all other persons
claiming under them are hereby ordered to vacate the subject property, and deliver possession
thereof to plaintiff. Plaintiffs claim for damages and attorneys fees, as well as the counterclaims
of defendants and intervenors are hereby dismissed.
No pronouncement as to costs.
So Ordered.
Upon denial of the motion for reconsideration, the Coronels and the petitioner interposed an appeal to
the CA, which promulgated a judgment on December 16, 1991, fully upholding the decision of the RTC.
Thus, the petitioner and the Coronels appealed the CA judgment to this Court (G.R. No. 103577), which
affirmed the CA on October 7, 1996.
Thereafter, the decision of the RTC became final and executory.
Acting on the respondents motion for execution, the RTC issued a writ of execution on October 1, 1997.
However, the petitioner and the Coronels filed their motion to stay execution and supplemental motion for
reconsideration, which the RTC denied on March 10, 1998.
Upon failure of the petitioner and the Coronels to comply with the writ of execution, the RTC approved
the respondents motion for appointment of suitable person to execute deed, etc., and ordered on April 8, 1998
the Branch Clerk of the RTC, Branch 83, Quezon City, to execute the deed of absolute sale in favor of
Ramona in lieu of the defendants (i.e., the petitioner and the Coronels).
On May 19, 1998, the petitioner and the Coronels filed in the CA a petition for certiorari assailing the
RTCs orders of October 1, 1997and March 10, 1998, but the CA dismissed the petition on July 30, 1998.
On August 21, 1998, the petitioner and the Coronels presented their motion for reconsideration in the
CA.
On September 2, 1998, the RTC held in abeyance the respondents motion reiterating previous motion to
resolve respondents motion, whereby the respondents sought an order to direct the petitioner to surrender her
TCT No. 331582, and the Registrar of Deeds of Quezon City to cancel the petitioners copy of said TCT for her
failure to comply with the earlier order for her to surrender the TCT to the Registrar of Deeds pending
resolution by the CA of the petitioners motion for reconsideration.
Ultimately, on September 30, 1998, the CA denied the petitioners motion for reconsideration.

The petitioner thus appealed to the Court, which denied her petition for review for being filed out of
time. The Court also denied the petitioners motion for reconsideration on April 21, 1999.
Thereafter, the respondents moved in the RTC for the resolution of their pending motion. After the RTC
granted the respondents pending motion on July 29, 1999, the petitioner filed a motion for
reconsideration against such order, but the RTC denied her motion onSeptember 23, 1999.
Following the denial of her motion for reconsideration, the petitioner commenced a special civil action
of certiorari in the CA to assail the RTCs action (C.A.-G.R. SP No. 55576). However, the CA dismissed her
petition through its decision dated December 5, 2000, Rollo, pp. 61-69, and denied her motion for
reconsideration on April 16, 2002.[11]
Issues

Hence, this appeal, in which the petitioner submits that the CA erred in sustaining the registration by the
Registrar of Deeds of the deed of absolute sale despite the lack of indication of the citizenship of the buyer of
the subject property; and in sustaining the order of the RTC directing the Branch Clerk of Court to execute
the deed of absolute sale without first requiring the defendants to execute the deed of absolute sale as required
by the decision.
Ruling

The petition lacks merit.


A
Res judicata barred petitioners objection
In the complaint dated February 22, 1985, respondent Concepcion, as plaintiff, categorically averred that
she was a Filipino citizen.[12]The petitioner did not deny or disprove the averment of Filipino citizenship during
the trial and on appeal. The petitioner did not also advert to the issue of citizenship after the complaint was
amended in order to implead Ramona as a co-plaintiff, despite the petitioners opportunity to do so.
Yet, now, when the final decision of the RTC is already being implemented, the petitioner would thwart
the execution by assailing the directive of the RTC for the Branch Clerk of Court to execute the deed of
absolute sale and by blocking the registration of the deed of absolute sale in the Registry of Deeds of Quezon
City, on the ground that Ramona was disqualified from owning land in the Philippines.
The petitioners move was outrightly unwarranted.

First: The petitioner did not raise any issue against Ramonas qualifications to own land in
the Philippines during the trial or, at the latest, before the finality of the RTC judgment. The petitioner was
thereby deemed to have waived the objection, pursuant to Section 1, Rule 9 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
Section 1. Defenses and objections not pleaded. Defenses and objections not pleaded
either in a motion to dismiss or in the answer are deemed waived. However, when it appears
from the pleadings or the evidence on record that the court has no jurisdiction over the subject
matter, that there is another action pending between the same parties for the same cause, or that
the action is barred by a prior judgment or by statute of limitations, the court shall dismiss the
claim. (2a)

In every action, indeed, the parties and their counsel are enjoined to present all available defenses and
objections in order that the matter in issue can finally be laid to rest in an appropriate contest before the court.
The rule is a wise and tested one, borne by necessity. Without the rule, there will be no end to a litigation,
because the dissatisfied litigant may simply raise new or additional issues in order to prevent, defeat, or delay
the implementation of an already final and executory judgment. The endlessness of litigation can give rise to
added costs for the parties, and can surely contribute to the unwarranted clogging of court dockets. The prospect
of a protracted litigation between the parties annuls the very rationale of every litigation to attain justice. Verily,
there must be an end to litigation.
Second: The petitioner cannot now insist that the RTC did not settle the question of the respondents
qualifications to own land due to non-citizenship. It is fundamental that the judgment or final order is, with
respect to the matter directly adjudged or as to any other matter that could have been raised in relation thereto,
conclusive between the parties and their successors in interest by title subsequent to the commencement of the
action or special proceeding, litigating for the same thing and under the same title and in the same capacity.
[13]
Thus, in Gabuya v. Layug,[14] this Court had the occasion to hold that a judgment involving the same parties,
the same facts, and the same issues binds the parties not only as to every matter offered and received to sustain
or defeat their claims or demands, but also as to any other admissible matter that might have been offered for
that purpose and all other matters that could have been adjudged in that case.
Third: The present recourse has not been the only one taken by the petitioner and her counsel to assail
the qualification of Ramona to acquire and own the subject property. In fact, the Court catalogued such
recourses taken for the petitioner herein in A.C. No. 5469, entitledForonda v. Guerrero,[15] an administrative
case for disbarment commenced on June 29, 2001 by Ricardo A. Foronda (an attorney-in-fact of the
respondents) against Atty. Arnold V. Guerrero, the attorney of the petitioner,[16] as follows:
1. Catalina Balais-Mabanag, assisted by her husband Eleuterio Mabanag v. Hon. Estrella T.
Estrada, et al. docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 47710:
A special civil action for certiorari, prohibition and mandamus with prayer for temporary
restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction filed with the CA, on the ground that

the respondent judge committed grave abuse of discretion, excess or lack of jurisdiction in
issuing and/or refusing to stay the execution of its decision. The respondent put forth the
argument that Ramona Patricia Alcaraz, being a foreign national, was incapacitated to
purchase the subject property due to the limitations embodied in the 1987 Constitution.
The petition was denied, with the CA ratiocinating as follows:
We are not impressed. We find the trial courts stand on the matter to be legally
unassailable. In the first place, petitioner is not the proper party to question the
qualification or eligibility of Ramona Alcaraz. It is the State, through the Office of the
Solicitor General, which has the legal personality and the authority to question the
qualification of Ramona Alcaraz to own rural or urban land. In the second place, the
decision sought to be executed has already gained finality. As held by the Supreme
Court, when a courts judgment or order becomes final and executory it is the
ministerial duty of the trial court to issue a writ of execution to enforce its judgment
(Rollo, p. 65-66).
2. Catalina Balais-Mabanag, et al. v. Concepcion Alvarez, et. al. docketed as G.R. No. 135820:
This petition was filed by the respondent on behalf of his clients asking the Supreme Court to
review the decision of the CA dismissing the petition for injunction in CA-G.R. SP No.
47710. The petition was denied for having been filed out of time, and the motion for
reconsideration therefrom was denied with finality on April 21, 1999.
3. Spouses Eleuterio & Catalina Mabanag v. Ramona Patricia Alcaraz and the Register of
Deeds for Quezon City docketed as Civil Case No. Q-97-31268:
A complaint for Declaration of Inability to Acquire Real Property and Damages filed in the
RTC QC, Branch 83. In its Order dated July 9, 1999, the court dismissed the case on the
grounds of res judicata and forum shopping. The RTC observed that for failure of the
plaintiffs in this case to get a favorable decision from the earlier case, they tried to prevent
the execution by disqualifying the herein defendant Alcaraz
4. Catalina Balais-Mabanag, assisted by her husband, Eleuterio Mabanag v. Emelita L Mariano,
Concepcion D. Alcaraz and Ramona P. Alcaraz, et al. docketed as Civil Case No. Q-0143396:
An action for Annulment of Title and Deed of Absolute Sale and Damages with Prayer for
Temporary Restraining Order and/or Writ of Preliminary Injunction. In its Order dated March
20, 2001, acting on the injunctive aspect of the case, the RTC denied the injunction prayed
for for failure of the plaintiff to make at least a prima facie showing of a right to the issuance
of the writ. The subsequent motion for reconsideration filed by the respondent on behalf of
his clients was denied on June 18, 2001. Acting on the defendants Special and Affirmative
Defenses and Motion to Dismiss, the court issued an order dated January 16, 2002 dismissing
the complaint finding that the decision in Civil Case No. Q-44134 had already been turned
over to complainant as attorney-in-fact of defendants Alcarazes.
5. Catalina Balais-Mabanag, assisted by her husband, Eleuterio Mabanag v. Emelita L Mariano,
Concepcion D. Alcaraz and Ramona P. Alcaraz, et al. docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 65783
(Annex 12, Comment)
A special civil action for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for temporary restraining
order and/or writ of preliminary injunction filed by Atty. Guerrero on behalf of Catalina

Balais-Mabanag. The CA dismissed the petition on June 14, 2002, and pointed out the
following:
a)

On December 5, 2000, the Twelfth Division of the CA had already affirmed the
decision of the RTC that the authority of the Register of Deeds was confined only
to the determination of whether all the requisites for registration are complied
with. To authorize the Register of Deeds to determine whether Ramona Alcaraz
was qualified to own real property in the Philippines was to clothe the Register of
Deeds with judicial powers that only courts could exercise.

b)

The issue as to whether Ramona Alcaraz was qualified to own real property had
been passed upon by the Third Division of the CA in CA-G.R. SP No. 47710.

c) The Third Division of the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 103577 upheld the RTC and
the CA when it ruled on October 7, 1996 that the sale of the subject land between
Alcaraz and the Coronels was perfected before the sale between Mabanag and the
Coronels.
6. Catalina Balais-Mabanag, etc. v. Emelita L. Mariano et al. docketed as CA-G.R. CV No.
75911:
Appeal filed by Atty. Guerrero on behalf of Catalina Balais-Mabanag on February 1, 2003
after Civil Case No. Q-01-43396 for Annulment of Title and Deed of Absolute Sale and
Damages was dismissed by RTC QC, Branch 80.
7. Catalina Balais-Mabanag, assisted by her husband, Eleuterio Mabanag v. Hon. Estrella
Estrada, The Register of Deeds of Quezon City, Concepcion D. Alcaraz and Ramona
Patricia-Alcaraz docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 55576:
A special civil action for certiorari, questioning the order of the RTC in Civil Case No. Q44134, ordering Balais-Mabanag to surrender the owners duplicate copy of TCT No. 331582
to the Alcarazes. The CA dismissed the petition on December 5, 2000 with the final note, to
wit:

The Supreme Court Third Division as well as in G.R. No. 103577, on October 7,
1996, ruled: Thus the sale of the subject parcel of land between petitioners and
Romana P. Alcaraz, perfected on February 6, 1985, prior to that between petitioners
and Catalina B. Mabanag on February 18, 1985, was correctly upheld by both the
lower courts below.[]
Obviously, the lower courts judgment has become final and executory as per
Entry of Judgment issued by the Supreme Court. It is axiomatic that final and
executory judgment can no longer be attacked by any of the parties or be modified,
directly or indirectly, even by the highest court of the land

All the aforestated recourses have had the uniform result of sustaining the right of Ramona to acquire
the property, which warranted a finding against Atty. Guerrero of resorting to forum shopping, and leading to

his suspension from the practice of law for two years.[17] Such result fully affirms that the petitioners objection is
now barred by res judicata.
For res judicata to bar the institution of a subsequent action, the following requisites must concur: (a) the
former judgment must be final; (b) it must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction of the subject
matter and the parties; (c) it must be a judgment on the merits; and (d) there must be between the first and
second actions identity of parties, identity of the subject matter, and identity of cause of action.[18]
The guiding principle of the doctrine of res judicata was formulated by Vice Chancellor Wigram in an English
case circa 1843, thus:
xxx that where a given matter becomes the subject of litigation in, and of adjudication by, a court
of competent jurisdiction, the court requires the parties to that litigation to bring forward their
whole case, and will not (except under special circumstances) permit the same parties to open the
same subject of litigation in respect of matter which might have been brought forward as part of
the subject in contest, but which was not brought forward, only because they have, from
negligence, inadvertence, or even accident, omitted part of their case. The plea of res
judicata applies, except in special cases, not only to points which the court was actually required
by the parties to form an opinion and pronounce a judgment, but to every point which properly
belonged to the subject of litigation, and which the parties, exercising reasonable diligence,
might have brought forward at the time.[19]
The doctrine is also known as estoppel per rem judicatam and involves both cause of action estoppel and issue
estoppel. The purpose of the doctrine is two-fold to prevent unnecessary proceedings involving expenses to the
parties and wastage of the courts time which could be used by others, and to avoid stale litigations as well as to
enable the defendant to know the extent of the claims being made arising out of the same single incident.[20]
Under the doctrine of res judicata, therefore, a final judgment or decree on the merits rendered by a
court of competent jurisdiction is conclusive of the rights of the parties or their privies in all later suits and on
all points and matters determined in the previous suit. [21] The foundation principle upon which the doctrine rests
is that the parties ought not to be permitted to litigate the same issue more than once; that when a right or fact
has been judicially tried and determined by a court of competent jurisdiction, so long as it remains unreversed,
should be conclusive upon the parties and those in privity with them in law or estate.[22]
B
Petitioner lacked the capacity to institute suit

It should also be pointed out that the petitioner was not the proper party to challenge Ramonas qualifications to
acquire land.
Under Section 7, Batas Pambansa Blg. 185,[23] the Solicitor General or his representative shall institute
escheat proceedings against its violators. Although the law does not categorically state that only the

Government, through the Solicitor General, may attack the title of an alien transferee of land, it is nonetheless
correct to hold that only the Government, through the Solicitor General, has the personality to file a case
challenging the capacity of a person to acquire or to own land based on non-citizenship. This limitation is based
on the fact that the violation is committed against the State, not against any individual; and that in the event that
the transferee is adjudged to be not a Filipino citizen, the affected property reverts to the State, not to the
previous owner or any other individual.
Herein, even assuming that Ramona was legally disqualified from owning the subject property, the decision that
voids or annuls their right of ownership over the subject land will not inure to the benefit of the petitioner.
Instead, the subject property will be escheated in favor of the State in accordance with Batas Pambansa
Blg. 185.
C
Deed of absolute sale executed
by Branch Clerk of Court was valid
The petitioner contends that the RTC did not see to it that the writ of execution be first served on her, and
a demand for her compliance be first made; hence, the deed of absolute sale executed by the Branch Clerk of
Court to implement the judgment was void.
We do not agree.
The CA found that it was the petitioner who did not comply with the notice of the sheriff of the
implementation of the judgment through the writ of execution;[24] and that her non-compliance then justified the
RTCs order to the Branch Clerk of Court to execute the deed of absolute sale to implement the final judgment
rendered in G. R. No. 103577.
The fact that the petitioner and her counsel maneuvered to thwart, or, at least, to delay
the inevitable execution of the judgment warranted the RTCs directing the Branch Clerk of Court execute
the deed of absolute sale to implement the judgment. The RTCs effort to implement the judgment could not be
stymied by the petitioners deliberate refusal to comply with the judgment. Such deliberate refusal called for the
RTC to order the Branch Clerk of Court to execute the deed of absolute sale in favor of Ramona, which move of
the trial court was precisely authorized by Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, to wit:
Section 10. Execution of judgments for specific act. (a) Conveyance, delivery of deeds, or
other specific acts; vesting title. If a judgment directs a party who execute a conveyance of land
or personal property, or to deliver deeds or other documents, or to perform any other specific act
in connection therewith, and the party fails to comply within the time specified, the court may
direct the act to be done at the cost of the disobedient party by some other person appointed by
the court and the act when so done shall have like effect as if done by the party. If real or
personal property is situated within the Philippines, the court in lieu of directing a conveyance

thereof may be an order divest the title of any party and vest it in others, which shall have the
force and effect of a conveyance executed in due form of law. (10a)

D
A Word of Caution

In A.C. No. 5469,[25] the Court observed as follows:


It has, thus, been clearly established that in filing such numerous petitions in behalf of
his client, the respondent thereby engaged in forum shopping. The essence of forum
shopping is the filing of multiple suits involving the same parties for the same cause of
action, either simultaneously or successively, for the purpose of obtaining a favorable
judgment. It exists when, as a result of an adverse opinion in one forum, a party seeks a
favorable opinion in another, or when he institutes two or more actions or proceedings
grounded on the same cause to increase the chances of obtaining a favorable decision. An
important factor in determining the existence of forum shopping is the vexation caused to
the courts and the parties-litigants by the filing of similar cases to claim substantially the
same reliefs.
Indeed, while a lawyer owes fidelity to the cause of his client, it should not be at the
expense of truth and the administration of justice. Under the Code of Professional Responsibility,
a lawyer has the duty to assist in the speedy and efficient administration of justice, and is
enjoined from unduly delaying a case by impeding execution of a judgment or by misusing court
processes. Such filing of multiple petitions constitutes abuse of the Courts processes and
improper conduct that tends to impede, obstruct and degrade the administration of justice
and will be punished as contempt of court. Needless to add, the lawyer who files such
multiple or repetitious petitions (which obviously delays the execution of a final and
executory judgment) subjects himself to disciplinary action for incompetence (for not
knowing any better) or for willful violation of his duties as an attorney to act with all good
fidelity to the courts, and to maintain only such actions as appear to him to be just and are
consistent with truth and honor.
We note that while lawyers owe their entire devotion to the interest of their clients and zeal
in the defense of their clients right, they should not forget that they are, first and foremost,
officers of the court, bound to exert every effort to assist in the speedy and efficient
administration of justice.
In filing multiple petitions before various courts concerning the same subject matter, the
respondent violated Canon 12 of the Code of Professional Responsibility, which provides that a
lawyer shall exert every effort and consider it his duty to assist in the speedy and efficient
administration of justice. He also violated Rule 12.02 and Rule 12.04 of the Code, as well as a
lawyers mandate to delay no man for money or malice.

The Court reminds that its foregoing observations on the deleterious effects of forum shopping did not
apply only to Atty. Guerrero, but also to the petitioner as the client whom he represented. Thus, this decision

becomes a good occasion to warn both the petitioner and her attorney that another attempt by them to revive the
issue of Ramonas lack of qualification to own the land will be swiftly and condignly sanctioned.
WHEREFORE, the petition for review on certiorari is denied, and the decision dated December 5,
2000 promulgated in C.A.-G.R. SP No. 55576 is affirmed.

Costs to be paid by the petitioner.


SO ORDERED.

HEIRS OF MARIO MALABANAN, G.R. No. 179987


Petitioner,
Present:
PUNO, C.J.,
QUISUMBING,
YNARES-SANTIAGO,
CARPIO,
- versus - AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CORONA,
CARPIO MORALES,
TINGA,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
VELASCO, JR.,
NACHURA,
LEONARDO DE CASTRO,
BRION,
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, PERALTA, and
Respondent. BERSAMIN, JJ.
Promulgated:
April 29, 2009
x--------------------------------------------------------------------------- x
DECISION
TINGA, J.:
One main reason why the informal sector has not become formal is that from Indonesia to Brazil,
90 percent of the informal lands are not titled and registered. This is a generalized phenomenon in
the so-called Third World. And it has many consequences.
xxx
The question is: How is it that so many governments, from Suharto's in Indonesia to
Fujimori's in Peru, have wanted to title these people and have not been able to do so effectively?
One reason is that none of the state systems in Asia or Latin America can gather proof of informal
titles. InPeru, the informals have means of proving property ownership to each other which are
not the same means developed by the Spanish legal system. The informals have their own papers,
their own forms of agreements, and their own systems of registration, all of which are very clearly
stated in the maps which they use for their own informal business transactions.
If you take a walk through the countryside, from Indonesia to Peru, and you walk by field
after field--in each field a different dog is going to bark at you. Even dogs know what private
property is all about. The only one who does not know it is the government. The issue is that there
exists a "common law" and an "informal law" which the Latin American formal legal system does
not know how to recognize.
- Hernando De Soto[1]

This decision inevitably affects all untitled lands currently in possession of persons and entities other
than the Philippine government. The petition, while unremarkable as to the facts, was accepted by the Court en
banc in order to provide definitive clarity to the applicability and scope of original registration proceedings
under Sections 14(1) and 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree. In doing so, the Court confronts not only
the relevant provisions of the Public Land Act and the Civil Code, but also the reality on the ground. The
countrywide phenomenon of untitled lands, as well as the problem of informal settlement it has spawned, has
unfortunately been treated with benign neglect. Yet our current laws are hemmed in by their own
circumscriptions in addressing the phenomenon. Still, the duty on our part is primarily to decide cases before us
in accord with the Constitution and the legal principles that have developed our public land law, though our
social obligations dissuade us from casting a blind eye on the endemic problems.
I.
On 20 February 1998, Mario Malabanan filed an application for land registration covering a parcel of land
identified as Lot 9864-A, Cad-452-D, Silang Cadastre,[2] situated in Barangay Tibig, Silang Cavite, and
consisting of 71,324 square meters. Malabanan claimed that he had purchased the property from Eduardo
Velazco,[3] and that he and his predecessors-in-interest had been in open, notorious, and continuous adverse and
peaceful possession of the land for more than thirty (30) years.
The application was raffled to the Regional Trial Court of (RTC) Cavite-Tagaytay City, Branch 18. The Office
of the Solicitor General (OSG) duly designated the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor of Cavite, Jose Velazco, Jr.,
to appear on behalf of the State.[4] Apart from presenting documentary evidence, Malabanan himself and his
witness, Aristedes Velazco, testified at the hearing. Velazco testified that the property was originally belonged to
a twenty-two hectare property owned by his great-grandfather, Lino Velazco. Lino had four sons Benedicto,
Gregorio, Eduardo and Estebanthe fourth being Aristedess grandfather. Upon Linos death, his four sons
inherited the property and divided it among themselves. But by 1966, Estebans wife, Magdalena, had become
the administrator of all the properties inherited by the Velazco sons from their father, Lino. After the death of
Esteban and Magdalena, their son Virgilio succeeded them in administering the properties, including Lot9864A, which originally belonged to his uncle, Eduardo Velazco. It was this property that was sold by Eduardo
Velazco to Malabanan.[5]
Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Jose Velazco, Jr. did not cross-examine Aristedes Velazco. He further
manifested that he also [knew] the property and I affirm the truth of the testimony given by Mr. Velazco. [6] The
Republic of the Philippines likewise did not present any evidence to controvert the application.

Among the evidence presented by Malabanan during trial was a Certification dated 11 June 2001, issued
by the Community Environment & Natural Resources Office, Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (CENRO-DENR), which stated that the subject property was verified to be within the Alienable or
Disposable land per Land Classification Map No. 3013 established under Project No. 20-A and approved as
such under FAO 4-1656 on March 15, 1982.[7]
On 3 December 2002, the RTC rendered judgment in favor of Malabanan, the dispositive portion of
which reads:
WHEREFORE, this Court hereby approves this application for registration and thus
places under the operation of Act 141, Act 496 and/or P.D. 1529, otherwise known as Property
Registration Law, the lands described in Plan Csd-04-0173123-D, Lot 9864-A and containing an
area of Seventy One Thousand Three Hundred Twenty Four (71,324) Square Meters, as supported
by its technical description now forming part of the record of this case, in addition to other proofs
adduced in the name of MARIO MALABANAN, who is of legal age, Filipino, widower, and with
residence at Munting Ilog, Silang, Cavite.
Once this Decision becomes final and executory, the corresponding decree of registration
shall forthwith issue.
SO ORDERED.

The Republic interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals, arguing that Malabanan had failed to prove
that the property belonged to the alienable and disposable land of the public domain, and that the RTC had erred
in finding that he had been in possession of the property in the manner and for the length of time required by
law for confirmation of imperfect title.
On 23 February 2007, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision [8] reversing the RTC and dismissing the
application of Malabanan. The appellate court held that under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree
any period of possession prior to the classification of the lots as alienable and disposable was inconsequential
and should be excluded from the computation of the period of possession. Thus, the appellate court noted that
since

the

CENRO-DENR

certification

had

verified

that

the

property

was

declared

alienable and disposable only on15 March 1982, the Velazcos possession prior to that date could not be factored
in the computation of the period of possession. This interpretation of the Court of Appeals of Section 14(1) of
the Property Registration Decree was based on the Courts ruling in Republic v. Herbieto.[9]

Malabanan died while the case was pending with the Court of Appeals; [10] hence, it was his heirs who
appealed the decision of the appellate court. Petitioners, before this Court, rely on our ruling in Republic v.
Naguit,[11] which was handed down just four months prior toHerbieto. Petitioners suggest that the discussion
in Herbieto cited by the Court of Appeals is actually obiter dictum since the Metropolitan Trial Court therein
which had directed the registration of the property had no jurisdiction in the first place since the requisite notice
of hearing was published only after the hearing had already begun. Naguit, petitioners argue, remains the
controlling doctrine, especially when the property in question is agricultural land. Therefore, with respect to
agricultural lands, any possession prior to the declaration of the alienable property as disposable may be
counted in reckoning the period of possession to perfect title under the Public Land Act and the Property
Registration Decree.

The petition was referred to the Court en banc,[12] and on 11 November 2008, the case was heard on oral
arguments. The Court formulated the principal issues for the oral arguments, to wit:
1. In order that an alienable and disposable land of the public domain may be registered
under Section 14(1) of Presidential Decree No. 1529, otherwise known as the Property
Registration Decree, should the land be classified as alienable and disposable as of June 12, 1945
or is it sufficient that such classification occur at any time prior to the filing of the applicant for
registration provided that it is established that the applicant has been in open, continuous,
exclusive and notorious possession of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership since June
12, 1945 or earlier?
2. For purposes of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree may a parcel of land
classified as alienable and disposable be deemed private land and therefore susceptible to
acquisition by prescription in accordance with the Civil Code?
3. May a parcel of land established as agricultural in character either because of its use or
because its slope is below that of forest lands be registrable under Section 14(2) of the Property
Registration Decree in relation to the provisions of the Civil Code on acquisitive prescription?
4. Are petitioners entitled to the registration of the subject land in their names under
Section 14(1) or Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree or both?[13]
Based on these issues, the parties formulated their respective positions.
With respect to Section 14(1), petitioners reiterate that the analysis of the Court in Naguit is the correct
interpretation of the provision. The seemingly contradictory pronouncement in Herbieto, it is submitted, should
be considered obiter dictum, since the land registration proceedings therein was void ab initio due to lack of

publication of the notice of initial hearing. Petitioners further point out that in Republic v. Bibonia,
[14]

promulgated in June of 2007, the Court applied Naguit and adopted the same observation that the preferred

interpretation by the OSG of Section 14(1) was patently absurd. For its part, the OSG 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 from Herbieto, the OSG also cites the subsequent rulings inBuenaventura v. Republic,[15] Fieldman
Agricultural Trading v. Republic[16] and Republic v. Imperial Credit Corporation,[17] as well as the earlier case
of Director of Lands v. Court of Appeals.[18]
With respect to Section 14(2), petitioners submit that open, continuous, exclusive and notorious
possession of an alienable land of the public domain for more than 30 years ipso jure converts the land into
private property, thus placing it under the coverage of Section 14(2). According to them, it would not matter
whether the land sought to be registered was previously classified as agricultural land of the public domain so
long as, at the time of the application, the property had already been converted into private property through
prescription. To bolster their argument, petitioners cite extensively from our 2008 ruling in Republic v. T.A.N.
Properties.[19]

The arguments submitted by the OSG with respect to Section 14(2) are more extensive. The OSG notes
that under Article 1113 of the Civil Code, the acquisitive prescription of properties of the State refers to
patrimonial property, while Section 14(2) speaks of private lands. It observes that the Court has yet to decide a
case that presented Section 14(2) as a ground for application for registration, and that the 30-year possession
period refers to the period of possession under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, and not the concept of
prescription under the Civil Code. The OSG further submits that, assuming that the 30-year prescriptive period
can run against public lands, said period should be reckoned from the time the public land was declared
alienable and disposable.
Both sides likewise offer special arguments with respect to the particular factual circumstances
surrounding the subject property and the ownership thereof.
II.
First, we discuss Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. For a full understanding of the provision,
reference has to be made to the Public Land Act.

