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Cruz vs Secretary of DENR their ancestral land but more importantly, to correct a grave historical injustice to

Natural Resources and Environmental Law; Constitutional Law; IPRA; our indigenous people."
Regalian Doctrine GR. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000
The IPRA recognizes the existence of the indigenous cultural communities or
FACTS: indigenous peoples (ICCs/IPs) as a distinct sector in Philippine society. It grants
Petitioners Isagani Cruz and Cesar Europa filed a suit for prohibition and these people the ownership and possession of their ancestral domains and
mandamus as citizens and taxpayers, assailing the constitutionality of certain ancestral lands, and defines the extent of these lands and domains. The
provisions of Republic Act No. 8371, otherwise known as the Indigenous People’s ownership given is the indigenous concept of ownership under customary law
Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA) and its implementing rules and regulations (IRR). The which traces its origin to native title.
petitioners assail certain provisions of the IPRA and its IRR on the ground that
these amount to an unlawful deprivation of the State’s ownership over lands of the Indigenous Cultural Communities or Indigenous Peoples refer to a group of people
public domain as well as minerals and other natural resources therein, in violation or homogeneous societies who have continuously lived as an organized
of the regalian doctrine embodied in section 2, Article XII of the Constitution. community on communally bounded and defined territory. These groups of people
have actually occupied, possessed and utilized their territories under claim of
ISSUE: ownership since time immemorial. They share common bonds of language,
Do the provisions of IPRA contravene the Constitution? customs, traditions and other distinctive cultural traits, or, they, by their resistance
to political, social and cultural inroads of colonization, non-indigenous religions and
HELD: cultures, became historically differentiated from the Filipino majority. ICCs/IPs also
No, the provisions of IPRA do not contravene the Constitution. Examining the include descendants of ICCs/IPs who inhabited the country at the time of conquest
IPRA, there is nothing in the law that grants to the ICCs/IPs ownership over the or colonization, who retain some or all of their own social, economic, cultural and
natural resources within their ancestral domain. Ownership over the natural political institutions but who may have been displaced from their traditional
resources in the ancestral domains remains with the State and the rights granted territories or who may have resettled outside their ancestral domains.
by the IPRA to the ICCs/IPs over the natural resources in their ancestral domains
merely gives them, as owners and occupants of the land on which the resources To recognize the rights of the indigenous peoples effectively, Senator Flavier
are found, the right to the small scale utilization of these resources, and at the proposed a bill based on two postulates: (1) the concept of native title; and (2) the
same time, a priority in their large scale development and exploitation. principle of parens patriae.

Additionally, ancestral lands and ancestral domains are not part of the lands of the "Sec. 3 a) Ancestral Domains. - Subject to Section 56 hereof, refer to all areas
public domain. They are private lands and belong to the ICCs/IPs by native title, generally belonging to ICCs/IPs comprising lands, inland waters, coastal areas,
which is a concept of private land title that existed irrespective of any royal grant and natural resources therein, held under a claim of ownership, occupied or
from the State. However, the right of ownership and possession by the ICCs/IPs of possessed by ICCs/IPs by themselves or through their ancestors, communally or
their ancestral domains is a limited form of ownership and does not include the individually since time immemorial, continuously to the present except when
right to alienate the same. interrupted by war, force majeure or displacement by force, deceit, stealth or as a
consequence of government projects or any other voluntary dealings entered into
Notes: by government and private individuals/corporations, and which are necessary to
ensure their economic, social and cultural welfare.
Puno: "When Congress enacted the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), it
introduced radical concepts into the Philippine legal system which appear to collide b) Ancestral Lands.- Subject to Section 56 hereof, refers to land occupied,
with settled constitutional and jural precepts on state ownership of land and other possessed and utilized by individuals, families and clans who are members of the
natural resources. The sense and subtleties of this law cannot be appreciated ICCs/IPs since time immemorial, by themselves or through their predecessors-in-
without considering its distinct sociology and the labyrinths of its history. This interest, under claims of individual or traditional group ownership, continuously, to
Opinion attempts to interpret IPRA by discovering its soul shrouded by the mist of the present except when interrupted by war, force majeure or displacement by
our history. After all, the IPRA was enacted by Congress not only to fulfil the force, deceit, stealth, or as a consequence of government projects and other
constitutional mandate of protecting the indigenous cultural communities' right to voluntary dealings entered into by government and private
individuals/corporations, including, but not limited to, residential lots, rice terraces agreements, the State shall promote the development and use of local scientific
or paddies, private forests, widen farms and tree lots." and technical resources.

The rights of the ICCs/IPs to their ancestral domains and ancestral lands may be The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in
acquired in two modes: (1) by native title over both ancestral lands and domains; accordance with this provision, within thirty days from its execution.
or (2) by torrens title under the Public Land Act and the Land Registration Act with
respect to ancestral lands only. Section 3. Lands of the public domain are classified into agricultural, forest or
timber, mineral lands and national parks. Agricultural lands of the public domain
Native title refers to ICCs/IPs' preconquest rights to lands and domains held under may be further classified by law according to the uses to which they may be
a claim of private ownership as far back as memory reaches. These lands are devoted. Alienable lands of the public domain shall be limited to agricultural lands.
deemed never to have been public lands and are indisputably presumed to have Private corporations or associations may not hold such alienable lands of the
been held that way since before the Spanish Conquest. public domain except by lease, for a period not exceeding twenty-five years,
renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and not to exceed one thousand
hectares in area. Citizens of the Philippines may lease not more than five hundred
Article 12 hectares, or acquire not more than twelve hectares thereof, by purchase,
homestead, or grant.
Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and
other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, Taking into account the requirements of conservation, ecology, and development,
flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the and subject to the requirements of agrarian reform, the Congress shall determine,
exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. by law, the size of lands of the public domain which may be acquired, developed,
The exploration, development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under held, or leased and the conditions therefor.
the full control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake such
activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or production-sharing Section 4. The Congress shall, as soon as possible, determine, by law, the specific
agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or associations at least sixty per limits of forest lands and national parks, marking clearly their boundaries on the
centum of whose capital is owned by such citizens. Such agreements may be for a ground. Thereafter, such forest lands and national parks shall be conserved and
period not exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five may not be increased nor diminished, except by law. The Congress shall provide
years, and under such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases for such period as it may determine, measures to prohibit logging in endangered
of water rights for irrigation, water supply fisheries, or industrial uses other than the forests and watershed areas.
development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and limit of the
grant. Section 5. The State, subject to the provisions of this Constitution and national
development policies and programs, shall protect the rights of indigenous cultural
The State shall protect the nation’s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, communities to their ancestral lands to ensure their economic, social, and cultural
territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment well-being.
exclusively to Filipino citizens.
The Congress may provide for the applicability of customary laws governing
The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by property rights or relations in determining the ownership and extent of ancestral
Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence domain.
fishermen and fish workers in rivers, lakes, bays, and lagoons.
Section 6. The use of property bears a social function, and all economic agents
The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned corporations shall contribute to the common good. Individuals and private groups, including
involving either technical or financial assistance for large-scale exploration, corporations, cooperatives, and similar collective organizations, shall have the right
development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum, and other mineral oils to own, establish, and operate economic enterprises, subject to the duty of the
according to the general terms and conditions provided by law, based on real State to promote distributive justice and to intervene when the common good so
contributions to the economic growth and general welfare of the country. In such demands.
One-half value of said house and lot to defendant-appellant Canuta Pagkatipunan
Section 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be and her 13 co-defendants-appellants children (now petitioners) to the extent of
transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations their respective proportional contributions as stated above; and
qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.
The other one-half value of the said house and lot goes to the second conjugal
G.R. No. 70722 July 3, 1991 partnership of the deceased husband and his second spouse Canuta
Pagkatipunan to be partitioned one-fourth to Canuta Pagkatipunan and the other
CANUTA PAGKATIPUNAN, FLORA VELASQUEZ, BENJAMIN VELASQUEZ, one-fourth appertaining to the deceased Jose Velasquez, Sr. to be divided equally
RODOLFO VELASQUEZ, ALFREDO VELASQUEZ, NAPOLEON VELASQUEZ, among his 18 heirs as follows:
MANUEL VELASQUEZ, JULIO VELASQUEZ, VICTORIA VELASQUEZ,
CARLOS VELASQUEZ, LEONOR VELASQUEZ, ELENA VELASQUEZ, 1/18 undivided portion to Canuta Pagkatipunan;
PATROCINIO VELASQUEZ, PATRICIA VELASQUEZ, SANTIAGO ZAPANTA,
HERMINIGILDO SISON, ALFREDO AGAPITO, MOISES SANTOS, 1/18 undivided portion to the plaintiff-appellee Lourdes Velasquez;
MAGDALENA PAGKATIPUNAN, AGAPITO MANALO, MIGUEL ANGELES,
MATIAS ALVAREZ, PATRICIO LAYSA, TEOFILO DE LUNA, ISIDRO ANINAO, 1/18 undivided portion to the plaintiffs-appellees Edgardo, Lolita, Minerva, Cynthia,
APOLINAR CASAL, MOISES GALLARDO, BONIFACIO PEREZ, DELFIN and Jennifer, all surnamed Velasquez;
LAYBA, AND HERMOGENES FLORES, petitioners,
vs.
1/18 undivided portion to the plaintiffs-appellee Teresa Magtibay and her children,
HON. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, JOSE R. VELASQUEZ, JR.,
Ricardo, Lourdes, Celia and Aida, all surnamed Velasquez;
LOURDES VELASQUEZ, EDGARDO VELASQUEZ, LOLITA VELASQUEZ,
MINERVA VELASQUEZ, CYNTHIA VELASQUEZ, CESAR GONZALES,
ADOLFO GONZALES, EVELYN GONZALES, AMELITA GONZALES, RUBEN 1/1 8 undivided portion to the plaintiffs-appellees Cesar, Adolfo, Evelyn, Angelita,
GONZALES, AND CARMENCITA GONZALES, respondents. Ruben, and Carmencita, all surnamed Gonzales;

