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LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES

DAY 13 AND 14
PRESIDENTIAL DECREE No. 1067 December 31, 1976
A DECREE INSTITUTING A WATER CODE, THEREBY REVISING AND CONSOLIDATING THE LAWS GOVERNING THE OWNERSHIP, APPROPRIATION,
UTILIZATION, EXPLOITATION, DEVELOPMENT, CONSERVATION AND PROTECTION OF WATER RESOURCES
WHEREAS, Article XIV, Section 8 of the New Constitution of the Philippines provides, inter alia, that all waters of the Philippines belong to the State;
WHEREAS, existing water legislations are piece-meal and inadequate to cope with increasing scarcity of water and changing patterns of water use;
WHEREAS, there is a need for a Water Code based on rational concepts or integrated and multipurpose management of water resources and
sufficiently flexible to adequately meet future developments;
WHEREAS, water is vital to national development and it has become increasingly necessary for government to intervene actively in improving the
management of water resources;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers in me vested by the Constitution, do hereby
order and decree the enactment of the water Code of the Philippines of 1976, as follows:
CHAPTER I
DECLARATION OF OBJECTIVES AND PRINCIPLES
Article 1. This Code shall be known as The Water Code of the Philippines.
Article 2. The objectives of this Code are:
(a) To establish the basic principles and framework relating to the appropriation, control and conservation of water resources to achieve
the optimum development and rational utilization of these resources;
(b) To define the extent of the rights and obligations of water users and owners including the protection and regulation of such rights;
(c) To adopt a basic law governing the ownership, appropriation, utilization, exploitation, development, conservation and protection of
water resources and rights to land related thereto; and
(d) To identify the administrative agencies which will enforce this Code.
Article 3. The underlying principles of this code are:
(a) All waters belong to the State.
(b) All waters that belong to the State can not be the subject to acquisitive prescription.
(c) The State may allow the use or development of waters by administrative concession.
(d) The utilization, exploitation, development, conservation and protection of water resources shall be subject to the control and
regulation of the government through the National Water Resources Council, hereinafter referred to as the Council.
(e) Preference in the use and development of waters shall consider current usages and be responsive to the changing needs of the
country.
Article 4. Waters, as used in this Code, refers to water under the grounds, water above the ground, water in the atmosphere and the waters of the
sea within the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines.
CHAPTER II
OWNERSHIP OF WATERS
Article 5. The following belong to the State:
(a) Rivers and their natural beds;
(b) Continuous or intermittent waters of springs and brooks running in their natural beds and the beds themselves;
(c) Natural lakes and lagoons;
(d) All other categories of surface waters such as water flowing over lands, water from rainfall whether natural, or artificial, and water
from agriculture runoff, seepage and drainage;
(e) Atmospheric water;
(f) Subterranean or ground waters; and,
(g) Seawater.

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Article 6. The following waters found on private lands belong to the State:
(a) Continuous or intermittent waters rising on such lands;
(b) Lakes and lagoons naturally occuring on such lands;
(c) Rain water falling on such lands;
(d) Subterranean or ground waters; and,
(e) Water in swamps and marshes.
The owner of the land where the water is found may use the same for domestic purposes without securing a permit, provided that such use shall
be registered, when required by the Council. The Council, however, may regulate such when there is wastage, or in times of emergency.
Article 7. Subject to the provisions of this Code, any person who captures or collects water by means of cisterns, tanks, or pools shall have exclusive
control over such water and the right to dispose of the same.
Article 8. Water legally appropriated shall be subject to the control of the appropriator from the moment it reaches the appropriator's canal or
aqueduct leading to the place where the water will be used or stored and, thereafter, so long as it is being beneficially used for the purposes for
which it was appropriated.
CHAPTER III
APPROPRIATION OF WATERS
Article 9. Waters may be appropriated and used in accordance with the provisions of this Code.
Appropriation of water, as used in this Code, is the acquisition of rights over the use of waters or the taking or diverting of waters from a natural
source in the manner and for any purpose allowed by law.
Article 10. Water may be appropriated for the following purposes:
(a) Domestic
(b) Municipal
(c) Irrigation
(d) Power generation
(e) Fisheries
(f) Livestock raising
(g) Industrial
(h) Recreational, and
(i) Other purposes
Use of water for domestic purposes is the utilization of water for drinking, washing, bathing, cooking or other household needs, home gardens, and
watering of lawns or domestic animals.
Use of water for municipal purposes is the utilization of water for supplying the water requirements of the community.
Use of water for irrigation is the utilization of water for producing agricultural crops.
Use of water for power generation is the utilization of water for producing electrical or mechanical power.
Use of water for fisheries is the utilization of water for the propagation and culture of fish as a commercial enterprise.
Use of water for livestock raising is the utilization of water for large herds or flocks of animals raised as a commercial enterprise.
Use of water for industrial purposes is the utilization of water in factories, industrial plants and mines, including the use of water as an ingredient of
a finished product.
Use of water for recreational purposes is the utilization of water for swimming pools, bath houses, boating, water skiing, golf courses and other
similar facilities in resorts and other places of recreation.
Article 11. The State, for reasons of public policy, may declare waters not previously appropriated, in whole or in part, exempt from appropriation
for any or all purposes and, thereupon, such waters may not be appropriated for those purposes.
Article 12. Waters appropriated for a particular purpose may be applied for another purpose only upon prior approval of the Council and on
condition that the new use does not unduly prejudice the rights of other permittees, or require an increase in the volume of water.