A.
Commonwealth Act No. 141, also known as the Public Land Act, has, since its enactment, governed the
classification and disposition of lands of the public domain. The President is authorized, from time to time, to
classify the lands of the public domain into alienable and disposable, timber, or mineral lands. [20] Alienable and
disposable lands of the public domain are further classified according to their uses into (a) agricultural; (b)
residential, commercial, industrial, or for similar productive purposes; (c) educational, charitable, or other
similar purposes; or (d) reservations for town sites and for public and quasi-public uses.[21]
May a private person validly seek the registration in his/her name of alienable and disposable lands of
the public domain? Section 11 of the Public Land Act acknowledges that public lands suitable for agricultural
purposes may be disposed of by confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles through judicial legalization.
[22]

Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, as amended by P.D. No. 1073, supplies the details and unmistakably

grants that right, subject to the requisites stated therein:


Sec. 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of the
public domain or claiming to own any such land 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:
xxx
(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 of ownership,
since June 12, 1945, or earlier, immediately preceding the filing of the application 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.

Section 48(b) of Com. Act No. 141 received its present wording in 1977 when the law was amended by P.D.
No. 1073. Two significant amendments were introduced by P.D. No. 1073. First, the term agricultural lands was
changed to alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. The OSG submits that this amendment
restricted the scope of the lands that may be registered. [23] This is not actually the case. Under Section 9 of the
Public Land Act, agricultural lands are a mere subset of lands of the public domain alienable or open to
disposition. Evidently, alienable and disposable lands of the public domain are a larger class than only
agricultural lands.

Second, the length of the requisite possession was changed from possession for thirty (30) years immediately
preceding the filing of the application to possession since June 12, 1945 or earlier. The Court
in Naguit explained:
When the Public Land Act was first promulgated in 1936, the period of possession deemed
necessary to vest the right to register their title to agricultural lands of the public domain
commenced from July 26, 1894. However, this period was amended by R.A. No. 1942, which
provided that thebona fide claim of ownership must have been for at least thirty (30) years. Then
in 1977, Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act was again amended, this time by P.D. No. 1073,
which pegged the reckoning date at June 12, 1945. xxx

It bears further observation that Section 48(b) of Com. Act No, 141 is virtually the same as Section 14(1) of the
Property Registration Decree. Said Decree codified the various laws relative to the registration of property,
including lands of the public domain. It is Section 14(1) that operationalizes the registration of such lands of the
public domain. The provision reads:
SECTION 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:
(1)

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.

Notwithstanding the passage of the Property Registration Decree and the inclusion of Section 14(1)
therein, the Public Land Act has remained in effect. Both laws commonly refer to persons or their predecessorsin-interest who 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.
That circumstance may have led to the impression that one or the other is a redundancy, or that Section 48(b) of
the Public Land Act has somehow been repealed or mooted. That is not the case.
The opening clauses of Section 48 of the Public Land Act and Section 14 of the Property Registration
Decree warrant comparison:

Sec. 48 [of the Public Land Act]. The following described citizens of the Philippines,
occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such land 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:
xxx
Sec. 14 [of the Property Registration Decree]. 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:
xxx
It is clear that Section 48 of the Public Land Act is more descriptive of the nature of the right enjoyed by
the possessor than Section 14 of the Property Registration Decree, which seems to presume the pre-existence of
the right, rather than establishing the right itself for the first time. It is proper to assert that it is the Public Land
Act, as amended by P.D. No. 1073 effective 25 January 1977, that has primarily established the right of a
Filipino citizen who has 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 of ownership, since
June 12, 1945 to perfect or complete his title by applying with the proper court for the confirmation of his
ownership claim and the issuance of the corresponding certificate of title.

Section 48 can be viewed in conjunction with the afore-quoted Section 11 of the Public Land Act, which
provides that public lands suitable for agricultural purposes may be disposed of by confirmation of imperfect or
incomplete titles, and given the notion that both provisions declare that it is indeed the Public Land Act that
primarily establishes the substantive ownership of the possessor who has been in possession of the property
since 12 June 1945. In turn, Section 14(a) of the Property Registration Decree recognizes the substantive right
granted under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, as well provides the corresponding original registration
procedure for the judicial confirmation of an imperfect or incomplete title.
There is another limitation to the right granted under Section 48(b). Section 47 of the Public Land Act limits the
period within which one may exercise the right to seek registration under Section 48. The provision has been
amended several times, most recently by Rep. Act No. 9176 in 2002. It currently reads thus:
Section 47. The persons specified in the next following section are hereby granted time,
not to extend beyond December 31, 2020 within which to avail of the benefits of this
Chapter: Provided, That this period shall apply only where the area applied for does not exceed
twelve (12) hectares: Provided, further, That the several periods of time designated by the

President in accordance with Section Forty-Five of this Act shall apply also to the lands
comprised in the provisions of this Chapter, but this Section shall not be construed as prohibiting
any said persons from acting under this Chapter at any time prior to the period fixed by the
President.[24]
Accordingly under the current state of the law, the substantive right granted under Section 48(b) may be availed
of only until 31 December 2020.
B.
Despite the clear text of Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, as amended and Section 14(a) of the
Property Registration Decree, the OSG has adopted the position that for one to acquire the right to seek
registration of an alienable and disposable land of the public domain, it is not enough that the applicant and
his/her predecessors-in-interest be in possession under a bona fide claim of ownership since 12 June 1945; the
alienable and disposable character of the property must have been declared also as of 12 June 1945. Following
the OSGs approach, all lands certified as alienable and disposable after 12 June 1945 cannot be registered either
under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree or Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act as amended.
The absurdity of such an implication was discussed in Naguit.
Petitioner suggests an interpretation that the alienable and disposable character of the land
should have already been established since June 12, 1945 or earlier. This is not borne out by the
plain meaning of Section 14(1). Since June 12, 1945, as used in the provision, qualifies its
antecedent phrase under a bonafide claim of ownership. Generally speaking, qualifying words
restrict or modify only the words or phrases to which they areimmediately associated, and not
those distantly or remotely located.[25] Ad proximum antecedents fiat relation nisi impediatur
sentencia.
Besides, we are mindful of the absurdity that would result if we adopt petitioners position. Absent
a legislative amendment, the rule would be, adopting the OSGs view, that all lands of the public
domain which were not declared alienable or disposable before June 12, 1945 would not be
susceptible to original registration, no matter the length of unchallenged possession by the
occupant. Such interpretation renders paragraph (1) of Section 14 virtually inoperative and even
precludes the government from giving it effect even as it decides to reclassify public agricultural
lands as alienable and disposable. The unreasonableness of the situation would even be
aggravated considering that before June 12, 1945, the Philippines was not yet even considered an
independent state.
Accordingly, the Court in Naguit explained:
[T]he more reasonable interpretation of Section 14(1) is that it merely requires the
property sought to be registered as already alienable and disposable at the time the application for
registration of title is filed. If the State, at the time the application is made, has not yet deemed it

proper to release the property for alienation or disposition, the presumption is that the government
is still reserving the right to utilize the property; hence, the need to preserve its ownership in the
State irrespective of the length of adverse possession even if in good faith. However, if the
property has already been classified as alienable and disposable, as it is in this case, then there is
already an intention on the part of the State to abdicate its exclusive prerogative over the property.

The Court declares that the correct interpretation of Section 14(1) is that which was adopted in Naguit.
The contrary pronouncement inHerbieto, as pointed out in Naguit, absurdly limits the application of the
provision to the point of virtual inutility since it would only cover lands actually declared alienable and
disposable prior to 12 June 1945, even if the current possessor is able to establish open, continuous, exclusive
and notorious possession under a bona fide claim of ownership long before that date.
Moreover, the Naguit interpretation allows more possessors under a bona fide claim of ownership to
avail of judicial confirmation of their imperfect titles than what would be feasible under Herbieto. This
balancing fact is significant, especially considering our forthcoming discussion on the scope and reach of
Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree.
Petitioners make the salient observation that the contradictory passages from Herbieto are obiter
dicta since the land registration proceedings therein is void ab initio in the first place due to lack of the requisite
publication of the notice of initial hearing. There is no need to explicitly overturn Herbieto, as it suffices that the
Courts acknowledgment that the particular line of argument used therein concerning Section 14(1) is
indeed obiter.
It may be noted that in the subsequent case of Buenaventura,[26] the Court, citing Herbieto, again stated
that [a]ny period of possession prior to the date when the [s]ubject [property was] classified as alienable and
disposable is inconsequential and should be excluded from the computation of the period of possession That
statement, in the context of Section 14(1), is certainly erroneous. Nonetheless, the passage as cited
in Buenaventura should again be considered as obiter. The application therein was ultimately granted, citing
Section 14(2). The evidence submitted by petitioners therein did not establish any mode of possession on their
part prior to 1948, thereby precluding the application of Section 14(1). It is not even apparent from the decision
whether petitioners therein had claimed entitlement to original registration following Section 14(1), their
position being that they had been in exclusive possession under a bona fide claim of ownership for over fifty
(50) years, but not before 12 June 1945.
Thus, neither Herbieto nor its principal discipular ruling Buenaventura has any precedental value with
respect to Section 14(1). On the other hand, the ratio of Naguit is embedded in Section 14(1), since it precisely
involved situation wherein the applicant had been in exclusive possession under a bona fide claim of ownership

prior to 12 June 1945. The Courts interpretation of Section 14(1) therein was decisive to the resolution of the
case. Any doubt as to which between Naguit or Herbieto provides the final word of the Court on Section 14(1)
is now settled in favor of Naguit.
We noted in Naguit that it should be distinguished from Bracewell v. Court of Appeals[27] since in the latter, the
application for registration had been filed before the land was declared alienable or disposable. The dissent
though pronounces Bracewell as the better rule between the two. Yet two years after Bracewell, its ponente, the
esteemed Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, penned the ruling in Republic v. Ceniza,[28]which involved a claim
of possession that extended back to 1927 over a public domain land that was declared alienable and disposable
only in 1980. Ceniza cited Bracewell, quoted extensively from it, and following the mindset of the dissent, the
attempt at registration in Cenizashould have failed. Not so.
To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable, an applicant
must establish the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential
proclamation or an executive order; an administrative action; investigation reports of Bureau of
Lands investigators; and a legislative act or a statute.
In this case, private respondents presented a certification dated November 25, 1994,
issued by Eduardo M. Inting, the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer in the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Office in Cebu City, stating that the lots
involved were "found to be within the alienable and disposable (sic) Block-I, Land Classification
Project No. 32-A, per map 2962 4-I555 dated December 9, 1980." This is sufficient evidence to
show the real character of the land subject of private respondents application. Further, the
certification enjoys a presumption of regularity in the absence of contradictory evidence, which
is true in this case. Worth noting also was the observation of the Court of Appeals stating that:
[n]o opposition was filed by the Bureaus of Lands and Forestry to contest
the application of appellees on the ground that the property still forms part of the
public domain. Nor is there any showing that the lots in question are forestal
land....
Thus, while the Court of Appeals erred in ruling that mere possession of public land for
the period required by law would entitle its occupant to a confirmation of imperfect title, it did
not err in ruling in favor of private respondents as far as the first requirement in Section 48(b) of
the Public Land Act is concerned, for they were able to overcome the burden of proving the
alienability of the land subject of their application.
As correctly found by the Court of Appeals, private respondents were able to prove their
open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the subject land even before the year
1927. As a rule, we are bound by the factual findings of the Court of Appeals. Although there are
exceptions, petitioner did not show that this is one of them.[29]
Why did the Court in Ceniza, through the same eminent member who authored Bracewell, sanction the
registration under Section 48(b) of public domain lands declared alienable or disposable thirty-five (35) years

and 180 days after 12 June 1945? The telling difference is that inCeniza, the application for registration was
filed nearly six (6) years after the land had been declared alienable or disposable, while inBracewell, the
application was filed nine (9) years before the land was declared alienable or disposable. That crucial
difference was also stressed in Naguit to contradistinguish it from Bracewell, a difference which the dissent
seeks to belittle.
III.
We next ascertain the correct framework of analysis with respect to Section 14(2). The provision reads:

SECTION 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:
xxx
(2)

Those who have acquired ownership over private lands by prescription


under the provisions of existing laws.

The Court in Naguit offered the following discussion concerning Section 14(2), which we did even then
recognize, and still do, to be anobiter dictum, but we nonetheless refer to it as material for further discussion,
thus:
Did the enactment of the Property Registration Decree and the amendatory P.D. No. 1073
preclude the application for registration of alienable lands of the public domain, possession over
which commenced only after June 12, 1945? It did not, considering Section 14(2) of the Property
Registration Decree, which governs and authorizes the application of those who have acquired
ownership of private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws.
Prescription is one of the modes of acquiring ownership under the Civil Code.[ [30]] There
is a consistent jurisprudential rule that properties classified as alienable public land may be
converted into private property by reason of open, continuous and exclusive possession of at least
thirty (30) years.[[31]] With such conversion, such property may now fall within the contemplation
of private lands under Section 14(2), and thus susceptible to registration by those who have
acquired ownership through prescription. Thus, even if possession of the alienable public land
commenced on a date later than June 12, 1945, and such possession being been open, continuous
and exclusive, then the possessor may have the right to register the land by virtue of Section 14(2)
of the Property Registration Decree.

Naguit did not involve the application of Section 14(2), unlike in this case where petitioners have based their
registration bid primarily on that provision, and where the evidence definitively establishes their claim of
possession only as far back as 1948. It is in this case that we can properly appreciate the nuances of the
provision.
A.
The obiter in Naguit cited the Civil Code provisions on prescription as the possible basis for application for
original registration under Section 14(2). Specifically, it is Article 1113 which provides legal foundation for the
application. It reads:
All things which are within the commerce of men are susceptible of prescription, unless
otherwise provided. Property of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial in character
shall not be the object of prescription.

It is clear under the Civil Code that where lands of the public domain are patrimonial in character, they are
susceptible to acquisitive prescription. On the other hand, among the public domain lands that are not
susceptible to acquisitive prescription are timber lands and mineral lands. The Constitution itself proscribes
private ownership of timber or mineral lands.
There are in fact several provisions in the Civil Code concerning the acquisition of real property through
prescription. Ownership of real property may be acquired by ordinary prescription of ten (10) years, [32] or
through extraordinary prescription of thirty (30) years.[33]Ordinary acquisitive prescription requires possession in
good faith,[34] as well as just title.[35]
When Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree explicitly provides that persons who have
acquired ownership over private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws, it unmistakably
refers to the Civil Code as a valid basis for the registration of lands. The Civil Code is the only existing law that
specifically allows the acquisition by prescription of private lands, including patrimonial property belonging to
the State. Thus, the critical question that needs affirmation is whether Section 14(2) does encompass original
registration proceedings over patrimonial property of the State, which a private person has acquired through
prescription.

The Naguit obiter had adverted to a frequently reiterated jurisprudence holding that properties classified
as alienable public land may be converted into private property by reason of open, continuous and exclusive
possession of at least thirty (30) years. [36] Yet if we ascertain the source of the thirty-year period, additional
complexities relating to Section 14(2) and to how exactly it operates would emerge. For there are in fact two
distinct origins of the thirty (30)-year rule.
The first source is Rep. Act No. 1942, enacted in 1957, which amended Section 48(b) of the Public Land
Act by granting the right to seek original registration of alienable public lands through possession in the concept
of an owner for at least thirty years.
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:
xxx

xxx

xxx

(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 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. (emphasis supplied)[37]

This provision was repealed in 1977 with the enactment of P.D. 1073, which made the date 12 June
1945 the reckoning point for the first time. Nonetheless, applications for registration filed prior to 1977 could
have invoked the 30-year rule introduced by Rep. Act No. 1942.
The second source is Section 14(2) of P.D. 1529 itself, at least by implication, as it applies the rules on
prescription under the Civil Code, particularly Article 1113 in relation to Article 1137. Note that there are two
kinds of prescription under the Civil Codeordinary acquisitive prescription and extraordinary acquisitive
prescription, which, under Article 1137, is completed through uninterrupted adverse possession for thirty years,
without need of title or of good faith.
Obviously, the first source of the thirty (30)-year period rule, Rep. Act No. 1942, became unavailable
after 1977. At present, the only legal basis for the thirty (30)-year period is the law on prescription under the

Civil Code, as mandated under Section 14(2). However, there is a material difference between how the thirty
(30)-year rule operated under Rep. Act No. 1942 and how it did under the Civil Code.
Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, as amended by Rep. Act No. 1942, did not refer to or call into
application the Civil Code provisions on prescription. It merely set forth a requisite thirty-year possession period
immediately preceding the application for confirmation of title, without any qualification as to whether the
property should be declared alienable at the beginning of, and continue as such, throughout the entire thirty-(30)
years. There is neither statutory nor jurisprudential basis to assert Rep. Act No. 1942 had mandated such a
requirement,[38] similar to our earlier finding with respect to the present language of Section 48(b), which now
sets 12 June 1945 as the point of reference.
Then, with the repeal of Rep. Act No. 1942, the thirty-year possession period as basis for original
registration became Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree, which entitled those who have acquired
ownership over private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws to apply for original
registration. Again, the thirty-year period is derived from the rule on extraordinary prescription under Article
1137 of the Civil Code. At the same time, Section 14(2) puts into operation the entire regime of prescription
under the Civil Code, a fact which does not hold true with respect to Section 14(1).
B.
Unlike Section 14(1), Section 14(2) explicitly refers to the principles on prescription under existing laws.
Accordingly, we are impelled to apply the civil law concept of prescription, as set forth in the Civil Code, in our
interpretation of Section 14(2). There is no similar demand on our part in the case of Section 14(1).
The critical qualification under Article 1113 of the Civil Code is thus: [p]roperty of the State or any of its
subdivisions not patrimonial in character shall not be the object of prescription. The identification what consists
of patrimonial property is provided by Articles 420 and 421, which we quote in full:
Art. 420. The following things are property of public dominion:
(1) Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges
constructed by the State, banks, shores, roadsteads, and others of similar character;
(2) Those which belong to the State, without being for public use, and are intended for some
public service or for the development of the national wealth.

Art. 421. All other property of the State, which is not of the character stated in the preceding
article, is patrimonial property
It is clear that property of public dominion, which generally includes property belonging to the State, cannot be
the object of prescription or, indeed, be subject of the commerce of man. [39] Lands of the public domain, whether
declared alienable and disposable or not, are property of public dominion and thus insusceptible to acquisition
by prescription.
Let us now explore the effects under the Civil Code of a declaration by the President or any duly authorized
government officer of alienability and disposability of lands of the public domain. Would such lands so declared
alienable and disposable be converted, under the Civil Code, from property of the public dominion into
patrimonial property? After all, by connotative definition, alienable and disposable lands may be the object of
the commerce of man; Article 1113 provides that all things within the commerce of man are susceptible to
prescription; and the same provision further provides that patrimonial property of the State may be acquired by
prescription.
Nonetheless, Article 422 of the Civil Code states that [p]roperty of public dominion, when no longer
intended for public use or for public service, shall form part of the patrimonial property of the State. It is this
provision that controls how public dominion property may be converted into patrimonial property susceptible to
acquisition by prescription. After all, Article 420 (2) makes clear that those property which belong to the State,
without being for public use, and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national
wealth are public dominion property. For as long as the property belongs to the State, although already
classified as alienable or disposable, it remains property of the public dominion if when it is intended for some
public service or for the development of the national wealth.
Accordingly, there must be an express declaration by the State that the public dominion property
is no longer intended for public service or the development of the national wealth or that the property has
been converted into patrimonial. Without such express declaration, the property, even if classified as
alienable or disposable, remains property of the public dominion, pursuant to Article 420(2), and thus
incapable of acquisition by prescription. It is only when such alienable and disposable lands are expressly
declared by the State to be no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national
wealth that the period of acquisitive prescription can begin to run. Such declaration shall be in the form
of a law duly enacted by Congress or a Presidential Proclamation in cases where the President is duly
authorized by law.

It is comprehensible with ease that this reading of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree
limits its scope and reach and thus affects the registrability even of lands already declared alienable and
disposable to the detriment of the bona fide possessors or occupants claiming title to the lands. Yet this
interpretation is in accord with the Regalian doctrine and its concomitant assumption that all lands owned by the
State, although declared alienable or disposable, remain as such and ought to be used only by the Government.
Recourse does not lie with this Court in the matter. The duty of the Court is to apply the Constitution and
the laws in accordance with their language and intent. The remedy is to change the law, which is the province of
the legislative branch. Congress can very well be entreated to amend Section 14(2) of the Property Registration
Decree and pertinent provisions of the Civil Code to liberalize the requirements for judicial confirmation of
imperfect or incomplete titles.
The operation of the foregoing interpretation can be illustrated by an actual example. Republic Act No.
7227, entitled An Act Accelerating The Conversion Of Military Reservations Into Other Productive Uses, etc., is
more commonly known as the BCDA law. Section 2 of the law authorizes the sale of certain military
reservations and portions of military camps in Metro Manila, including Fort Bonifacio and Villamor Air
Base. For purposes of effecting the sale of the military camps, the law mandates the President to transfer such
military lands to the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA)[40] which in turn is authorized to own,
hold and/or administer them.[41] The President is authorized to sell portions of the military camps, in whole or in
part.[42] Accordingly, the BCDA law itself declares that themilitary lands subject thereof are alienable and
disposable pursuant to the provisions of existing laws and regulations governing sales of government properties.
[43]

From the moment the BCDA law was enacted the subject military lands have become alienable and
disposable. However, said lands did not become patrimonial, as the BCDA law itself expressly makes the
reservation that these lands are to be sold in order to raise funds for the conversion of the former American
bases at Clark and Subic.[44] Such purpose can be tied to either public service or the development of national
wealth under Article 420(2). Thus, at that time, the lands remained property of the public dominion under
Article 420(2), notwithstanding their status as alienable and disposable. It is upon their sale as authorized under
the BCDA law to a private person or entity that such lands become private property and cease to be property of
the public dominion.
C.

Should public domain lands become patrimonial because they are declared as such in a duly enacted law
or duly promulgated proclamation that they are no longer intended for public service or for the development of
the national wealth, would the period of possession prior to the conversion of such public dominion into
patrimonial be reckoned in counting the prescriptive period in favor of the possessors? We rule in the negative.
The limitation imposed by Article 1113 dissuades us from ruling that the period of possession before the public
domain land becomes patrimonial may be counted for the purpose of completing the prescriptive period.
Possession of public dominion property before it becomes patrimonial cannot be the object of prescription
according to the Civil Code. As the application for registration under Section 14(2) falls wholly within the
framework of prescription under the Civil Code, there is no way that possession during the time that the land
was still classified as public dominion property can be counted to meet the requisites of acquisitive prescription
and justify registration.
Are we being inconsistent in applying divergent rules for Section 14(1) and Section 14(2)? There is no
inconsistency. Section 14(1) mandates registration on the basis of possession, while Section 14(2) entitles
registration on the basis of prescription. Registration under Section 14(1) is extended under the aegis of
the Property Registration Decree and the Public Land Act while registration under Section 14(2) is made
available both by the Property Registration Decree and the Civil Code.
In the same manner, we can distinguish between the thirty-year period under Section 48(b) of the Public Land
Act, as amended by Rep. Act No. 1472, and the thirty-year period available through Section 14(2) of the
Property Registration Decree in relation to Article 1137 of the Civil Code. The period under the former
speaks of a thirty-year period of possession, while the period under the latter concerns athirty-year
period of extraordinary prescription. Registration under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act as
amended by Rep. Act No. 1472 is based on thirty years of possession alone without regard to the Civil
Code, while the registration under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree is founded on
extraordinary prescription under the Civil Code.
It may be asked why the principles of prescription under the Civil Code should not apply as well to Section
14(1). Notwithstanding the vaunted status of the Civil Code, it ultimately is just one of numerous statutes,
neither superior nor inferior to other statutes such as the Property Registration Decree. The legislative branch is
not bound to adhere to the framework set forth by the Civil Code when it enacts subsequent legislation. Section

14(2) manifests a clear intent to interrelate the registration allowed under that provision with the Civil Code, but
no such intent exists with respect to Section 14(1).
IV.
One of the keys to understanding the framework we set forth today is seeing how our land registration
procedures correlate with our law on prescription, which, under the Civil Code, is one of the modes for
acquiring ownership over property.
The Civil Code makes it clear that patrimonial property of the State may be acquired by private persons through
prescription. This is brought about by Article 1113, which states that [a]ll things which are within the commerce
of man are susceptible to prescription, and that [p]roperty of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial
in character shall not be the object of prescription.
There are two modes of prescription through which immovables may be acquired under the Civil Code. The
first is ordinary acquisitive prescription, which, under Article 1117, requires possession in good faith and with
just title; and, under Article 1134, is completed through possession of ten (10) years. There is nothing in the
Civil Code that bars a person from acquiring patrimonial property of the State through ordinary acquisitive
prescription, nor is there any apparent reason to impose such a rule. At the same time, there are indispensable
requisitesgood faith and just title. The ascertainment of good faith involves the application of Articles 526, 527,
and 528, as well as Article 1127 of the Civil Code,[45] provisions that more or less speak for themselves.
On the other hand, the concept of just title requires some clarification. Under Article 1129, there is just
title for the purposes of prescription when the adverse claimant came into possession of the property through
one of the modes recognized by law for the acquisition of ownership or other real rights, but the grantor was not
the owner or could not transmit any right. Dr. Tolentino explains:
Just title is an act which has for its purpose the transmission of ownership, and which
would have actually transferred ownership if the grantor had been the owner. This vice or defect
is the one cured by prescription. Examples: sale with delivery, exchange, donation, succession,
and dacion in payment.[46]
The OSG submits that the requirement of just title necessarily precludes the applicability of ordinary acquisitive
prescription to patrimonial property. The major premise for the argument is that the State, as the owner and
grantor, could not transmit ownership to the possessor before the completion of the required period of
possession.[47] It is evident that the OSG erred when it assumed that the grantor referred to in Article 1129 is the

State. The grantor is the one from whom the person invoking ordinary acquisitive prescription derived the title,
whether by sale, exchange, donation, succession or any other mode of the acquisition of ownership or other real
rights.
Earlier, we made it clear that, whether under ordinary prescription or extraordinary prescription, the
period of possession preceding the classification of public dominion lands as patrimonial cannot be counted for
the purpose of computing prescription. But after the property has been become patrimonial, the period of
prescription begins to run in favor of the possessor. Once the requisite period has been completed, two legal
events ensue: (1) the patrimonial property is ipso jure converted into private land; and (2) the person in
possession for the periods prescribed under the Civil Code acquires ownership of the property by operation of
the Civil Code.
It is evident that once the possessor automatically becomes the owner of the converted patrimonial
property, the ideal next step is the registration of the property under the Torrens system. It should be
remembered that registration of property is not a mode of acquisition of ownership, but merely a mode of
confirmation of ownership.[48]
Looking back at the registration regime prior to the adoption of the Property Registration Decree in
1977, it is apparent that the registration system then did not fully accommodate the acquisition of ownership of
patrimonial property under the Civil Code. What the system accommodated was the confirmation of imperfect
title brought about by the completion of a period of possession ordained under the Public Land Act (either 30
years following Rep. Act No. 1942, or since 12 June 1945 following P.D. No. 1073).
The Land Registration Act[49] was noticeably silent on the requisites for alienable public lands acquired
through ordinary prescription under the Civil Code, though it arguably did not preclude such registration.
[50]

Still, the gap was lamentable, considering that the Civil Code, by itself, establishes ownership over the

patrimonial property of persons who have completed the prescriptive periods ordained therein. The gap was
finally closed with the adoption of the Property Registration Decree in 1977, with Section 14(2) thereof
expressly authorizing original registration in favor of persons who have acquired ownership over private lands
by prescription under the provisions of existing laws, that is, the Civil Code as of now.
V.
We synthesize the doctrines laid down in this case, as follows:

(1) In connection with Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree, Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act
recognizes and confirms that 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 of ownership, since June 12, 1945 have acquired
ownership of, and registrable title to, such lands based on the length and quality of their possession.
(a) Since Section 48(b) merely requires possession since 12 June 1945 and does not require that
the lands should have been alienable and disposable during the entire period of possession, the possessor
is entitled to secure judicial confirmation of his title thereto as soon as it is declared alienable and
disposable, subject to the timeframe imposed by Section 47 of the Public Land Act.[51]
(b) The right to register granted under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is further confirmed
by Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree.
(2) In complying with Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree, consider that under the Civil Code,
prescription is recognized as a mode of acquiring ownership of patrimonial property. However, public domain
lands become only patrimonial property not only with a declaration that these are alienable or disposable. There
must also be an express government manifestation that the property is already patrimonial or no longer retained
for public service or the development of national wealth, under Article 422 of the Civil Code. And only when
the property has become patrimonial can the prescriptive period for the acquisition of property of the public
dominion begin to run.
(a) Patrimonial property is private property of the government. The person acquires ownership of
patrimonial property by prescription under the Civil Code is entitled to secure registration thereof under
Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree.
(b) There are two kinds of prescription by which patrimonial property may be acquired, one
ordinary and other extraordinary. Under ordinary acquisitive prescription, a person acquires ownership
of a patrimonial property through possession for at least ten (10) years, in good faith and with just title.
Under extraordinary acquisitive prescription, a persons uninterrupted adverse possession of patrimonial
property for at least thirty (30) years, regardless of good faith or just title, ripens into ownership.
B.

We now apply the above-stated doctrines to the case at bar.


It is clear that the evidence of petitioners is insufficient to establish that Malabanan has acquired ownership over
the subject property under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. There is no substantive evidence to establish
that Malabanan or petitioners as his predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the property since 12
June 1945 or earlier. The earliest that petitioners can date back their possession, according to their own
evidencethe Tax Declarations they presented in particularis to the year 1948. Thus, they cannot avail themselves
of registration under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree.