Bengzon, Zarraga, Narciso, Cudala, Pecson, Ascuna & Bengson for petitioners. 1/18 undivided portion to each of the 13 defendants-appellants Flora, Leonor,
Patrocinio, Benjamin, Rodolfo, Alfredo, Napoleon, Manuel, Julio, Elena, Patricia,
Victoria, and Carlos, all surnamed Velasquez.
Tomas P. Añonuevo for private respondents.
SO ORDERED. (p. 55, Rollo)
MEDIALDEA, J.:p
The facts from the records are as follows:
This petition for certiorari seeks to nullify the decision of the Intermediate Appellate
Court (now Court of Appeals) in AC-G.R. CV No. 68431 dated February 7, 1986,
affirming the decision of the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of The principal litigants in this case are the successors- in-interest of Jose
Laguna, Branch II, Santa Cruz, Laguna, in Civil Case No. SC-894, the dispositive Velasquez, Sr. who died intestate on February 24, 1961. Petitioner Canuta
portion of which reads: Pagkatipunan is the surviving spouse of Jose Velasquez, Sr. and the other 13
petitioners are their children namely: Flora, Leonor, Patrocinio, Julio, Benjamin,
Rodolfo, Alfredo, Napoleon, Manuel, Elena, Patricia, Victoria and Carlos. On the
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision of the lower court is affirmed, with the
other hand, the private respondents are the descendants of Jose Velasquez, Sr.
following modification:
with his first wife Victorina Real who died in 1920 at Santa Cruz, Laguna. Private
respondents Jose Velasquez, Jr. (substituted after his death during the pendency
The entire house and lot on West Avenue, Quezon City, shall be divided as of this suit by his surviving spouse Teresa Magtibay and their children Ricardo,
follows: Lourdes, Celia and Aida), and Lourdes Velasquez are two of the five children of
Jose Velasquez, Sr. and Victorina Real. The other three, Amelia, Guillermo and
Lutgarda, all surnamed Velasquez, all died before the commencement of this case.
Amelia Velasquez died without any issue. Guillermo Velasquez was survived by 2. Tax Declaration No. 3125. A Secano land located in Luya and with an area of
private respondents Edgardo, Lolita, Minerva, Cynthia and Jennifer, all surnamed 12,540 square meters;
Velasquez, his children, forced heirs and lawful successors-in-interest. Lutgarda
Velasquez was survived by private respondents Cesar, Adolfo, Evelyn, Amelita, 3. Tax Declaration No. 2623. A Cocal and Forestal, situated in Salang-Bato
Ruben and Carmencita, all surnamed Gonzales, likewise her children, forced heirs (Macasipac) and with an area of 500,000 square meters;
and successors-in-interest.
4. Tax Declaration No. 2096. A riceland, situated in Islang Munti and with an area
This case was judicially instituted by the private respondents against the of 40,328 square meters;
petitioners in 1969 in a complaint entitled "accion reivindicatoria, annulment of
deeds of sale, partition and damages." However, both the trial and the appellate
5. A Cocal and Forestal land situated in Bankang Bato containing an area of
courts considered that the real controversy in this case is the liquidation of the
240,000 square meters;
conjugal partnership properties acquired by the deceased Jose Velasquez, Sr. in
his two marriages, one with Victorina Real, who predeceased him, and the other
with Canuta Pagkatipunan, as well as the partition of the estate of said Jose 6. Tax Declaration No. 4251. A Cocal, Secano and Cogonal land situated in
Velasquez, Sr. among his heirs. Cambuja and containing an area of 163,121 square meters;

It appears that after the death of Victorina Real in 1920, no dissolution of the first 7. Tax Declaration No. 1342. A parcel of land situated in Bagumbayan and
conjugal property has been made. Consequently, Jose Velasquez, Sr. enjoyed full containing an area of 80,258 square meters;
possession, use, usufruct and administration of the whole conjugal property of the
first marriage. 8. Tax Declaration No. 3541. A Cocal and Secano land, situated in Bagumbayan
and containing an area of 20 hectares;
In 1930, Jose Velasquez, Sr. took Canuta Pagkatipunan as his second wife
although they cohabited as early as 1921, when she was 16, soon after his first (Total area as surveyed is 392,503 square meters. This includes the area of the
wife's death. From this marriage, the other 13 co-petitioners were born. Neither land stated in Item 7 of the Inventory).
had there been any liquidation of the second conjugal partnership after the death
of Jose Velasquez, Sr. in 1961. This situation gave rise to the controversies in the 9. Tax Declaration No. 82. A Cogonal land situated in Tungkod (Ikalong Tumid),
instant case spawned by the parties' conflicting claims from both sides of the two containing an area of 385,324 square meters;
marriages.
10. Tax Declaration No. 1500. A riceland, situated in Pague, containing an area of
The trial court appointed two sets of commissions — one on January 31, 1975, for 9,228 square meters;
the purpose of making an inventory of the estate of Jose Velasquez, Sr., and the
other on November 15, 1976, to determine which of the parcels of land listed in 11. Tax Declaration No. 5688
such inventory submitted by the first set of commissioners belong to the conjugal
partnership of the first marriage or to the conjugal partnership of the second
a) A parcel of land situated in NAPSE (Masinao), containing an area of 24,725
marriage.
square meters;
Based on the Report and Inventory submitted on May 29, 1975, the
b) A parcel of land situated in NAPSE (Masinao), containing an area of 25,000
commissioners listed the following properties as acquired by the late Jose
square meters;
Velasquez, Sr. during his marriage with Victorina Real:

12. Tax Declaration No. 543. A parcel of land situated in Gomez Street, containing
1. Tax Declaration No. 2718. A riceland, located in Luya and with an area of
an area of 755 square meters;
93,662 square meters;
13. Tax Declaration No. 4139. A parcel of land situated in Caboan, containing an 27. A parcel of land situated in Dra. Amelia St.
area of 367.2 square meters;
On the other hand, the commissioners listed the following properties as acquired
14. Tax Declaration No. 4139. A parcel of land situated in Caboan, containing an by Jose Velasquez, Sr. on February 11, 1921 or after the death of Victorina Real:
area of 367.2 square meters.
28. Tax Declaration No. 2547. A parcel of land situated in Barandilla, containing an
15. Tax Declaration No. 4139. A parcel of land situated in Caboan, containing an area of 21,566 square meters;
area of 367.2 square meters.
29. A parcel of land situated in Barandilla, containing an area of 93.191 square
16. Tax Declaration No. 4139. A parcel of land situated in Caboan, containing an meters. (Commissioner's Inventory, Rollo, pp. 355-360)
area of 367.2 square meters.
Worth noting are the following findings of the commissioners:
17. Tax Declaration No. 4139. A parcel of land situated in Caboan, containing an
area of 1,275 square meters. 3) That among the properties acquired by the late Jose Velasquez, Sr. during his
lifetime, only the one mentioned in Item 7 of the Inventory (Annex "A") is still intact.
18. Tax Declaration No. 804-A. Three parcels of land situated in Salang Bato, It is situated in Bagumbayan, Sta. Maria, Laguna, and is containing an area of
containing an area of 450,000 square meters; 80,258 square meters, more or less;

19. Tax Declaration No. 2560. A parcel of land situated in Salang Bato which area 4) That Item 8 of the Inventory is only 200,000 square meters, more or less in Tax
is included in item no. 18. Declaration No. 3541, but as per Survey caused by the defendants (which is not
yet approved) it contains an area of 330,345 square meters. That the Tax
20. A parcel of land situated in Burgos St. (Papers cannot be located but subject Declaration of said parcel of land is under the name of Canuta Pagkatipunan, but
lot is known to both parties). plaintiff Jose Velasquez, Jr. is the one in possession of said property. That the
area as contained in the Survey includes the area of the land mentioned in Item 7
of the Inventory (80,258 sq. m.);
21. A parcel of land situated in Burgos St., containing an area of 5,000 square
meters. (Papers cannot be located but subject lot is known to both parties).
5) That the other properties of the late Jose Velasquez Sr. were disposed of by the
said decedent during his lifetime and some were sold and/or disposed of by the
22. A parcel of land situated in Gomez St., containing an area of 300 square
parties and heirs of the late Jose Velasquez, Sr.;
meters. (Papers cannot be located but subject lot is known to both parties).

6) That the Barandilla properties, as evidenced by the Venta Absoluta dated


23. A parcel of land situated in Gomez St., containing an area of 1,050 square
February 11, 1921 executed by Pedro Villanueva in favor of Jose Velasquez Sr.,
meters. (Papers cannot be located but subject lot is known to both parties).
were disposed of portion by portion. It was sold by the late Jose Velasquez who
disposed of some portions and the rest by either the plaintiffs or defendants. An
24. A parcel of land situated in Gomez St. (Papers cannot be located but subject area of 11,200 square meters more or less was DONATED (donacion propter
lot is known to both parties). Nupcias) in favor of Canuta Pagkatipunan by the decedent Jose Velasquez, Sr. as
evidenced by Kasulatan ng Panibagong Documento Donacion Propter Nupcias
25. A parcel of land situated in Zamora St., containing an area of 3,605. (Papers notarized under Inst. 135; Page 47; Book 1; Series of 1947 of Notary Public
cannot be located but subject lot is known to both parties). Bonifacio de Ramos;

26. Tax Declaration No. 2412: A parcel of land situated in Caboan, containing an 7) That the parcels of land appearing in Items 5 and 6 of the Inventory (Annex "A")
area of 12,867 square meters; were DONATED by the late Jose Velasquez Sr. to Guillermo Velasquez;
8) That parcels of land mentioned in Items 18 and 19 of the Inventory (Annex "A") Pagkatipunan. The installments were paid by the said spouses until Jose
were DONATED by the late Jose Velasquez, Sr. to Jose Velasquez, Jr. Said Velasquez, Sr. died on February 24, 1961. Canuta Pagkatipunan, with the help of
properties were sold by the Donee to Sps. Santiago Recio and Filomena some of her children, shouldered the payment of the remaining installments until
Dimaculangan; said property was fully paid in 1965. On February 23, 1968, the PHHC executed a
deed of absolute sale conveying the said house and lot to Canuta Pagkatipunan.
9) The property mentioned in Item 27, page 3 of the Inventory was given by the
late Jose Velasquez, Sr. to one of his daughters, Dra. Amelia Velasquez while she On August 11, 1980, a judgment was rendered by the trial court:
was still living and now owned by her heirs;
1) Declaring the properties listed in the Inventory submitted by the Commissioners
10) A residential lot at 7 West Avenue, Quezon City, titled in the name of Canuta on May 9, 1975, as belonging to the estate of the conjugal partnership of the
Pagkatipunan, was acquired from the PHHC (People's Homesite and Housing deceased spouses Jose Velasquez, Sr. and Victorina Real;
Corporation, now National Housing Authority) and presently occupied by the
defendants. (Rollo, pp. 351-353) 2) Confirming all the conveyances, either by way of sale or donation, executed by
Jose Velasquez, Sr. during his lifetime;
There is divergence of findings and opinion among the three members of the
second set of commissioners with respect to the properties covered by Items 7 and 3) Declaring null and void, sham and fictitious, the following sales, transfers,
8 and the property in the unnumbered item relating to Lot 2-A West Avenue, assignments or conveyances: (a) the sale executed by Canuta Pagkatipunan in
Quezon City and the house thereon of the Inventory submitted by the first set of favor of her sister Magdalena Pagkatipunan in favor of Canuta Pagkatipunan (sic);
commissioners. They refuse to make findings as to the nature of the properties (b) the deeds of assignments executed by Canuta Pagkatipunan in favor of her
because the petitioners had caused the issuance of titles covering said properties. children, covering the properties listed in Items 7 and 8 of the Inventory; and
However, all the commissioners were in agreement that all the other properties ordering defendants (petitioners) to reconvey in favor of the plaintiffs (private
listed in the Inventory belonged to the conjugal partnership of the first marriage. respondents) the parcels of land covered by Patent Titles Nos. P-2000 to P-2012;

The records before Us will show that the properties covered by items 7 and 8 were 4) Declaring as null, fictitious and fraudulent the sales by Canuta Pagkatipunan in
originally declared for taxation purposes in the names of the spouses Real and favor of her children and her sister Magdalena Pagkatipunan and brother-in-law
Velasquez. This has been admitted by Canuta Pagkatipunan during the hearing Moises Santos, listed in paragraph 13 of the Amended Complaint; declaring the
before the Commissioner and is duly supported by documentary evidence. plaintiffs owners of the said properties; and ordering the defendant Canuta
Pagkatipunan and her children-defendants to deliver possession of said properties
After the death of Jose Velasquez, Sr. the full possession of said property was to the plaintiffs;
acquired by Canuta Pagkatipunan. On March 4, 1967, she sold the same property
to the spouses Moises Santos and Magdalena Pagkatipunan, her brother-in-law 5) Ordering the partition of the house and lot in West Avenue, Quezon City in the
and sister, respectively (they were previously impleaded in the trial court as party- following manner:
defendants). Subsequently, Tax Declaration No. 4843 was issued in the names of
the said spouses who later resold the same property to Canuta Pagkatipunan.
(a) One-half undivided portion to defendant Canuta Pagkatipunan; and the other
Thereafter, tax declaration covering said property was issued in her name, During
half appertaining to Jose Velasquez, Sr. to be divided among his heirs, to wit:
the pendency of this suit, this property was subdivided and assigned by Canuta
Pagkatipunan in favor of her thirteen children. The latter caused the issuance of
separate free patent titles in their favor covering the subdivided lots conveyed to 1/18 undivided portion to Canuta Pagkatipunan;
them by their mother. Original Certificates of Title Nos. P-2000 to P-2012 were
accordingly issued in their names. 1/18 undivided portion to Lourdes Velasquez;