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Article 13. Except as otherwise herein provided, no person, including government instrumentalities or government-owned or controlled
corporations, shall appropriate water without a water right, which shall be evidenced by a document known as a water permit.
Water right is the privilege granted by the government to appropriate and use water.
Article 14. Subject to the provisions of this Code concerning the control, protection, conservation, and regulation of the appropriation and use of
waters, any person may appropriate or use natural bodies of water without securing a water permit for any of the following:
(a) Appropriation of water by means of handcarried receptacles; and
(b) Bathing or washing, watering or dipping of domestic or farm animals, and navigation of watercrafts or transportation of logs and other
objects by flotation.
Article 15. Only citizens of the Philippines, of legal age, as well as juridical persons, who are duly qualified by law to exploit and develop water
resources, may apply for water permits.
Article 16. Any person who desires to obtain a water permit shall file an application with the Council who shall make known said application to the
public for any protests.
In determining whether to grant or deny an application, the Council shall consider the following: protests filed, if any; prior permits granted; the
availability of water; the water supply needed for beneficial use; possible adverse effects; land-use economics; and other relevant factors.
Upon approval of an application, a water permit shall be issued and recorded.
Article 17. The right to the use of water is deemed acquired as of the date of filing of the application for a water permit in case of approved
permits, or as of the date of actual use in a case where no permit is required.
Article 18. All water permits granted shall be subject to conditions of beneficial use, adequate standards of design and construction, and such other
terms and conditions as may be imposed by the Council.
Such permits shall specify the maximum amount of water which may be diverted or withdrawn, the maximum rate of diversion or withdrawal, the
time or times during the year when water may be diverted or withdrawn, the points or points of diversion or location of wells, the place of use, the
purposes of which water may be used and such other requirements the Council deems desirable.
Article 19. Water rights may be leaded or transferred in whole or in part to another person with prior approval of the Council, after due notice and
hearing.
Article 20. The measure and limit of appropriation of water shall be beneficial use.
Beneficial use of water is the utilization of water in the right amount during the period that the water is needed for producing the benefits for
which the water is appropriated.
Article 21. Standards of beneficial use shall be prescribed by the council for the appropriator of water for different purposes and conditions, and
the use of waters which are appropriated shall be measured and controlled in accordance therewith.
Excepting for domestic use, every appropriator of water shall maintain water control and measuring devices, and keep records of water
withdrawal. When required by the Council, all appropriators of water shall furnish information on water use.
Article 22. Between two or more appropriators of water from the same sources of supply, priority in time of appropriation shall give the better
right, except that in times of emergency the use of water for domestic and municipal purposes shall have a better right over all other uses;
Provided, the where water shortage is recurrent and the appropriator for municipal use has a lower priority in time of appropriation, then it shall
be his duty to find an alternative source of supply in accordance with conditions prescribed by the Council.
Article 23. Priorities may be altered on grounds of greater beneficial use, multi-purpose use, and other similar grounds after due notice and
hearing, subject to payment of compensation is proper cases.
Article 24. A water right shall be exercised in such a manner that the rights of third persons or of other appropriators are not prejudiced thereby.
Article 25. A holder of water permit may demand the establishment of easements necessary for the construction and maintenance of the works
and facilities needed for the beneficial use of the waters to be appropriated subject to the requirements of just compensation and to the following
conditions:
(a) That he is the owner, lessee, mortgagee or one having real right over the land upon which he proposes to use water; and
(b) That the proposed easement is the most convenient and the least onerous to the servient estate.
Easements relating to the appropriation and use of waters may be modified by agreement of the contracting parties provided the same is not
contrary to law or prejudicial to third persons.
Article 26. Where water shortage is recurrent, the use of the water pursuant to a permit may, in the interest of equitable distribution of the
benefits among legal appropriators, reduce after due notice and hearing.
Article 27. Water users shall bear the diminution of any water supply due to natural causes or force majeure.

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Article 28. Water permits shall continue to be valid as long as water is beneficially used; however, it maybe suspended on the grounds of noncompliance with approved plans and specifications or schedules of water distribution; use of water for a purpose other than that for which it was
granted; non-payment of water charges; wastage; failure to keep records of water diversion, when required; and violation of any term or condition
of any permit or rules and regulations promulgated by the Council.
Temporary permits may be issued for the appropriation and use of water for short periods under special circumstances.
Article 29. Water permits may be revoked after due notice and hearing on grounds of non-use; gross violation of the conditions imposed in the
permit; unauthorized sale of water; willful failure or refusal to comply with rules and regulations of any lawful order; pollution, public nuisance or
acts detrimental to public health and safety; when the appropriator is found to be disqualified under the law to exploit and develop natural
resources of the Philippines; when, in the case, of irrigation, the land is converted to non-agricultural purposes; and other similar grounds.
Article 30. All water permits are subject to modification or cancellation by the council, after due notice and hearing, in favor of a project of greater
beneficial use or for multi-purpose development, and a water permittee who suffers thereby shall be duly compensated by the entity or person in
whose favor the cancellation was made.
CHAPTER IV
UTILIZATION OF WATERS
Article 31. Preference in the development of water resources shall consider security of the State, multiple use, beneficial effects, adverse effects
and costs of development.
Article 32. The utilization of subterranean or ground water shall be coordinated with that of surface waters such as rivers, streams, springs and
lakes, so that a superior right in one not adversely affected by an inferior right in the other.
For this purpose the Council shall promulgate rules and regulations and declare the existence of control areas for the coordinated development,
protection, and utilization of subterranean or ground water and surface waters.
Control area is an area of land where subterranean or ground water and surface water are so interrelated that withdrawal and use in one similarly
affects the other. The boundary of a control area may be altered from time to time, as circumstances warrant.
Article 33. Water contained in open canals, aqueducts or reservoirs of private persons may be used by any person for domestic purpose or for
watering plants as long as the water is withdrawn by manual methods without checking the stream or damaging the canal, aqueduct or reservoir;
Provided, That this right may be restricted by the owner should it result in loss or injury to him.
Article 34. A water permittee or appropriator may use any watercourse to convey water to another point in the watercourse for the purpose stated
in a permit and such water may be diverted or recaptured at that point by said permittee in the same amount less allowance for normal losses in
transit.
Article 35. Works for the storage, diversion, distribution and utilization of water resources shall contain adequate provision for the prevention and
control of diseases that may be induced or spread by such works when required by the Council.
Article 36. When the reuse of waste water is feasible, it shall be limited as much as possible, to such uses other than direct human consumption.
No person or agency shall distribute such water for public consumption until it is demonstrated that such consumption will not adversely affect the
health and safety of the public.
Article 37. In the construction and operation of hydraulic works, due consideration shall be given to the preservation of scenic places and historical
relics and, in addition to the provisions of existing laws, no works that would required the destruction or removal of such places or relics shall be
undertaken without showing that the distribution or removal is necessary and unaviodable.
Article 38. Authority for the construction of dams, bridges and other structures across of which may interfere with the flow of navigable or flotable
waterways shall first be secured from the Department of Public Works, Transportation and Communications.
Article 39. Except in cases of emergency to save life or property, the construction or repair of the following works shall be undertaken only after
the plans and specifications therefor, as may be required by the Council, are approved by the proper government agency; dams for the diversion or
storage of water; structures for the use of water power, installations for the utilization of subterranean or ground water and other structures for
utilization of water resources.
Article 40. No excavation for the purpose of emission of a hot spring or for the enlargement of the existing opening thereof shall be made without
prior permit.
Any person or agency who intends to develop a hot spring for human consumption must first obtain a permit from the Department of Health.
Article 41. No person shall develop a stream, lake, or spring for recreational purposes without first securing a permit from the Council.
Article 42. Unless-otherwise ordered by the President of the Philippines and only in time of national calamity or emergency, no person shall induce
or restrain rainfall by any method such as cloud seeding without a permit from the proper government emergency.
Article 43. No person shall raise or lower the water level of a river stream, lake, lagoon, or marsh nor drain the same without a permit.