Neither can petitioners properly invoke Section 14(2) as basis for registration. While the subject property was
declared as alienable or disposable in 1982, there is no competent evidence that is no longer intended for public
use service or for the development of the national evidence, conformably with Article 422 of the Civil Code.
The classification of the subject property as alienable and disposable land of the public domain does not change
its status as property of the public dominion under Article 420(2) of the Civil Code. Thus, it is insusceptible to
acquisition by prescription.
VI.
A final word. The Court is comfortable with the correctness of the legal doctrines established in this
decision. Nonetheless, discomfiture over the implications of todays ruling cannot be discounted. For, every
untitled property that is occupied in the country will be affected by this ruling. The social implications cannot be
dismissed lightly, and the Court would be abdicating its social responsibility to the Filipino people if we simply
levied the law without comment.
The informal settlement of public lands, whether declared alienable or not, is a phenomenon tied to longstanding habit and cultural acquiescence, and is common among the so-called Third World countries. This
paradigm powerfully evokes the disconnect between a legal system and the reality on the ground. The law so far
has

been

unable

to

bridge

that

gap.

Alternative

publicdomain lands, such as through homestead or free patent, have

means

of

acquisition

of

these

proven unattractive due to limitations imposed on the grantee in the encumbrance or alienation of said
properties.[52] Judicial confirmation of imperfect title has emerged as the most viable, if not the most attractive
means to regularize the informal settlement of alienable or disposable lands of the public domain, yet even that
system, as revealed in this decision, has considerable limits.
There are millions upon millions of Filipinos who have individually or exclusively held residential lands on
which they have lived and raised their families. Many more have tilled and made productive idle lands of the
State with their hands. They have been regarded for generation by their families and their communities as
common law owners. There is much to be said about the virtues of according them legitimate states. Yet such
virtues are not for the Court to translate into positive law, as the law itself considered such lands as property of
the public dominion.It could only be up to Congress to set forth a new phase of land reform to sensibly
regularize and formalize the settlement of such lands which in legal theory are lands of the public domain
before the problem becomes insoluble. This could be accomplished, to cite two examples, by liberalizing the
standards for judicial confirmation of imperfect title, or amending the Civil Code itself to ease the requisites for
the conversion of public dominion property into patrimonial.
Ones sense of security over land rights infuses into every aspect of well-being not only of that
individual, but also to the persons family. Once that sense of security is deprived, life and livelihood are put on
stasis. It is for the political branches to bring welcome closure to the long pestering problem.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated 23 February 2007 and
Resolution dated 2 October 2007 are AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.

OFFICE OF THE CITY MAYOR OF


PARAAQUE CITY, OFFICE OF THE
CITY ADMINISTRATOR OF PARAAQUE
CITY, OFFICE OF THE CITY ENGINEER
OF PARAAQUE CITY, OFFICE OF THE
CITY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
COORDINATOR, OFFICE OF THE
BARANGAY
CAPTAIN
AND
SANGGUNIANG PAMBARANGAY OF
BARANGAY VITALEZ, PARAAQUE
CITY, TERESITA A. GATCHALIAN,
ENRICO R. ESGUERRA, ERNESTO T.
PRACALE, JR., MANUEL M. ARGOTE,
CONRADO M. CANLAS, JOSEPHINE S.
DAUIGOY, ALLAN L. GONZALES,
ESTER C. ASEHAN, MANUEL A.
FUENTES, and MYRNA P. ROSALES,
Petitioners,

G.R. No. 178411


Present:
CARPIO MORALES, J.,
Chairperson,
BRION,
BERSAMIN,
ABAD, and
VILLARAMA, JR., JJ.

- versus MARIO
D.
EBIO
AND
HIS Promulgated:
CHILDREN/HEIRS namely, ARTURO V.
EBIO, EDUARDO V. EBIO, RENATO V. June 23, 2010
EBIO, LOURDES E. MAGTANGOB,
MILA V. EBIO, and ARNEL V. EBIO,
Respondents.
x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x
DECISION
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as
amended, assailing the January 31, 2007 Decision[1] and June 8, 2007 Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA)
in CA-G.R. SP No. 91350 allegedly for being contrary to law and jurisprudence. The CA had reversed the
Order[3] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Paraaque City, Branch 196, issued on April 29, 2005 in Civil Case
No. 05-0155.
Below are the facts.
Respondents claim that they are the absolute owners of a parcel of land consisting of 406 square meters, more
or less, located at 9781 Vitalez Compound in Barangay Vitalez, Paraaque City and covered by Tax Declaration
Nos. 01027 and 01472 in the name of respondent Mario D. Ebio. Said land was an accretion of Cut-cut creek.
Respondents assert that the original occupant and possessor of the said parcel of land was their great

grandfather, Jose Vitalez. Sometime in 1930, Jose gave the land to his son, Pedro Vitalez. From then on, Pedro
continuously and exclusively occupied and possessed the said lot. In 1966, after executing an affidavit declaring
possession and occupancy,[4] Pedro was able to obtain a tax declaration over the said property in his name.
[5]
Since then, respondents have been religiously paying real property taxes for the said property.[6]
Meanwhile, in 1961, respondent Mario Ebio married Pedros daughter, Zenaida. Upon Pedros advice, the couple
established their home on the said lot. In April 1964 and in October 1971, Mario Ebio secured building permits
from the Paraaque municipal office for the construction of their house within the said compound. [7] On April 21,
1987, Pedro executed a notarized Transfer of Rights[8] ceding his claim over the entire parcel of land in favor of
Mario Ebio. Subsequently, the tax declarations under Pedros name were cancelled and new ones were issued in
Mario Ebios name.[9]
On March 30, 1999, the Office of the Sangguniang Barangay of Vitalez passed Resolution No. 08, series of
1999[10] seeking assistance from the City Government of Paraaque for the construction of an access road along
Cut-cut Creek located in the said barangay. The proposed road, projected to be eight (8) meters wide and sixty
(60) meters long, will run from Urma Drive to the main road of Vitalez Compound[11]traversing the lot occupied
by the respondents. When the city government advised all the affected residents to vacate the said area,
respondents immediately registered their opposition thereto. As a result, the road project was temporarily
suspended.[12]
In January 2003, however, respondents were surprised when several officials from the barangay and the city
planning office proceeded to cut eight (8) coconut trees planted on the said lot. Respondents filed lettercomplaints before the Regional Director of the Bureau of Lands, the Department of Interior and Local
Government and the Office of the Vice Mayor.[13] On June 29, 2003, the Sangguniang Barangay of Vitalez held
a meeting to discuss the construction of the proposed road. In the said meeting, respondents asserted their
opposition to the proposed project and their claim of ownership over the affected property.[14] On November 14,
2003, respondents attended another meeting with officials from the city government, but no definite agreement
was reached by and among the parties.[15]
On March 28, 2005, City Administrator Noli Aldip sent a letter to the respondents ordering them to vacate the
area within the next thirty (30) days, or be physically evicted from the said property. [16] Respondents sent a letter
to the Office of the City Administrator asserting, in sum, their claim over the subject property and expressing
intent for a further dialogue.[17] The request remained unheeded.
Threatened of being evicted, respondents went to the RTC of Paraaque City on April 21, 2005 and applied for a
writ of preliminary injunction against petitioners. [18] In the course of the proceedings, respondents admitted
before the trial court that they have a pending application for the issuance of a sales patent before the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).[19]
On April 29, 2005, the RTC issued an Order[20] denying the petition for lack of merit. The trial court reasoned that
respondents were not able to prove successfully that they have an established right to the property since they have

not instituted an action for confirmation of title and their application for sales patent has not yet been granted.
Additionally, they failed to implead the Republic of the Philippines, which is an indispensable party.
Respondents moved for reconsideration, but the same was denied.[21]
Aggrieved, respondents elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals. On January 31, 2007, the Court of Appeals
issued its Decision in favor of the respondents. According to the Court of Appeals-The issue ultimately boils down to the question of ownership of the lands adjoining Cutcut Creek
particularly Road Lot No. 8 (hereinafter RL 8) and the accreted portion beside RL 8.
The evidentiary records of the instant case, shows that RL 8 containing an area of 291 square
meters is owned by Guaranteed Homes, Inc. covered by TCT No. S-62176. The same RL 8
appears to have been donated by the Guaranteed Homes to the City Government of Paraaque on
22 March 1966 and which was accepted by the then Mayor FLORENCIO BERNABE on 5 April
1966. There is no evidence however, when RL 8 has been intended as a road lot.
On the other hand, the evidentiary records reveal that PEDRO VITALEZ possessed the accreted
property since 1930 per his Affidavit dated 21 March 1966 for the purpose of declaring the said
property for taxation purposes. The property then became the subject of Tax Declaration No.
20134 beginning the year 1967 and the real property taxes therefor had been paid for the years
1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1978, 1980, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999,
2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004. Sometime in 1964 and 1971, construction permits were
issued in favor of Appellant MARIO EBIO for the subject property. On 21 April 1987, PEDRO
VITALEZ transferred his rights in the accreted property to MARIO EBIO and his successors-ininterest.
Applying [Article 457 of the Civil Code considering] the foregoing documentary evidence, it
could be concluded that Guaranteed Homes is the owner of the accreted property considering its
ownership of the adjoining RL 8 to which the accretion attached. However, this is without the
application of the provisions of the Civil Code on acquisitive prescription which is likewise
applicable in the instant case.
xxxx
The subject of acquisitive prescription in the instant case is the accreted portion which
[was] duly proven by the Appellants. It is clear that since 1930, Appellants together with their
predecessor-in-interest, PEDRO VITALEZ[,] have been in exclusive possession of the subject
property and starting 1964 had introduced improvements thereon as evidenced by their
construction permits. Thus, even by extraordinary acquisitive prescription[,] Appellants have
acquired ownership of the property in question since 1930 even if the adjoining RL 8 was
subsequently registered in the name of Guaranteed Homes. x x x.
xxxx
Further, it was only in 1978 that Guaranteed Homes was able to have RL 8 registered in its name,
which is almost fifty years from the time PEDRO VITALEZ occupied the adjoining accreted
property in 1930. x x x.
xxxx

We likewise note the continuous payment of real property taxes of Appellants which bolster their
right over the subject property. x x x.
xxxx
In sum, We are fully convinced and so hold that the Appellants [have] amply proven their right
over the property in question.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is hereby GRANTED. The challenged
Order of the court a quo is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
SO ORDERED.[22]
On June 8, 2007, the appellate court denied petitioners motion for reconsideration. Hence, this petition raising
the following assignment of errors:
I.
WHETHER OR NOT THE DECISION AND RESOLUTION OF THE HONORABLE
COURT OF APPEALS THAT RESPONDENTS HAVE A RIGHT IN ESSE IS IN ACCORD
WITH THE LAW AND ESTABLISHED JURISPRUDENCE[;]
II.

WHETHER OR NOT THE DECISION AND RESOLUTION OF THE HONORABLE


COURT OF APPEALS THAT THE SUBJECT LOT IS AVAILABLE FOR ACQUISITIVE
PRESCRIPTION IS IN ACCORD WITH THE LAW AND ESTABLISHED
JURISPRUDENCE[;] AND

III. WHETHER OR NOT THE STATE IS AN INDISPENSABLE PARTY TO THE


COMPLAINT FILED BY RESPONDENTS IN THE LOWER COURT.[23]
The issues may be narrowed down into two (2): procedurally, whether the State is an indispensable party to
respondents action for prohibitory injunction; and substantively, whether the character of respondents
possession and occupation of the subject property entitles them to avail of the relief of prohibitory injunction.
The petition is without merit.
An action for injunction is brought specifically to restrain or command the performance of an act. [24] It is distinct
from the ancillary remedy of preliminary injunction, which cannot exist except only as part or as an incident to
an independent action or proceeding. Moreover, in an action for injunction, the auxiliary remedy of a
preliminary prohibitory or mandatory injunction may issue.[25]
In the case at bar, respondents filed an action for injunction to prevent the local government of Paraaque City
from proceeding with the construction of an access road that will traverse through a parcel of land which they
claim is owned by them by virtue of acquisitive prescription.
Petitioners, however, argue that since the creek, being a tributary of the river, is classified as part of the public
domain, any land that may have formed along its banks through time should also be considered as part of the
public domain. And respondents should have included the State as it is an indispensable party to the action.

We do not agree.
It is an uncontested fact that the subject land was formed from the alluvial deposits that have gradually settled
along the banks of Cut-cut creek. This being the case, the law that governs ownership over the accreted portion
is Article 84 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, which remains in effect,[26] in relation to Article 457 of
the Civil Code.
Article 84 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 specifically covers ownership over alluvial deposits along the
banks of a creek. It reads:
ART. 84. Accretions deposited gradually upon lands contiguous to creeks, streams, rivers, and
lakes, by accessions or sediments from the waters thereof, belong to the owners of such lands.[27]
Interestingly, Article 457 of the Civil Code states:
Art. 457. To the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers belong the accretion which they
gradually receive from the effects of the current of the waters.
It is therefore explicit from the foregoing provisions that alluvial deposits along the banks of a creek do not
form part of the public domain as the alluvial property automatically belongs to the owner of the estate to which
it may have been added. The only restriction provided for by law is that the owner of the adjoining property
must register the same under the Torrens system; otherwise, the alluvial property may be subject to acquisition
through prescription by third persons.[28]
In contrast, properties of public dominion cannot be acquired by prescription. No matter how long the
possession of the properties has been, there can be no prescription against the State regarding property of public
domain.[29] Even a city or municipality cannot acquire them by prescription as against the State.[30]
Hence, while it is true that a creek is a property of public dominion, [31] the land which is formed by the gradual
and imperceptible accumulation of sediments along its banks does not form part of the public domain by clear
provision of law.
Moreover, an indispensable party is one whose interest in the controversy is such that a final decree would
necessarily affect his/her right, so that the court cannot proceed without their presence. [32] In contrast, a
necessary party is one whose presence in the proceedings is necessary to adjudicate the whole controversy but
whose interest is separable such that a final decree can be made in their absence without affecting them.[33]
In the instant case, the action for prohibition seeks to enjoin the city government of Paraaque from proceeding
with its implementation of the road construction project. The State is neither a necessary nor an indispensable
party to an action where no positive act shall be required from it or where no obligation shall be imposed upon

it, such as in the case at bar. Neither would it be an indispensable party if none of its properties shall be divested
nor any of its rights infringed.
We also find that the character of possession and ownership by the respondents over the contested land entitles
them to the avails of the action.
A right in esse means a clear and unmistakable right.[34] A party seeking to avail of an injunctive relief must
prove that he or she possesses a right in esse or one that is actual or existing. [35] It should not be contingent,
abstract, or future rights, or one which may never arise.[36]
In the case at bar, respondents assert that their predecessor-in-interest, Pedro Vitalez, had occupied and
possessed the subject lot as early as 1930. In 1964, respondent Mario Ebio secured a permit from the local
government of Paraaque for the construction of their family dwelling on the said lot. In 1966, Pedro executed an
affidavit of possession and occupancy allowing him to declare the property in his name for taxation purposes.
Curiously, it was also in 1966 when Guaranteed Homes, Inc., the registered owner of Road Lot No. 8 (RL 8)
which adjoins the land occupied by the respondents, donated RL 8 to the local government of Paraaque.
From these findings of fact by both the trial court and the Court of Appeals, only one conclusion can be made:
that for more than thirty (30) years, neither Guaranteed Homes, Inc. nor the local government of Paraaque in its
corporate or private capacity sought to register the accreted portion. Undoubtedly, respondents are deemed to
have acquired ownership over the subject property through prescription. Respondents can assert such right
despite the fact that they have yet to register their title over the said lot. It must be remembered that the purpose
of land registration is not the acquisition of lands, but only the registration of title which the applicant already
possessed over the land. Registration was never intended as a means of acquiring ownership. [37] A decree of
registration merely confirms, but does not confer, ownership.[38]
Did the filing of a sales patent application by the respondents, which remains pending before the DENR, estop
them from filing an injunction suit?
We answer in the negative.
Confirmation of an imperfect title over a parcel of land may be done either through judicial proceedings or
through administrative process. In the instant case, respondents admitted that they opted to confirm their title
over the property administratively by filing an application for sales patent.
Respondents application for sales patent, however, should not be used to prejudice or derogate what may be
deemed as their vested right over the subject property. The sales patent application should instead be considered
as a mere superfluity particularly since ownership over the land, which they seek to buy from the State, is
already vested upon them by virtue of acquisitive prescription. Moreover, the State does not have any authority
to convey a property through the issuance of a grant or a patent if the land is no longer a public land.[39]

Nemo dat quod dat non habet. No one can give what he does not have. Such principle is equally applicable even
against a sovereign entity that is the State.
WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED for lack of merit. The January 31, 2007 Decision, as well as the July
8, 2007 Resolution, of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 91350 are hereby AFFIRMED.
With costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.

G. R. No. 177790

January 17, 2011

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,


vs.
CARLOS R. VEGA, MARCOS R. VEGA, ROGELIO R. VEGA, LUBIN R. VEGA, HEIRS OF GLORIA
R. VEGA, NAMELY: FRACISCO L. YAP, MA. WINONA Y. RODRIGUEZ, MA. WENDELYN V. YAP
and FRANCISCO V. YAP, JR., Respondents,
ROMEA G. BUHAY-OCAMPO, FRANCISCO G. BUHAY, ARCELI G. BUHAY-RODRIGUEZ,
ORLANDO G. BUHAY, SOLEDAD G. BUHAY-VASQUEZ, LOIDA G. BUHAY-SENADOSA,
FLORENDO G. BUHAY, OSCAR G. BUHAY, ERLYN BUHAY-GINORGA, EVELYN BUHAYGRANETA, and EMILIE BUHAY-DALLAS, Respondents-Intervenors.
DECISION
SERENO, J.:
This is a Rule 45 Petition filed by the Republic of the Philippines (petitioner Republic), through the
Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), questioning the Decision of the Court of Appeals, 1 which
affirmed a lower courts grant of an application for original registration of title covering a parcel of land
located in Los Baos, Laguna.
The facts of the case as culled from the records of the trial court and the appellate court are
straightforward and without much contention from the parties.
On 26 May 1995, respondents Carlos R. Vega, Marcos R. Vega, Rogelio R. Vega, Lubin R. Vega and
Heirs of Gloria R. Vega namely, Francisco L. Yap, Ma. Winona Y. Rodriguez, Ma. Wendelyn V. Yap
and Francisco V. Yap, Jr. (respondents Vegas) filed an application for registration of title. The
application covered a parcel of land, identified as Lot No. 6191, Cadastre 450 of Los Baos, Laguna,
with a total area of six thousand nine hundred two (6,902) square meters (the subject land). The case
was docketed as Land Registration Case No. 103-95-C and raffled to the Regional Trial Court of
Calamba, Laguna, Branch 92.
Respondents Vegas alleged that they inherited the subject land from their mother, Maria Revilleza
Vda. de Vega, who in turn inherited it from her father, Lorenzo Revilleza. Their mothers siblings (two
brothers and a sister) died intestate, all without leaving any offspring.
On 21 June 1995, petitioner Republic filed an opposition to respondents Vegas application for
registration on the ground, inter alia, that the subject land or portions thereof were lands of the public
domain and, as such, not subject to private appropriation.
During the trial court hearing on the application for registration, respondents Vegas presented several
exhibits in compliance with the jurisdictional requirements, as well as witnesses to prove respondents
Vegas ownership, occupation and possession of the land subject of the registration. Significant was
the testimony of Mr. Rodolfo Gonzales, a Special Investigator of the Community Environment and
Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of Los Baos, Laguna, under the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR). He attested to having conducted an inspection of the subject land 2 and
identified the corresponding Report dated 13 January 1997, which he had submitted to the Regional
Executive Director, Region IV. The report stated that the area subject of the investigation was entirely
within the alienable and disposable zone, and that there was no public land application filed for the
same land by the applicant or by any other person. 3

During the trial, respondents-intervenors Romea G. Buhay-Ocampo, Francisco G. Buhay, Arceli G.


Buhay-Rodriguez, Orlando G. Buhay, Soledad G. Buhay-Vasquez, Loida G. Buhay-Senadosa,
Florendo G. Buhay, Oscar G. Buhay, Erlyn Buhay-Ginorga, Evelyn Buhay-Grantea and Emilie BuhayDallas (respondents-intervenors Buhays) entered their appearance and moved to intervene in
respondents Vegas application for registration.4Respondents-intervenors Buhays claimed a portion of
the subject land consisting of eight hundred twenty-six (826) square meters, purportedly sold by
respondents Vegas mother (Maria Revilleza Vda. de Vega) to the formers predecessors-in-interest the sisters Gabriela Gilvero and Isabel Gilverio - by virtue of a "Bilihan ng Isang Bahagi ng Lupang
Katihan" dated 14 January 1951.5 They likewise formally offered in evidence Subdivision Plan Csd04-024336-D, which indicated the portion of the subject land, which they claimed was sold to their
predecessors-in-interest.6
In a Decision dated 18 November 2003, the trial court granted respondents Vegas application and
directed the Land Registration Authority (LRA) to issue the corresponding decree of registration in the
name of respondents Vegas and respondents-intervenors Buhays predecessors, in proportion to their
claims over the subject land.
Petitioner Republic appealed the Decision of the trial court, arguing that respondents Vegas failed to
prove that the subject land was alienable and disposable, since the testimony of Mr. Gonzales did not
contain the date when the land was declared as such. Unpersuaded by petitioner Republics
arguments, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the earlier Decision of the trial court. Aggrieved by
the ruling, petitioner filed the instant Rule 45 Petition with this Court.
Respondents Vegas, who are joined by respondents-intervenors Buhays (collectively, respondents),
raise procedural issues concerning the filing of the instant Petition, which the Court shall resolve first.
Briefly, respondents found, in the instant Petition, procedural deficiencies that ought to warrant its
outright dismissal. These deficiencies are as follows: (a) petitioner Republic failed to include the
pertinent portions of the record that would support its arguments under Rule 45, Section 4 (d) of the
Rules of Court, specifically the Appellees Brief of respondents Vegas in the appellate proceedings;
and (b) it raised questions of fact, which are beyond the purview of a Rule 45 Petition. 7
The Court is not persuaded by respondents arguments concerning the purported defects of the
Petition.
First, petitioner Republics failure to attach a copy of respondents Vegas Appellees Brief to the
instant Petition is not a fatal mistake, which merits the immediate dismissal of a Rule 45 Petition. The
requirement that a petition for review on certiorari should be accompanied by "such material portions
of the record as would support the petition" is left to the discretion of the party filing the
petition.8 Except for the duplicate original or certified true copy of the judgment sought to be appealed
from,9 there are no other records from the court a quo that must perforce be attached before the
Court can take cognizance of a Rule 45 petition.
Respondents cannot fault petitioner Republic for excluding pleadings, documents or records in the
lower court, which to their mind would assist this Court in deciding whether the Decision appealed
from is sound. Petitioner Republic is left to its own estimation of the case in deciding which records
would support its Petition and should thus be attached thereto. In any event, respondents are not
prevented from attaching to their pleadings pertinent portions of the records that they deem
necessary for the Courts evaluation of the case, as was done by respondents Vegas in this case
when they attached their Appellees Brief to their Comment. In the end, it is the Court, in finally
resolving the merits of the suit that will ultimately decide whether the material portions of the records
attached are sufficient to support the Petition.

Second, the Petition raises a question of law, and not a question of fact. Petitioner Republic simply
takes issue against the conclusions made by the trial and the appellate courts regarding the nature
and character of the subject parcel of land, based on the evidence presented. When petitioner asks
for a review of the decisions made by a lower court based on the evidence presented, without delving
into their probative value but simply on their sufficiency to support the legal conclusions made, then a
question of law is raised.
In New Rural Bank of Guimba (N.E.) Inc. v. Fermina S. Abad and Rafael Susan, 10 the Court reiterated
the distinction between a question of law and a question of fact in this wise:
We reiterate the distinction between a question of law and a question of fact. A question of law exists
when the doubt or controversy concerns the correct application of law or jurisprudence to a certain
set of facts; or when the issue does not call for an examination of the probative value of the evidence
presented, the truth or falsehood of the facts being admitted. A question of fact exists when a doubt or
difference arises as to the truth or falsehood of facts or when the query invites calibration of the whole
evidence considering mainly the credibility of the witnesses, the existence and relevancy of specific
surrounding circumstances, as well as their relation to each other and to the whole, and the
probability of the situation. (Emphasis supplied)
Petitioner Republic is not calling for an examination of the probative value or truthfulness of the
evidence presented, specifically the testimony of Mr. Gonzales. It, however, questions whether the
evidence on record is sufficient to support the lower courts conclusion that the subject land is
alienable and disposable. Otherwise stated, considering the evidence presented by respondents
Vegas in the proceedings below, were the trial and the appellate courts justified under the law and
jurisprudence in their findings on the nature and character of the subject land? Undoubtedly, this is a
pure question of law, which calls for a resolution of what is the correct and applicable law to a given
set of facts.
Going now to the substantial merits, petitioner Republic places before the Court the question of
whether, based on the evidence on record, respondents Vegas have sufficiently established that the
subject land is alienable and disposable. Was it erroneous for the Court of Appeals to have affirmed
the trial courts grant of registration applied for by respondents Vegas over the subject land? We find
no reversible error on the part of either the trial court or the Court of Appeals.
Presidential Decree No. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree, provides for the
instances when a person may file for an application for registration of title over a parcel of land:
Section 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. x x x.
Thus, pursuant to the afore-quoted provision of law, applicants for registration of title must prove the
following: (1) that the subject land forms part of the disposable and alienable lands of the public
domain; and (2) that they have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and
occupation of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership since 12 June 1945 or earlier. 11 Section
14 (1) of the law requires that the property sought to be registered is already alienable and disposable
at the time the application for registration is filed. 12

Raising no issue with respect to respondents Vegas open, continuous, exclusive and notorious
possession of the subject land in the present Petition, the Court will limit its focus on the first requisite:
specifically, whether it has sufficiently been demonstrated that the subject land is alienable and
disposable.
Unless a land is reclassified and declared alienable and disposable, occupation of the same in the
concept of an owner - no matter how long -cannot ripen into ownership and result in a title; public
lands not shown to have been classified as alienable and disposable lands remain part of the
inalienable domain and cannot confer ownership or possessory rights. 13
Matters of land classification or reclassification cannot be assumed; they call for proof. 14 To prove that
the land subject of an application for registration is alienable, an applicant must conclusively establish
the existence of a positive act of the government, such as any of the following: a presidential
proclamation or an executive order; other administrative actions; investigation reports of the Bureau
of Lands investigator; or a legislative act or statute.15 The applicant may also secure a certification
from the government that the lands applied for are alienable and disposable. 16
Previously, a certification from the DENR that a lot was alienable and disposable was sufficient to
establish the true nature and character of the property and enjoyed the presumption of regularity in
the absence of contradictory evidence.17
However, in Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc., 18 the Supreme Court overturned the grant by the lower
courts of an original application for registration over a parcel of land in Batangas and ruled that a
CENRO certification is not enough to certify that a land is alienable and disposable:
Further, it is not enough for the PENRO or CENRO to certify that a land is alienable and disposable.
The applicant for land registration must prove that the DENR Secretary had approved the land
classification and released the land of the public domain as alienable and disposable, and that the
land subject of the application for registration falls within the approved area per verification through
survey by the PENRO or CENRO. In addition, the applicant for land registration must present a copy
of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the legal
custodian of the official records. These facts must be established to prove that the land is alienable
and disposable. Respondent failed to do so because the certifications presented by respondent do
not, by themselves, prove that the land is alienable and disposable. (Emphasis supplied)
Thus, as it now stands, aside from a CENRO certification, an application for original registration of
title over a parcel of land must be accompanied by a copy of the original classification approved by
the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official records in order
to establish that the land indeed is alienable and disposable. 19
To comply with the first requisite for an application for original registration of title under the Property
Registration Decree, respondents Vegas should have submitted a CENRO certification and a certified
true copy of the original classification by the DENR Secretary that the land is alienable and
disposable, together with their application. However, as pointed out by the Court of Appeals,
respondents Vegas failed to submit a CENRO certification -- much less an original classification by
the DENR Secretary -- to prove that the land is classified as alienable and disposable land of the
public domain.20 If the stringent rule imposed in Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc., is to be followed,
the absence of these twin certifications justifies a denial of an application for registration. Significantly,
however, the Courts pronouncement in Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc., was issued after the
decisions of the trial court21 and the appellate court22 in this case.