With regard to the West Avenue property it is not disputed that said residential lot 1/18 undivided portion to the plaintiffs Edgardo, Lolita, Minerva, Cynthia and
was purchased on installments from People's Homesite and Housing Corporation Jennifer, all surnamed Velasquez;
(now National Housing Authority) by the spouses Jose Velasquez Sr. and Canuta
1/18 undivided portion to the plaintiffs Teresa Magtibay and her children Ricardo, PAGKATIPUNAN AND BROTHER-IN-LAW MOISES SANTOS; b) THE RESALE
Lourdes, Celia and Aida, all surnamed Velasquez; EXECUTED BY MOISES SANTOS AND MAGDALENA PAGKATIPUNAN IN
FAVOR OF CANUTA PAGKATIPUNAN; c) THE DEEDS OF ASSIGNMENT
1/18 undivided portion to the plaintiffs Cesar, Adolfo, Evelyn, Angelita, Ruben and EXECUTED BY CANUTA PAGKATIPUNAN IN FAVOR OF HER CHILDREN:
Carmencita, all surnamed Gonzales; COVERING THE PROPERTIES LISTED IN ITEMS 7 AND 8 OF THE
INVENTORY; AND ORDERING DEFENDANT-APPELLANT CANUTA
PAGKATIPUNAN AND HER CHILDREN DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS TO
1/18 undivided portion to each of the defendants Flora, Leonor, Patrocinio,
Benjamin, Rodolfo, Alfredo, Napoleon, Manuel, Julio, Elena, Patricia, Victoria and RECONVEY IN FAVOR OF THE PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES THE PARCELS OF
Carlos, all surnamed Velasquez; LAND COVERED BY PATENT TITLES NOS. P2-000 TO P-2012.

IV
Petitioners appealed to the respondent Intermediate Appellate Court.

THAT THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN ORDERING THE PARTITION OF THE


On February 7, 1985, the Intermediate Appellate Court, Third Civil Cases Division
HOUSE AND LOT IN WEST AVENUE, QUEZON CITY, ONE-HALF UNDIVIDED
promulgated a decision, affirming the decision of the trial court, with the
PORTION TO DEFENDANT-APPELLANT CANUTA PAGKATIPUNAN AND THE
modification that the entire house and lot in West Avenue, Quezon City be divided
OTHER HALF TO JOSE VELASQUEZ, SR. (pp. 21-22, Rollo)
into two; one-half value to the petitioners Canuta Pagkatipunan and her 13 children
to the extent of their respective proportional contributions and the other half value,
to the second conjugal partnership of Jose Velasquez, Sr. and Canuta After a careful review of the records and the arguments presented by both parties,
Pagkatipunan to be partitioned one-fourth to the wife and the other one-fourth the Court finds that both the trial court and the respondent Intermediate Appellate
appertaining to the deceased Jose Velasquez, Sr. to be divided equally among his Court failed to consider some basic principles observed in the law on succession
heirs. Such an oversight renders the appealed decision defective and hard to sustain.

Hence, this instant petition for review pointing out the following four (4) It is a basic rule that before any conclusion about the legal share due to the heirs
assignments of error, to wit: may be reached, it is necessary that certain steps be taken first. In the assailed
decision, the respondent court affirmed the trial court's ruling, that Jose Velasquez,
Sr. had already disposed of and exhausted his corresponding share in the conjugal
I
partnership owned by him and Victorina Real, so that his heirs have nothing more
to inherit from him, and that accordingly, whatever remaining portion of the
THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE ENTIRE ESTATE LISTED conjugal property must necessarily appertain only to the private respondents as
IN THE INVENTORY SUBMITTED BY THE COMMISSIONERS ON MAY 9, 1975 heirs of the deceased Victorina Real. Clearly, the trial court failed to consider
AS BELONGING TO THE DECEASED SPOUSES JOSE VELASQUEZ, SR. AND among others, the following provisions of the Civil Code:
VICTORINA REAL.
Art. 908. To determine the legitime, the value of the property left at the death of the
II testator shall be considered, deducting all debts and charges, which shall not
include those imposed in the will.
THAT THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN CONFIRMING ALL THE
CONVENYANCES EITHER BY WAY OF SALE OR DONATION EXECUTED BY To the net value of the hereditary estate, shall be added the value of all donations
JOSE VELASQUEZ, SR. DURING HIS LIFETIME. by the testator that are subject to collation, at the time he made them.

III Art. 1061. Every compulsory heir, who succeeds with other compulsory heirs, must
bring into the mass of the estate any property or right which he may have received
THAT THE LOWER COURT ERRED IN DECLARING NULL AND VOID, SHAM from the decedent, during the lifetime of the latter, by way of donation, or any other
AND FICTITIOUS THE FOLLOWING SALES: a) THE SALE EXECUTED BY
CANUTA PAGKATIPUNAN IN FAVOR OF HER SISTER MAGDALENA
gratuitous title, in order that it may be computed in the determination of the legitime The pertinent portion of the trial court's decision reads as follows:
of each heir, and in the account of the partition.
From the evidence adduced by the parties during the hearing before this Court and
It is undeniable that numerous donations inter vivos were made by Jose before the Commissioners, these properties were acquired on November 19, 1918
Velasquez, Sr. in favor of some of his compulsory heirs. They include among by the spouses Jose Velasquez, Sr. and Victorina Real from Estanislao Balasoto
others, the donation made in favor of Guillermo Velasquez on February 26,1953, (Exh. H-5 Commissioner). Said property was originally declared for taxation
consisting of 403,000 square meters (Items 5 and 6); the donation made in 1926 in purposes in the names of said spouses. (Exh. H Commissioner) On March 4,
favor of Jose Velasquez, Jr., consisting of 450,000 square meters (Item No. 18); 1967, defendant Canuta Pagkatipunan sold the same property to the spouses
the donation in favor of Amelia Velasquez (Item No. 27); and the donation in favor Moises Santos and Magdalena Pagkatipunan (Exh. H-1-Commissioner). The
of Canuta Pagkatipunan, consisting of 11,000 square meters (part of Item No. 29) vendee Magdalena Pagkatipunan is the sister of the defendant Canuta
(Commissioner's Report, Rollo, pp. 355-360). Pagkatipunan. Subsequently, Tax Declaration No. 4843 (Exh. H-2 Commissioner)
was issued in the names of the spouses Moises Santos and Magdalena
It appears that there was no determination whatsoever of the gross value of the Pagkatipunan resold (sic) the same property to Canuta Pagkatipunan (Exh. H-3
conjugal properties of Jose Velasquez, Sr. and Victorina Real. Obviously it is Commissioner). Thereafter, tax declaration covering said property was issued in
impossible to determine the conjugal share of Jose Velasquez, Sr. from the said the name of Canuta Pagkatipunan (Exhibit H-4 Commissioner). During the
property relationship. Likewise, no collation of the donations he executed during pendency of this suit, this property was subdivided and assigned by Canuta
his lifetime was undertaken by the trial court. Thus, it would be extremely difficult to Pagkatipunan in favor of her children, the defendants Flora, Leonor, Patrocinio,
ascertain whether or not such donations trenched on the heirs' legitime so that the Benjamin, Rodolfo, Alfredo, Napoleon, Manuel, Elena, Patricia, Julio, Victoria and
same may be considered subject to reduction for being inofficious. Carlos, all surnamed Velasquez. Said defendants-children of Canuta
Pagkatipunan caused the issuance of free patent titles in their favor covering the
subdivided lots conveyed to them respectively by their mother (Exh. 2, 2-A to 2-L)
Article 909 of the Civil Code provides:

It is evident that the parcels of land under Items 7 and 8 of the Inventory belonged
Art. 909. Donations given to children shall be charged to their legitime.
to the conjugal partnership of the spouses Jose Velasquez, Sr. and Victorina Real.
Canuta Pagkatipunan had no right to alienate the same. Her conveyance of the
Donations made to strangers shall be charged to that part of the estate of which same property to her brother-in-law and sister is fictitious or simulated. Ten (10)
the testator could have disposed by his last will. days after she executed her sale, the same property was resold to her by the
vendees. She utilized said conveyance and reconveyance only for the purpose of
Insofar as they may be inofficious or may exceed the disposable portion, they shall securing a tax declaration in her name over said property. Her subsequent
be reduced according to the rules established by this Code. subdivision of said lot and transfer of the subdivided lots to each of their children
further show her fraudulent intent to deprive the plaintiffs of their rightful shares in
With the avowed specific provisions of the aforesaid laws respecting collation, the disputed property. (Rollo, pp. 606-607)
which are ruled controlling even in intestate succession, this Court finds that the
lower court's ruling adjudicating the remaining portion of the conjugal estate to the Despite the several pleadings filed by the petitioners in this Court, they did not
private respondents is purely speculative and conjectural. rebut the foregoing findings of the trial court but merely held on to their argument
that since Free Patent Titles Nos. P-2000 to P-2012 were already issued in their
Relative to the sale executed by Canuta Pagkatipunan to the spouses Magdalena names, their title thereto is indefeasible and incontrovertible. This is a misplaced
Pagkatipunan and Moises Santos; the resale of the same property to her; and the argument.
subsequent deeds of assignment she executed in favor of her children, the trial
court had clearly established that Canuta Pagkatipunan employed fraudulent acts The fact that they had succeeded in securing title over the said parcels of land
to acquire title over the said properties. Hence, the trial court, as well as the does not warrant the reversal of the trial court's ruling that the above mentioned
respondent court are correct in ruling that the said sales and assignments are null sales and assignments were sham and fictitious. A Torrens title does not furnish a
and void, sham and fictitious. shield for fraud notwithstanding the long-standing rule that registration is a
constructive notice of title binding upon the whole world. The legal principle is that
if the registration of the land is fraudulent and the person in whose name the land (a) declared the properties listed in the Inventory submitted by the commissioners
is registered thus holds it as a mere trustee, the real owner is entitled to file an on May 9, 1975 as belonging to the estate of the conjugal partnership of the
action for reconveyance of the property within a period of ten years (Pajarillo v. spouses Jose Velasquez, Sr. and Victorina Real;
Intermediate Appellate Court, G.R. No. 72908, August 11, 1969, 176 SCRA 340).
(b) declared null and void, sham and fictitious, the following sales, transfers,
Since petitioners asserted claims of exclusive ownership over the said parcels of assignments or conveyances:
land but acted in fraud of the private respondents, the former may be held to act as
trustees for the benefit of the latter, pursuant to the provision of Article 1456 of the 1) the sale executed by Canuta Pagkatipunan in favor of her sister Magdalena
Civil Code: Pagkatipunan; 2) the resale of the same property executed in favor of Canuta
Pagkatipunan; and 3) the deeds of assignments executed by Canuta
Art. 1456. If property is acquired through mistake or fraud, the Pagkatipunan in favor of her 13 children; covering the properties listed in Items 7
person obtaining it is, by force of law, considered a trustee of an and 8;
implied trust for the benefit of the person from whom the property
comes. (c) declared as null and void all the other conveyances made by Canuta
Pagkatipunan with respect to Item No. 13 of the inventory; and
But while the trial court has the authority to order the reconveyance of the
questioned titles, We cannot agree that the reconveyance should be made in favor d) dismissed the case against the other defendants except Canuta Pagkatipunan
of the private respondents. The reason is that it is still unproven whether or not the and her children and the spouses Moises Santos and Magdalena Pagkatipunan.
private respondents are the only ones entitled to the conjugal properties of Jose
Velasquez, Sr. and Victoria Real. It is to be noted that as the lawful heirs of Jose
Civil Case No. SC-894 is hereby remanded to the Regional Trial Court of Laguna,
Velasquez Sr. the herein petitioners are also entitled to participate in his conjugal
for further proceedings and the same Court is directed to:
share. To reconvey said property in favor of the private respondents alone would
not only be improper but will also make the situation more complicated. There are
still things to be done before the legal share of all the heirs can be properly a) follow the procedure for partition herein prescribed;
adjudicated.
b) expand the scope of the trial to cover other possible illegal dispositions of the
Relative to the last assignment of error, We find the ruling made by the respondent first conjugal partnership properties not only by Canuta Pagkatipunan but also by
appellate court proper and in accord with law insofar as it adjudicated the one-half the other heirs as can be shown in the records;
(1/2) portion of the house and lot situated at West Avenue, Quezon City, as
belonging to the petitioners to the extent of their respective proportional c) include the one-fourth (1/4) share of Jose Velasquez, Sr. in the residential
contributions, and the other half to the conjugal partnership of Jose Velasquez, Sr. house in Quezon City with his conjugal share under his first marriage, if any, to
and Canuta Pagkatipunan. We must modify it, however, as it readily partitioned the determine his net estate at the time of his death.
conjugal share of Jose Velasquez, Sr. (1/2 of the conjugal property or 1/4 of the
entire house and lot) to his 18 heirs. The trial court's pronouncement as to cost and damages is hereby deleted.