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Article 44. Drainage systems shall be so constructed that their outlets are rivers, lakes, the sea, natural bodies of water, or such other water course
as may be approved by the proper government agency.
Article 45. When a drainage channel is constructed by a number of persons for their common benefit, the cost of construction and maintenance of
the channel shall be borne by each in proportion to the benefits drived.
Article 46. When artificial means are employed to drain water from higher to lower land, the owner of the higher land shall select the routes and
methods of drainage that will cause the minimum damage to the lower lands, subject to the requirements of just compensation.
Article 47. When the use, conveyance or storage of waters results in damage to another, the person responsible for the damage shall pay
compensation.
Article 48. When a water resources project interferes with the access of landowner to a portion of his property or with the conveyance of irrigation
or drainage water, the person or agency constructing the project shall bear the cost of construction and maintenance of the bridges, flumes and
other structures necessary for maintaining access, irrigation, or drainage, in addition to paying compensation for land and incidental damages.
Article 49. Any person having an easement for an aqueduct may enter upon the servient land for the purpose of cleaning, repairing or replacing the
aqueduct or the removal of obstructions therefrom.
Article 50. Lower estates are obliged to receive the waters which naturally and without the intervention of man flow from the higher estate, as well
as the stone or earth which they carry with them.
The owner of the lower estate can not construct works which will impede this natural flow, unless he provides an alternative method of drainage;
neither can the owner of the higher estate make works which will increase this natural flow.
Article 51. The banks of rivers and streams and the shores of the seas and lakes throughout their entire length and within a zone of three (3)
meters in urban areas, twenty (20) meters in agricultural areas and forty (40) meters in forest areas, along their margins are subject to the
easement of public use in the interest of recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing and salvage. No person shall be allowed to stay in this zone longer
than what is necessary for recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing or salvage or to build structures of any kind.
Article 52. The establishment, extent, form, and conditions of easements of water not expressly determined by the provisions of this Code shall be
governed by the provisions of the Civil Code.
CHAPTER V
CONTROL OF WATERS
Article 53. To promote the best interest and the coordinated protection of flood plain lands, the Secretary of Public Works, Transportation and
Communications may declare flood control areas and promulgate guidelines for governing flood plain management plans in these areas.
Article 54. In declared flood control areas, rules and regulations may be promulgated to prohibit or control activities that may damage or cause
deterioration or lakes and dikes, obstruct the flow of water, change the natural flow of the river, increase flood losses or aggravate flood problems.
Article 55. The government may construct necessary flood control structures in declared flood control areas, and for this purpose it shall have a
legal easement as wide as may be needed along and adjacent to the river bank and outside of the bed or channel of the river.
Article 56. River beds, sand bars and tidal flats may not be cultivated except upon prior permission from the Secretary of the Department of Public
Works, Transportation and Communication and such permission shall not be granted where such cultivation obstructs the flow of water or increase
flood levels so as to cause damage to other areas.
Article 57. Any person may erect levees or revetments to protect his property from flood, encroachment by the river or change in the course of the
river, provided that such constructions does not cause damage to the property of another.
Article 58. When a river or stream suddenly changes its course to traverse private lands, the owners of the affected lands may not compel the
government to restore the river to its former bed; nor can they restrain the government from taking steps to revert the river or stream to its
former course. The owners of the land thus affected are not entitled to compensation for any damage sustained thereby. However, the former
owners of the new bed shall be the owners of the abandoned bed in proportion to the area lost by each.
The owners of the affected lands may undertake to return the river or stream to its old bed at their own expense; Provided, That a permit therefor
is secured from the Secretary of Public Works, Transportation and Communication and work pertaining thereto are commenced within two years
from the change in the course of the river or stream.
Article 59. Rivers, lakes and lagoons may, upon the recommendation of the Philippines Coast Guard, be declared navigable either in whole or in
part.
Article 60. The rafting of logs and other objects on rivers and lakes which are flotable may be controlled or prohibited during designated season of
the year with due regard to the needs of irrigation and domestic water supply and other uses of water.
Article 61. The impounding of water in ponds or reservoirs may be prohibited by the Council upon consultation with the Department of Health if it
is dangerous to public health, or it may order that such pond or reservoir be drained if such is necessary for the protection of public health.

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Article 62. Waters of a stream may be stored in a reservoir by a permittee in such amount as will not prejudice the right of any permittee
downstream. Whoever operates the reservoir shall, when required, release water for minimum stream flow.
All reservoir operations shall be subject to rules and regulations issued by the Council or any proper government agency.
Article 63. The operator of a dam for the storage of water may be required to employ an engineer possessing qualifications prescribed for the
proper operations, maintenance and administration of the dam.
Article 64. The Council shall approve the manner, location, depth, and spacing in which borings for subterranean or ground water may be made,
determine the requirements for the registration of every boring or alteration to existing borings as well as other control measures for the
exploitation of subterranean or ground water resources, and in coordination with the Professional Regulation Commission prescribe the
qualifications of those who would drill such borings.
No person shall drill a well without prior permission from the Council.
Article 65. Water from one river basin may be transferred to another river basin only with approval of the Council. In considering any request for
such transfer, the Council shall take into account the full costs of the transfer, the benefits that would accrue to the basin of origin without the
transfer, the benefits would accrue to the receiving basin on account of the transfer, alternative schemes for supplying water to the receiving basin,
and other relevant factors.
CHAPTER VI
CONSERVATION AND PROTECTION OF WATERS AND WATERSHEDS AND RELATED LAND RESOURCES
Article 66. After due notice and hearing when warranted by circumstances, minimum stream flows for rivers and streams, and minimum water
levels for lakes may be established by the Council under such conditions as may be necessary for the protection of the environment, control of
pollution, navigation, prevention of salt damage, and general public use.
Article 67. Any watershed or any area of land adjacent to any surface water or overlying any ground water may declared by the Department of
Natural Resources as protected area Rules and regulations may be promulgated by such Department to prohibit or control such activities by the
owners or occupants thereof within the protected area which may damage or cause the deterioration of the surface water or ground water or
interfere with the investigation, use, control, protection, management or administration of such waters.
Article 68. It shall be the duty of any person in control of a well to prevent the water from flowing on the surface of the land, or into any surface
water, or any porous stratum under neath the surface without being beneficially used.
Article 69. It shall be the duty of any person in control of a well containing water with minerals or other substances injurious to man, animals,
agriculture, and vegetation to prevent such waters from flowing on the surface of the land or into any surface water or into any other aquifer or
porous stratum.
Article 70. No person shall utilize an existing well or pond or spread waters for recharging substerranean or ground water supplies without prior
permission of the Council.
Article 71. To promote better water conservation and usage for irrigation purposes, the merger of irrigation associations and the appropriation of
waters by associations instead of by individuals shall be encouraged.
No water permit shall be granted to an individual when his water requirement can be supplied through an irrigation association.
Article 72. In the consideration of a proposed water resource project, due regard shall be given to ecological changes resulting from the
construction of the project in order to balance the needs of development and the protection of the environment.
Article 73. The conservation of fish and wildlife shall receive proper consideration and shall be coordinated with other features of water resources
development programs to insure that fish and wildlife values receive equal attention with other project purposes.
Article 74. Swamps and marshes which are owned by the State and which primary value for waterfowl propagation or other wildlife purposes may
be reserved and protected from drainage operation and development.
Article 75. No person shall, without prior permission from the National Pollution Control Commission, build any works that may produce dangerous
or noxious substances or perform any act which may result in the introduction of sewage, industrial waste, or any pollutant into any source of
water supply.
Water pollution is the impairment of the quality of water beyond a certain standard. This standard may vary according to the use of the water and
shall be set by the National Pollution Control Commission.
Article 76. The establishment of cemeteries and waste disposal areas that may affect the source of a water supply or a reservoir for domestic or
municipal use shall be subject to the rules and regulations promulgated by the Department of Health.
Article 77. Tailings from mining operations and sediments from placer mining shall not be dumped into rivers and waterways without prior
permission from the Council upon recommendation by the National Pollution Control Commission.
Article 78. The application of agricultural fertilizers and pesticides may be prohibited or regulated by the National Pollution Control Commission in
the areas where such application may cause pollution of a source of water supply.