Recently, however, in Republic v. Serrano,23 the Court affirmed the findings of the trial and the
appellate courts that the parcel of land subject of registration was alienable and disposable. The
Court held that a DENR Regional Technical Directors certification, which is annotated on the
subdivision plan submitted in evidence, constitutes substantial compliance with the legal requirement:
While Cayetano failed to submit any certification which would formally attest to the alienable and
disposable character of the land applied for, the Certification by DENR Regional Technical Director
Celso V. Loriega, Jr., as annotated on the subdivision plan submitted in evidence by Paulita,
constitutes substantial compliance with the legal requirement. It clearly indicates that Lot 249 had
been verified as belonging to the alienable and disposable area as early as July 18, 1925.
The DENR certification enjoys the presumption of regularity absent any evidence to the contrary. It
bears noting that no opposition was filed or registered by the Land Registration Authority or the DENR
to contest respondents' applications on the ground that their respective shares of the lot are
inalienable. There being no substantive rights which stand to be prejudiced, the benefit of the
Certification may thus be equitably extended in favor of respondents. (Emphasis supplied)
Indeed, the best proofs in registration proceedings that a land is alienable and disposable are a
certification from the CENRO or Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) and
a certified true copy of the DENRs original classification of the land. The Court, however, has
nonetheless recognized and affirmed applications for land registration on other substantial and
convincing evidence duly presented without any opposition from the LRA or the DENR on the ground
of substantial compliance.
Applying these precedents, the Court finds that despite the absence of a certification by the CENRO
and a certified true copy of the original classification by the DENR Secretary, there has been
substantial compliance with the requirement to show that the subject land is indeed alienable and
disposable based on the evidence on record.
First, respondents Vegas were able to present Mr. Gonzales of the CENRO who testified that the
subject land is alienable and disposable, and who identified his written report on his inspection of the
subject land.
In the Report,24 Mr. Gonzales attested under oath that (1) the "area is entirely within the alienable and
disposable zone" as classified under Project No. 15, L.C. Map No. 582, certified on 31 December
1925;25 (2) the land has never been forfeited in favor of the government for non-payment of taxes; (3)
the land is not within a previously patented/decreed/titled property; 26 (4) there are no public land
application/s filed by the applicant for the same land; 27 and (5) the land is
residential/commercial.28 That Mr. Gonzales appeared and testified before an open court only added
to the reliability of the Report, which classified the subject land as alienable and disposable public
land. The Court affirms the Court of Appeals conclusion that Mr. Gonzales testimony and written
report under oath constituted substantial evidence to support their claim as to the nature of the
subject land.
Second, Subdivision Plan Csd-04-02433-6, formally offered as evidence by respondents-intervenors
Buhays,29expressly indicates that the land is alienable and disposable. Similar to Republic v. Serrano,
Mr. Samson G. de Leon, the officer-in-charge of the Office of the Assistant Regional Executive
Director for Operations of the DENR, approved the said subdivision plan, which was annotated with
the following proviso: "[T]his survey is inside alienable and disposable area as per Project No. 15,
L.C. Map No. 582, certified on Dec. 31, 1925." Notably, Mr. De Leons annotation pertaining to the
identification of the land as alienable and disposable coincides with the investigation report of Mr.
Gonzales.

Finally, upon being informed of respondents Vegas application for original registration, the LRA never
raised the issue that the land subject of registration was not alienable and disposable. In the
Supplementary Report submitted during the trial court proceedings, 30 the LRA did not interpose any
objection to the application on the basis of the nature of the land. It simply noted that the subject
subdivision plan (Psu-51460) had also been applied for in Case No. 1469, GLRO Record No. 32505,
but that there was no decree of registration issued therefor. Thus, the LRA recommended that "should
the instant case be given due course, the application in Case No. 1469, GLRO Record No. 32505
with respect to plan Psu-51460 be dismissed." In addition, not only did the government fail to crossexamine Mr. Gonzales, it likewise chose not to present any countervailing evidence to support its
opposition. In contrast to the other cases brought before this Court, 31 no opposition was raised by any
interested government body, aside from the pro forma opposition filed by the OSG.
The onus in proving that the land is alienable and disposable still remains with the applicant in an
original registration proceeding; and the government, in opposing the purported nature of the land,
need not adduce evidence to prove otherwise. 32 In this case though, there was no effective
opposition, except the pro forma opposition of the OSG, to contradict the applicants claim as to the
character of the public land as alienable and disposable. The absence of any effective opposition
from the government, when coupled with respondents other pieces of evidence on record persuades
this Court to rule in favor of respondents.
In the instant Petition, petitioner Republic also assails the failure of Mr. Gonzales to testify as to when
the land was declared as alienable and disposable. Indeed, his testimony in open court is bereft of
any detail as to when the land was classified as alienable and disposable public land, as well as the
date when he conducted the investigation. However, these matters could have been dealt with
extensively during cross-examination, which petitioner Republic waived because of its repeated
absences and failure to present counter evidence. 33 In any event, the Report, as well as the
Subdivision Plan, readily reveals that the subject land was certified as alienable and disposable as
early as 31 December 1925 and was even classified as residential and commercial in nature.
Thus, the Court finds that the evidence presented by respondents Vegas, coupled with the absence
of any countervailing evidence by petitioner Republic, substantially establishes that the land applied
for is alienable and disposable and is the subject of original registration proceedings under the
Property Registration Decree. There was no reversible error on the part of either the trial court or the
appellate court in granting the registration.
Respondents-intervenors Buhays title to that portion of the subject land is likewise affirmed,
considering that the joint claim of respondents-intervenors Buhays over the land draws its life from
the same title of respondents Vegas, who in turn failed to effectively oppose the claimed sale of that
portion of the land to the formers predecessors-in-interest.
It must be emphasized that the present ruling on substantial compliance applies pro hac
vice.1wphi1 It does not in any way detract from our rulings in Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc., and
similar cases which impose a strict requirement to prove that the public land is alienable and
disposable, especially in this case when the Decisions of the lower court and the Court of Appeals
were rendered prior to these rulings.34 To establish that the land subject of the application is alienable
and disposable public land, the general rule remains: all applications for original registration under the
Property Registration Decree must include both (1) a CENRO or PENRO certification and (2) a
certified true copy of the original classification made by the DENR Secretary.
As an exception, however, the courts - in their sound discretion and based solely on the evidence
presented on record - may approve the application, pro hac vice, on the ground of substantial
compliance showing that there has been a positive act of government to show the nature and

character of the land and an absence of effective opposition from the government. This exception
shall only apply to applications for registration currently pending before the trial court prior to this
Decision and shall be inapplicable to all future applications.
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition is DENIED. The Court of Appeals Decision
dated 30 April 2007 and the trial courts Decision dated 18 November 2003 are hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

CHARLES L. ONG, G.R. No. 175746


Petitioner,
Present:
Ynares-Santiago, J. (Chairperson),

- versus - Austria-Martinez,
Chico-Nazario,
Nachura, and
Reyes, JJ.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
Respondent. Promulgated:
March 12, 2008
x ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- x

DECISION
YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.:

This petition for review on certiorari assails the April 25, 2006 Decision [1] of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 76085, which reversed and set aside the January 16,
2002 Decision[2] of the Municipal Trial Court of Mangaldan, Pangasinan in Land
Registration Case No. 99-023, and the November 20, 2006 Resolution [3] which denied
petitioners motion for reconsideration.

The antecedent facts are as follows.

On July 1, 1999, petitioner Charles L. Ong (petitioner) in his behalf and as duly
authorized representative of his brothers, namely, Roberto, Alberto and Cesar, filed an
Application for Registration of Title[4] over Lot 15911 (subject lot) situated in Barangay
Anolid, Mangaldan, Pangasinan with an area of five hundred seventy four (574) square
meters, more or less. They alleged that they are the co-owners of the subject lot; that

the subject lot is their exclusive property having acquired the same by purchase from
spouses Tony Bautista and Alicia Villamil on August 24, 1998; that the subject lot is
presently unoccupied; and that they and their predecessors-in-interest have been in
open, continuous and peaceful possession of the subject lot in the concept of owners for
more than thirty (30) years.

After
due
notice
and
publication,
only
respondent
Republic
of
the Philippines (respondent), represented by the Office of the Solicitor General, opposed
the application for registration of title. Respondent asserted that neither applicants nor
their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious
possession and occupation of the subject lot since June 12, 1945 or earlier as required by
Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended by Presidential Decree (P.D.)
No. 1073; that applicants failed to adduce any muniment of title to prove their claims;
that the tax declaration appended to the application does not appear genuine and
merely shows pretended possession of recent vintage; that the application was filed
beyond the period allowed under P.D. No. 892; and that the subject lot is part of the
public domain which cannot be the subject of private appropriation.

On January 16, 2002, the trial court rendered a Decision in favor of petitioner and
his brothers, viz:

The foregoing evidences presented by the applicant indubitably


established sufficient basis to grant the applicant (sic) for registration.
Originally, the whole parcel of land was owned by spouses Teofilo Abellara
and Abella Charmine who acquired the same by virtue of a Deed of Sale from
Cynthia Cacho, Agustin Cacho, Jr., Jasmin Cacho, Jover Cacho and Lauro
Cacho. Later, they sold the same parcel of land to spouses Tony C. Villamil
and Alicia Bautista, who in turn sold the same land to herein applicants.

The same parcel of land has been declared in the name of the
applicant and her predecessors-in-interest and its taxes has (sic) been
religiously paid.

The said circumstances further show that the possession and


ownership of the applicant and her (sic) predecessors-in-interest over the
same parcel of land has (sic) been continuous and peaceful under bona
fide claim of ownership before the filing of the instant application for
registration on [July 1, 1999].

WHEREFORE, after confirming the Order of General Default, the Court


hereby orders and decrees the registration of a parcel of land as shown on
plan ap-01-004897 approved by the Bureau of Land(s) situated in Barangay
Anolid, Mangaldan, Pangasinan, containing an area of Five Hundred Seventy
Four (574) square meters, subject of the application for registration of title, in
accordance with Presidential Decree No. 1529, in favor of CHARLIE L. ONG in
his behalf and as representative of his brothers namely, ROBERTO L. ONG,
ALBERTO L. ONG and CESAR L. ONG.

Furnish copies of this Decision to the Office of the Solicitor


General, Makati City, Metro Manila, the Office of the Provincial
Prosecutor,Dagupan City, Atty. Celestino Domingo Jr., the Office of the Land
Registration Authority, Quezon City, as well as the applicant.

SO ORDERED.[5]

Aggrieved, respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals which rendered the


assailed Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, the instant appeal is GRANTED. Accordingly, the decision


of the court a quo granting the application for registration of title of
applicants-appellees is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. No pronouncement as to
costs.

SO ORDERED.[6]

In reversing the decision of the trial court, the Court of Appeals found that the subject lot
is part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. Thus, it was
incumbent upon petitioner to prove that they possessed the subject lot in the nature and
for the duration required by law. However, petitioner failed to prove that he or his
predecessors-in-interest have been in adverse possession of the subject lot in the
concept of owner since June 12, 1945 or earlier as mandated by Section 14(1) of P.D.
1529. It noted that the earliest tax declaration which petitioner presented is dated
1971. Consequently, petitioner could not fairly claim possession of the land prior to
1971. Neither was petitioner able to prove that he or his predecessors-in-interest actually

occupied the subject lot prior to the filing of the application. Thus, the trial court erred in
granting the application for registration of title over the subject lot.

Hence, this petition raising the following issues:

1. WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONER, TOGETHER WITH HIS BROTHERS, NAMELY,


ROBERTO L. ONG, ALBERTO L. ONG AND CEZAR L. ONG, HAVE
REGISTRABLE OWNERSHIP OVER THE REAL PROPERTY SUBJECT
MATTER OF LAND REGISTRATION CASE NO. 99-023, AND

2. WHETHER OR NOT THE FINDINGS AND CONCLUSION OF THE FORMER


SPECIAL FOURTH DIVISION OF THE COURT OF APPEALS THAT THE
SUBJECT REAL PROPERTY IS A PUBLIC LAND IS CORRECT.[7]

The petition lacks merit.

Section 14(1) of P.D. 1529 (Property Registration Decree), as amended, provides

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:

(1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-ininterest 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.

Thus, pursuant to the aforequoted provision of law, applicants for registration of title
must prove: (1) that the subject land forms part of the disposable and alienable lands of
the public domain, and (2) that they have been in open, continuous, exclusive and
notorious possession and occupation of the same under a bona fide claim of ownership
since June 12, 1945, or earlier. [8] These requisites involve questions of fact which are not
proper in a petition for review on certiorari. Factual findings of the court a quo are
generally binding on this Court except for certain recognized exceptions, as is the case

here, where the trial court and the Court of Appeals arrived at conflicting findings. [9] After
a careful review of the records, we sustain the findings and conclusions of the Court of
Appeals.

There is no dispute that the subject lot is classified as alienable and disposable
land of the public domain. The Report[10] dated January 17, 2000 of the Bureau of Lands
stated that the subject lot is within the alienable and disposable zone as classified under
Project 50 L.C. Map No. 698 and released and classified as such on November 21, 1927.
[11]
This finding is, likewise, embodied in the Report [12] dated January 7, 1999 of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Community Environment and Natural
Resources Office (DENR-CENRO) and the blue print Copy [13] of the plan covering the
subject lot. However, petitioner failed to prove that he or his predecessors-in-interest
have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of
the subject lot since June 12, 1945 or earlier.

The records show that petitioner and his brothers bought the subject lot from
spouses Tony Bautista and Alicia Villamil on August 24, 1998,[14] who in turn purchased
the same from spouses Teofilo Abellera and Abella Sarmen on January 16, 1997.[15] The
latter bought the subject lot from Cynthia, Agustin Jr., Jasmin, Omir and Lauro, all
surnamed Cacho, on July 10, 1979.[16] The earliest tax declaration which was submitted in
evidence was Tax Declaration No. 25606[17] issued in 1971 in the names of spouses
Agustin Cacho and Eufrosinia Baustista. While tax declarations are not conclusive proof
of ownership, they constitute good indicia of possession in the concept of owner and a
claim of title over the subject property. [18] Even if we were to tack petitioners claim of
ownership over the subject lot to that of their alleged predecessors-in-interest, spouses
Agustin Cacho and Eufrosinia Baustista in 1971, still this would fall short of the required
possession from June 12, 1945 or earlier.

Further, as correctly pointed by the Court of Appeals, possession alone is not sufficient to
acquire title to alienable lands of the public domain because the law requires possession
and occupation. As held in Republic v. Alconaba:[19]

The law speaks of possession and occupation. Since these words are
separated by the conjunction and, the clear intention of the law is not to
make one synonymous with the other. Possession is broader than occupation
because it includes constructive possession. When, therefore, the law adds
the word occupation, it seeks to delimit the all encompassing effect of

constructive possession. Taken together with the words open, continuous,


exclusive and notorious, the word occupation serves to highlight the fact that
for an applicant to qualify, his possession must not be a mere fiction.Actual
possession of a land consists in the manifestation of acts of dominion over it
of such a nature as a party would naturally exercise over his own property.[20]

Petitioner admitted that after he and his brothers bought the subject lot from
spouses Tony Bautista and Alicia Villamil in 1998, neither he nor his brothers actually
occupied the subject lot.[21] No improvements were made thereon and the most that they
did was to visit the lot on several occasions.[22] Petitioners predecessor-in-interest, Tony
Bautista testified that he and his wife never actually occupied the subject lot from the
time they bought the same from spouses Teofilo Abellera and Abella Sarmen in 1997.
[23]
Aside from these two testimonies, no other evidence was presented to establish the
character of the possession of the subject lot by petitioners other alleged predecessorsin-interest. Clearly, petitioners evidence failed to establish specific acts of ownership to
substantiate the claim that he and his predecessors-in-interest possessed and occupied
the subject lot in the nature and duration required by law.

The burden of proof in land registration cases rests on the applicant who must
show by clear, positive and convincing evidence that his alleged possession and
occupation of the land is of the nature and duration required by law. [24] Unfortunately,
petitioners evidence do not constitute the well-nigh incontrovertible evidence necessary
in cases of this nature. [25] Accordingly, the Court of Appeals did not err in reversing the
Decision of the trial court and in denying his application for registration of title over the
subject lot.
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is DENIED. The April 25, 2006
Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 76085 which reversed and set aside
the January 16, 2002 Decision of the Municipal Trial Court of Mangaldan, Pangasinan in
Land Registration Case No. 99-023, and the November 20, 2006 Resolution denying the
motion for reconsideration, are AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

MA. CARMINIA C. ROXAS, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS and JOSE ANTONIO F.
ROXAS, respondents.
DECISION
DE LEON, JR., J.:
Before us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision[1] dated April 21, 1999 and
Resolution[2] dated July 20, 1999 of the Court of Appeals nullifying the Orders [3] dated May 13, 1998, May 19,
1998 and September 23, 1998 of the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque City, Branch 260, which found private
respondent Jose Antonio F. Roxas liable to pay support pendente lite and subsequently in contempt of court
after failing to tender the required amount of support pendente lite.
The antecedent facts are as follows:
On November 4, 1997, petitioner Ma. Carminia C. Roxas filed with the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque
City, Civil Case No. 97-0523, which is an action for declaration of nullity of marriage on the ground of
psychological incapacity on the part of her husband, Jose Antonio F. Roxas, private respondent herein, with an
application for support pendente lite for their four (4) minor children. The case was raffled to Branch 257 of the
Regional Trial Court of Paraaque City presided by Judge Rolando C. How. But the petitioner, soon thereafter,
filed in the said RTC Branch 257 a Notice of Dismissal dated November 20, 1997, to dismiss the complaint,
without prejudice, pursuant to the provision of Section 1, Rule 17, of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
considering that summons has not yet been served and no responsive pleading has yet been filed.
The same complaint, now docketed as Civil Case No. 97-0608, was re-filed on November 25, 1997. It was
raffled in due course to Branch 260 of the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque City presided by Judge Helen
Bautista-Ricafort.
On May 13, 1998, when the case was called for a pre-trial conference, the matter of plaintiffs (petitioners)
application for support pendente lite of their four (4) minor children was taken up. Judge Bautista-Ricafort
received evidence on the application for support pendente lite. The private respondent and her counsel, Atty.
Alberto Diaz, participated in that proceedings by conducting an extensive cross-examination of the
petitioner. The trial court then issued its Order dated May 13, 1998 declaring the proceedings on the application
for support pendente lite terminated and deemed submitted for resolution; and as prayed for by the parties, also
set the case for pre-trial on June 15, 1998 at 8:30 a.m.
On May 19, 1998, Judge Bautista-Ricafort, issued an Order [4] granting the application for support pendente
lite, the pertinent portion of which reads:
xxx xxx xxx
The plaintiff, testifying under oath, submitted Exhibit A itemizing the expenses incurred for the support of the
children over a period of time during their stay at Ayala-Alabang; and showed that their total monthly average
expense is P84,585.00, or P42,292.50 per month, per spouse. Interestingly, the defendant did not adduce any
evidence to dispute the figures presented to the Court by the plaintiff, nor did he present proof of his financial
incapacity to contribute more than 50% of the childrens school tuition fees.
The court has painstakingly reviewed the item included in Exhibit A, and found the same reasonable, xxx.

Under Art. 49 of the Family Code, there being no written agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant for
the adequate support of their minor children xxx, this Court finds the prayer for support pendente lite to be in
order. Accordingly, the defendant is hereby ordered to contribute to the support of the above-named minors,
(aside from 50% of their school tuition fees which the defendant has agreed to defray, plus expenses for books
and other supplies), the sum of P42,292.50 per month, effective May 1, 1998, as his share in the monthly
support of the children until further orders from this Court. xxx. All expenses for books and other school
supplies shall be shouldered by the plaintiff and the defendant, share and share alike. Finally, it is understood
that any claim for support-in-arrears prior to May 1, 1998, may be taken up later in the course of the
proceedings proper.
On July 22, 1998, the petitioner filed a manifestation and motion praying the trial court to cite private
respondent in contempt of court in accordance with Section 5, Rule 61 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure,
after the latter failed to comply with the said Order dated May 19, 1998 of the trial court. Private respondent,
through his counsel, Atty. Alberto Diaz, filed a counter-manifestation and motion admitting that xxx there is
really no genuine issue as to his obligation and willingness to contribute to the expenses for the support of his
minor children xxx. He simply wants to make sure that whatever funds he provides for the purpose will go to
the expenses for which they are intended. [5] Thus, he prayed that the manner and mode of payment of his
contribution to the expenses of his minor children be modified such that he will pay directly to the entities or
persons to which the payment for such expenses are intended. On September 23, 1998, Judge Bautista-Ricafort
issued an Order[6] directing the private respondent to comply fully with the Order of this Court dated May 19,
1998 by updating payment of his share in the support of the minor children, pendente lite, covering the period
May 1998 to September 1998, within five (5) days from his receipt hereof xxx under pain of legal sanctions if
he still fails to do so. xxx.
On September 28, 1998, or about four (4) months later, private respondent, through his new counsel, Atty.
Francisco Ma. Guerrerro, filed an Omnibus Motion (1) applying to be authorized to discharge Atty. Alberto
Diaz as his counsel and to substitute him with the new counsel; (2) to re-open hearing on the Motion for
Support Pendente Lite; and (3) to temporarily stay execution of the Orders dated May 19, 1998 and September
23, 1998. The omnibus motion was set for hearing on October 2, 1998. Private respondent requested that before
the omnibus motion is heard the May 19, 1998 Order be temporarily suspended. When the presiding judge did
not grant that request of private respondent, the latters new counsel refused to proceed with the hearing of his
omnibus motion.
On October 8, 1998, Judge Bautista-Ricafort issued an Order giving private respondent ten (10) days to
comply with the May 19, 1998 Order, otherwise, he would be cited for contempt of court.
On October 23, 1998, private respondent filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari
questioning the Orders of the trial court dated May 19, 1998, September 23, 1998 and October 8, 1998.
Meanwhile, on November 27, 1998, Judge Bautista-Ricafort issued another Order, [7] the dispositive portion
of which reads:
xxx xxx xxx
Accordingly, and on the strength of the provisions of Sec. 5 Rule 61 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, the
defendant (herein private respondent) is hereby pronounced guilty of Contempt of Court, and is hereby ordered
arrested and confined at the City Jail of Paraaque City, Metro Manila, without bail, and as long as he has not
complied with and obeyed in full the Order of this Court dated May 19, 1998 by updating his monthly

contribution of P42,292.50 for the period of May 1998 to the date, giving the said amount directly to the
plaintiff, or depositing it with the Clerk of Court, who shall therefor (issue) the corresponding receipts.
xxx xxx xxx
Private respondent was arrested by the agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) on December
14, 1998 but he was released on the following day after the appellate court temporarily enjoined Judge BautistaRicafort from enforcing her November 27, 1998 Order as well as her Orders dated May 19, 1998, September
23, 1998, and October 8, 1998. When the temporary restraining order lapsed on March 11, 1998, the respondent
was again arrested by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by Judge Bautista-Ricafort. After depositing with the
clerk of court of the trial court the amount of support in arrears stated in the Orders of the trial court, private
respondent was released from custody.
On April 21, 1999, the Court of Appeals rendered a Decision in favor of private respondent, the dispositive
portion of which states:
WHEREFORE, being meritorious, the instant petition is GRANTED. Consequently, all the proceedings/actions
taken by respondent Judge on the matter of supportpendente lite in Civil Case No. 97-0608 (formerly Civil Case
No. 97-0523) are hereby declared NULL and VOID, and said CASE is ordered RETURNED to Branch 257 of
the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque City, for appropriate proceedings.
SO ORDERED.[8]
The appellate court nullified the Orders and the proceedings of the trial court for the reason that the certificate
of non-forum shopping of the petitioner did not mention the prior filing of Civil Case No. 97-0523 before the
sala of Judge How and the dismissal thereof without prejudice. The decision of the appellate court elaborated
the reasons for the granting of the petition, to wit:
xxx xxx xxx
While a complaint may be dismissed by the plaintiff by filing a notice of dismissal at any time before service of
the answer (Sec. 1, Rule 17), there is however a need to state the fact of prior filing and dismissal thereof in the
certification on non-forum shopping, in the event the complaint is refiled, as in this case. This must be so in
order to prevent the plaintiff or principal party from invoking Section 1 of Rule 17 in the hope that, if and when
refiled, the complaint will be raffled to a more sympathetic judge.
To the mind of the Court, private respondent availed of Section 1 of Rule 17 not for any other reason or purpose
than to take the case out of the sala of Judge How and to have it assigned to another. This belief finds support
from the fact that private respondents lawyer and respondent Judge were classmates at the UP College of Law.
Not only that. While private respondent actually resides in Ayala Alabang, Muntinlupa City, it was made to
appear in the complaint that she is a resident of Paraaque City, where respondent Judge is one of the RTC
Judges. While the question of venue was not properly raised on time, this circumstance is being cited to support
petitioners charge of forum-shopping.
xxx xxx xxx
Needless to say, forum-shopping merits such serious sanctions as those prescribed in Section 5, Rule 7 of the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Considering, however, that when the complaint was withdrawn, no substantial

proceedings had as yet been taken by the court to which it was first raffled, and that the dismissal thereof was
then a matter or (sic) right, the Court is not inclined to impose any of the said sanctions. Instead, for the peace
of mind of petitioner who entertains some doubts on the impartiality of respondent Judge, the annulment case
should be returned to Branch 257 of the RTC of Paraaque City, to which it was originally raffled. And, to enable
the Presiding Judge of said Branch to act on the matter of support pendente lite, which gave rise to this petition
for certiorari and disqualification, the proceedings/actions taken by respondent Judge relative thereto should be
set aside, the same having been attended with grave abuse of discretion.[9]
xxx xxx xxx
In the instant petition the petitioner poses the following statement of issues, to wit:
I
DID THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERR IN HOLDING THE HEREIN PETITIONER GUILTY
OF FORUM SHOPPING?
II
DID THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERR IN NULLIFYING JUDGE RICAFORTS ORDER OF
SUPPORT PENDENTE LITE AND HER RELATED IMPLEMENTING ORDERS WHICH IT WAS HER
JUDICIAL DUTY TO ISSUE UNDER ART. 49 OF THE FAMILY CODE AND OTHER RELATED
PROVISIONS OF LAW?
III
DID THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERR IN NULLIFYING THE PROCEEDINGS ALREADY
HELD BEFORE JUDGE RICAFORT AFFECTING HER QUESTIONED ORDERS, AT THE SAME TIME
IMPLIEDLY UPHOLDING THE VALIDITY OF THE REST OF THE PROCEEDINGS INCLUDING THE
TRIAL ON THE MERITS OF THE CASE FOR ANNULMENT OF MARRIAGE?
IV
DID THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERR IN ORDERING THAT CIVIL CASE NO. 97-0523
RAFFLED TO JUDGE RICAFORT BE RETURNED TO JUDGE HOW OF BRANCH 257 OF THE RTC OF
PARANAQUE CITY?
In other words, if a case is dismissed without prejudice upon the filing by the plaintiff of a notice of
dismissal pursuant to Section 1 of Rule 17, before the service of the answer or responsive pleading, would the
subsequent re-filing of the case by the same party require that the certificate of non-forum shopping state that a
case involving the same issues and parties was filed and dismissed without prejudice beforehand? Would the
omission of such a statement in the certificate of non-forum shopping render null and void the proceedings and
orders issued by the trial court in the re-filed case?
It is our considered view and we hold that the proceedings and orders issued by Judge Bautista-Ricafort in
the application for support pendente lite (and the main complaint for annulment of marriage) in the re-filed case,
that is, in Civil Case No. 97-0608 were not rendered null and void by the omission of a statement in the
certificate of non-forum shopping regarding the prior filing and dismissal without prejudice of Civil Case No.
97-0523 which involves the same parties and issues.

Section 5 of Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure provides that:


SEC. 5. Certification against forum shopping. The plaintiff or principal party shall certify under oath in the
complaint or other initiatory pleading asserting a claim for relief, or in a sworn certification annexed thereto and
simultaneously filed therewith: (a) that he has not theretofore commenced any action or filed any claim
involving the same issues in any court, tribunal or quasi-judicial agency and, to the best of his knowledge, no
such other action or claim is pending therein; (b) if there is such other pending action or claim, a complete
statement of the present status thereof; and (c) if he should thereafter learn that the same or similar action or
claim has been filed or is pending, he shall report that fact within five (5) days therefrom to the court wherein
his aforesaid complaint or initiatory pleading has been filed.
Failure to comply with the foregoing requirements shall not be curable by mere amendment of the complaint or
other initiatory pleading but shall be cause for the dismissal of the case without prejudice, unless otherwise
provided, upon motion and after hearing. The submission of a false certification or non-compliance with any of
the undertakings therein shall constitute indirect contempt of court, without prejudice to the corresponding
administrative and criminal actions. If the acts of the party or his counsel clearly constitute willful and
deliberate forum shopping, the same shall be ground for summary dismissal with prejudice and shall constitute
direct contempt as well as a cause for administrative sanctions. (n)
Forum shopping is an act of a party against whom an adverse judgment has been rendered in one forum of
seeking and possibly getting a favorable opinion in another forum, other than by appeal or the special civil
action of certiorari, or the institution of two or more actions or proceedings grounded on the same cause on the
supposition that one or the other court would make a favorable disposition. The language of the Supreme Court
circular (now the above-quoted Section 5, Rule 7, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure) distinctly suggests that it is
primarily intended to cover an initiatory pleading or an incipient application of a party asserting a claim for
relief.[10] The most important factor in determining the existence of forum shopping is the vexation caused the
courts and parties-litigants by a party who asks different courts to rule on the same or related causes or grant the
same or substantially the same reliefs.[11]
Since a party resorts to forum shopping in order to increase his chances of obtaining a favorable decision or
action, it has been held that a party cannot be said to have sought to improve his chances of obtaining a
favorable decision or action where no unfavorable decision has ever been rendered against him in any of the
cases he has brought before the courts.[12] Forum shopping exists where the elements of litis pendencia are
present, and where a final judgment in one case will amount tores judicata in the other.[13] For the principle
of res judicata to apply, the following must be present: (1) a decision on the merits; (2) by a court of competent
jurisdiction; (3) the decision is final; and (4) the two actions involve identical parties, subject matter and causes
of action.[14]
In the case at bar, there was no adverse decision against the petitioner in Civil Case No. 97-0523 which
was the first case filed and raffled to the sala (Branch 257) of Judge How. The dismissal without prejudice of
the complaint in Civil Case No. 97-0523 at the instance of the petitioner was pursuant to Section 1, Rule 17 of
the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure[15] considering that it was done before service of answer or any responsive
pleading. The dismissal does not amount to litis pendencia nor to res judicata. There is no litis pendencia since
the first case before Judge How was dismissed or withdrawn by the plaintiff (herein petitioner), without
prejudice, upon her filing of a notice of dismissal, pursuant to Section 1, Rule 17 of the 1997 Rules of Civil
Procedure. To use the wording of that rule, Judge Hows order is one merely confirming the dismissal of the
complaint by the plaintiff (herein petitioner). Neither is there res judicata for the reason that the order of
dismissal was not a decision on the merits but a dismissal without prejudice.