As already said, no conclusion as to the legal share due to the compulsory heirs SO ORDERED.
can be reached in this case without (1) determining first the net value of the estate Chavez v. Pea and Amari
of Jose Velasquez, Sr.; (2) collating all the donations inter vivos in favor of some of Fact:
the heirs; and (3) ascertaining the legitime of the compulsory heirs. In 1973, the Comissioner on Public Highways entered into a contract to reclaim
areas of Manila Bay with the Construction and Development Corportion of the
ACCORDINGLY, the decision of the trial court as modified by the respondent Philippines (CDCP).
appellate court is hereby SET ASIDE except insofar as it: PEA (Public Estates Authority) was created by President Marcos under P.D. 1084,
tasked with developing and leasing reclaimed lands. These lands were transferred
to the care of PEA under P.D. 1085 as part of the Manila Cavite Road and
Reclamation Project (MCRRP). CDCP and PEA entered into an agreement that all contrary to Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits the
future projects under the MCRRP would be funded and owned by PEA. alienation of natural resources other than agricultural lands of the public domain.
By 1988, President Aquino issued Special Patent No. 3517 transferring lands to PEA may reclaim these submerged areas. Thereafter, the government can classify
PEA. It was followed by the transfer of three Titles (7309, 7311 and 7312) by the the reclaimed lands as alienable or disposable, and further declare them no longer
Register of Deeds of Paranaque to PEA covering the three reclaimed islands needed for public service. Still, the transfer of such reclaimed alienable lands of
known as the FREEDOM ISLANDS. the public domain to AMARI will be void in view of Section 3, Article XII of the
Subsquently, PEA entered into a joint venture agreement (JVA) with AMARI, a 1987Constitution which prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of
Thai-Philippine corporation to develop the Freedom Islands. Along with another alienable land of the public domain.
250 hectares, PEA and AMARI entered the JVA which would later transfer said Republic vs Naguiat
lands to AMARI. This caused a stir especially when Sen. Maceda assailed the G.R. No. 134209; January 24, 2006
agreement, claiming that such lands were part of public domain (famously known
as the “mother of all scams”). FACTS:
Peitioner Frank J. Chavez filed case as a taxpayer praying for mandamus, a writ of Celestina Naguiat filed an application for registration of title to four parcels of land
preliminary injunction and a TRO against the sale of reclaimed lands by PEA to located in Panan, Botolan, Zambales. The applicant alleges that she is the owner
AMARI and from implementing the JVA. Following these events, under President of the said parcels of land having acquired them by purchase from its previous
Estrada’s admin, PEA and AMARI entered into an Amended JVA and Mr. Chaves owners and their predecessors-in-interest who have been in possession thereof for
claim that the contract is null and void. more than thirty (30) years; and that to the best of her knowledge, said lots suffer
Issue: no mortgage or encumbrance of whatever kind nor is there any person having any
w/n: the transfer to AMARI lands reclaimed or to be reclaimed as part of the interest, legal or equitable, or in possession thereof.
stipulations in the (Amended) JVA between AMARI and PEA violate Sec. 3 Art. XII Petitioner Republic opposed on the ground that neither the applicant nor her
of the 1987 Constitution w/n: the court is the proper forum for raising the issue of predecessors-in interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious
whether the amended joint venture agreement is grossly disadvantageous to the possession and occupation of the lands in question since 12 June 1945 or prior
government. thereto, considering the fact that she has not established that the lands in question
Held: have been declassified from forest or timber zone to alienable and disposable
On the issue of Amended JVA as violating the constitution: property.
1. The 157.84 hectares of reclaimed lands comprising the Freedom Islands, now
covered by certificates of title in the name of PEA, are alienable lands of the public ISSUE:
domain. PEA may lease these lands to private corporations but may not sell or Did the areas in question cease to have the status of forest or other inalienable
transfer ownership of these lands to private corporations. PEA may only sell these lands of the public domain?
lands to Philippine citizens, subject to the ownership limitations in the 1987
Constitution and existing laws. HELD:
2. The 592.15 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay remain inalienable No, the said areas are still classified as forest land.The issue of whether or not
natural resources of the public domain until classified as alienable or disposable respondent and her predecessors-in-interest have been in open, exclusive and
lands open to disposition and declared no longer needed for public service. The continuous possession of the parcels of land in question is of little moment. For,
government can make such classification and declaration only after PEA has unclassified land cannot be acquired by adverse occupation or possession;
reclaimed these submerged areas. Only then can these lands qualify as occupation thereof in the concept of owner, however long, cannot ripen into private
agricultural lands of the public domain, which are the only natural resources the ownership and be registered as title.
government can alienate. In their present state, the 592.15 hectares of submerged A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain does not lose such
areas are inalienable and outside the commerce of man. classification simply because loggers or settlers have stripped it of its forest cover.
3. Since the Amended JVA seeks to transfer to AMARI, a private corporation, Parcels of land classified as forest land may actually be covered with grass or
ownership of 77.34 hectares110 of the Freedom Islands, such transfer is void for planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other farmers. "Forest lands" do not have
being contrary to Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits to be on mountains or in out of the way places. The classification is merely
private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to be descriptive of what
4. Since the Amended JVA also seeks to transfer to AMARI ownership of 290.156 the land actually looks like.
hectares111 of still submerged areas of Manila Bay, such transfer is void for being
which holds that the state owns all lands and waters of the public domain.
Municipal corporations cannot appropriate to themselves public or government
lands without prior grant from the government. Since Lot 736 is owned by the
state, the Sangguniang Bayan of Bin maley exceeded its authority in passing
Rural Bank of Anda Inc. vs. Roman Catholic Archbishop of Lingayen, Resolution Nos. 104 and 105. Thus, Resolution Nos. 104 and 105 are void and
Dagupan G.R No. 155051; May 29, 2007 consequently, the contract of lease between the Municipality of Binmaley and the
Ponente: Carpio, J. Rural Bank of Anda over a portion of Lot 736 is also void.
FACTS:

The lot in dispute, Lot 736 is located in Binmaley, Pangasinan. The disputed lot Aranda vs. Republic,24 August 2011
together with Lot 737, which is also known as Imelda’s Park and Lot 739, which is
awaiting shed for commuters form part of Lot 3. The disputed land is titled in the FACTS
name of respondent Roman Catholic Archbishop. An annotation on Transfer ICTSI Warehousing, Inc. (ICTSI-WI) filed a petition For original registration of a
Certificate Title states that the ownership of Lot 3 is being claimed by both 9,103-square meter parcel of land in San Andres, Malvar, Batangas before the
respondent and the Municipality of Binmaley. The Rector of the seminary ordered Regional Trial Court (RTC). The Office of the Solicitor General opposed the
the construction of the fence separating Lot 736 from the national road to prevent petition, saying that the land is part oF the public domain and the applicant has not
the caretelas from parking because the smell of horse manure was already acquired a registrable title thereto. ICTSI-WI later amended the application to
bothering the priests living in the seminary. The Sangguniang Bayan of Binmaley, make the petitioner Ramon Aranda, the vendor. Aranda alleged open, continuous,
Pangasinan passed Resolution Nos. 104 and 105 which converted Lot 736 from public, and adverse possession of the subject land in the concept oF owner For
an institutional lot to a commercial lot and authorized the municipal mayor to enter more than 30 years. Petitioner’s sister, Merlita A. Enriquez, testified that their
into a contract of lease for 25 years with the Rural Bank of Anda over a portion of Father, Anatalio Aranda, donated the land to petitioner in 1965. The document
Lot 736 respectively. The Municipal Mayor of Binmaley came to the seminary to signifying the donation was however eaten by rats. Witness, Luis Olan, testified
discuss the situation. Mayor Domalanta and Fr. Arenos agreed that the that they had open, peaceful, continuous and adverse possession of the land in
construction of the building for the Rural Bank of Anda should be stopped. Later the concept of owner until his Father, Lucio Olan, sold the land in 1946 to Anatalio.
on, Mayor Domalanta informed respondent that the construction of the building of Luis had no copy of the document oF sale since it was given by his mother to
the Rural Bank of Anda would resume but that he was willing to discuss with Anatalio. The trial court granted the petition but the Court of Appeals (CA) reversed
respondent to resolve the problem concerning Lot 736. Respondent filed a the trial court.
complaint in the Regional Trial Court. The court ruled in favor of the respondent
stating that Lot 736 is property of public dominion. Thus, the Sangguniang Bayan ISSUE
exceeded its authority when it adopted the two Resolutions. The Court of Appeals Did the CA err in reversing the trial court and dismissing the application For judicial
affirmed its decision. Hence, the present recourse. confrmation of title?

ISSUE RULING
No. The Property Registration Decree (P.D. No. 1529) provides For original
: Whether or not the disputed land is a property of public dominion registration of land in an ordinary registration proceeding. Under Section14 (1)
HELD: thereof, a petition may be granted upon compliance with the Following requisites:
(a) that the property in question is alienable and disposable land of the public
The property must be held as property of public domain because there was no domain; (b) that the applicants by themselves or through their predecessors-in-
evidence that the property in question was ever acquired by the applicants or their interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and
ancestors either by composition title from the Spanish Government or by occupation; and (c) that such possession is under a bona fide claim of ownership
possessory information title or by any other means for the acquisition of public since June 12, 1945 or earlier. In this case, the status of the land applied for as
lands. For it is well settled "that no public land can be acquired by private persons alienable and disposable was not clearly established. Moreover, the court Found
without any grant, express or implied, from the government." It is indispensable out that petitioner started paying taxes on the land just three years before the fling
then that there be a showing of a title from the state or any other mode of of the application For original registration. As a rule, tax declarations or realty tax
acquisition recognized by law. This is in accordance with the Regalian doctrine payments of property are not conclusive evidence of ownership; nevertheless they
are good indicia of possession in the concept of owner, For no one in his right
mind would be paying taxes For a property that is not in his actual or constructive
possession. Petitioner thus failed to meet the quantum of proof required by law
and his petition must be denied.