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CHAPTER VII
ADMINISTRATION OF WATERS AND ENFORCEMENT OF THE PROVISIONS OF THIS CODE
Article 79. The Administration and enforcement of the provisions of this Code, including the granting of permits and the imposition of penalties for
administrative violations hereof, are hereby vested in the Council, and except in regard to those functions which under this Code are specifically
conferred upon other agencies of the government, the Council is hereby empowered to make all decisions and determinations provided for in this
Code.
Article 80. The Council may deputize any official or agency of the government to perform any of its specific functions or activities.
Article 81. The Council shall provide a continuing program for data collection, research and manpower development needed for the appropriation,
utilization, exploitation, conservation, and protection of the water resources of the country.
Article 82. In the implementation of the provisions of this code, the Council shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations which may
provide for penalties consisting of a fine not exceeding One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00) and/or suspension or revocation of the water permit or
other right to the use of water. Violations of such rules and regulations may be administratively dealt with by the Council.
Such rules and regulations prescribed by any government agency that pertain to the utilization, exploitation, development, control, conservation,
or protection of water resources shall, if the Council so requires, be subject to its approval.
Article 83. The Council is hereby authorized to impose and collect reasonable fees or charges for water resources development from water
appropriators, except when it is for purely domestic purposes.
Article 84. The Council and other agencies authorized to enforce this Code are empowered to enter upon private lands, with previous notice to the
owner, for the purpose of conducting surveys and hydrologic investigations, and to perform such other acts as are necessary in carrying out their
functions including the power to exercise the right of eminent domain.
Article 85. No program or project involving the appropriation, utilization, exploitation, development, control, conservation, or protection of water
resources may be undertaken without prior approval of the Council, except those which the Council may, in its discretion, exempt.
The Council may require consultation with the public prior to the implementation of certain water resources development projects.
Article 86. When plans and specifications of a hydraulic structure are submitted for approval, the government agency whose functions embrace the
type of project for which the structure is intended, shall review the plans and specifications and recommended to the Council proper action
thereon and the latter shall approve the same only when they are inconformity with the requirements of this Code and the rules and regulations
promulgated by the Council. Notwithstanding such approval, neither the engineer who drew up the plans and specifications of the hydraulic
structure, nor the constructor who built it, shall be relieved of his liability for damages in case of failure thereof by reason of defect in plans and
specifications, or failure due to defect in construction, within ten (10) years from the completion of the structure.
Any action recover such damages must be brought within five (5) years following such failure.
Article 87. The Council or its duly authorized representatives, in the exercise of its power to investigate and decide cases brought to its cognizance,
shall have the power to administer oaths, compel the attendance of witnesses by subpoena and the production of relevant documents by
subpoena duces tecum.
Non-compliance of violation of such orders or subpoena and subpoena duces tecum shall be punished in the same manner as indirect contempt of
an inferior court upon application by the aggrieved party with the proper Court of First Instance in accordance with the provisions of Rules 71 of
the Rules of the Court.
Article 88. The Council shall have original jurisdiction over all disputes to relating to appropriation, utilization, exploitation, development, control,
conservation and protection of waters within the meaning and context of the provisions of this Code.
The decisions of the Council on water rights controversies shall be immediately executory and the enforcement thereof may be suspended only
when a bond, in a amount fixed by the Council to answer for damages occasioned by the suspension or stay of execution, shall have been filed by
the appealing party, unless the suspension is virtue of an order of a competent court.
All dispute shall be decided within sixty (60) days after the parties submit the same for decision or resolution.
The Council shall have the power to issue writs of execution and enforce its decisions with the assistance of local or national police agencies.
Article 89. The decisions of the Council on water rights controversies may be appealed to the Court of First Instance of the province where the
subject matter of the controversy is situated within fifteen (15) days from the date the party appealing receives a copy of the decision, on any of
the following grounds; (1) grave abuse of discretion; (2) question of law; and (3) questions of fact and law.
CHAPTER VIII
PENAL PROVISIONS
Article 90. The following acts shall be penalized by suspension or revocation of the violator's water permit or other right to the use of water and/or
a fine of not exceeding One Thousand Pesos (P1,000.00), in the discretion of the Council:

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(a)Appropriation of subterranean or ground water for domestic use by an overlying landowner without registration required by the
Council.
(b) Non-observance of any standard of beneficial use of water.
(c) Failure of the appropriator to keep a record of water withdrawal, when required.
(d) Failure to comply with any of the terms or conditions in a water permit or a water rights grant.
(e) Unauthorized use of water for a purpose other than that for which a right or permit was granted.
(f) Construction or repair of any hydraulic work or structure without duly approved plans and specifications, when required.
(g) Failure to install a regulating and measuring device for the control of the volume of water appropriated, when required.
(h) Unauthorized sale, lease, or transfer of water and/or water rights.
(i) Failure to provide adequate facilities to prevent or control diseases when required by the Council in the construction of any work for
the storage, diversion, distribution and utilization of water.
(j) Drilling of a well without permission of the Council.
(k) Utilization of an existing well or ponding or spreading of water for recharging subterranean or ground water supplies without
permission of the Council.
(l) Violation of or non-compliance with any order, rules, or regulations of the Council.
(m) Illegal taking or diversion of water in an open canal, aqueduct or reservoir.
(n) Malicious destruction of hydraulic works or structure valued at not exceeding P5,000.00.
Article 91. A. A fine of not exceeding Three Thousand Pesos (P3,000.00) or imprisonment for not more than three (3) years, or both such fine and
imprisonment, in the discretion of the Court, shall be imposed upon any person who commits any of the following acts:
1. Appropriation of water without a water permit, unless such person is expressly exempted from securing a permit by the
provisions of this Code.
2. Unauthorized obstruction of an irrigation canal.
3. Cultivation of a river bed, sand bar or tidal flat without permission.
4. Malicious destruction of hydraulic works or structure valued at not exceeding Twenty-Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00).
B. A fine exceeding Three Thousand Pesos P3,000.00) but not more than Six Thousand Pesos P6,000.00) or imprisonment exceeding three
(3) years but not more than six (6) years, or both such fine and imprisonment in the discretion of the Court, shall be imposed on any
person who commits any of the following acts:
1. Distribution for public consumption of water which adversely affects the health and safety of the public.
2. Excavation or enlargement of the opening of a hot spring without permission.
3. Unauthorized obstruction of a river or waterway, or occupancy of a river bank or seashore without permission.
4. Establishment of a cemetery or a waste disposal area near a source of water supply or reservoir for domestic municipal use
without permission.
5. Constructing, without prior permission of the government agency concerned, works that produce dangerous or noxious
substances, or performing acts that result in the introduction of sewage, industrial waste, or any substance that pollutes a
source of water supply.
6. Dumping mine tailings and sediments into rivers of waterways without permission.
7. Malicious destruction of hydraulic works or structure valued more than Twenty-Five Thousand Pesos (P25,000.00) but at not
exceeding One Hundred Thousand Peso (100,000.00).
C. A fine exceeding Six Thousand Pesos (P6,000.00) but not more than Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) or imprisonment exceeding six
(6) years but not more than twelve (12) years, or both such fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the Court, shall be imposed upon
any person who commits any of the following acts:
1. Misrepresentation of citizenship in order to qualify for water permit.
2. Malicious destruction of a hydraulic works or structure, valued at more than One Hundred Thousand Pesos (P100,000.00).
Article 92. If the offense is committed by a corporation, trust, firm, partnership, association or any other juridical person, the penalty shall be
imposed upon the President, General Manager, and other guilty officer or officers of such corporation, trust firm, partnership, association or entity,

LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


without prejudice to the filing of a civil action against said juridical person. If the offender is an alien, he shall be deported after serving his
sentence, without further proceedings.
After final judgment of conviction, the Court upon petition of the prosecution attorney in the same proceedings, and after due hearing, may, when
the public interest so requires, order suspension of or dissolution of such corporation, trust, firm, partnership, association or juridical person.
Article 93. All actions for offenses punishable under Article 91 of this Code shall be brought before the proper court.
Article 94. Actions for offenses punishable under this Code by a fine of not more than Three Thousand Pesos (P3,000.00) or by an imprisonment of
not more than three (3) years, or both such fine and imprisonment, shall prescribe in five (5) years; those punishable by a fine exceeding Three
Thousand Pesos (P3,000.00) but not more than Six Thousand Pesos (P6,000.00) or an imprisonment exceeding three (3) years but not more than six
(6) years, or both such fine and imprisonment, shall prescribe in seven (7) years; and those punishable by a fine exceeding Six Thousand Pesos
(P6,000.00) but not more than Ten Thousand Pesos (P10,000.00) or an imprisonment exceeding six (6) years but not more than twelve (12) years,
or both such fine and imprisonment, shall prescribe in ten (10) years.
CHAPTER IX
TRANSITORY AND FINAL PROVISIONS
Article 95. Within two (2) years from the promulgation of this Code, all claims for a right to use water existing on or before December 31, 1974
shall be registered with the Council which shall confirm said rights in accordance with the provisions of this Code, and shall set their respective
priorities.
When priority in time of appropriation from a certain source of supply cannot be determined, the order of preference in the use of the waters shall
be as follows:
(a) Domestic and municipal use
(b) Irrigation
(c) Power generation
(d) Fisheries
(e) Livestock raising
(f) Industrial use, and
(g) Other uses.
Any claim not registered within said period shall be considered waived and the use of the water deemed abandoned, and the water shall
thereupon be available for disposition as unappropriated waters in accordance with the provisions of this Code.
Article 96. No vested or acquired right to the use of water can arise from acts or omissions which are against the law or which infringe upon the
rights of others.
Article 97. Acts and contract under the regime of old laws, if they are valid in accordance therewith, shall be respected, subject to the limitations
established in this Code. Any modification or extension of these acts and contracts after the promulgation of this Code, shall be subject to the
provisions hereof.
Article 98. Interim rules and regulations promulgated by the Council shall continue to have binding force and effect, when not in conflict with the
provisions of this Code.
Article 99. If any provision or part of this Code, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance, is declared unconstitutional or invalid for
any reason, the other provisions or parts therein shall not be affected.
Article 100. The following laws, parts and/or provisions of laws are hereby repealed:
(a) The provisions of the Spanish Law on Waters of August 3, 1866, the Civil Code of Spain of 1889 and the Civil Code of the Philippines
(R.A. 386) on ownership of waters, easements relating to waters, use of public waters and acquisitive prescription on the use of waters,
which are inconsistent with the provisions of this Code;
(b) The provisions of R.A. 6395, otherwise known as the Revised Charter of National Power Corporation, particularly section 3, paragraph
(f), and section 12, insofar as they relate to the appropriation of waters and the grant thereof;
(c) The provisions of Act No. 2152, as amended, otherwise known as the Irrigation Act, section 3, paragraphs (k) and (m) of P.D. No. 813,
R.A. 2056; Section 90, C.A. 137; and,
(d) All Decree, Laws, Acts, parts of Acts, rules of Court, executive orders, and administrative regulations which are contrary to or
inconsistent with the provisions of this Code.
Article 101. This Code shall take effect upon its promulgation.
Done in the City of Manila, this 31st day of December, Nineteen Hundred and Seventy-Six.

LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


FIRST DIVISION
[G.R. No. L-27873. November 29, 1983.]
HEIRS OF JOSE AMUNATEGUI, Petitioners, v. DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY, Respondent.
[G.R. No. L-30035. November 29, 1983.]
ROQUE BORRE and ENCARNACION DELFIN, Petitioners, v. ANGEL ALPASAN, HEIRS OF MELQUIADES BORRE, EMETERIO BEREBER and HEIRS OF
JOSE AMUNATEGUI and THE CAPIZ COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE, Respondents.
SYLLABUS
1. CIVIL LAW; PUBLIC LAND ACT; FOREST LAND; CLASSIFICATION NOT LOST EVEN IF IT HAS BEEN STRIPPED OF FOREST COVER; UNLESS RELEASED IN
AN OFFICIAL PROCLAMATION AS DISPOSABLE LANDS, RULES ON CONFIRMATION OF IMPERFECT TITLE DO NOT APPLY. A forested area classified
as forest land of the public domain does not lose such classification simply because loggers or settlers may have stripped it of its forest cover.
Parcels of land classified as forest land may actually be covered with grass or planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other farmers. "Forest lands"
do not have to be on mountains or in out of the way places. Swampy areas covered by mangrove trees, nipa palms, and other tress growing in
brackish or sea water may also be classified as forest land. The classification is descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to be
descriptive of what the land actually looks like. Unless and until the land classified as "forest" is released in an official proclamation to that effect so
that it may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public domain, the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do not apply.
2. ID.; ID.; FOREST LANDS; ACQUISITIVE OWNERSHIP NOT ACQUIRED. This Court ruled in the leading case of Director of Forestry v. Muoz (23
SCRA 1184) that possession of forest lands, no matter how long, cannot ripen into private ownership. And in Republic v. Animas (56 SCRA 499), we
granted the petition on the ground that the ares covered by the patent and title was not disposable public land, it being a part of the forest zone
and any patent and title to said area is void ab initio. It bears emphasizing that a positive act of Government is needed to declassify land which is
classified as forest and to convert it into alienable or disposable land for agricultural or other purposes.
3. ID.; ID.; CONFIRMATION, OF IMPERFECT TITLE CASES; BURDEN OF PROVING THAT THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW HAVE BEEN MET, RESTS ON
THE APPLICANT. In confirmation of imperfect title cases, the applicant shoulders the burden of proving that he meets the requirements of
Section 48, Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended by Republic Act No. 1942. He must overcome the presumption that the land he is applying for
is part of the public domain but that he has an interest therein sufficient to warrant registration in his name because of an imperfect title such as
those derived from old Spanish grants or that he has had continuous, open, 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 (30) years preceding the filing of his application.
DECISION
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:
The two petitions for review on certiorari before us question the decision of the Court of Appeals which declared the disputed property as forest
land, not subject to titling in favor of private persons.
These two petitions have their genesis in an application for confirmation of imperfect title and its registration filed with the Court of First Instance
of Capiz. The parcel of land sought to be registered is known as Lot No. 885 of the Cadastral Survey of Pilar, Capiz, and has an area of 645,703
square meters.cralawnad
Roque Borre, petitioner in G.R. No, L-30035, and Melquiades Borre, filed the application for registration. In due time, the heirs of Jose Amunategui,
petitioners in G.R. No. L-27873 filed an opposition to the application of Roque and Melquiades Borre. At the same time, they prayed that the title
to a portion of Lot No. 885 of Pilar Cadastre containing 527,747 square meters be confirmed and registered in the names of said Heirs of Jose
Amunategui.
The Director of Forestry, through the Provincial Fiscal of Capiz, also filed an opposition to the application for registration of title claiming that the
land was mangrove swamp which was still classified as forest land and part of the public domain.
Another oppositor, Emeterio Bereber filed his opposition insofar as a portion of Lot No. 885 containing 117,956 square meters was concerned and
prayed that title to said portion be confirmed and registered in his name.
During the progress of the trial, applicant-petitioner Roque Borre sold whatever rights and interests he may have on Lot No. 885 to Angel Alpasan.
The latter also filed an opposition, claiming that he is entitled to have said lot registered in his name.