Thus, private respondents apprehension that the case was dismissed in order to be transferred to the sala of
a judge who is allegedly more sympathetic to the petitioners cause is baseless and not a valid reason to declare
the petitioner guilty of forum shopping. First, the petitioner is not assured that the case would be raffled to a
more sympathetic judge. There are five (5) RTC branches in Paraaque, namely, branch nos. 257, 258, 259, 260
and 274. Second, Judge Bautista-Ricafort of RTC of Paraaque, Branch 260, is presumed to be fair and impartial
despite private respondents claim that she is an alleged law school classmate of the petitioners counsel.In any
event, at the slightest doubt of the impartiality of the said trial judge, private respondent could have filed before
the same judge a motion for her inhibition on that ground. But private respondent did not.
Private respondent is also estopped in questioning the proceedings and orders of Judge BautistaRicafort. He tacitly acknowledged the validity of the proceedings and the orders issued by the said trial judge by
participating actively in the hearing on the application for support pendente lite and by praying for the
modification of the Order of May 19, 1998 in that he should be allowed to directly pay to the persons or entities
to which payments of such expenses are intended in connection with the required support pendente lite of their
minor children. Private respondent cannot validly claim that he was not ably and sufficiently represented by his
first counsel, Atty. Diaz, especially during the hearing on that incident on May 13, 1998 when he himself was
present thereat.
It is also too late for the private respondent to claim wrong venue in the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque
City as a alleged proof of forum shopping. He should have raised that ground in his answer or in a motion to
dismiss. But he did not, so it is deemed waived. Besides, petitioner is also a resident of Paraaque where the
family of her parents reside.
Considering that the complaint in Civil Case No. 97-0523 was dismissed without prejudice by virtue of the
plaintiffs (herein petitioners) Notice of Dismissal dated November 20, 1997 filed pursuant to Section 1, Rule 17,
of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, there is no need to state in the certificate non-forum shopping in Civil
Case No. 97-0608 about the prior filing and dismissal of Civil Case No. 97-0523. In Gabionza v. Court of
Appeals,[16] we ruled that it is scarcely necessary to add that Circular No. 28-91 (now Section 5, Rule 7 of the
1997 Rules of Civil Procedure) must be so interpreted and applied as to achieve the purposes projected by the
Supreme Court when it promulgated that Circular. Circular No. 28-91 was designed to serve as an instrument to
promote and facilitate the orderly administration of justice and should not be interpreted with such absolute
literalness as to subvert its own ultimate and legitimate objective or the goal of all rules or procedure which is to
achieve substantial justice as expeditiously as possible. The fact that the Circular requires that it be strictly
complied with merely underscores its mandatory nature in that it cannot be dispensed with or its requirements
altogether disregarded, but it does not thereby interdict substantial compliance with its provisions under
justifiable circumstances.[17]
Thus, an omission in the certificate of non-forum shopping about any event that would not constitute res
judicata and litis pendencia as in the case at bar, is not fatal as to merit the dismissal and nullification of the
entire proceedings considering that the evils sought to be prevented by the said certificate are not present. It is in
this light that we ruled in Maricalum Mining Corp. v. National Labor Relations Commission [18] that a liberal
interpretation of Supreme Court Circular No. 04-94 on non-forum shopping would be more in keeping with the
objectives of procedural rules which is to secure a just, speedy and inexpensive disposition of every action and
proceeding.
For a party to be adjudged guilty of forum shopping in the trial courts, a motion to dismiss on the ground of
either litis pendencia or res judicata must be filed before the proper trial court and a hearing conducted thereon
in accordance with Section 5, Rule 7 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. The same ground cannot be raised in

a petition for certiorari before the appellate court while the main action in the trial court is still pending for the
reason that such ground for a motion to dismiss can be raised before the trial court any time during the
proceedings and is not barred by the filing of the answer to the complaint.[19]
The petition for certiorari in the case at bar on the ground of alleged forum shopping in the trial court is
premature for the reason that there is an adequate and speedy remedy available in the ordinary course of law to
private respondent, i.e., a motion to dismiss or a motion for reconsideration on the ground of either litis
pendencia or res judicata before the trial court. But private respondent did not file such a motion based on
either of said grounds. And where the ground is short ofres judicata or litis pendencia, as in the case at bar, the
Court of Appeals acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess of jurisdiction when it granted the
petition for certiorari filed by herein private respondent. The trial court should have been given an opportunity
to rule on the matter of alleged forum shopping in consonance with the hierarchy of courts.
WHEREFORE, the Decision and Resolution dated April 21, 1999 and July 20, 1999 respectively, of the
Court of Appeals are hereby REVERSED, and the Orders dated May 13, 1998, May 19, 1998 and September
23, 1998 of the Regional Trial Court of Paraaque City, Branch 260, are REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-26127 June 28, 1974


(Civil Case No. 3621)
VICTOR BENIN, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellees,
vs.
MARIANO SEVERO TUASON y DE LA PAZ, ET AL., defendants. J. M. TUASON & CO.,
INC., defendant-appellant.
G.R. No. L-26128 June 28, 1974
(Civil Case No. 3622)
JUAN ALCANTARA, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellees,
vs.
MARIANO SEVERO TUASON y DE LA PAZ, ET AL., defendants. J.M. TUASON & CO.,
INC., defendant-appellant.
G.R. No. L-26129 June 28, 1974
(Civil Case No. 3623)
DIEGO PILI, ET AL., plaintiffs-appellees,
vs.
MARIANO SEVERO TUASON y DE LA PAZ, ET AL., defendants. J.M. TUASON & CO.,
INC., defendant-appellant.
Jose Palarca Law Offices for plaintiffs-appellees.
Manuel O. Chan & Rodolfo M. Caluag for defendant-appellant.

ZALDIVAR, J.:p
Appeal from the decision, dated January 18, 1965, of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, the Hon.
Judge Eulogio Mencias, presiding in Civil Cases Nos. 3621, 3622, and 3623. 1
On May 19, 1955 three sets of plaintiffs filed three separate complaints containing substantially the
same allegations. 2
In Civil Case No. 3621, the plaintiffs alleged that they were the owners and possessors of the three
parcels of agricultural lands, described in paragraph V of the complaint, located in the barrio of La
Loma (now barrio of San Jose) in the municipality (now city) of Caloocan, province of Rizal, having an
aggregate area of approximately 278,928 square meters; that they inherited said parcels of land from
their ancestor Sixto Benin, who in turn inherited the same from his father, Eugenio Benin; that they
and their predecessors in interest had possessed these three parcels of land openly, adversely, and
peacefully, cultivated the same and exclusively enjoyed the fruits harvested therefrom; that Eugenio
Benin, plaintiff's grandfather, had said parcels of land surveyed on March 4 and 6, 1894, that during
the cadastral survey by the Bureau of Lands of the lands in Barrio San Jose in 1933 Sixto Benin and

herein plaintiffs claim the ownership over said parcels of land; that they declared said lands for
taxation purposes in 1940 under Tax Declaration No. 2429; that after the outbreak of the last World
War, or sometime in 1942 and subsequently thereafter, evacuees from Manila and other places, after
having secured the permission of the plaintiffs, constructed their houses thereon and paid monthly
rentals to plaintiffs.
In Civil Case No. 3622 the plaintiffs alleged that they were the owners and possessors of two parcels
of agricultural land, described in paragraph V of the complaint, located in the Barrio of La Loma (now
Barrio San Jose) in the municipality of Caloocan, province of Rizal, having an aggregate area of
approximately 148,118 square meters; that these parcels of land were inherited by them from their
deceased father Bonoso Alcantara, who in turn inherited the same from his father, Juan Alcantara;
that plaintiffs Juan Alcantara and Jose Alcantara were the children of Bonoso Alcantara; that these
two brothers inherited the land from their father, and they and their predecessors in interest had been
in open, adverse and continuous possession of the same, planting therein palay and other agricultural
products and exclusively enjoying said products; that on March 28, 1894 plaintiffs' grandfather, Juan
Alcantara, had said lands surveyed; that during the cadastral survey by the Bureau of Lands of the
lands in Barrio San Jose in 1933 Bonoso Alcantara and the plaintiffs filed and registered their claims
of ownership over said lands; that plaintiffs had said lands declared for taxation purposes under Tax
Declaration No. 2390, of Quezon City; that after the outbreak of the last World War, or sometime in
1942 and subsequently thereafter, evacuees from Manila and other places, after having secured
permission from plaintiffs, settled and constructed their houses on said lands and plaintiffs collected
monthly rentals from them.
In Civil Case No. 3623, plaintiffs alleged that they are the owners and possessors of a parcel of
agricultural land located in the Barrio of La Loma (now San Jose), municipality of Caloocan, province
of Rizal, having an area of approximately 62,481 square meters; that this parcel of land was inherited
by plaintiffs from their ancestor Candido Pili who in turn inherited the same from his parents; that
Candido Pili and his predecessors in interest owned, possessed, occupied and cultivated the said
parcel of land from time immemorial; that upon the death of Candido Pili his children Luisa Pili,
Pascual Pili, Diego Pili and Manuel Pili succeeded to the ownership and possession and cultivation of
said land; that plaintiffs and their predecessors in interest, as owners and possessors of said land,
had openly, adversely and continuously cultivated the land, planting thereon palay and other
agricultural products and enjoying exclusively the products harvested therefrom; that during his
lifetime, Candido Pili ordered the survey of said land sometime on March 11, 1894, and when the
cadastral survey of said land was conducted by the Bureau of Lands in 1933 Candido Pili and
plaintiffs filed and registered their claim of ownership over the said parcel of land; that plaintiffs had
the land declared for taxation purposes under Tax Declaration No. 2597, Quezon City, Philippines;
that after the outbreak of the last World War, or sometime in 1942 and subsequently thereafter,
evacuees from Manila and other places, after securing permission from plaintiffs, settled and
constructed their houses in said land and plaintiffs collected monthly rentals from their lessees or
tenants.
The plaintiffs in these three civil cases uniformly alleged, in their respective complaint, that sometime
in the year 1951 while they were enjoying the peaceful possession of their lands, the defendants,
particularly the defendant J.M. Tuason and Co. Inc., through their agents and representatives, with
the aid of armed men, by force and intimidation, using bulldozers and other demolishing equipment,
illegally entered and started defacing, demolishing and destroying the dwellings and constructions of
plaintiffs' lessees, as well as the improvements consisting of rice paddies (pilapiles), bamboos and
fruit trees, and permanent improvements such as old roads, old bridges and other permanent
landmarks within and outside the lands in question, disregarding the objections of plaintiffs, and as a
result plaintiffs were deprived of the rentals received from their lessees; that plaintiffs made inquiries
regarding the probable claim of defendants, and in 1953 they discovered for the first time that their

lands, as described in their respective complaint, had either been fraudulently or erroneously
included, by direct or constructive fraud, in what appears as Parcel No. 1 (known as Santa Mesa
Estate) in Original Certificate of Title No. 735 of the Land Records of the province of Rizal in the
names of the original applicants for registration, now defendants, Mariano Severo Tuason y de la
Paz, Teresa Eriberta Tuason y de la Paz, Juan Jose Tuason y de la Paz, Demetrio Asuncion Tuason
y de la Paz, and Augusto Huberto Tuason y de la Paz.
The plaintiffs in each of the three complaints also alleged that the registered owners mentioned in
Original Certificate of Title No. 735 had applied for the registration of two parcels of land (known as
the Santa Mesa Estate and the Diliman Estate), located in the municipalities of Caloocan and San
Juan del Monte, province of Rizal, of which parcel No. 1 (Santa Mesa Estate) contained an area of
8,798,617 square meters; that the registration proceedings were docketed as LRC No. 7681 of the
Court of Land Registration; that the application for registration in LRC No. 7681, containing the
boundaries, technical descriptions and areas of parcel No. 1 (Santa Mesa Estate) and parcel No. 2
(Diliman Estate) was published in the Official Gazette; that before the decision was handed down in
LRC No. 7681, the area, boundaries and technical descriptions of parcel No. 1 were altered and
amended; that the amendments and alterations, which were made after the publication of the original
application, were never published; that on March 7, 1914 a decision was rendered in LRC No. 7681
based on the amended plan; that pursuant to the decision of March 7, 1914 a decree of registration
was issued on July 6, 1914, known as Decree No. 17431, decreeing the registration in the names of
the applicants of the two parcels of land (Santa Mesa Estate and Diliman Estate); that the decision
dated March 7, 1914 in LRC No. 7681 is null and void because the Land Registration Court had no
jurisdiction to render the decision for lack of publication; that Decree No. 17431 issued pursuant to
the decision of March 7, 1914 in LRC No. 7681 is likewise null and void from the beginning, because
it was issued pursuant to a void decision and because the boundaries, technical descriptions and
areas appearing in the decree are different and not identical with the boundaries, technical
descriptions and areas in the application for registration as published in the Official Gazette; that the
area of parcel No. 1 as mentioned in Decree No. 17431 is bigger than the area of parcel No. 1
appearing in the application for registration as published in the Official Gazette; that Original
Certificate of Title No. 735, referring to parcel 1 (Santa Mesa Estate), is also null and void from the
beginning because it was issued pursuant to a void decree of registration; that the area, boundaries
and technical description of Parcel No. 1 appearing in Decree of Registration No. 17431 and in the
Original Certificate of Title No. 735 are different from the area, boundaries and technical description
appearing in the application for registration as published in the Official Gazette; that the plaintiffs had
not been notified of the proceedings in LRC No. 7681 although the applicants knew, or could have
known, by the exercise of necessary diligence, the names and addresses of the plaintiffs and their
predecessors in interest who were then, and up to the time the complaints were filed, in possession
and were cultivating the lands described in paragraph V of their respective complaint; and that during,
before, and even after the issuance of Original Certificate of Title No. 735 the defendants had tacitly
recognized the ownership of the plaintiffs over their respective lands because said defendants had
never disturbed the possession and cultivation of the lands by the plaintiffs until the year 1951; and
that all transfer certificates of title issued subsequently, based on Original Certificate of Title No. 735,
are also null and void. 3
The plaintiffs in each of the three cases prayed the court: (1) to declare them owners and entitled to
the possession of the parcel, or parcels, of land described in their respective complaint, as the case
may be; (2) to revoke the decision of the Court of Land Registration, dated March 7, 1914 in LRC No.
7681, and to declare Decree No. 17431, dated July 6, 1914 null and void from the beginning with
respect to Parcel No. 1(Santa Mesa Estate) in Original Certificate of Title No. 735 which include the
lands of the plaintiffs; (3) to declare Original Certificate of Title No. 735, particularly as it refers to
Parcel No. 1 (Santa Mesa Estate) also null and void; (4) to declare null and void all transfer
certificates of titles issued by the Register of Deeds of Rizal and of Quezon City subsequent to, and

based on, Original Certificate of Title No. 735; (5) to order the defendants, in the event Original
Certificate of Title No. 735 is declared valid, to reconvey and transfer title over the land described in
their respective complaint in favor of the plaintiffs in each case, as the case may be; (6) to order the
defendants to pay the plaintiffs the market value of the lands in question in case of defendants'
inability to reconvey the same; (7) to order the defendants to pay damages to the plaintiffs; (8) to
issue a writ of preliminary injunction against the defendants, their lawyers, their agents and
representatives from disturbing the ownership and possession of the plaintiffs during the pendency of
these cases.
The plaintiffs, in the three cases, were allowed by the trial court to litigate as paupers.
Only defendant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. was actually served with summons. The other defendants
were ordered summoned by publication in accordance with Sections 16 and 17 of the Rules of Court.
Only defendant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. appeared. The other defendants were all declared in default.
On June 23, 1955 defendant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. filed a motion to dismiss in each of the three
cases. This motion to dismiss was denied by the trial court on July 20, 1955.
On July 18, 1955 the trial court issued an order granting the writ of preliminary injunction prayed for
by the plaintiffs in their complaints. The preliminary injunction, however, was lifted by order of the trial
court on October 3, 1955, upon the posting by defendant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. of bonds in the total
amount of P14,000.00 pursuant to the order of the court of September 26, 1955.
On August 11, 1955 defendant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. filed in the three cases a motion for
reconsideration of the order of July 20, 1955 denying the motion to dismiss. This motion for
reconsideration was denied by order of the court of September 26, 1955.
On November 29, 1955 defendant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. filed an answer in each of the three cases.
In its answer, this defendant, among others, specifically denied plaintiffs' claim of ownership of the
lands involved in each case. The answer contains special and affirmative defenses, to wit: (1) that the
plaintiffs' cause of action is barred by prior judgment and res judicata in view of the judgment of the
Court of First Instance of Rizal in its Civil Case No. Q-156 which was subsequently elevated to the
Supreme Court as G.R. No. L-4998, in which latter case the Supreme Court affirmed in toto the order
of the lower court dismissing the case; (2) that the complaints failed to state facts sufficient to
constitute a cause of action against the defendants; (3) that the plaintiffs' action, assuming that their
complaints state sufficient cause of action, had prescribed either under Act No. 496 or under statutes
governing prescription of action; (4) that defendant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. is a buyer in good faith
and for valuable consideration of the parcels of land involved in the three cases; (5) that the
registration proceedings had in LRC No. 7681 instituted by the defendant's predecessors in interest
was in accordance with law, and the requirements for a valid registration of title were complied with.
By way of counterclaim the defendant prayed that the plaintiffs be ordered to pay damages as therein
specified.
The plaintiffs, amended their complaints in the three cases, by including additional parties as
plaintiffs, and the amended complaints were admitted by the trial court. The defendant, J.M. Tuason &
Co., Inc., filed a manifestation that it was reproducing and realleging its answers to the original
complaints as its answers to the amended complaints in view of the fact that the amendments to the
complaints consist merely in the inclusion of additional indispensable as well as necessary partiesplaintiffs. 4
On June 7, 1962, after the plaintiffs had presented their evidence, defendant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc.
presented a motion to dismiss the cases upon grounds that (1) the actions were barred by the statute

of limitations; (2) that the actions barred by a prior judgment; and (3) that plaintiffs had not presented
any evidence to prove their claim of ownership. The defendant later filed a motion to withdraw the
third ground of its motion to dismiss. The plaintiffs filed their opposition to the motion to dismiss, as
well as to the motion of defendant to withdraw its third ground to dismiss. The trial court, in an order
dated December 3, 1962, granted defendant's motion to withdraw the third ground of its motion to
dismiss but denied the motion to dismiss. 5
After trial, on January 18, 1965, the lower court rendered a decision for the three cases, the
dispositive portion of which reads as follows:
WHEREFORE, IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, judgment is hereby rendered in
favor of the Plaintiffs and against the Defendants as follows:
A Declaring that the decision, the decree and the title issued in LRC No. 7681, are
null and void,ab initio, and of no effect whatsoever;
B Declaring that Original Certificate of Title No. 735 found on page 136 Vol. A-7 of
the Registration Book of Rizal is null and void from the very beginning (and) of no effect
whatsoever;
C Declaring that all Transfer Certificates of Title emanating or allegedly derived from
Original Certificate of Title No. 735 of the Province of Rizal are likewise null and void;
D Declaring that the plaintiff in Civil Cases Nos. 3621, 3622 and 3623 are the owners
and entitled to the possession of the parcels of land claimed and described in paragraph
V of their respective complaints;
E Ordering the defendants and all persons claiming under them to vacate and
restore to the plaintiffs the possesion of the parcels of land described in paragraph V of
the complaint in Civil Case No. 3621 and indicated as Parcel A, Parcel B and Parcel C,
in SWO-40187 (Exh. "UU" and Exh. "VV");
F Ordering the defendants and all persons claiming under them to vacate and restore
to the plaintiffs the possession of the parcels of land described in paragraph V of the
complaint in Civil Case No. 3623 and indicated as Parcel D and Parcel F, in SWO40187 (Exh. "UU" and Exh. 'VV");
G Ordering the Defendants and all persons claiming under them to vacate and
restore to the plaintiffs the possession of the parcels of land described in paragraph V of
the complaint in Civil Case No. 3623 and indicated in Parcel E, in SWO-491187 (Exh.
"UU and Exh. "VV");
H Ordering the defendants to pay plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3621 the sum of
P600.00 a month as actual damages for uncollected rentals from 1951 until such
possession is restored to them;
I Ordering the defendants to pay the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3623 the sum of
P600.00 a month, as actual damages for uncollected rentals from 1951 until such
possession is restored to them;.

J Ordering the defendants to pay the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3623 the sum of
P150.00 a month as actual damages for uncollected rentals from 1951 until such
possession is restored to them; .
K Ordering the defendants to pay the costs; .
L The defendants' counterclaim is hereby declared dismissed for lack of merit." 6
A motion for new trial was filed by defendant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. on January 30, 1965. However,
before the motion for new trial was resolved by the court, said defendant, on February 11, 1965, filed
a notice of appeal to this Court and an appeal bond, and on February 12, 1965 he filed the record on
appeal. 7 The record on appeal, after it had been corrected and amended, as ordered and/or
authorized by the trial court, was approved on September 29, 1965. 8
Appellant J.M. Tuason & Co. Inc., in this appeal, contends that the trial court committed the following
errors:
I. The lower court erred in holding that the Land Registration Court in GLRO No. 7681
lacked or was without jurisdiction to issue decree No. 17431 for the alleged reason that:
(1) The amendment to the original plan was not published;
(2) The description of Parcel 1 in the decree is not identical with the
description of Parcel 1 as applied for and as published in the Official
Gazette;
(3) Parcel 1 as decreed is bigger in area than Parcel 1 as applied for;
(4) A. Bonifacio Road is the only boundary on the West of Parcel 1.
II. The trial court erred in finding that the transcription of the decree No. 17431 was not
in accordance with the law and that, therefore, said OCT 735 was a complete nullity and
the land remains unregistered.
III. The trial court erred in taking cognizance of these cases despite its lack of
jurisdiction to hear and decide the same.
IV. The trial court erred in not dismissing these cases on the grounds of prescription and
laches, and in denying the motions to dismiss filed on said grounds.
V. The trial court erred in not dismissing these cases on the ground of res judicata and
in denying the motion to dismiss filed on said ground.
VI. The trial court erred in declaring null and void all certificates of title emanating from
OCT 735.
VII. The trial court erred in holding that J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. is not a purchaser in
good faith and for value.
VIII. The trial court erred in awarding ownership of the lands claimed by, and in
awarding damages to, the appellees.

IX. The trial court erred in denying and in dismissing appellant's counterclaim and in
sentencing appellant to pay the costs of these suits.
As stated by the trial court in its decision, "These cases involve the validity of the decision and the
decree issued in LRC No. 7681 resulting in the issuance of Title No. 735, and the ownership and
possession of several parcels of land, claimed by the plaintiffs in their respective complaints...."
The lower court, summarizing its findings, among others, concluded that: (1) the decision and the
decree in LRC No. 7681 are null and void ab initio, having been rendered without jurisdiction; (2)
Original Certificate of Title No. 735 issued pursuant to the decree in LRC No. 7681 is null and void,
having been issued pursuant to a void degree; (3) Original Certificate of Title No. 735 is null and void
because the No. 17431 in LRC No. 7681, assuming the degree to be valid, had not been inscribed in
accordance with the provisions of Section 41 of Act 496; (4) all Transfer Certificates of Title allegedly
emanating and derived from the void Original Certificate of Title No. 735 are likewise null and void;
and (5) the plaintiffs in these three civil are the owners and entitled to the possession of the parcels of
land described in their respective complaints.
We have carefully examined and studied the voluminous records, and the numerous documentary
evidence, of these three cases, and We find that the conclusions of the trial court are not supported
by the evidence and the applicable decisions of this Court.
The Original Certificate of Title No. 735 that had been declared null and void ab initio by the trial court
covers two big parcels of land, mentioned in said title as Parcel 1, having an area of 8,778,644.10
square meters more or less, known as the Santa Mesa Estate; and Parcel 2, having an area of
15,961,246 square meters more or less, known as the Diliman Estate. The three parcels of land
involved in Civil Case No. 3621, having an aggregate area of 278,853 square meters, more or less;
the two parcels of land involved in Civil Case No. 3622 having an aggregate area of 154,119.7 square
meters, more or less; and the one parcel of land involved in Civil Case No. 3623, having an area of
62,481 square meters, more or less, are all included in the area of Parcel 1. 9 The trial court, in its
decision, states that the identity of the parcels of land claimed by the plaintiffs is not disputed and that
both the plaintiffs and the defendant admit that the parcels of land litigated are found within the
boundaries of the present Sta. Mesa Heights Subdivision (Parcel 1) covered by Original Certificate of
Title No. 735. 10 It is shown in the survey plans, presented by both the plaintiffs and the defendant,
that the six parcels of lands involved in these three cases are located at the northwestern portion of
Parcel 1. (Exhs. UU, VV; and Exh. 29).
The records show, and it is established by the evidence, that sometime in 1911 Mariano Severo
Tuason y de la Paz, Teresa Eriberta Tuason y de la Paz, Juan Jose Tuason y de la Paz, Demetrio
Asuncion Tuason y de la Paz, and Augusto Huberto Tuason y de la Paz, filed with the Court of Land
Registration an application for the registration of their title over two parcels of land, designated in the
survey plans accompanying the application as Parcel 1 with an area of 8,798,617 square meters, and
Parcel 2 with an area of 16,254,037 square meters. The application was docketed as LRC No. 7681.
There was another application covering three other parcels of land, docketed as LRC No. 7680. The
application in LRC No. 7681 was set for hearing on November 20, 1911 (Exh. X). The application and
the notice of hearing, containing the technical descriptions of the two parcels of land applied for, were
published in the issue of the Official Gazette of October 25, 1911 (Exh. YY). On November 20, 1911
the Court of Land Registration issued an order of general default against the whole world except the
Insular Government, the Director of Lands and the municipalities of Caloocan and San Juan del
Monte (Exh. 28). On December 23, 1911 the court issued an order authorizing the amendment of the
plan in LRC No. 7681 (Exh. 23). November 11, 1913 the applicants and the Government entered into
an agreement whereby the Government agreed to withdraw its opposition to the application for
registration of title over the portion known as Hacienda Diliman (Parcel 2) on condition that the roads

existing on said tract of land be allowed to remain, and it was further agreed "that the issuance, of the
title to applicants shall be made subject to all the exceptions established by Section 39 of Act 496 as
amended by Section 1 of Act 2011" (Exh. 21). On December 29, 1913 the Court of Land Registration
rendered a decision (Exh. 24) in both LRC No. 7680 and LRC No. 7681 which, among others, stated
that during the registration proceedings the plans accompanying the two applications were amended
in order to exclude certain areas that were the subject of opposition, that the order of general default
was confirmed, that the Chief of the Surveyor's Division of the Court of Land Registration was ordered
to submit a report as to whether or not the new (amended) plans had included lands which were not
by the original plans, and whether or not the new plans had excluded the lands that had already been
covered by the decree in LRC No. 3563. The decision further stated that in the event that the new
plans did not include new parcels of land and that the lands that were the subject of the proceedings
in LRC No. 3563 had been excluded, an additional decision would be made decreeing the
adjudication and registration of the lands that were the subject of the registration proceedings in favor
of the applicants, as follows: To Mariano Severo Tuason y de la Paz, two sixths (2/6) undivided
portion to Teresa Eriberta Tuason y de la Paz, one sixth (1/6) undivided portion; to Juan Jose Tuason
y de la Paz, one sixth (1/6) undivided portion; to Demetrio Asuncion Tuason y de la Paz, one sixth
(1/6)undivided portion; and to Augusto Huberto Tuason y de la Paz, one sixth (1/6) undivided portion.
In compliance with the order contained in the decision of December 29, 1913, the Chief of the Survey
Division of the Court of Land Registration, on January 24, 1914, submitted a report (Exh. 22) to the
court which, among others, stated that the new plan of Parcel 1 in LRC No. 7681 did not include any
land that had not been previously included in the original plan.
On March 7, 1914 the Court of Land Registration rendered a supplemental decision declaring that, on
the basis of the decision of December 29, 1913 and of the report of the Surveyor of Court of Land
Registration, the applicants Mariano Severo Tuason y de la Paz and others were the owners of the
land applied for, as described in the amended plan, in the proportion mentioned in the decision, and
ordering that the land applied for be registered in the names of the applicants and that a decree of
registration be issued in accordance with the decision and the amended plan. On March 27, 1914 the
Chief of the Survey Division addressed a communication to the registration court, in connection with
LRC No. 7681, suggesting that the decision of the court of March 7, 1914 be modified such that the
decree of registration be based upon the original plan as published and not upon the amended plan
(Exh. Z-3). The Court of Land Registration did not follow the recommendation of the Chief of the
Survey Division. On July 6, 1914 Decree of Registration No. 17431 was issued by the Chief of the
General Land Registration Office pursuant to the decision of the Court of Land Registration of March
7, 1914 in LRC No. 7681. The decree contains the technical description of the two parcels of land in
accordance with the plan as amended. It appears in the decree that Parcel 1 has an area of
8,798,644.10 square meters, more or less, or an increase of 27.10 square meters over the area of
8,798,617 square meters that was stated in the application for registration and in the notice of hearing
which were published in the Official Gazette of October 25, 1911; and that Parcel 2 has an area of
15,961,246 square meters, more or less, or a decrease of 292,791 square meters from the area of
16,254,037 square meters that was stated in the application and in the notice of hearing that were
published in the Official Gazette (Exhs. 25 and YY). All in all, there is a decrease of 292,763.90
square meters in the aggregate area of the two parcels of land sought to be registered.
Subsequently, on July 8, 1914, the Register of Deeds of the province of Rizal issued Original
Certificate of Title No. 735 in the names of the applicants, Mariano Severo Tuason y de la Paz,
Teresa Eriberta Tuason y de la Paz, Juan Jose Tuason y de la Paz, Demetrio Asuncion Tuason y de
la Paz, and Augusto Huberto Tuason y de la Paz (Exh. 30).
1. We shall now deal with the first error assigned by the appellant.