Republic v Roxas
VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

Before this Court is a petition1 for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, seeking the reversal of the Decision2 dated
June 18, 2009 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 90383, which
affirmed the Orders dated October 11, 20073 and November 27, 20074 of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC), of Pasig City (Taguig City Hall of Justice), Branch 153
in Land Registration Case (LRC) No. N-11573-TG.

The facts follow.

On March 26, 2007, respondent Crisanto S. Raneses (respondent) filed an


Application5 for Original Registration of Land Title docketed as LRC No. N-11573-
TG over two parcels of land identified as Lot No. 3085-A, Csd- 00-001621 and Lot
No. 3085-B,Csd-00-001621 both located at Barangay Napindan, Taguig City,
Metro Manila with a total area of twenty-two thousand six hundred (22,600) square
meters (subject properties).

On September 24, 2007, during the initial hearing, respondent marked several
documents to establish compliance with the jurisdictional requirements. There
being no opposition filed, the RTC issued an Order of General Default 6against all
persons except herein petitioner Republic of the Philippines (petitioner) and
granted respondent’s Motion to Present his Evidence Ex-Parte.7

On October 1, 2007, respondent testified that despite the fact that the earliest tax
declaration on record over the subject properties was issued only in 1980, his
parents had been in continuous possession and occupation of the same as early
as June 1945.8 He narrated that his father, the late Pedro Raneses (Pedro), was a
farmer who cultivated the subject properties by planting palay and other crops
thereon. Respondent further narrated that since the subject properties were near
the lake, Pedro used a portable irrigation system to suck water from Laguna de
Bay and a mechanized harvester to harvest the palay. However, he claimed that
when Pedro died on November 15, 1982,9 the cultivation of the subject properties
was likewise stopped. Respondent averred that Pedro declared the subject
properties for real estate tax purposes, as evidenced by several tax
declarations10issued in Pedro’s name. Respondent claimed that he acquired
ownership over the subject properties when his mother, Nina Raneses, 11 and his
G.R. No. 189970 June 9, 2014 sisters, Annabelle R. San Juan and Belinda R. Bayas, executed an Extrajudicial
Settlement of Estate with Deed of Waiver12 (Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate) on
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, April 24, 1997,whereby they agreed to partition and adjudicate among themselves
vs. the subject properties, and thereafter, waive all their rights, interest and
CRISANTO S. RANESES, Respondent. participation over the same in favor of respondent.13 Subsequently, respondent
had the subject properties declared for real estate tax purposes under his own
DECISION name.14
Respondent also testified that there were no other persons or entities who On October 25, 2007, the LLDA filed its Opposition22 to the application alleging
occupied the subject properties. Correlatively, a Conversion Subdivision that the subject properties are below the 12.50-meter elevation, hence, forming
Plan15 covering the subject properties was prepared by a private Geodetic part of the bed of Laguna Lake and are, therefore, inalienable, indisposable and
Engineer named Andrew DG.Montallana (Engr. Montallana).16 Said Plan noted incapable of registration. To support its cause, the LLDA attached to its Opposition
that the subject properties were "[s]urveyed in accordance with Survey Authority a Memorandum23 dated September 24, 2007 (ECD Memorandum) prepared and
No. LMS-SA-007607-310 dated August 29, 2006 issued by the CENRO, South signed by no less than Engr. Magalonga of the ECD and concurred by the ECD’s
[S]ector" and that the subject properties were "inside alienable and disposable land Division Chief-III, Engr. Donato C. Rivera, Jr. which stated that upon the projection
area [P]roj. [N]o. 27-B as per LC Map No. 2623 certified by the Bureau of Forestry of the subject properties in the LLDA’s topographic map, the same were below the
on January 3, 1968."17 Respondent also presented before the RTC an Inter-Office reglementary elevation of 12.50 meters.1âwphi1 Moreover, the LLDA posited that
Memorandum18 dated March 26, 2007 (Inter-Office Memorandum) prepared and in the absence of any declaration by the Director of Lands, the subject properties
signed by the Engineering and Construction Division (ECD) of the Laguna Lake remain inalienable and indisposable.
Development Authority (LLDA) composed of Engineer Ramon D. Magalonga, Jr.
(Engr. Magalonga), Fredisvindo A. Latoza and Renato Q. Medenilla (ECD Team) In its Order24 dated October 25, 2007, the RTC directed respondent to comment
and addressed to the Division Chief-III of the ECD. Said Memorandum provided on the Opposition of LLDA. In the meantime, petitioner through the Office of the
that after an actual field verification, the ECD Team found that the subject Solicitor General (OSG) filed its Notice of Appeal25 on November 7, 2007. For
properties are "presently above (back filling) the reglementary 12.5-meter orderly proceedings, the RTC took note of the Notice of Appeal as it awaited the
elevation." respondent’s comment in order for it to judiciously resolve the pending Opposition
of the LLDA.26 In compliance with the RTC’s Order, respondent filed his Comment
Catalina Raneses (Catalina), the mother of respondent, also testified that she and and Motion27 to the said Opposition, arguing that the RTC should give more
her husband Pedro had been in possession of the subject properties since the credence to the Inter-Office Memorandum as the findings therein were based on
Japanese occupation. She narrated that Pedro cultivated the subject properties for an actual field inspection rather than the ECD Memorandum, the findings of which
palay production. However, after Pedro’s death in 1982, the subject properties were based on a mere table survey. Moreover, respondent argued that the ECD
were no longer used for palay production, and were, instead, at times leased out Memorandum should not be considered by the RTC as the same was not formally
for the production of watermelons. Catalina corroborated respondent’s testimony offered in evidence. Respondent prayed that his Comment and Motion be noted.
that sometime in 1997, she, her daughters and respondent executed the He also manifested before the RTC that he is amenable to the reopening of the
aforementioned Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate, wherein all of them waived their case so that the LLDA can present controverting evidence, if it wants to, and for
rights and interests over the subject properties in favor of respondent for a him to present his rebuttal.
consideration.19
Thus, on November 27, 2007, the RTC issued its second assailed Order, 28 finding
On October 11, 2007, the RTC issued its first assailed Order20 granting merit in respondent’s arguments and dismissing LLDA’s Opposition, to wit:
respondent’s application for land registration, the dispositive portion of which
reads, to wit: WHEREFORE, premises considered, no probative value is therefore attached to
the basis of LLDA’s opposition filed fourteen (14) days late after the application for
WHEREFORE, the application is Granted. Judgment is hereby rendered declaring registration of Crisanto S. Raneses was granted.
applicant Crisanto S. Raneses, the owner in fee simple of Lot 3085-A, Csd-00-
001621, with an area of Fifteen Thousand Two Hundred Forty (15,240) square SO ORDERED.29
meters situated in Brgy. Napindan, City of Taguig, Metro Manila; and Lot 3085-B,
Csd-00-001621 with an area of seven thousand three hundred sixty (7,360)square
For the LLDA’s failure to take any action against its second assailed Order, the
meters situated in Brgy. Napindan, City of Taguig, Metro Manila.
RTC, in its Order30 dated January 8, 2008,approved the Notice of Appeal filed by
the OSG and directed the transmittal of the records of this case to the CA.
After this Order shall become final and executory, let the Land Registration
Authority issue the corresponding decree of registration.
On June 18, 2009, the CA upheld the RTC which gave more credence to the
findings contained in the Inter-Office Memorandum than that of the ECD
SO ORDERED.21 Memorandum and in granting respondent’s application. The CA found that
respondent had adequately proven that the subject properties form part of the On the other hand, respondent counters that, as held by the RTC and the CA, no
disposable and alienable lands of the public domain. The CA disposed of the case consideration should be accorded to the EDC Memorandum as it was not formally
in this wise: offered in evidence. He asserts that, even if considered, the Inter-Office
Memorandum should be given more credence than the EDC Memorandum
WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing premises, judgment is hereby rendered by because the former was the result of an actual verification inspection while the
us DISMISSING the appeal filed in this case and AFFIRMING the Orders dated latter was merely based on a table survey. Relying on the findings of the RTC and
October 11, 2007 and November 27, 2007 rendered by Branch 153 of the the CA, respondent claims that the subject properties had already been classified
Regional Trial Court of the National Capital Judicial Region stationed in Pasig City as alienable and disposable as provided in the Conversion-Subdivision Plan’s
in LRC Case No. N-11573-TG. annotation.37