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After trial, the Court of First Instance of Capiz adjudicated 117,956 square meters to Emeterio Bereber and the rest of the land containing 527,747
square meters was adjudicated in the proportion of 5/6 share to Angel Alpasan and 1/6 share to Melquiades Borre.
Only the Heirs of Jose Amunategui and the Director of Forestry filed their respective appeals with the Court of Appeals, The case was docketed as
CA-G.R. No. 34190-R.
In its decision, the Court of Appeals held:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
". . . the conclusion so far must have to be that as to the private litigants that have been shown to have a better right over Lot 885 are, as to the
northeastern portion of a little less than 117,956 square meters, it was Emeterio Bereber and as to the rest of 527,747 square meters, it was the
heirs of Jose Amunategui; but the last question that must have to be considered is whether after all, the title that these two (2) private litigants
have shown did not amount to a registerable one in view of the opposition and evidence of the Director of Forestry; . . .
". . . turning back the clock thirty (30) years from 1955 when the application was filed which would place it at 1925, the fact must have to be
accepted that during that period, the land was a classified forest land so much so that timber licenses had to be issued to certain licensee before
1926 and after that; that even Jose Amunategui himself took the trouble to ask for a license to cut timber within the area; and this can only mean
that the Bureau of Forestry had stood and maintained its ground that it was a forest land as indeed the testimonial evidence referred to above
persuasively indicates, and the only time when the property was converted into a fishpond was sometime after 1950; or a bare five (5) years before
the filing of the application; but only after there had been a previous warning by the District Forester that that could not be done because it was
classified as a public forest; so that having these in mind and remembering that even under Republic Act 1942 which came into effect in 1957, two
(2) years after this case had already been filed in the lower Court, in order for applicant to be able to demonstrate a registerable title he must have
shown.
"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 (30) years, preceding the filing of the application;
the foregoing details cannot but justify the conclusion that not one of the applicants or oppositors had shown that during the required period of
thirty (30) years prescribed by Republic Act 1942 in order for him to have shown a registerable title for the entire period of thirty (30) years before
filing of the application, he had been in
"open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain,
it is evident that the Bureau of Forestry had insisted on its claim all throughout that period of thirty (30) years and even before and applicants and
their predecessors had made implicit recognition of that; the result must be to deny all these applications; this Court stating that it had felt
impelled notwithstanding, just the same to resolve the conflicting positions of the private litigants among themselves as to who of them had
demonstrated a better right to possess because this Court foresees that this litigation will go all the way to the Supreme Court and it is always
better that the findings be as complete as possible to enable the Highest Court to pass final judgment;
"IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision must have to be as it is hereby reversed; the application as well as all the oppositions with the exception of that
of the Director of Forestry which is hereby sustained are dismissed; no more pronouncement as to costs."cralaw virtua1aw library
A petition for review on certiorari was filed by the Heirs of Jose Amunategui contending that the disputed lot had been in the possession of private
persons for over thirty years and therefore in accordance with Republic Act No. 1942, said lot could still be the subject of registration and
confirmation of title in the name of a private person in accordance with Act No. 496 known as the Land Registration Act. On the other hand,
another petition for review on certiorari was filed by Roque Borre and Encarnacion Delfin, contending that the trial court committed grave abuse of
discretion in dismissing their complaint against the Heirs of Jose Amunategui. The Borre complaint was for the annulment of the deed of absolute
sale of Lot No. 885 executed by them in favor of the Heirs of Amunategui. The complaint was dismissed on the basis of the Court of Appeals
decision that the disputed lot is part of the public domain. The petitioners also question the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals in passing upon the
relative rights of the parties over the disputed lot when its final decision after all is to declare said lot a part of the public domain classified as forest
land.chanrobles law library : red
The need for resolving the questions raised by Roque Borre and Encarnacion Delfin in their petition depends on the issue raised by the Heirs of Jose
Amunategui, that is, whether or not Lot No. 885 is public forest land, not capable of registration in the names of the private applicants.
The Heirs of Jose Amunategui maintain that Lot No. 885 cannot be classified as forest land because it is not thickly forested but is a "mangrove
swamp." Although conceding that a "mangrove swamp" is included in the classification of forest land in accordance with Section 1820 of the
Revised Administrative Code, the petitioners argue that no big trees classified in Section 1821 of said Code as first, second and third groups are
found on the land in question. Furthermore, they contend that Lot 885, even if it is a mangrove swamp, is still subject to land registration
proceedings because the property had been in actual possession of private persons for many years, and therefore, said land was already "private
land" better adapted and more valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes and not required by the public interests to be kept under forest
classification.