The lower court declared Original Certificate of Title No. 735 null and void ab initio because,
according to said court, that title was based on Decree of Registration No. 17431 in LRC No. 7681
that was null and void, said decree having been issued pursuant to a decision of the Court of Land
Registration in LRC No. 7681 which had no jurisdiction to render said decision.
As We have adverted to, Original Certificate of Title No. 735 covers two big parcels of land: Parcel 1,
known as the Santa Mesa Estate, and Parcel 2, known as the Diliman Estate. The records show that
these two parcels of land had been subdivided into numerous lots, and most of those lots had sold to
numerous parties Parcel 1 having been converted into a subdivision known as the Santa Mesa
Heights Subdivision, and the lots had been sold to private individual and entities, such that in that
subdivision now are located the National Orthopedic Hospital, the station of Pangasinan
Transportation Co. (Pantranco), Sto. Domingo Church, Lourdes Church and others. Necessarily, as a
result of the sales of the lots into which Parcel 1 was subdivided, transfer certificates of title were
issued to the purchasers of the lots, and these transfer certificates of title were based upon transfer
certificates of title that emanated from Original Certificate of Title No. 735. The trial court declared null
and void all transfer certificates of title emanating, or derived, from Original Certificate of No. 735.
The decision of the trial court declaring null and void ab initio Original Certificate of Title No. 735
would invalidate the title over the entire area included in Parcel 1 which admittedly includes the six
parcels of land claimed by the plaintiffs-and also the title over the entire area included in Parcel 2. Let
it be noted that Parcel 1 has an area of 8,798,644.10 square meters, more or less, and Parcel 2 has
an area of 15,961,246 square meters, more or less; while the six parcels of land claimed by the
plaintiffs have an aggregate area of only 495,453.7 square meters, more or less. In other words, the
area of the six parcels of land claimed by the plaintiffs is only a little over two per cent (2%) of the
aggregate area of Parcel 1 and Parcel 2. But the decision of the trial court nullified Original Certificate
of Title No. 785, without any qualification.
The trial court held that the Court of Land Registration had no jurisdiction to render the decision in
LRC No. 7681 because during the registration proceedings, after the original application and notice of
hearing had been duly published, the plan of Parcel 1 was amended and no publication regarding the
amended plan was made. The trial court pointed out that the area and the description of Parcel 1 in
Decree of Registration No. 17431 are not identical with the area and description of Parcel 1 applied
for and published in the Official Gazette. The trial court stressed on the point that publication is one of
the essential bases of the jurisdiction of the court to hear and decide an application for registration
and to order the issuance of a decree of registration, as provided in Act 496 (Land Registration Act).
We believe that the lower court erred when it held that the Land Registration Court was without
jurisdiction to render the decision in LRC No. 7681. Under Section 23 of Act 496, the registration court
may allow, or order, an amendment of the application for registration when it appears to the court that
the amendment is necessary and proper. Under Section 24 of the same act the court may at any time
order an application to be amended by striking out one or more parcels or by severance of the
application. The amendment may be made in the application or in the survey plan, or in both, since
the application and the survey plan go together. If the amendment consists in the inclusion in the
application for registration of an area or parcel of land not previously included in the original
application, as published, a new publication of the amended application must be made. The purpose
of the new publication is to give notice to all persons concerned regarding the amended application.
Without a new publication the registration court can not acquire jurisdiction over the area or parcel of
land that is added to the area covered by the original application, and the decision of the registration
court would be a nullity insofar as the decision concerns the newly included land. 11 The reason is
because without a new publication, the law is infringed with respect to the publicity that is required in
registration proceedings, and third parties who have not had the opportunity to present their claim
might be prejudiced in their rights because of failure of notice. 12 But if the amendment consists in the

exclusion of a portion of the area covered by the original application and the original plan as
previously published, a new publication is not necessary. 13 In the latter case, the jurisdiction of the
court over the remaining area is not affected by the failure of a new publication. 14
In the case at bar We find that the original plan covering Parcel 1 and Parcel 2 that accompanied the
application for registration in LRC No. 7681 was amended in order to exclude certain areas that were
the subject of opposition, or which were the subject of another registration case; and the Chief of the
Survey Division of the Court of Land Registration was ordered to determine whether the amended
plan included lands or areas not included in the original plan. In compliance with the order of the
registration court said Chief of the Survey Division informed the court that no new parcels were
included in the new (or amended) plan. Thus, in the decision of the Court of Land Registration in LRC
Nos. 7680 and 7681, dated December 29, 1913 (Exh. 24), We read the following:
Despues de las notificaciones y avisos de las dos solicitudes en ambos expedientes, se
enmendaronlos planos unidos a los mismos para excluir ciertas porciones que habian
sido objeto de oposicion.
xxx xxx xxx
POR TANTO, ratificando como por la presente se ratifica la declaracion de rebeldia
general, se ordena:
"1.o Que el Jefe de la Division de Agrimensores de este Tribunal terreno
que no haya sido comprendido en los planos originales ...." 15
On January 24, 1914, the Chief of the Survey Division of the Court of Land Registration made a
report to the court (Exh. 22), from which the report We read the following:.
Cumpliendo lo mandado por el Tribunal en el No. 1 de la parte dispositiva de su
Decision de fecha 29 de Diciembre proximo pasado, el que suscribe, despues de un
detenido estudio de los planos unidos a los Expedientes arriba citados, tiene el honor
de informar:
1.o Que los nuevos planos presentados por los solicitantes corresponden a las parcelas
1.a 2.a, y 3.a, del Expedients No. 7680 y a la 1.a parcela del No. 7681, que son las
mismas a que se refiere el plano Exhibito A del No. 7680.
xxx xxx xxx
4. Que los nuevos planos presentados de las parcelas 1.a, 2.a y 3.a del Expediente
7680, y de la 1.a del 7681 no incluyen terreno alguno que no haya sido comprendido en
los planos originales. 16
And so, in the supplemental decision of the Court of Land Registration in LRC No. 7681, dated March
7, 1914 (Exh. 24-A), the report of the Chief of the Survey Division was taken into consideration and
the court ordered the registration of the lands applied for by the applicants as described in the
amended plan ("como esta descrito en el plano enmendado"). It is thus shown that the amended plan
in LRC No. 7681 did not cover parcels, or areas, that were not previously included in the original plan
which accompanied the application that had been published in the Official Gazette. There was,
therefore, no necessity for a new publication of the amended plan in order to vest the Court of Land
Registration with jurisdiction to hear and decide the application for registration in LRC No. 7681 and

to order the issuance of Decree of Registration No. 17431 upon which Original Certificate of Title No.
735 was based.
Way back in 1933, this Court had occasion to rule on the validity of the very same Original Certificate
of Title No. 735 which the trial court had declared null and void in the three cases now before this
Court. In the case of the Bank of the Philippine Islands vs. Acua (59 Phil. 183) the validity of Original
Certificate of Title No. 735 was assailed by the appellants (Pascual Acua and others) precisely upon
the ground that during the registration proceedings, which brought about the issuance of Original
Certificate of Title No. 735, the original plan of the applicants was ordered amended, and no new
publication was made of the amended plan and so it was urged that the registration court did not
have jurisdiction to order the issuance of the decree of registration in favor of the applicants. The
action in this case was instituted by the Bank of the Philippine Islands as receiver of the Tuason Entail
for the purpose, among others, of recovering from Pascual Acua and others certain lands included in
the Santa Mesa and Diliman hacienda located in the barrios of Bagobantay and Diliman, in the
municipalities of Caloocan and San Juan del Monte Province of Rizal. Upon hearing, the Court of
First Instance of Rizal declared that none of the defendants owned any part of the land in controversy.
On appeal, this Court observed that the character in which the plaintiff sued was not open to
question, and the material facts were as follows: The heirs of the Tuason estate, referred to as the
Tuason Entail, held a Torrens title to a tract of land with an area of about 1,600 hectares located in the
province of Rizal. This property was then covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 3792 issued in
lieu of older certificates dating from July 8, 1914. This Transfer Certificate of Title No. 3792 emanated
from Or Certificate of Title No. 735. 17 The appellants precisely sought to nullify the title of the heirs of
the Tuason estate, which emanated from Original Certificate of Title No. 735, upon the ground, as
now urged by the appellees in the three cases at bar, that during the registration proceedings the
original plan of the lands known as the Sta. Mesa and Diliman was amended, and no publication was
made of the amended plan. Regarding the question of the non-publication of the amended plan, this
Court said:
Among the arguments made by the appellants of the Bagobantay group, it is alleged
that the Torrens title relied by the plaintiff is void, and in support of this contention it
stated that, during the course of the registration proceedings, an order was made by the
court for the amendment of the applicants and that this order was not followed by new
publication, wherefore, it is supposed the court was without jurisdiction to decree the
title to the applicants. In this connection reliance is placed upon the doctrine stated in
the Philippine Manufacturing Co. vs. Imperial (49 Phil. 122). But the brief for the
appellants fails to call attention to the fact that the rule stated in the case cited has
reference to an amendment of the plan by which additional land, different from that
included in the original survey is intended to be brought within the process of
registration. In the case before us, the order referred to was for the exclusion of certain
portions of the land covered by the original survey, and the doctrine of the case cited
cannot apply. Apart from this it does not appear that the portion intended to be excluded
comprehended any part of the land which had been usurped. 18
The appellees, however, asserts that the case of the Bank of the Philippine Islands vs. Acua, supra,
is not applicable to the three cases now before this Court because what was involved in said case
was Parcel 2 of Original Certificate of Title No. 735, and not Parcel 1 which is the land involved in
these cases. This assertion of the appellees is not correct. The decision in that case states that the
action was instituted by the Bank of the Philippine Islands, as receiver of the Tuason Entail, for the
purpose, among others, of recovering from Pascual Acua and others "certain lands contained in the
Sta. Mesa and Diliman Hacienda located in the barrios of Bagobantay and Diliman in the
municipalities of Caloocan and San Juan del Monte." 19 But what matters is the doctrine that was laid
down by this Court in that case that is: that when the original survey plan is amended, after the

publication of the application in order to include land not previously included in the original survey, a
new publication of the amended plan is necessary in order to confer jurisdiction upon the registration
court to order the registration of the land that is added to what was included in the original survey
plan. The ruling of this Court in the Bank of the Philippine Islands case has a decisive application in
the three cases now before this Court.
The trial court laid stress on the point that publication of the amended plan of Parcel 1 should have
been made because it appears in the Decree of Registration No. 17431, and as reproduced in
Original Certificate of Title No. 735, that the area of said parcel is "bigger" than the area stated in the
application as published in the Official Gazette; and, also, that the boundaries of Parcel 1 stated in
the decree are not identical with the boundaries stated in the application as published in the Official
Gazette. We paid particular attention on this point of the lower court's decision, and our impression is
that the trial court had exploited certain minor discrepancies between the description of Parcel 1 in
the decree of registration and its description in the original application, in order to bolster its ruling that
"to render a decision on the amended plan, boundary descriptions, and additional lands comprised
within Parcel 1 in Decree No. 17431, a republication of such amended plan, boundary description,
technical description and additional areas is necessary to confer jurisdiction upon the Court." 20
Oddly enough, when the lower court said that the area of Parcel 1 in the decree of registration
is bigger than the area of Parcel 1 in the application as published, it did not mention the fact that the
difference in area is only 27.10 square meters. We believe that this difference of 27.10 square meters
is too minimal to be of decisive consequence in the determination of the validity of Original Certificate
of Title No. 735. It was error on the part of the lower court to lay stress on this circumstance and
made it a basis for ruling that because in the amended plan there is this increase in area as
compared to the area appearing in the application as published, the Land Registration Court did not
have jurisdiction to render the decision decreeing the registration of Parcel 1 in LRC No. 7681. The
Chief of the Survey Division of the Court of Land Registration, in his report to the court of January 24,
1914 (Exh. 22), stated that the new plan of Parcel 1 did not include any land that was not included in
the original plan. That report was made precisely in compliance with the order of the registration
court, in the decision of December 29, 1913 in LRC No. 7681, to inform the court "si los nuevos
planos incluyen o no terreno que no haya sido comprendido en los planos originales". That report
was submitted by the Chief Surveyor "despues de un detenido estudio de los planos unidos a los
expedientes". Under the foregoing circumstances, our inference is that the area of 27.10 square
meters was already included in the original plan, and that the computation of the area in the original
survey must have been inaccurate; and the error was corrected in the recomputation of the area
when the amended plan was prepared. We made a careful study and comparison of the technical
description of Parcel 1 appearing in the application as published, and the technical description
appearing in Decree of Registration No. 17431 (Exhs. 19, 19-A and Z-6), and We accept the
explanation of counsel for the appellant that this seeming increase of 27.10 square meters had been
brought about "by the fact that when the amendment of the plan was made, the distances and
bearings in a few points along the southwestern boundary (Please see Exh. 19) were brought to the
nearest millimeter and to the nearest second respectively; whereas, the computation of the survey in
the original plan was to the nearest decimeter and to the nearest minute only". 21 We believe that this
very slight increase of 27.10 square meters would not justify the conclusion of the lower court that
"the amended plan ... included additional lands which were not originally included in Parcel 1 as
published in the Official Gazette." It being undisputed that Parcel 1 has an area of more than
8,798,600 square meters (or 879.86 hectares), We believe that this difference of 27.10 square
meters, between the computation of the area when the original plan was made and the computation
of the area when the amended plan was prepared, can not be considered substantial as would affect
the identity of Parcel 1.

Moreover, no evidence was presented to identify this area of 27.10 square meters, nor to show its
location, in relation to the entire area of Parcel 1. The appellees did not even attempt to show that this
excess area of 27.10 square meters is included within the parcels that they are claiming. We cannot,
therefore; consider this area of 27.10 square meters as an area that was separate and distinct from,
and was added to, the land that was covered by the original survey plan, such that the publication of
the amended plan would be necessary in order that the registration court could acquire jurisdiction
over that area. As We have pointed out, this increase of 27.10 square meters was simply the result of
the recomputation of the area when the original plan was amended. There is no showing that the
recomputation is incorrect. Neither is there a showing that this small area of 27.10 square meters
belongs to any person and that person had been deprived of his property, or had failed to claim that
particular area because of the non-publication of the amended plan. On the other hand, there is the
report of the Chief of the Survey Division of the Court of Land Registration (Exh. 22) stating that the
amended plan of Parcel 1 in LRC No. 7681 did not include any land which was not included in the
original plan.
It is the settled rule in this jurisdiction that only in cases where the original survey plan is amended
during the registration proceedings by the addition of lands not previously included in the original plan
should publication be made in order to confer jurisdiction on the court to order the registration of the
area that was added after the publication of the original plan. 22
The settled rule, further, is that once the registration court had acquired jurisdiction over a certain
parcel, or parcels, of land in the registration proceedings in virtue of the publication of the application,
that jurisdiction attaches to the land or lands mentioned and described in the application. If it is later
shown that the decree of registration had included land or lands not included in the original
application as published, then the registration proceedings and the decree of registration must be
declared null and void in so far but only in so far as the land not included in the publication is
concerned. This is so, because the court did not acquire jurisdiction over the land not included in the
publication-the publication being the basis: of the jurisdiction of the court. But the proceedings and the
decree of registration, relating to the lands that were included in the publication, are valid. Thus, if it is
shown that a certificate of title had been issued covering lands where the registration court had no
jurisdiction, the certificate of title is null and void insofar as it concerns the land or lands over which
the registration court had not acquired jurisdiction. 23
And so in the three cases now before this Court, even granting that the registration court had no
jurisdiction over the increased area of 27.10 square meters (as alleged by appellees), the most that
the lower court could have done was to nullify the decree and the certificate of title insofar as that
area of 27.10 square meters is concerned, if that area can be identified. But, certainly, the lower court
could not declare, and should not have declared, null and void the whole proceedings in LRC No.
7681; and, certainly, the lower court erred in declaring null and voidab initio Original Certificate of Title
735 which covers not only the supposed excess area of 27.10 square meters but also the remaining
area of 8,798,617 square meters of Parcel 1 and the entire area of 15,961,246 square meters of
Parcel 2. The trial court, in its decision, declared Original Certificate of Title No. 735 "null and void
from the very beginning and of no effect whatsoever", without any qualification. This declaration by
the lower court, if sanctioned by this Court and given effect, would nullify the title that covers two big
parcels of land (Parcels 1 and 2) that have a total area of 24,759,890.10 square meters, or almost
2,476 hectares. And not only that. The trial court declared null and void all transfer certificates of title
that are derived, or that emanated, from Original Certificate of Title No. 735, regardless of whether
those transfer certificates of title are the results of transactions done in good faith and for value by the
holder of those transfer certificates of title.
It must be noted that the appellees in the present cases claim six parcels that have an area of some
495,453.7 square meters (about 49.5 hectares), whereas the combined area of Parcel 1 and Parcel 2

is 24,759,890.10 square meters (about 2,476 hectares). It must also be noted that both Parcel 1 and
Parcel 2 have been subdivided into numerous lots (Exhs. 14 and 14-B) which have already been
acquired by numerous persons and/or entities that are now holding certificates of title which can be
traced back to Original Certificate of Title No. 735. The decision of the lower court, however, would
render useless Original Certificate of Title No. 735 and all transfer certificates of title emanating, or
derived, therefrom. The decision of the lower court would certainly prejudice the rights of the persons,
both natural and juridical, who had acquired portions of Parcel 1 and Parcel 2, relying on the doctrine
of the indefeasibility of Torrens title. The decision of the lower court would, indeed, prejudice the rights
of persons who are not parties in the present cases. And this is so, because the trial court, in its
decision, did not adhere to the applicable decisions of this Court in resolving the pertinent issues in
these cases.
Another reason mentioned by the lower court to support its ruling that Decree of Registration No.
17431 is null and void is that the description of Parcel 1 in the decree of registration is different from
the description of the same parcel in the notice of hearing of the original application for registration as
published in the Official Gazette. The different description that appears in the decree of registration,
according to the lower court, is an amendment to the Original survey plan that accompanied the
application and the amended survey plan should have been republished; and because there was no
such republication the registration court was without jurisdiction to issue the decree of registration.
The lower court also committed an error in making this ruling. We find that the lower court incorrectly
laid stress on differences in the names of the owners, and on differences in the designations, of the
lands that adjoin Parcel 1 along its southwestern boundary. We find, however, that these differences
are well explained in the record.
In the notice of hearing in LRC No. 7681 (Exhibits YY and YY-2) the boundaries of Parcel 1 are stated
as follows:
Bounded on the N. by property of Rosario Negrao and others (Maysilo Estate); E. by the
San Juan River; SW. by Parcel 3, properties of Benito Legarda, Hospital de San Juan
de Dios, by Parcel 2, Santa Clara Monastery, by Parcel 1; and W. by a road,
Cementerio del Norte and the Roman Catholic Church.
As described in Decree of Registration No. 17431 (Exh. 25), the boundaries of Parcel 1 are as
follows:
PARCEL 1. Bounded on the N. by property of Rosario Negrao y Escobar, et al., (Maysilo
Estate): On the E. by San Juan River; on the SW. by properties of Mariano Severo
Tuason y de la Paz, et al., Benito Legarda, Hospital de San Juan de Dios and C.W.
Rosenstock & Co.; and on the W. by a road, Cementerio del Norte and property of the
Roman Catholic Church ...
It will thus be noted that the boundaries of Parcel 1 on the northern, eastern, and western sides, as
they appear in the notice of hearing that was published and in Decree of Registration No. 17431, are
the same. It is in the southwestern boundary where there appear some differences in the names of
the owners, or in the designations, of the adjoining lands. Thus, in the published notice of hearing, it
appears that the names of the owners, or the designations, of the lands that bound Parcel 1 (of LRC
No. 7681) on the Southwest are parcel 3, properties of Benito Legarda, Hospital de San Juan de
Dios, parcel 2, Monasterio de Santa Clara and parcel 1; while in the decree of registration it appears
that the lands that bound Parcel 1 (of LRC No. 7681) on the Southwest are the properties of Mariano
Severo Tuason y de la Paz, et al., Benito Legarda, Hospital de San Juan de Dios and C.W.
Rosenstock & Co. Upon a careful examination of the records, We find that the lands that adjoin
Parcel 1 at its southwestern boundary, as indicated in the notice of hearing that was published in the

Official Gazette, are the same lands that are indicated in the decree of registration as the lands that
adjoin Parcel 1 at its southwestern boundary. There is simply a change in the names of the owners or
in the designations, of the lands. We find that parcels 3, 2 and 1, appearing as the boundary lands on
the southwestern side of Parcel 1 in LRC No. 7681, as published, are in fact parcels of land that are
owned, and had been applied for registration, by Mariano Severo Tuason y de la Paz, et al. in LRC
No. 7680. This LRC No. 7680 was heard and decided jointly with LRC No. 7681 by the Land
Registration Court (Exh. 24). These parcels 3, 2 and 1 of LRC No. 7680, being lands owned by
Mariano Severo Tuason y de la Paz, et al., it may as well be stated in the decree of registration that
those lands on the southwestern side of Parcel 1 in LRC No. 7681 are the properties of Mariano
Severo Tuason y de la Paz, et al., instead of designating them as parcel 3, parcel 2, and parcel 1 (of
LRC 1680). And so, what appears in Decree of Registration No. 17431 as the properties of Mariano
Severo Tuason y de la Paz, et al., at the southwestern side of Parcel 1 are no other than those very
parcels 3, 2 and 1 that appear in the notice of hearing as the lands that bound Parcel 1 on the
southwest.
In the description of Parcel 1 as published, it appears that one of the boundaries on the southwestern
side is Santa Clara Monastery, while in the decree of registration the words "Santa Clara Monastery"
do not appear but, instead, are replaced by the words "C. W. Rosenstock & Co." It will be
remembered that during the registration proceedings the plan of Parcel 1 was ordered amended, and
the surveyor, who prepared the amended plan must have found that what used to be the property of
the Santa Clara Monastery at the time of the original Survey was already the property of C. W.
Rosenstock & Co. when the amended plan was prepared. This can simply mean that there was a
change of ownership from Santa Clara Monastery to C.W. Rosenstock & Co. It must be considered
that the original survey took place from December, 1910 to June, 1911 (Exhibits 18 and 19), while the
registration case was decided on March 7, 1914.
Under Section 40 of Act 496, the decree of registration "shall contain a description of the land as
finally determined by the court." Evidently, the Court of Land Registration acted in consonance with
this provision of the law when, in its decision in LRC 7681, it took into consideration the actual
description of Parcel 1 as shown in the amended survey plan, and when it disregarded the
recommendation of the Chief of the Survey Division, dated March 27, 1914, that the decision of the
court of March 7, 1914 "be based upon the original plans, as published, and not upon the amended
plan." It may well be said that Decree of Registration N. 17431 simply contains the correct area of
Parcel 1 and the correct names of the owners of the lands that bound Parcel 1 in LRC No. 1681 as of
the time when the decision of the land registration court was rendered.
In this connection, the following pronouncement of this Court in the case of Domingo vs. Ongsiako,
55 Phil. 361, 373-4, is pertinent:
We may further observe that underlying the contention of the plaintiffs is the idea that
errors in the plans nullify the decrees of registration. This is erroneous. It is the land and
not the plan which is registered. Prior to the enactment of Act No. 1875, practically all
plans for land registration were defective especially in regard to errors of closures and
areas, but so far no such errors have been permitted to affect the validity of the
decrees. If the boundaries of the land registered can be determined, the technical
description in the certificate of title may be corrected without cancelling the decree.
Such corrections have been made in this case by approved surveys which embrace all
of the land here in question. To nullify and cancel final decrees merely by reason of
faulty technical descriptions would lead to chaos.
We have taken note of the fact that the six parcels of land that are claimed by the plaintiffs in the
three cases now before this Court are on the northwestern portion of Parcel 1 (parcels labelled A, B,

C, D, E and F, in Exh. UU; and Exhs. 17, 29 and 29-B). They are far from the southwestern boundary.
The circumstance, therefore, regarding the dissimilarity in the names of the owners, or the
designations, of the lands that adjoin the southwestern side of Parcel 1 is of no moment insofar as the
lots claimed by appellees are concerned. What matters is that the lots claimed by the appellees are
included in Parcel 1 of LRC No. 1681 and are located at the northwestern portion of said Parcel 1.
Indeed, it was error on the part of the lower court to make as one of the bases in declaring Decree of
Registration No. 17431 and Original Certificate of Title No. 735 null and void and of no effect
whatsoever the aforestated dissimilarities in the names of the owners, or in the designations, of the
lands on the southwestern side of Parcel 1, because those dissimilarities are well explained in the
records of these cases.
The lower court committed still another error when it made the finding that the only boundary of
Parcel 1 on the western side is "A. Bonifacio road" and then declared that the lands situated west of
the A. Bonifacio road were never the subject of the registration proceedings in LRC No. 7681. The
lower court declared the lands west of A. Bonifacio road as unregistered lands and awarded the
ownership of those lands to the plaintiffs in Civil Cases Nos. 3621 and 3622 (appellees in G.R. Nos.
L-26127 and L-26128). This finding of the lower court is contrary to the evidence presented by the
parties in these cases. Both the appellees and the appellant submitted as their evidence the notice of
hearing of the application as published in the Official Gazette (Exhibit X, YY and YY-2; and Exhibit 26)
and the decree of registration No. 17431 (Exhibit Y, and Exh. 25) wherein are clearly stated that the
boundaries of Parcel 1 on the West are: (1) a road, (2) Cementerio del Norte and (3) Roman Catholic
Church (Exhs. Z-6, UU, and Exhs. 6, 18, 19 and 20). But the lower court considered the A. Bonifacio
road as the only boundary on the West, and ignored the two other boundaries on the West that are
mentioned both in the notice of hearing as published and in the decree of registration. The sketches
and the survey plans, forming part of the evidence on record, show that the road, labelled as "A.
Bonifacio", goes alongside the western boundary of Parcel 1 (separating Parcel 1 and the Cementerio
del Norte), until it reaches a point where it traverses the northwestern portion of Parcel 1, such that
from the point where it enters the area of Parcel 1 what is left as the boundaries on the western side
are the Cementerio del Norte and the Roman Catholic Church (Exhibits UU, VV, 17, 19 and 29).
Ignoring the existence of the Cementerio del Norte and the Roman Catholic Church as the other
boundaries of Parcel 1 on the West, the lower court declared that the lands west of the A. Bonifacio
road, which form part of the lands that are claimed by the plaintiffs in Civil Cases Nos. 3621 and
3622, are outside the boundary of Parcel 1 on the west and that those particular areas had remained
as unregistered lands and are not covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 735. This finding of the
lower court is contrary to the very admission of the appellees in these three cases that all the lands
(six parcels in all) that they claim are included in the area of Parcel 1 mentioned in Original Certificate
of Title No. 735. In paragraph XIV of the original, as well as in the amended complaint, in each of
these three cases, the plaintiffs alleged that the lands that they claim "had either been fraudulently or
erroneously included ... in Parcel 1 (known as Santa Mesa Estate) of the Original Certificate of Title
No. 735 of the Land Records of the Province of Rizal." 24 In their appeal brief, the appellees
categorically stated that "Both the appellees and the appellant admit that these parcels of land
claimed by the plaintiffs in these three (3) civil cases are located within Parcel 1 (Santa Mesa Estate)
covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 735". 25 In the pre-trial order of the lower court of December
18, 1957, it was stated that the parcels of land litigated in these are portions of the lands covered by
OCT No. 735. 26 The lower court itself, at the earlier part of its decision, stated that "both the plaintiffs
and the defendants admit that the parcels of land litigated in Civil Cases Nos. 3621, 3622 and 3623
are found within the boundaries of the present Santa Mesa Heights Subdivision covered by Original
Certificate of Title No. 735" 27 The appellees in these two cases had never asserted that part of the
lands that they claim are outside the boundaries of Parcel 1, nor did they assert that part of the lands
that they claim have remained unregistered and not covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 735.
The lower court had made a finding not only contrary to the evidence of the appellees but even more
than what the appellees asked when it said in its decision that the western boundary of Parcel 1 is

only the A. Bonifacio road and that the lands claimed by the appellees west of this road had never
been registered. This Court certainly can not give its approval to the findings and rulings of the lower
court that are patently erroneous.
2. The lower court also erred when it declared Original Certificate of Title No. 735 null and void upon
the ground that the decree of registration was not transcribed in the Registration Book in accordance
with the provisions of Section 41 of Act 496. In its decision, the lower court said:
During the trial, the Book of Original Certificate of Title was brought to the Court. The
Court had occasion to see and examine the `ENTRY' made in the Registration Book.
The Court found that the Face of the Title which, under ordinary circumstances, should
be Page 1 is found as Page 2. The sheet containing the technical description which
should be page 2 is Page 1. The FACE of the Title, which should have been Page 1,
contained the last portion of the description of the land described in the decree. The
sheet containing the bulk of the description of the lands decreed should have been
Page 2. The so-called Original Certificate of Title No. 735 found on Page 138, Book A-7
of the Register of Deeds of Rizal is, therefore, null and void because the provisions of
Section 41 of the Land Registration Law have not been complied with. Said Section
requires that the entry in the Registration Book must be a transcription of the Decree
and the paging should consist of a leaf or leaves in consecutive order .... 28
The pertinent provisions of Section 41 of Act 496 reads, as follows:
SEC. 41. Immediately after final decision by the court directing the registration of any
property, the clerk shall send a certified copy of such decision to the Chief of the
General Land Registration Office, who shall prepare the decree in accordance with
section forty of Act numbered four hundred and ninety-six, and he shall forward a
certified copy of said decree to the register of deeds of the province or city in which the
property is situated. The register of deeds shall transcribe the decree in a book to be
called the "Registration Book" in which a leaf, or leaves in consecutive order, shall be
devoted exclusively to each title. The entry made by the register of deeds in this book in
each case shall be the original certificate of title, and shall be signed by him and sealed
with the seal of his office....
The pertinent provisions of Section 40 of Act 496 reads, as follows:
SEC. 40. Every decree of registration shall bear the day of the year, hour, and minute of
its entry, and shall be signed by the clerk. It shall state whether the owner is married or
unmarried, and if married, the name of the husband or wife. If the owner is under
disability, it shall state the nature of the disability, and if a minor, shall state his age. It
shall contain a description of the land as finally determined by the court , . . The decree
shall be stated in a convenient form for transcription upon the certificates of title
hereinafter mentioned.
Section 29 of Act 496 provides that as soon as the decree of title has been registered in the office of
the register of deeds, as provided in Section forty-one, the property included in said decree shall
become registered land under the Act. Section 42 of Act 496 provides that the certificate shall take
effect upon the date of the transcription of the decree.
This Court has held that as defined in Section 41 of Act 496, the certificate of title is the transcript of
the decree of registration made by the register of deeds in the registry. 29