SO ORDERED.31 Essentially, the sole issue the petition presents is whether or not the subject
properties in this case are alienable or disposable land of the public domain.
Petitioner filed its Motion for Reconsideration32 which the CA, however, denied in
its Resolution33 dated October 5, 2009. The petition is impressed with merit.

Hence, this petition based on the following grounds: In petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court,
this Court is limited to reviewing only errors of law, not of fact, unless the factual
findings complained of are devoid of support by the evidence on record, or the
I
assailed judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts. It is not the function of
this Court to analyze or weigh evidence all over again, unless there is a showing
THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS ERROR IN HOLDING THAT that the findings of the lower court are totally devoid of support or are glaringly
THE SUBJECT LANDS ARE PART OF THE DISPOSABLE AND ALIENABLE erroneous as to constitute palpable error or grave abuse of discretion.38
LANDS OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN[; AND]
In this case, the records do not support the findings made by the RTC and the CA
II that the subject properties are part of the alienable and disposable portion of the
public domain.
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE FINDINGS OF THE
LAND REGISTRATION COURT WHICH GRANTED RESPONDENT’S Respondent bases his right to registration of title on Section 14 (1) of Presidential
APPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION OF TITLE OVER SUBJECT PARCELS OF Decree (P.D.) No. 1529,otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree,
LAND NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THE SAME ARE CONSIDERED which provides:
PART OF PUBLIC LAND, BEING BELOW THE 12.50-METER ELEVATION AS
CERTIFIED BY THE LAGUNA LAKE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY (LLDA).34
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
Petitioner through the OSG avers that respondent, having the burden to prove by through their duly authorized representatives:
incontrovertible evidence that the subject properties are alienable and disposable,
failed by relying simply on the Conversion Subdivision Plan and the Inter-Office
Memorandum of the LLDA. Invoking this Court’s ruling in Republic v. Court of (1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been
Appeals,35 the OSG argues that respondent as an applicant and in order to prove in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of
alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of
that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable, must establish
ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier.
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. Lastly, the OSG The afore-quoted provision authorizes the registration of title acquired in
posits that the EDC Memorandum being a later issuance should be given more accordance with Section 48 (b) of Commonwealth Act No. 141, otherwise known
credence than the Inter-Office Memorandum.36 as the Public Land Act, as amended by P.D. No. 1073, which reads:
SEC. 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of Respondent’s reliance on the said annotation and Inter-Office Memorandum is
the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest therein, but clearly insufficient.
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 In Republic v. Dela Paz43 citing Republic v. Sarmiento,44 this Court ruled that the
and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor, under the Land Registration Act, notation of the surveyor-geodetic engineer on the blue print copy of the conversion
to wit: and subdivision plan approved by the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) Center, that "this survey is inside the alienable and disposable
(a) x x x area, Project No. 27-B. L.C. Map No. 2623, certified on January 3, 1968 by the
Bureau of Forestry," is insufficient and does not constitute incontrovertible
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been evidence to overcome the presumption that the land remains part of the inalienable
in the open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of public domain.
alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of
acquisition or ownership, since June 12, 1945, except when prevented by war or In contrast, this Court has held that the applicant must present a certificate of land
force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the classification status issued by the Community Environment and Natural Resources
conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of Office (CENRO)45 or the Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office
title under the provisions of this chapter. (PENRO)46 of the DENR. He must also prove that the DENR Secretary had
approved the land classification and released the land as alienable and
Thus, under Section 14 (1) of P.D. No. 1529, a petition may be granted upon disposable, and that it is within the approved area per verification through survey
compliance with the following requisites: (a) that the property in question is by the CENRO or PENRO. Further, the applicant must present a copy of the
alienable and disposable land of the public domain; (b) that the applicants by original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as true copy
themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, by the legal custodian of the official records. These facts must be established by
continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation; and (c) that such the applicant to prove that the land is alienable and disposable.47
possession is under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945 or earlier.
Clearly, the pieces of evidence submitted by respondent before the RTC in this
The Regalian doctrine, embodied in Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, case hardly satisfy the aforementioned documentary requirements. Given the lack
provides that all lands of the public domain belong to the State, which is the source of evidence that the subject properties are alienable and disposable, it becomes
of any asserted right to ownership of land. All lands not appearing to be clearly unnecessary for this Court to resolve whether the Inter-Office Memorandum should
within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. Unless public land is be given more credence over the ECD Memorandum. On this matter, this Court’s
shown to have been reclassified or alienated to a private person by the State, it ruling in Republic of the Philippines v. Lydia Capco de Tensuan 48 is enlightening:
remains part of the inalienable public domain39 for land classification or
reclassification cannot be assumed. It must be proved.40 And the applicant bears While we may have been lenient in some cases and accepted substantial
the burden to overturn, by incontrovertible evidence, the presumption that the land compliance with the evidentiary requirements set forth in T.A.N. Properties, we
subject of an application for registration is alienable and disposable. 41 cannot do the same for Tensuan in the case at bar.

Respondent failed to hurdle this burden. We cannot afford to be lenient in cases where the Land Registration Authority
(LRA) or the DENR oppose the application for registration on the ground that the
It bears noting that in support of his claim that the subject properties are alienable land subject thereof is inalienable. In the present case, the DENR recognized the
and disposable, respondent merely presented the Conversion Subdivision Plan right of the LLDA to oppose Tensuan's Application for Registration; and the LLDA,
which was prepared by Engr. Montallana with the annotation that the subject in its Opposition, precisely argued that the subject property is part of the Laguna
properties were "inside alienable and disposable land area [P]roj. [N]o. 27-B as per Lake bed and, therefore, inalienable public land. We do not even have to evaluate
LC Map No. 2623 certified by the Bureau of Forestry on January 3, 1968"42 and the evidence presented by the LLDA given the Regalian Doctrine. Since Tensuan
the Inter-Office Memorandum from the LLDA. failed to present satisfactory proof that the subject property is alienable and
disposable, the burden of evidence did not even shift to the LLDA to prove that the
subject property is part of the Laguna Lake bed. (Emphasis supplied.)
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals
dated June 18, 2009 in CA-G.R. CV No. 90383, affirming the Orders dated
October 11, 2007 and November 27, 2007 of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig
City, Branch 153 in Land Registration Case No. N-11573-TG, is REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. The application for registration of title filed by respondent Crisanto S.
Raneses over two parcels of land identified as Lot No. 3085-A, Csd-00-001621
and Lot No. 3085-B, Csd-00-001621 both located at Barangay Napindan, Taguig
City, Metro Manila, is DISMISSED.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.