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The petition is without merit.
A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain does not lose such classification simply because loggers or settlers may have stripped
it of its forest cover. Parcels of land classified as forest land may actually be covered with grass or planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other
farmers. "Forest lands" do not have to be on mountains or in out of the way places. Swampy areas covered by mangrove trees, nipa palms, and
other trees growing in brackish or sea water may also be classified as forest land. The classification is descriptive of its legal nature or status and
does not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like. Unless and until the land classified as "forest" is released in an official
proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public domain, the rules on confirmation of
imperfect title do not apply.
This Court ruled in the leading case of Director of Forestry v. Muoz (23 SCRA 1184) that possession of forest lands, no matter how long, cannot
ripen into private ownership. And in Republic v. Animas (56 SCRA 499), we granted the petition on the ground that the area covered by the patent
and title was not disposable public land, it being a part of the forest zone and any patent and title to said area is void ab initio. It bears emphasizing
that a positive act of Government is needed to declassify land which is classified as forest and to convert it into alienable or disposable land for
agricultural or other purposes.
The findings of the Court of Appeals are particularly well-grounded in the instant petition.
The fact that no trees enumerated in Section 1821 of the Revised Administrative Code are found in Lot No. 885 does not divest such land of its
being classified as forest land, much less as land of the public domain. The appellate court found that in 1912, the land must have been a virgin
forest as stated by Emeterio Berebers witness Deogracias Gavacao, and that as late as 1926, it must have been a thickly forested area as testified
by Jaime Bertolde. The opposition of the Director of Forestry was strengthened by the appellate courts finding that timber licenses had to be
issued to certain licensees and even Jose Amunategui himself took the trouble to ask for a license to cut timber within the area. It was only
sometime in 1950 that the property was converted into fishpond but only after a previous warning from the District Forester that the same could
not be done because it was classified as "public forest." chanrobles.com:cralaw:red
In confirmation of imperfect title cases, the applicant shoulders the burden of proving that he meets the requirements of Section 48,
Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended by Republic Act No. 1942. He must overcome the presumption that the land he is applying for is part of
the public domain but that he has an interest therein sufficient to warrant registration in his name because of an imperfect title such as those
derived from old Spanish grants or that he has had continuous, open, 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 (30) years preceding the filing of his application.
The decision of the appellate court is not based merely on the presumptions implicit in Commonwealth Act No. 141 as amended. The records show
that Lot No. 88S never ceased to be classified as forest land of the public domain.
In Republic v. Gonong (118 SCRA 729) we ruled:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"As held in Oh Cho v. Director of Lands, 75 Phil. 890, all lands that were not acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong
to the public domain. An exception to the rule would be any land that should have been in the possession of an occupant and of his predecessors
in-interests since time immemorial, for such possession would justify the presumption that the land had never been part of the public domain or
that it had been a private property even before the Spanish conquest."cralaw virtua1aw library
In the instant petitions, the exception in the Oh Cho case does not apply. The evidence is clear that Lot No. 885 had always been public land
classified as forest.
Similarly, in Republic v. Vera (120 SCRA 210), we ruled:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
". . . The possession of public land however long the period thereof may have extended, never confers title thereto upon the possessor because the
statute of limitations with regard to public land does not operate against the State, unless the occupant can prove possession and occupation of
the same under claim of ownership for the required number of years to constitute a grant from the State. (Director of Lands v. Reyes, 68 SCRA 177,
195)."cralaw virtua1aw library
We, therefore, affirm the finding that the disputed property Lot No. 885 is part of the public domain, classified as public forest land. There is no
need for us to pass upon the other issues raised by petitioners Roque Borre and Encarnacion Delfin, as such issues are rendered moot by this
finding.
WHEREFORE, the petitions in G. R. No. L-30035 and G. R. No. L-27873 are DISMISSED for lack of merit. Costs against the petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
THIRD DIVISION

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[G.R. No. 100709. November 14, 1997]
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the DIRECTOR OF LANDS, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, JOSEFINA L. MORATO, SPOUSES
NENITA CO and ANTONIO QUILATAN AND THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF QUEZON PROVINCE, respondents.
DECISION
PANGANIBAN, J.:
Will the lease and/or mortgage of a portion of a realty acquired through free patent constitute sufficient ground for the nullification of such land
grant? Should such property revert to the State once it is invaded by the sea and thus becomes foreshore land?
The Case
These are the two questions raised in the petition before us assailing the Court of Appeals[1] Decision in CA-G.R. CV No. 02667 promulgated on
June 13, 1991 which answered the said questions in the negative.[2] Respondent Courts Decision dismissed[3] petitioners appeal and affirmed in
toto the decision of the Regional Trial Court[4] of Calauag, Quezon, dated December 28, 1983 in Civil Case No. C-608. In turn, the Regional Trial
Courts decision dismissed petitioners complaint for cancellation of the Torrens Certificate of Title of Respondent Morato and for reversion of the
parcel of land subject thereof to the public domain.
The Facts
The petition of the solicitor general, representing the Republic of the Philippines, recites the following facts:[5]
Sometime in December, 1972, respondent Morato filed a Free Patent Application No. III-3-8186-B on a parcel of land with an area of 1,265 square
meters situated at Pinagtalleran, Calauag, Quezon. On January 16, 1974, the patent was approved and the Register of Deeds of Quezon at Lucena
City issued on February 4, 1974 Original Certificate of Title No. P-17789. Both the free patent and the title specifically mandate that the land shall
not be alienated nor encumbered within five (5) years from the date of the issuance of the patent (Sections 118 and 124 of CA No. 141, as
amended).
Subsequently, the District Land Officer in Lucena City, acting upon reports that respondent Morato had encumbered the land in violation of the
condition of the patent, conducted an investigation. Thereafter, it was established that the subject land is a portion of the Calauag Bay, five (5) to
six (6) feet deep under water during high tide and two (2) feet deep at low tide, and not suitable to vegetation. Moreover, on October 24, 1974, a
portion of the land was mortgaged by respondent Morato to respondents Nenita Co and Antonio Quilatan for P10,000.00 (pp. 2, 25, Folder of
Exhibits). The spouses Quilatan constructed a house on the land. Another portion of the land was leased to Perfecto Advincula on February 2, 1976
at P100.00 a month, where a warehouse was constructed.
On November 5, 1978, petitioner filed an amended complaint against respondents Morato, spouses Nenita Co and Antonio Quilatan, and the
Register of Deeds of Quezon for the cancellation of title and reversion of a parcel of land to the public domain, subject of a free patent in favor of
respondent Morato, on the grounds that the land is a foreshore land and was mortgaged and leased within the five-year prohibitory period (p. 46,
Records).
After trial, the lower court, on December 28, 1983, rendered a decision dismissing petitioners complaint. In finding for private respondents, the
lower court ruled that there was no violation of the 5-year period ban against alienating or encumbering the land, because the land was merely
leased and not alienated. It also found that the mortgage to Nenita Co and Antonio Quilatan covered only the improvement and not the land itself.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court. Thereafter, the Republic of the Philippines filed the present petition.[6]
The Issues
Petitioner alleges that the following errors were committed by Respondent Court:[7]
I
Respondent Court erred in holding that the patent granted and certificate of title issued to Respondent Morato cannot be cancelled and annulled
since the certificate of title becomes indefeasible after one year from the issuance of the title.
II
Respondent Court erred in holding that the questioned land is part of a disposable public land and not a foreshore land.