The appellant presented as evidence a photostat of Original Certificate of Title No. 735, as found in
the Registration Book in the office of the register of deeds of Rizal (Exhibit 50). 30 We have examined
this document very carefully, and We find that it is a copy of the original that satisfies all the
requirements of a valid Torrens title as provided for in Sections 40 and 41 of Act 496.
On the face, or on the first page, of this title, there is the certification of the Chief of the Land
Registration Office that the decree of registration was registered in Manila on July 6, 1914 at 7:41
a.m.; and the certification of the Register of Deeds of Rizal that the decree was received for
transcription in his office on July 8, 1914 at 3:30 P.M. It is also stated on the face of this title that it
was entered pursuant to Decree No. 17431 of the Court of Land Registration, dated at Manila on the
7th day of March 1914, in Case No. 7681 of said court. The names of the declared owners, their civil
status, their spouses if married, and their respective interest or share in the lands covered by the title
are stated on the face of this title. We have noted that the technical descriptions of the lands (Parcels
1 and 2) covered by the title are copied on the sheets constituting the title. We have compared the
technical descriptions of Parcels 1 and 2 as they appear on this photostat of Original Certificate of
Title No. 735 (Exhibit 50) with the technical descriptions of these lands as they appear in the decree
of registration (Exhibit Y for the plaintiffs, and Exhibit 25 for the defendant), and We find that the
technical descriptions appearing on the title are the complete and faithful reproduction, or
transcription, of the technical descriptions appearing in the decree of registration.
We have noted what the lower court found, that the technical descriptions of Parcels 1 and 2 do not
begin on the face, or on the first page, of this title, as a technical description is ordinarily copied on
the certificate of title. What appears on the face of this title is the last part of the technical description
of Parcel 2. The technical descriptions of Parcels 1 and 2 begin on the second page and end on the
first page. This circumstance, that is, that the technical descriptions of Parcels 1 and 2 do not begin
on the face, or on the first page, of the title, is the basis of the lower court in ruling that the decree of
registration was not transcribed in the registration book in accordance with Section 41 of Act 496, and
so Original Certificate of Title No. 735 is null and void. We have noted, however, that in its decision
the lower court made no mention that in the transcription of the decree in the registration book any of
the data that is required in Section 40 of Act 496 to be included had been omitted. We have also
noted and this fact is undenied that the technical descriptions of Parcels 1 and 2 as they appear
in Decree of Registration No. 17431 are fully and faithfully transcribed on the photostat of Original
Certificate of Title No. 735 (Exhibit 50). There is no showing that the manner of transcribing the
decree, as it appears on that photostat, was done for a fraudulent purpose, or was done in order to
mislead. Considering that the decree of registration is fully transcribed in the Registration Book, and
also as copied in Original Certificate of Title No. 735, the circumstance that the beginning of the
technical descriptions is not found on the face, or on the first page, of Original Certificate of Title No.
735 is not a ground to nullify the said certificate of title. We agree with the lower court that the
transcription of the technical descriptions should begin, or should have been started, on the face, or
on the first page, of the title. We hold, however, that the fact that this was not so done in the case of
Original Certificate of Title No. 735 should not be taken as a factor in determining the validity of
Original Certificate of Title No. 735. This defect in the manner of transcribing the technical
descriptions should be considered as a formal, and not a substantial, defect. What matters is that the
original certificate of title contains the full transcription of the decree of registration, and that the
required data provided for in Section 40 of Act 496 are stated in the original certificate of title. The
lower court made a literal construction of the provisions of Section 41 of Act 496 and strictly applied
its construction in the determination of the validity of Original Certificate of Title No. 735. We believe
that the provisions of Section 41 of Act 496 should be interpreted liberally, in keeping with Section 123
of said Act which provides that "This Act shall be construed liberally so far as may be necessary for
the purpose of effecting its general intent." If We adopt a literal construction of the provisions of
Section 41 of Act 496, as was done by the lower court, such that the defect in the manner or form of
transcribing the decree in the registration book would render null and void the original certificate of

title, then it can happen that the validity or the invalidity of a certificate of title would depend on the
register of deeds, or on the personnel in the office of the register of deeds. The register of deeds, or
an employee in his office, can wittingly or unwittingly render useless a decree of registration regularly
issued pursuant to a decision of a registration court and thus nullify by the error that he commits in
the transcription of the decree in the Registration Book an original certificate of title that has been
existing for years. This strict interpretation or construction of Section 41 of Act 496 would certainly not
promote the purpose of the Land Registration Law (Act 496), which generally are to ascertain once
and for all the absolute title over a given landed property 31; to make, so far as it is possible, a
certificate of title issued by the court to the owner of the land absolute proof of such title 32; to quiet
title to land and to put a stop forever to any question of legality of title 33; and to decree that land title
shall be final, irrevocable and
indisputable. 34
We, therefore, hold that the formal defect in the transcription of Decree of Registration No. 17431 in
the Registration Book did not render null and void Original Certificate of Title No. 735. Consequently,
We declare that the two parcels of land (Parcel 1 which includes the lands claimed by the appellees,
and Parcel 2) covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 735 are properly registered under the
Torrens System of registration.
3. The principal issue that has to be resolved in the present appeal is whether or not the lower court
had correctly declared that "Original Certificate of Title No. 735 ... is null and void from the very
beginning and of no effect whatsoever. 35
In the preceding discussions, We have held that the lower court erred when it declared null and void
Original Certificate of Title No. 735. We have found that the registration proceedings that brought
about the decree of registration upon which was based the issuance of Original Certificate of Title No.
735 were in accordance with the provisions of Act 496, as amended. We have held that the Land
Registration Court that ordered the issuance of the decree of registration had jurisdiction to hear and
decide the application for registration filed by Mariano Severo, Teresa Eriberta, Juan Jose, Demetrio
Asuncion, and Augusto Huberto, all surnamed Tuason y de la Paz. The records show that the notice
of hearing of the application, which embodied the technical descriptions of the two parcels of land
(Parcel 1, known as the Sta. Mesa Estate, and Parcel 2, known as the Diliman Estate), was duly
published as required by law. The records show that the hearing on the application was regularly
held, and that the registration court had seen to it that no land which was not included in the original
survey plan and not covered by the original application was made the subject of the registration
proceedings. We have found that the decree of registration was properly issued by the Land
Registration Office pursuant to the decision of the Land Registration Court, and that said decree of
registration was fully transcribed in the Registration Book in the office of the Register of Deeds of the
province of Rizal. We have found also that the six parcels of land that are claimed by the appellees. in
the three cases now before Us are all included in Parcel 1 that is covered by Original Certificate of
Title No. 735.
In view of Our findings and conclusion that Original Certificate of Title No. 735 was issued in
accordance with the provisions of Act 496, and that the six parcels of land that are claimed by the
appellees in the present cases are covered by said certificate of title, what is left for this Court to
decide is whether or not the appellees still have any legal right over the six parcels of land that they
claim.
Let it be noted that, as maintained by counsel for the appellees, the action of the appellees is
principally to recover the ownership and possession of the six parcels of land mentioned and
described in their complaints. The appellees would accomplish their objective through alternative
ways: (1) secure the nullification of the decision of the Land Registration Court in LRC No. 6781, the

nullification of the Decree of Registration No. 17431 and the nullification of Original Certificate of Title
No. 735; (2) if they fail in their efforts to secure the desired nullifications, with Original Certificate of
Title No. 735 being considered valid and effective, they seek the reconveyance to them by the
defendants named in their complaints, including herein appellant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc., of the six
parcels of land that they claim; and (3) if they cannot secure a reconveyance, they seek to secure
payment to them by the defendants named in their complaints of the actual value of the six parcels of
land that they claim.
It appears to Us that the appellees are not sure of their stand, or have not adopted a definite stand, in
asserting the rights that they claim.
It is the settled rule that a party seeking the reconveyance to him of his land that he claims had been
wrongly registered in the name of another person must recognize the validity of the certificate of title
of the latter. It is also the rule that a reconveyance may only take place if the land that is claimed to be
wrongly registered is still registered in the name of the person who procured the wrongful registration.
No action for reconveyance can take place as against a third party who had acquired title over the
registered property in good faith and for value. And if no reconveyance can be made, the value of the
property registered may be demanded only from the person (or persons) who procured the wrongful
registration in his name. 36
The lower court accepted, and sustained, the assertion of the appellees that the proceedings in LRC
No. 7681 of the Court of Land Registration were null and void and that Original Certificate of Title No.
735 is null and void ab initio and of no effect. The trial court even went to the extent of declaring that
some of the parcels of land claimed by the appellees in Civil Cases Nos. 3621 and 3622 (now G.R.
Nos. L-26127 and L-26128 before this Court) were not covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 735.
The lower court forthwith declared the appellees the owners of the parcels of land claimed by them,
as described in their complaints. Strangely enough, the lower court, upon declaring Original
Certificate of Title No. 735 null and void, did not make any statement, or observation, regarding the
status or situation of the remaining lands (Parcels 1 and 2) covered by Original Certificate of Title No.
735 after adjudicating to the appellees the six parcels of land claimed by them in their complaints.
In the present appeal counsel for the appellees had maintained, and has endeavored to show, that
the lower court was correct in annulling Original Certificate of Title No. 735 and in adjudicating in favor
of the appellees the ownership and possession of the six parcels of land claimed by them in their
complaints.
But, as hereinbefore held by Us, the lower court erred in declaring Original Certificate of Title No. 735
void and of no effect. We have held that Original Certificate of Title No. 735 was issued as a result of
the registration proceedings in LRC No, 7681 which was regular and that said certificate of title is
valid and effective. The proceedings in LRC 7681 being in rem, the decree of registration issued
pursuant to the decision rendered in said registration case bound the lands covered by the decree
and quieted title thereto, and is conclusive upon and against all persons, including the government
and all the branches thereof, whether mentioned by name in the application, notice or citation, or
included in the general inscription "To whom it may concern", and such decree will not be opened by
reason of the absence, infancy, or other disability of any person affected thereby, nor by any
proceedings in any court for reversing judgment or decree. Such decree may only be reopened if any
person deprived of land or of any estate or interest therein by decree of registration obtained by fraud
would file in the competent court of first instance a petition for review within one year after entry of the
decree, provided no innocent purchaser for value had acquired an interest on the land, and upon the
expiration of said period of one year, the decree, or the certificate of title issued pursuant to the
decree, is incontrovertible (See. 38, Act 496). In the case now before Us, the Decree of Registration
No. 17431 in LRC 7681 was entered on July 8, 1914. It is undisputed that no person had filed any

petition for review of the decree of registration in LRC 7681 within the period of one year from July 8,
1914. That decree of registration, and Original Certificate of Title No. 735 issued pursuant thereto,
therefore, had been incontrovertible since July 9, 1915.
Moreover, innocent purchases for value had acquired interest in the lands covered by Original
Certificate of Title No. 735. 37
The Original Certificate of Title No. 735 was issued on July 8, 1914 in the names of the original an
applicants for registration, namely, Mariano Tuason y de la Paz, Teresa Eriberta Tuason y de la Paz,
Juan Jose Tuason y de la Paz, Demetrio Asuncion Tuason y de la Paz and Augusta Huberto Tuason
y de la Paz. Herein appellant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. is not one of those who were registered as the
original owners mentioned in Original Certificate of Title No. 735. When the original complaints were
filed in these three cases in the Court of First Instance of Rizal the parties named defendants in each
of the three cases were Mariano Severo Tuason y de la Paz, Teresa Eriberta Tuason y de la Paz,
Juan Jose Tuason y de la Paz, Demetrio Asuncion Tuason y de la Paz, Augusta Huberto Tuason y de
la Paz, the heirs of each one of these defendants (without naming them), and J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc.
Of all the defendants named in the three complaints only defendant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. appeared
and filed its answer to the complaints. All the other defendants did not appear, and so they were all
declared in default. 38 It had to happen that way because as of the time when the three complaints
were filed on May 19, 1955 the ownership of Parcel 1 that was originally covered by Original
Certificate of Title No. 735 had already passed to defendant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. In fact this
defendant had caused Parcel 1 to be subdivided and had sold the subdivision lots.
The records show that Parcel 1 in Original Certificate of Title No. 735 was part of the properties of the
Mayorasgo Tuason (Tuason Entail) which became involved in a litigation in the Court of First Instance
of Manila. 39 During the pendency of the case the properties of the Mayorasgo Tuason were
administered by the Bank of the Philippine Islands as the judicial receiver. In the order of the Court of
First Instance of Manila, dated May 5, 1938, in Civil Case No. 24803, the Bank of the Philippine
Islands, as receiver, was authorized, directed and ordered to execute, upon payment to it of the sum
of P763,925.75, a deed of transfer and assignment in favor of the Heirs of D. Tuason, Inc. of the
property covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 31997, which was originally Parcel 1 included in
Original Certificate of Title No. 735 (Exh. 13-B). On June 13, 1938 the receiver Bank of the Philippine
Islands executed the deed of transfer and assignment (Exh. 13-A). Transfer Certificate of Title No.
34853 of the Register of Deeds of Rizal was forthwith issued in the name of the Heirs of D. Tuason,
Inc. (Exhs. 12-b and 36). The deed of transfer and assignment was approved by the court in an order
dated June 17, 1938. This conveyance to the Heirs of D. Tuason, Inc. took place at a time when the
Supreme Court had already decided the case of Bank of the Philippine Islands vs. Acua (59 Phil.
183) wherein this Court upheld the validity of Original Certificate of Title No. 735 and also the validity
of the transfer certificate of title emanating therefrom. 40
The circumstances attending the acquisition by the Heirs of D. Tuason, Inc. of the land covered by
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 31997 which was formerly Parcel 1 covered by Original Certificate
of Title No. 735 clearly indicate that said corporation acquired its title in a regular transaction as
purchaser in good faith and for value. On June 15, 1938 the Heirs of D. Tuason, Inc. in turn sold the
same property to J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc., and Transfer Certificate of Title No. 35073 was issued in
the name of the latter (Exhs. 12-c and 37).
The lower court declared that herein appellant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. was a purchaser in bad faith.
We do not find any evidence in the record that would sustain such a finding of the lower court. One
reason given by the lower court in declaring appellant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. a purchaser in bad
faith is the fact that the incorporators of the Heirs of D. Tuason, Inc. and the incorporators of J. M.
Tuason & Co., Inc. were practically the same persons belonging to the same Tuason family. We do

not see anything wrong if some incorporators of the Heirs of D. Tuason Inc. are also incorporators of
the J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. During these days when businesses are promoted, operated, and
managed, through corporate entities, it is not surprising to see two or more corporations organized by
the same persons or group of persons with different purposes, for different lines of business and with
distinct or separate assets and interests. Besides, as has been shown, the Heirs of D. Tuason, Inc.
acquired the land (Parcel 1 in Original Certificate of Title No. 735) from the Bank of the Philippine
Islands, the receiver of the properties of the Mayorasgo Tuason, in a sale that was authorized, and
subsequently approved, by the court. The Heirs of D. Tuason, Inc. paid the sum of P763,950.80 for
the property. Certainly if the Heirs of D. Tuason, Inc. had acquired the land originally covered by
Original Certificate of Title No. 735 in a transaction that was authorized by the court, for a valuable
consideration, thereby acquiring a good title over the property as a purchaser in good faith and for
value, the title that it transferred to J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. when it sold same property to the latter
was also a good title, and J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. was also a purchaser in good faith and for value
even if it appears that the incorporators of the two corporations belong to the same Tuason family.
The records of these cases are bereft of any evidence which would indicate that the sale of Parcel 1
in question by the Heirs of D. Tuason, Inc. to J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. was fraudulent.
Another reason given by the lower court in declaring appellant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. a buyer in bad
faith is that when said appellant bought Parcel 1 originally covered by Original Certificate of Title No.
735 it was aware of the fact that the appellees or their predecessors in interest were in possession of,
and were cultivating, the six parcels of land that they now claim in these cases. The conclusion of the
lower court is too strained. It should be remembered that the registered property bought by J.M.
Tuason & Co., Inc. had an area of some 879 hectares. It could happen that certain relatives or
ancestors of appellees had been squatting on some portions of the land and claimed certain areas as
their own, to the extent of having the areas claimed by them declared for taxation purposes in their
names. Thus the appellees presented in evidence tax declarations that appear to have taken effect as
of 1941. We have noted, however, that at the back of those tax declarations are written the words
"This parcel is a duplicate of the land under Tax No. 764-J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc." (Exhs. E-Alcantara,
F-Alcantara, FF-1-Benin, GG-Benin, HH-Benin, BBB-Pili, and BBB-1-Pili). 41 These annotations simply
reveal that when the predecessors of the appellees had those tax declarations made to cover the
lands that they claim, those lands were already included in the tax declaration of appellant J. M.
Tuason & Co., Inc. Appellant J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. had been exercising, and asserting, its
proprietary rights over the lands in question after it bought the same from the Heirs of D. Tuason,
Inc. 42 This is borne by the statement in the order, dated September 26, 1955, issued by Judge Juan
P. Enriquez who at the time was presiding the branch of the Court of First Instance of Rizal where
these three were pending, as follows:
3. It having been shown that J. M. Tuason & Co. had title covering the land in question
which they are subdividing into small lots for sale and in view of the observation under
paragraph 2 hereof the Court finds that there is no justifiable reason to maintain the writ
of preliminary injunction that has been issued. This is particularly true in Civil Case No.
2622, defendants having secured a final judgment against plaintiffs Juan Alcantara and
Jose Alcantara for ejectment before the Municipal court of Quezon City; and such
injunction would annul the order of the execution issued by the Quezon City courts. It
should be noted that the herein plaintiffs at the beginning pleaded to the Court that the
area on which their respective houses stand be not touched and their possession
thereof be respected by defendant J. M. & Co. In other words, each plaintiff is merely
asking for about 250 square meters each which represents the land on which the house
stands and their immediate yard, and not the whole land covered by these three or 68
hectares. On the other hand, the Court requires J. M. Tuason & Co. to put up a bond of
P2,000 in favor of each of the defendant (sic) to answer for whatever damages he may

suffer by reason of the continuance during the action of the acts complained
of. 43
Besides, the possession by the appellees, either by themselves or through their predecessors in
interest, if there was such possession at all, would be unavailing against title holder of a Torrens
certificate of title covering the parcels Of lands now in question. From July 8, 1914 when Certificate of
Title No. 735 was issued, no possession by any person of any portion of the lands covered by said
original certificate of title, or covered by a subsequent transfer certificate of title derived from said
original certificate of title, could defeat the title of the registered owner of the lands covered by the
certificate of title. In this connection, let it be noted that appellant J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. became the
registered owner of Parcel 1, which was originally covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 735, only
on June 15, 1938, or almost 24 years after Original Certificate of Title No. 735 was issued.
It can well be said that J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. had relied on the title of the Heirs of D. Tuason, Inc.
when it bought the land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No.34853, and the Heirs of D. Tuason,
Inc. likewise had relied on the title of the Mayorasgo Tuason (Mariano Severo Tuason y de la Paz, et
al.) when it bought the land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 31997 from the judicial
receiver, duly authorized and approved by the court. We, therefore, can not agree with the lower court
when it declared appellant J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. a purchaser on bad faith.
The evidence shows that appellant J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. had converted the land originally covered
by Original Certificate of Title No. 735, including the six parcels claimed by appellees into a
subdivision, and numerous persons and entities had purchased the subdivision lots, and the
purchasers in turn were issued transfer certificates of title covering the lots that they bought, based on
the transfer certificate of title in the name of J. M Tuason & Co., Inc. The buyers of the lots relied upon
the certificate of title in the name of J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. and because they paid for the lots they
certainly are purchasers in good faith and for value. The purchasers of these lots have built thereon
residential houses, office buildings, shops, hospital, even churches. But the lower court, disregarding
these circumstances, declared null and void all transfer certificates of title that emanated, or that were
derived, from Original Certificate of Title No. 735. This is a grave error committed by the lower court.
And the error is compounded when the lower court ordered appellant J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. and all
those claiming under said appellant, to vacate and restore to the appellees the possession of the
parcels of lands that are claimed by them in the present cases. The possessors of the lots comprised
within the six parcels of land in question, and who hold certificates of title covering the lots that they
bought, are not parties in the present cases, and yet the decision of the lower court would annul their
titles and compel them to give up the possession of their properties. To give effect to the decision of
the lower court is to deprive persons of their property without due process of law. 44 The decision of
the lower court would set at naught the settled doctrine that the holder of a certificate of title who
acquired the property covered by the title in good faith and for value can rest assured that his title is
perfect and incontrovertible. 45
In view of the foregoing discussions, it is obvious that the action of the appellees in the three cases
now before this Court must fail..
It has been shown that appellant J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. had acquired a valid title over the land
which includes the six parcels that are claimed by the appellees. The fact, that the predecessors in
interest of the appellees or any person, for that matter had not filed a petition for the review of
the decree of registration in LRC No. 7681 within a period of one year from July 8, 1914 when the
decree of registration was issued, is a circumstance that had forever foreclosed any proceeding for
the review of said decree. As We have adverted to, that decree of registration had become
incontrovertible. An action, similar to one brought by the appellees in each of the present cases,
which attack collaterally the said decree of registration cannot be entertained. 46 Neither may the

action of the appellees for reconveyance of the lands in question be entertained because such action
had already prescribed, barred by laches, considering that Original Certificate of Title No. 735 had
been issued way back in 1914 and the complaint in the present cases were filed only on May 19,
1955, or after a lapse of some 41 years. Moreover, as of the time when these complaints were filed
the six parcels of land claimed by the appellees are no longer covered by the certificate of title in the
names of the persons who procured the original registration of those lands. The title to Parcel 1,
which includes the six parcels of land claimed by the appellees, had passed to the hands parties who
were innocent purchase for value. This Parcel 1 which was one of the two parcels originally covered
by Original Certificate of Title No. 735, was subsequently covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No.
31997. As has been shown, this Parcel 1 was part of the properties of the Mayorasgo Tuason and it
was conveyed by order of the court in Civil Case No. 24803 of the Court of First Instance of Manila to
the Heirs of D. Tuason, Inc., and the latter in turn conveyed the same to J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc.
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 34853 in the name of the Heirs of D. Tuason, Inc. was cancelled and
transfer Certificate of Title No. 35073 was issued in the name of J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. It has also
been shown that J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. had converted Parcel 1 to a subdivision. Numerous
persons and entities bought those subdivision lots, and to those buyers were issued transfer
certificates of title covering the lots that they acquired. It is very clear, therefore, that an action for
reconveyance cannot prosper against appellant J. M. Tuason & Co., much less against the registered
owners of the lots that form parts of the six parcels of land that are claimed by the appellees. 47
Neither may the appellees have a cause of Action for damages against appellant J. M. Tuason & Co.,
Inc., considering that said appellant is not one of the original registered owners that procured the
registration of the land. There is no evidence that J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. had anything to do with the
registration proceedings which brought about the issuance of Original Certificate of Title No. 735
even supposing that the registration was procured fraudulently.
4. Numerous cases have been decided by this Court, dealing on questions regarding the validity and
ineffectiveness of Original Certificate of Title No. 735. The rulings of this Court in those cases are
necessarily relevant to, and of decisive bearing in, the resolution of the issues involved in the three
cases now at bar.
(a) We have earlier cited the case of the Bank of the Philippine Islands vs. Acua (59 Phil., 183),
where the jurisdiction of the Court of Land Registration that issued the decree which was the basis of
Original Certificate of Title No. 735 was questioned, and this Court upheld the jurisdiction of the
registration court and categorically pronounced the validity of Original Certificate of Title No. 735.
(b) There is the case of Jose Alcantara, et al., versus Mariano Tuason y de la Paz, et al. (G.R. No. L4998, Mar. 13, 1953, 92 Phil. 796), where this Court declared that Original Certificate of Title No. 735
is incontrovertible and is conclusive against all persons claiming, either by themselves or by their
predecessors in interest, rights over the lands covered by said certificate of title.
We find that the Alcantara case is intimately related to the three cases at bar, and the rulings of this
Court in that former case are of decisive application to these three cases.
On August 29, 1950 a complaint was filed in the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Quezon City Branch)
by Jose Alcantara, Elias Benin, Pascual Pili, Alejandro de Dios, Tomas Bagagonio, Quintina
Sandoval, and Tomasa Lazaro against Mariano Tuason y de la Paz, Heirs of Mariano Tuason, J. M.
Tuason & Co., Inc. and Gregorio Araneta, Inc. This case was docketed as Civil Case No. Q-156. It will
be noted that three of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. Q-156, namely, Jose Alcantara, Elias Benin, and
Pascual Pili, are among the original plaintiffs in the three cases now before this Court; Elias Benin, in
Civil Case No. 3621; Jose Alcantara, in Civil Case No. 3622; and Pascual Pili, in Civil Case No. 3623.
Jose Alcantara, Elias Benin and Pascual Pili, as plaintiffs in that Civil Case No. Q-156 claimed that

they were the lawful owners of six (of the ten) parcels of land described in paragraph 2 of their
complaint Jose Alcantara claiming two parcels, Elias Benin claiming three parcels, and Pascual Pili
claiming one parcel. Substantially, it is alleged in the complaint 48 that each plaintiff, by himself and by
his predecessors in interest, as lawful owner, had been in the actual, open and continuous
possession of his own respective parcel, or parcels, of land from time immemorial until January 1950
when the defendants by force and by the use of armed men started to convert their lands into a
subdivision; that on July 8, 1914 the defendants had obtained Original Certificate of Title No. 735 over
a parcel of land which included the lands possessed by them (plaintiffs) and which they and their
ancestors had been enjoying as owners, for more than thirty years before the issuance of the title;
that the silence and inaction of the defendants since the date of their original certificate of title showed
that said certificate of title did not express the status of the their claim to the said parcels, that
plaintiffs were not given formal notice by the defendants of the registration of the lands, such that
defendants' certificate of title No. 735 was not in accordance with law, and that defendants did not
have proper title for registration to the parcels of land owned by the plaintiffs, as described in the
complaint; and that because the certificate of title issued by the register of deeds was still in the
names of the defendants, successors in interest of the Tuasons y de la Paz, and has not passed to
innocent parties for valuable consideration, the conveyance of the same to the plaintiffs was in order.
The plaintiffs prayed that therein defendants be ordered to execute deeds of conveyance of the
parcels of land described in their complaint in favor of the plaintiffs, that the defendants' certificate of
title be cancelled and the corresponding certificate be ordered issued in the names of the plaintiffs.
We quote from the decision:
The material allegations of the complaint are: that plaintiffs are owners of the parcels of
land set forth in their complaint, which parcels are situated along Bonifacio street, barrio
of San Jose, Quezon City, and that they have been in actual, open, and continuous
possession and enjoyment thereof without molestation from defendants from time
immemorial to the present; that on July 8, 1914, defendants obtained a certificate of title
(No. 735) over a parcel of land, which included the lands by plaintiffs, and which they
and their ancestors had been enjoying as owners more than 30 years before the
issuance of said title; that on June 23, 1950, defendants caused the removal of two
houses of plaintiffs on the land; and that defendants did not file any action against
plaintiffs before the inclusion of the lands in their title, in violation of the "due process of
law" clause of the Constitution. There are other allegations which really are arguments
of legal discussion, thus: that defendants could not acquire title by the registration
proceedings against the lawful holder, especially without formal notice, because
registration is to confirm title, not to acquire it; that the silence of the defendants since
the issuance of their title shows that this does not express the lawful status of their
claim, etc. The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it states
no of action and that, if it does, the same is barred by the statute of limitations. The
court sustained this motion on the second ground. Subsequently, plaintiffs filed an
amended complaint with the same substantial allegations, but with new ones, i.e., that it
was in January, 1950, that they learned that their lands were included in the registration
proceedings which culminated in the issuance of defendants' title; that defendants never
claimed ownership to the lands, but directly or indirectly allowed plaintiffs to continue
exercising their rights of ownership over the same. This amended complaint was denied
admission, and the motion for the reconsideration of the order of dismiss was also
denied. Hence the appeal.
In affirming the order of the lower court dismissing the complaint, this Court held:
Without considering whether the trial court's refusal to admit the amended complaint is erroneous or
not we are constrained to hold that the dismissal of the action, even with the amended complaint is a

basis thereof, is correct. From the allegations of both the original and amended complaints, it appears
that the defendants are holders of a certificate of title issued on July 8, 1914 as a consequence of
registration proceedings. There is no allegation in both original and amended complaints that the
plaintiffs were not notified, or were not aware, of the registration proceedings. It is presumed,
therefore, that as occupants proper notices thereof were served on them and that they were aware of
said proceedings. If this is so, then the plaintiffs, who were, or whose predecessors in interest were,
on the land during the registration proceedings, were bound by said proceedings. The latter are in
rem and bind the whole world, whether served with notice personally or not. (Grey Alba vs. De la
Cruz, 17 Phil., 49). And the decree of registration, in pursuance of which defendants' title was
issued, binds the land and quiets title thereto, and is conclusive against the plaintiffs. (Section 38,
Land Registration Act). The supposed right of plaintiffs by reason of their alleged continued
possession for thirty years was, therefore, destroyed fully and completely by the registration
proceedings, and their supposed ignorance of the inclusion of the lands can not exclude them from
the effects of the registration proceedings, and the supposed conduct of defendants in allowing
plaintiffs to continue on the land after registration can not serve as basis of any title or right thereto,
because acts of a possessory character by tolerance of an owner does not constitute possession
(Article 1942, Spanish Civil Code), and because no title to registered land in derogation to that of the
registered owner shall be acquired by prescription or adverse possession (Section 46, Land
Registration Act).
Thus, in the Alcantara case, as in the Bank of the Philippine Island vs. Acua case, supra, this Court
upheld the validity of the registration proceedings which culminated in the issuance of Original
Certificate of Title No. 735. This Court declared that "the decree of registration, in pursuance of which
defendants' title was issued, binds the land and quiets title thereto and is conclusive against the
plaintiffs." In other words, in virtue of that decision, the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. Q-156, among them
Jose Alcantara, Elias Benin and Pascual Pili, and their successors-in-interest, could no longer
question the validity of Original Certificate of Title No. 735, nor claim any right of ownership over any
portion of the land that is covered by said certificate of title.
But Elias Benin, Jose Alcantara, and Pascual Pili again came to court to claim ownership over
portions of the land covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 735. On May 19, 1955 Elias Benin,
joined by his brother Victor Benin and his sister Marta Benin, filed Civil Case No. 3621; Jose
Alcantara joined by his brother Juan Alcantara, filed Civil Case No. 3622; and Pascual Pili, joined by
his sister Luisa Pili, filed Civil Case No. 3623. These are the three cases which originated in the Court
of First Instance of Rizal (Quezon City Branch) which are now before this Court on appeal.
In the earlier part of this decision, We have pointed out that the complaints in these three cases had
been amended so as to include as parties plaintiffs all the heirs of the persons who were alleged to
be the owners of the parcels of land claimed by the plaintiffs in each case. Thus, the complaint in Civil
Case No. 3621 was amended to include all the heirs of Sixto Benin, the alleged owner of the three
parcels of land described in the complaint and the common predecessor in interest of all the plaintiffs
in the case. The complaint in Civil Case No. 3622 was amended to include all the heirs of Bonoso
Alcantara, the alleged owner of the two parcels of land described in the complaint and the common
predecessor in interest of all the plaintiffs in the case. The complaint in Civil Case No. 3623 was
amended to include all the heirs of Candido Pili, the alleged owner of the one parcel of land described
in the complaint and the common predecessor in interest of all the plaintiffs in the case.
In those three cases, in the court below, herein appellant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. (defendant therein)
filed a motion to dismiss upon the principal ground "that the cause of action (assuming there is one) is
barred by prior judgment, or by the statute of limitation". In its motion to dismiss J.M. Tuason & Co.,
Inc. contended that the decision of the Supreme Court in the Alcantara case is a bar to the action of
the plaintiffs in Civil Cases Nos. 3621, 3622 and 3623 of the Court of the First Instance of Rizal. The

lower court, however, denied the motion to dismiss. In its answer to the complaint in each of these
three cases, J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. set up as affirmative defenses the very grounds of its motion to
dismiss. After the plaintiffs had closed their direct evidence, J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. filed another
motion to dismiss upon the ground that the action was barred by the statute of limitations and by a
prior judgment, and that the plaintiffs had not presented evidence to prove their claim of ownership.
This second motion to dismiss was also denied by the lower court. 49
In its decision, which is now on appeal before this Court, the lower court held that the decision in
the Alcantaracase was not a bar to the action in these three cases, ruling that there is no identity, of
the parties, of the subject matter, and of the cause of action, between Civil Case No. Q-156, on the
one hand, and Civil Cases Nos. 3621, 3622, and 3623, on the other.
It is now contended by appellant J.M. Tuason & Co. Inc., in the present appeal, that "the trial court
erred in not dismissing these cases on the ground of res judicata and in denying the motion to
dismiss filed on said ground."50
Does the judgment in the aforementioned Alcantara case operate as a bar to the action of the
appellees in the three cases at bar?
In order that the rule of res judicata may apply, the following requisites must be present: (a) the
former judgment must be final; (b) it must have been rendered by a court having jurisdiction of the
subject-matter and of the parties; (c) it must be a judgment on the merits; and (d) there must be,
between the first and the second actions, identity of parties, of subject-matter, and of cause of action
(San Diego vs. Cardona, 70 Phil. 281-283).
We find that the judgment in Civil Case No. Q-156 (G.R. No. L-4998) is a final judgment on the merits
that was rendered by a court having jurisdiction over the subject matter and over the parties. The only
requisite for res judicata which we have to determine is whether between Civil Case Q-156 (G.R. No.
4998), on the one hand, and Civil Cases Nos. 8621, 3622 and 3623 (G.R. Nos. L-26127, 26128 and
26129), on the other, there is identity of parties, of subject matter and of cause of action.
In our examination of the records and the evidence, We find that there is identity of subject matter. In
the lower court's pretrial order dated December 18, 1957, which was based on the agreement of the
parties, it is stated
That the parcels of land in litigation in Case No. Q-156 are substantially identical to the
same parcels of land litigated in them cases Nos. 3621, 8622 and
3623. 51
We also find that there is identity of cause of action. It is apparent, upon reading the original
complaint (Exhibit 1) in Civil Case Q-156 and the decision in the Alcantara case (G.R. No. L-4998),
that the cause of action in Civil Case Q-156 was based on the alleged fact that the defendants had
dispossessed and deprived the plaintiff therein of the parcels of land described in the complaint,
which were claimed by the plaintiffs as their own and of which they had been in actual, open and
continuous possession from time immemorial, and that said lands were wrongly included in Certificate
of Title No. 735 that was obtained by the defendants. In the three cases at bar, plaintiffs (now
appellees) also complain of having been dispossessed and deprived by the defendants of the parcels
of land of which they were absolute owners and possessors, by themselves and through their
predecessors in interest, since time immemorial and that their said lands wrongly included in Parcel 1
of Original Certificate of Title No. 735 that was obtained by the defendants. In Civil Case No. Q-156,
on the one hand, and in the three cases now at bar, on the other, the plaintiffs therein seek the
nullification of Original Certificate of Title No. 735, and the reconveyance to them of the parcels of

land that they claim as theirs. 52 It appears clear to Us that in Civil Case No. Q-156 and in the three
cases at bar, the object or purpose of the plaintiffs is to recover the ownership and possession of the
same parcels of land.
As far as the parties are concerned, We find that there is no exact identity of parties between Civil
Case No. Q-156, on the one hand, and Civil Cases Nos. 3621, 3622 and 3623, on the other. It
appears that of the plaintiffs in Civil Cases Nos. 3621, 3622 and 3623 only Elias Benin, Jose
Alcantara and Pascual Pili were plaintiffs in Civil Case No. Q-156. In Civil Case No. Q-156, the
defendants were Mariano Tuason y de la Paz, Heirs of Mariano Tuason, J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. and
Gregorio Araneta, Inc., while in Civil Cases Nos. 3621, 3622 and 3623 the defendants were Mariano
Severo, Teresa Eriberta, Juan Jose, Demetrio Asuncion, Augusta Huberto, all surnamed Tuason y de
la Paz (the persons appearing as registered owners in Original Certificate of Title No. 735), their
heirs, and J.M. Tuason and Co., Inc. We find that the natural persons surnamed Tuason, and the
heirs, refer to the persons who belong to the Tuason family that secured the registration of Parcel 1 in
Original Certificate of Title No. 735. The defendant Gregorio Araneta Inc. in Civil Case No. Q-156 is
the administrator of the Tuason properties. So, the parties defendants in all these cases are
practically the same. We find, however, that in Civil Case No. Q-156 as well as in Civil Cases Nos.
3621, 3622 and 3623, it was the defendant J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. that actually controverted the
claims of the plaintiffs.
After a careful study, We are of the considered view that the judgment in the Alcantara case is a bar
to the action of the plaintiffs who are the heirs of Elias Benin in Civil Case No. 3621 (G.R. No. 26127),
of plaintiff Jose Alcantara in Civil Case No. 3622 (G.R. No. 26128), and of plaintiff Pascual Pili in Civil
Case No. 3623 (G. R. No. 26129) under the doctrine of res adjudicata. We are likewise of the
considered view that the decision in the Alcantaracase would serve to rule out the action of the other
plaintiffs in Civil Cases Nos. 3621, 3622 and 3623 under the doctrine of stare decisis.
In Civil Case No. 3621 the original plaintiffs were Victor Benin, Marta Benin, and Elias Benin--two
brothers and a sister. In the amended complaint it was alleged that these three original plaintiffs had
another brother, and another sister, namely Esteban Benin and Felipa Benin. But because all the five
Benin brothers and sisters died, they were all substituted by their heirs, such that as of the time when
Civil Case No. 3621 was decided the plaintiffs were: (1) the heirs of Victor Benin; (2) the heirs of
Marta Benin; (3) the heirs of Elias Benin; (4) the heirs of Esteban Benin, and (5) the heirs of Felipa
Benin.
In Civil Case No. 3622 the original plaintiffs were Juan Alcantara and Jose Alcantara. Juan Alcantara
died, and he was substituted by his heirs, such that as of the time Civil Case No. 3622 was decided
the plaintiffs were: (1) the heirs of Juan Alcantara, and (2) Jose A. Alcantara.
In Civil Case No. 3623 the original plaintiffs were Pascual Pili and Luisa Pili. In the amended
complaint, it was alleged that Luisa Pili and Pascual Pili had two brothers who were already dead,
namely, Diego Pili and Manuel Pili, so they were substituted by their heirs. Luisa Pili died, and she
was substituted by her heirs, such that as of the time Civil Case No. 3623 was decided, the plaintiffs
were: (1) the heirs of Diego Pili; (2) the heirs of Manuel Pili; (3) the heirs of Luisa Pili, and (4) Pascual
Pili.
It would thus appear that of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3621 Elias Benin is the only one who was a
plaintiff in Civil Case No. Q-156; of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3622 Jose E. Alcantara, who is still
living, is the only one who was a plaintiff in Civil Case No. Q-156; of the plaintiffs in Civil Case No.
3623 Pascual Pili, who is still living, is the only one who was a plaintiff in Civil Case No. Q-156.

It being Our finding that the judgment in Civil Case No. Q-156 (G.R. No. L-4998-the Alcantara case)
is a final judgment on the merits that was rendered by a court that had jurisdiction over the subject
matter and over the parties, and that there is identity of subject matter and cause of action between
Civil Case No. Q-156, on the one hand, and Civil Cases Nos. 3621, 3622, and 3623, on the other;
and it appearing that Elias Benin is a party-plaintiff both in Civil Case Q-156 and Civil Case No. 3621;
that Jose Alcantara is a party-plaintiff in both Civil Case No. Q-156 and Civil Case No. 3622; that
Pascual Pili is a party-plaintiff in both Civil Case No. Q-156 and Civil Case No. 3623; and that the
defendants in Civil Case No. Q-156 and in Civil Cases Nos. 3621, 3622 and 3623 are practically the
same persons and/or entities, We hold that the doctrine of bar by a previous judgment or res
adjudicata squarely applies to Elias Benin, or to his heirs and successors in interest in Civil Case No.
3621; to Jose Alcantara and his heirs or successors in interest in Civil Case No. 3622; and to Pascual
Pili and his heirs or successors in interest in Civil Case No. 3623. 53
We now consider the case of the other plaintiffs in Civil Cases Nos. 3621, 3622 and 3623.
It will be noted that in Civil Case No. 3621 the plaintiffs base their claim of ownership of the three
parcels of land described in the complaint on their being heirs or successors in interest of Sixto Benin
who died in 1936. In Civil Case No. 3622 the plaintiffs base their claim of ownership over the two
parcels of land described in their complaint on their being the heirs and successors in interest
of Bonoso Alcantara who died in 1934. In Civil Case No. 3623 the plaintiffs base their claim of
ownership of the one parcel of land described in their complaint on their being the heirs and
successors in interest of Candido Pili who died in 1931.
When Jose Alcantara, Elias Benin and Pascual Pili, alleged in their complaint in Civil Case No. Q-156
(which was filed in 1950) that they were the owners of the parcels of land specified in their complaint,
having inherited the same from their ancestors and had been in possession of the same from time
immemorial, each was claiming a right as an heir of Bonoso Alcantara, Sixto Benin, and Candido Pili,
respectively. Similarly, in Civil Cases Nos. 3621, 3622 and 3623, the source of the rights claimed by
the plaintiffs Jose Alcantara, Elias Benin and Pascual Pili and all the other plaintiffs were their
respective ancestor, or predecessor in interest, namely Bonoso Alcantara, Sixto Benin and Candido
Pili, as the case may be.
Inasmuch as Sixto Benin died in 1936, Bonoso Alcantara died in 1934, and Candido Pili died in 1931,
it is obvious that during all the time when the registration proceedings in LRC No. 7681 were taking
place before the Court of Land Registration, which culminated in the issuance of Original Certificate
of Title No. 735 on July 8, 1914, Sixto Benin, Bonoso Alcantara and Candido Pili were living. The
records show that no one of these three persons, or their representative, had filed any opposition to
the application for registration in said LRC 7681, nor did any one of them, or their representative, file
any petition for review of the decree of registration No. 17431 that was issued in said LRC No. 7681.
It is Our view, therefore, that the decision of this Court, in G.R. No. L-4998, which affirmed the order
of the Court of First Instance of Rizal dismissing the complaint of Jose Alcantara, Elias Benin and
Pascual Pili (along with four other plaintiffs) in Civil Case No. Q-156 should apply not only against the
heirs, of Elias Benin, against Jose Alcantara, and against Pascual Pili, as plaintiffs in Civil Cases Nos.
3621, 3622 and 3623, respectively, but also against all the other plaintiffs in those cases. We find that
the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3621 do not claim a right which is different from that claimed by Elias
Benin in Civil Case No. Q-156. Likewise, the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3622 do not claim a right
different from that claimed by Jose Alcantara in Civil Case No Q-156. And, also, the plaintiffs in Civil
Case No. 3623 do not claim a right different from that claimed by Pascual Pili in Civil Case No. Q156. They all claim the same right, based on the alleged ownership of their respective common
predecessor in interest in Civil Case No. 3621 the common predecessor in interest being Sixto
Benin; in Civil Case No. 3622 the common predecessor in interest being Bonoso Alcantara; and in

Civil Case No. 3623 the common predecessor in interest being Candido Pili. In Civil Case No. Q-156
Elias Benin based his claim of ownership upon the ownership of his predecessor in interest who
necessarily must be Sixto Benin; Jose Alcantara, upon the ownership of his predecessor in interest
who necessarily must be Bonoso Alcantara; and Pascual Pili, upon the ownership of his predecessor
in interest who necessarily must be Candido Pili. It follows, therefore, that the decision of this Court in
G.R. No. L-4998 (Civil Case No. Q-156), which held untenable the cause of action of the successors
in interest, of Sixto Benin, of Bonoso Alcantara and of Candido Pili, to recover the ownership and
possession of any land covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 735, would also foreclose a similar
cause of action of all other persons who claim to be successors in interest of Sixto Benin, of Bonoso
Alcantara and of Candido Pili over any land covered by said certificate of title. As We have adverted
to, Sixto Benin died in 1936, Bonoso Alcantara died in 1934, and Candido Pili died in 1931. These
three predecessors in interest of the appellees died long after the issuance of Original Certificate of
Title No. 735, which took place on July 8, 1914.
And so, even if there are plaintiffs (now appellees) in these three cases who are not privies to
plaintiffs Jose Alcantara, Elias Benin, and Pascual Pili in Civil Case No. Q-156 (G.R. No. L-4998
the Alcantara case) and were not parties in that case, still the ruling of this Court in that former case,
to the effect that therein plaintiffs or their predecessors in interest were bound by the proceedings in
the registration court which culminated in the issuance of Original Certificate of Title No. 735, holds
and applies to those plaintiffs in these three cases, because the claim of ownership of these plaintiffs
is based on the same predecessors in interest of plaintiffs Jose Alcantara, Elias Benin and Pascual
Pili in said Civil Case No. Q-156. 54 It may well be said that the interests of the appellees in G.R. No.
L-26127 (Civil Case No. 3621) who claim rights as heirs or successors in interest of Sixto Benin were
represented by Elias Benin in Civil Case No. Q-156 (G.R. No. L-4998); the appellees in G.R. No.
26128 (Civil Case No. 3622) who claim rights as heirs or successors in interest of Bonoso Alcantara
were represented by Jose Alcantara in Civil Case No. Q-156 (G.R. No. L-4998); the appellees in G.R.
No. 26129 (Civil Case No. 3623) who claim rights as heirs or successors in interest of Candido Pili
were represented by Pascual Pili in Civil Case No. Q-156 (G.R. No. L-4998).
(c) In the case of Albina Santiago, et al. vs. J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. (G.R. No. L-14223, November 23,
1960) 55, where Original Certificate of Title No. 735, was also in question, this Court ruled on issues
akin to the issues involved in the three cases now at bar. Albina Santiago and her co-plaintiffs filed a
complaint in the Court of First Instance of Quezon City, docketed as Civil Case No. Q-2918, against J.
M. Tuason & Co. Inc. alleging, substantially, that their ancestor, Inocencio Santiago, was the owner of
a parcel of land, evidenced by a document (attached to their complaint as Annex A) issued by the
Spanish government on May 12, 1848 56; that Inocencio Santiago had since then been in possession
of the aforesaid land as owner, publicly, continuously and adversely until his death, when his two
children, Isaias and Albina, succeeded and continued to own and possess said land pro indiviso in
the same character as that of their predecessor that upon the death of Isaias Santiago his one-half
share of the land was inherited by his eleven children who, together with their aunt Albina, continued
to own and possess the land in the same character as that of their predecessors; that Albina and her
co-plaintiffs came to know that J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. had previously filed in the Court of First
Instance of Quezon City Civil Case No. Q-27 for "quieting of title and recovery of possession" against
five of the children of Isaias Santiago involving the parcel of land of which they were co-owners; that
J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. had claimed that parcel to be part of the land covered by its Transfer
Certificate of Title No. 119; that the judgment in Civil. Case No. Q-27, in which they (Albina Santiago,
et al.) were never impleaded as parties, had already become
final 57; that J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. had executed the judgment against them, excluding and rusting
them from the enjoyment and possession of the land. Albina and her co-plaintiffs also alleged that
Transfer Certificate of Title No. 119 (37679) of J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc., as well as Original Certificate
of Title No. 735 from which the former was derived, did not include the parcel claimed by them; that
even granting that Transfer Certificate of Title No. 119 included the parcel claimed by them the

inclusion of that parcel in the certificate of title of J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. was done through fraud
because they, nor their predecessors, were not actually notified of the registration proceedings. As
ground for cancellation of the certificate of title of J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. Albina Santiago and her coplaintiffs further alleged that the technical description in Original Certificate of Title No. 735 had been
falsified to include areas never brought within the jurisdiction of the Land Registration Court, since
they were areas not included in the application and publication in the registration proceedings; that
long before the predecessors of J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. applied for, and secured, registration of the
land which included their parcel of land they had already acquired ownership thereof not only by the
document, Annex A of their complaint, but also by acquisitive prescription. Albina Santiago and her
co-plaintiffs prayed, that J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. be ordered to desist from enforcing Civil Case No.
Q-27 against them; that a resurvey be ordered to determine whether or not Transfer Certificate of Title
No. 119 (37679) included the land described in their complaint; that a reconveyance to them be
ordered of whatever portion of the land claimed by them may be found included in transfer Certificate
of Title No. 119; that Transfer Certificate of Title No. 119 and Original Certificate of Title No. 735 be
ordered cancelled and substituted with a new certificate of title embracing only those lands included
in the application, publication and/or decree in LRC No. 7681 of the Court of Land Registration.
Upon motion of defendant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc., the Court of First Instance of Quezon City
dismissed the complaint of Albina Santiago, et al., upon the grounds that there was no cause of
action, that the case was barred by a prior judgment in Civil Case No. Q-27 which was affirmed by the
Supreme Court in G.R. No. L-5079, and that the action of the plaintiffs, if they had any, had
prescribed.
This Court affirmed the order of the lower court dismissing the complaint of Albina Santiago and her
co-plaintiffs.58 Regarding the contention of Albina Santiago and her co-plaintiffs that the judgment in
the previous case (Civil Case No. Q-27, affirmed in G.R. No. L-5079) would not operate as res
judicata against them because they were not parties in that suit, and that they did not derive their title
from the defendants in the previous suit, this Court held:
We agree with appellants that the decision in the preceding suit to quiet title, prosecuted
by the appellee Tuason & Co. against other heirs of Ynocencio Santiago (99 Phil., 615;
50 Off. Gaz. 11, 5727), can not constitute res judicata against these appellants who
were not parties to that suit and do not derive their title from the defendants in the
previous litigation (Rule 39, sec. 44 (b). There is authority for the proposition that a
judgment may be made binding in a subsequent litigation upon one who, although not a
formal party to a previous suit, has actually conducted or controlled the action or
defense therein (65 ALR 1134), or who was adequately represented in such previous
litigation; but no clear proof of the existence of such exceptional circumstance is before
us in the present case. On the other hand, the rule is that co-owners are not
privies inter se in relation to the property owned in common.
xxx xxx xxx
But granting that the plaintiffs-appellants herein are not privies of the defendants
Santiago in the former litigation over this same property (S.C.G.R. No.
L-5079), still the pronouncement of this Court, made in the former case, to the effect
that the Spanish document (Annex A) issued in favor of Ynocencio Santiago (ancestor
of appellants herein) was neither a titulo de informacion posesoria nor a title
by composicion con el estado, and, therefore, vested no ownership over the land
therein described in favor of Ynocencio Santiago, holds and applies to herein
appellants, since the quality or the legal effect of the document does not depend upon
the person who invoke it.

If the late Ynocencio Santiago did not become the owner of the disputed property by
virtue of the document Annex A, then appellants herein, as heirs of Ynocencio have not
acquired such ownership either. It follows that the first and second causes of action of
their complaint, predicated as they are on the assumption that such ownership and its
consequential rights resulted from Annex A, must necessarily fail. Not being owners,
they can complain of no invasion of dominical rights.
It will thus be noted that in the aforementioned decision in the Santiago case, even if Albina Santiago
and her co-plaintiffs were not considered privies to the defendants in Civil Case No. Q-27, and even if
they were not parties in that previous case, this Court nevertheless applied to them the judgment (G.
R. No. L-5079) in that previous case where it was pronounced that the document, Annex A of the
complaint of Albina Santiago, et al., was neither atitulo de informacion posesoria nor a title
by composision con el estado, and it did not establish the right of ownership of their predecessor in
interest, Inocencio Santiago, Albina Santiago and her co-plaintiffs had based their claim of ownership
on that document (Annex A). 59 This Court held in that previous case that the document was
unavailing against Transfer Certificate of Title No. 119 of J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. and against Original
Certificate of Title No. 735.
And so, following the logic of this Court in its decision in the Santiago case, in the three cases at bar
We hold that even if the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3621, except the heirs of Elias Benin, are not
privies to Elias Benin and were not parties in Civil Case No. Q-156; even if the plaintiffs in Civil Case
No. 3622, except Jose Alcantara, are not privies to Jose Alcantara and were not parties in Civil Case
No. Q-156; and even if the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. 3623, except Pascual Pili, are not privies to
Pascual Pili and were not parties in Civil Case No. Q156, still the pronouncement of this Court in the
judgment in that previous case (G.R. No. L-4998), to the effect that the plaintiffs in that case and their
predecessors in interest were bound by the registration proceedings which culminated in the issuance
of Original Certificate of Title No. 735, holds and applies to all the plaintiffs (now appellees) in these
three cases. In that judgment this Court ruled out, or did not sustain, the rights claimed by the
predecessors in interest of herein appellees over the land covered by Original Certificate of Title No.
735. These appellees, therefore, have not succeeded to any right that can derrogate the validity and
conclusiveness of Original Certificate of Title No. 735, and of the certificates of title that are derived
from said original certificate of title.
Coming back to the Santiago case, as regards the contention of Albina Santiago and her co-plaintiffs
that the registration proceedings which resulted in the issuance of Original Certificate of Title No. 735
were irregular and fraudulent, this Court held:
(T)he mere fact that appellants herein were not personally notified of the registration
proceedings that resulted in a decree of registration of title in favor of the Tuasons in
1914 does not constitute in itself a case of fraud that would invalidate the decree. The
registration proceedings, as proceedingsin rem, operate as against the whole world and
the decree issued therein is conclusive adjudication of the ownership of the lands
registered, not only against those parties who appeared in such proceedings but also
against parties who were summoned by publication but did not appear. The registration
by the appellee's predecessors-in-interest freed the lands from claims and liens of
whatever character that existed against the lands prior to the issuance of the certificates
of title, except those noted in the certificate and legal encumbrances saved by law
(Yumol vs. Rivera and Dizon, 64 Phil. 13, 17 and cases cited therein). In addition, there
being no allegation that the registered owners procured the non-appearance of
appellants at the registration proceedings, and very much more than one year having
elapsed from the issuance of the decree of registration in 1914, neither revocation of
such decree nor a decree of reconveyance are obtainable any more.

Regarding the claim of Albina Santiago and her co-plaintiffs that they had acquired title by
prescription over the parcel of land claimed by them, this Court held:
It follows also that the allegation of prescriptive title in favor of plaintiffs does not suffice
to establish a cause of action. If such prescription was completed before the registration
of the land in favor of the Tuasons, the resulting prescriptive title was cut off and
extinguished by the decree of registration. If, on the contrary, the prescription was either
begun or completed after the decree of registration, it conferred no title because, by
express provision of law, prescription cannot operate against the registered owner (Act
496, section 46).
Thus, in this Santiago case, as in the Alcantara case, this Court declared conclusive and indefeasible
Original Certificate of Title No. 735 which was issued as a result of the registration proceedings in
L.R.C. No. 7681 of the Court of Land Registration. There are many other cases where this Court has
made a similar pronouncement regarding Original Certificate of Title No. 735. 60
In view of the findings, and the rulings, that We have hereinbefore made, it follows that, as contended
by the appellant, the lower court also erred when it declared the appellees the owners of the lands
claimed by them and in awarding damages to them, in these three cases. 61
We consider it unnecessary to rule on the counterclaim of appellant J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc., for
damages and attorneys fees against the appellees 62, considering, as the records show, that the
appellees are persons who are not in a position to pay damages in any form. 63 We believe that the
appellees had filed their complaints in the honest, but mistaken, belief that they have a good cause of
action against the appellant corporation and not because they meant to embarrass or humiliate the
persons who are identified or connected with the appellant.
WHEREFORE, the joint decision of the Court of First Instance of Rizal (Quezon City Branch) in Civil
Cages Nos. 3621, 3622 and 3623, appealed from, is reversed and set aside. The bond filed by
appellant in the three cases in the court below for the lifting of the writ of preliminary injunction is
ordered cancelled. No pronouncement as to costs.
IT IS SO ORDERED.