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The Courts Ruling
The petition is meritorious.
First Issue: Indefeasibility of a Free Patent Title
In resolving the first issue against petitioner, Respondent Court held:[8]
x x x. As ruled in Heirs of Gregorio Tengco vs. Heirs of Jose Alivalas, 168 SCRA 198. x x. The rule is well-settled that an original certificate of title
issued on the strength of a homestead patent partakes of the nature of a certificate of title issued in a judicial proceeding, as long as the land
disposed of is really part of the disposable land of the public domain, and becomes indefeasible and incontrovertible upon the expiration of one
year from the date of promulgation of the order of the Director of Lands for the issuance of the patent. (Republic v. Heirs of Carle, 105 Phil. 1227
(1959); Ingaran v. Ramelo, 107 Phil. 498 (1960); Lopez v. Padilla, (G.R. No. L-27559, May 18, 1972, 45 SCRA 44). A homestead patent, one registered
under the Land Registration Act, becomes as indefeasible as a Torrens Title. (Pamintuan v. San Agustin, 43 Phil. 558 (1982); El Hogar Filipino v.
Olviga, 60 Phil. 17 (1934); Duran v. Oliva, 113 Phil. 144 (1961); Pajomayo v. Manipon, G.R. No. L-33676, June 30, 1971, 39 SCRA 676). (p. 203).
Again, in Lopez vs. Court of Appeals, 169 SCRA 271, citing Iglesia ni Cristo v. Hon. Judge, CFI of Nueva Ecija, Branch I, (123 SCRA 516 (1983) and
Pajomayo, et al. v. Manipon, et al. (39 SCRA 676 (1971) held that once a homestead patent granted in accordance with the Public Land Act is
registered pursuant to Section 122 of Act 496, the certificate of title issued in virtue of said patent has the force and effect of a Torrens Title issued
under the Land Registration Act.
Indefeasibility of the title, however, may not bar the State, thru the Solicitor General, from filing an action for reversion, as ruled in Heirs of
Gregorio Tengo v. Heirs of Jose Aliwalas, (supra), as follows:
But, as correctly pointed out by the respondent Court of Appeals, Dr. Aliwalas title to the property having become incontrovertible, such may no
longer be collaterally attacked. If indeed there had been any fraud or misrepresentation in obtaining the title, an action for reversion instituted by
the Solicitor General would be the proper remedy (Sec. 101, C.A. No. 141; Director of Lands v. Jugado, G.R. No. L-14702, May 21, 1961, 2 SCRA 32;
Lopez v. Padilla, supra). (p. 204).
Petitioner contends that the grant of Free Patent (IV-3) 275 and the subsequent issuance of Original Certificate of Title No. P-17789 to Respondent
Josefina L. Morato were subject to the conditions provided for in Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 141. It alleges that on October 24, 1974, or nine (9)
months and eight (8) days after the grant of the patent, Respondent Morato, in violation of the terms of the patent, mortgaged a portion of the
land to Respondent Nenita Co, who thereafter constructed a house thereon. Likewise, on February 2, 1976 and within the five-year prohibitory
period, Respondent Morato leased a portion of the land to Perfecto Advincula at a monthly rent of P100.00 who, shortly thereafter, constructed a
house of concrete materials on the subject land.[9] Further, petitioner argues that the defense of indefeasibility of title is inaccurate. The original
certificate of title issued to Respondent Morato contains the seeds of its own cancellation: such certificate specifically states on its face that it is
subject to the provisions of Sections 118, 119, 121, 122, 124 of CA No. 141, as amended.[10]
Respondent Morato counters by stating that although a portion of the land was previously leased, it resulted from the fact that Perfecto Advincula
built a warehouse in the subject land without [her] prior consent. The mortgage executed over the improvement cannot be considered a violation
of the said grant since it can never affect the ownership.[11] She states further:
x x x. the appeal of the petitioner was dismissed not because of the principle of indefeasibility of title but mainly due to failure of the latter to
support and prove the alleged violations of respondent Morato. The records of this case will readily show that although petitioner was able to
establish that Morato committed some acts during the prohibitory period of 5 years, a perusal thereof will also show that what petitioner was able
to prove never constituted a violation of the grant.[12]
Respondent-Spouses Quilatan, on the other hand, state that the mortgage contract they entered into with Respondent Morato can never be
considered as [an] alienation inasmuch as the ownership over the property remains with the owner.[13] Besides, it is the director of lands and not
the Republic of the Philippines who is the real party in interest in this case, contrary to the provision of the Public Land Act which states that actions
for reversion should be instituted by the solicitor general in the name of Republic of the Philippines.[14]
We find for petitioner.
Quoted below are relevant sections of Commonwealth Act No. 141, otherwise known as the Public Land Act:
Sec. 118. Except in favor of the Government or any of its branches, units or institutions, or legally constituted banking corporations, lands acquired
under free patent or homestead provisions shall not be subject to encumbrance or alienation from the date of the approval of the application and
for a term of five years from and after the date of issuance of the patent or grant nor shall they become liable to the satisfaction of any debt
contracted prior to the expiration of said period; but the improvements or crops on the land may be mortgaged or pledged to qualified persons,
associations, or corporations.

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No alienation, transfer, or conveyance of any homestead after five years and before twenty-five years after issuance of title shall be valid without
the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which approval shall not be denied except on constitutional and legal grounds.
(As amended by Com. Act No. 456, approved June 8, 1939.)
xxxxxxxxx
Sec. 121. Except with the consent of the grantee and the approval of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and solely for educational,
religious, or charitable purposes or for a right of way, no corporation, association, or partnership may acquire or have any right, title, interest, or
property right whatsoever to any land granted under the free patent, homestead, or individual sale provisions of this Act or to any permanent
improvement on such land. (As amended by Com. Act No. 615, approved May 5, 1941)
Sec. 122. No land originally acquired in any manner under the provisions of this Act, nor any permanent improvement on such land, shall be
encumbered, alienated or transferred, except to persons, corporations, association, or partnerships who may acquire lands of the public domain
under this Act or to corporations organized in the Philippines authorized therefore by their charters.
Except in cases of hereditary successions, no land or any portion thereof originally acquired under the free patent, homestead, or individual sale
provisions of this Act, or any permanent improvement on such land, shall be transferred or assigned to any individual, nor shall such land or any
permanent improvement thereon be leased to such individual, when the area of said land, added to that of his own, shall exceed one hundred and
forty-four hectares. Any transfer, assignment, or lease made in violation hereto shall be null and void. (As amended by Com. Act No. 615, Id.)
xxxxxxxxx
Sec. 124. Any acquisition, conveyance, alienation, transfer, or other contract made or executed in violation of any of the provisions of sections one
hundred and eighteen, one hundred and twenty, one hundred and twenty-one, one hundred and twenty-two, and one hundred and twenty-three
of this Act shall be unlawful and null and void from its execution and shall produce the effect of annulling and cancelling the grant, title, patent, or
permit originally issued, recognized or confirmed, actually or presumptively, and cause the reversion of the property and its improvements to the
State. (Underscoring supplied.)
The foregoing legal provisions clearly proscribe the encumbrance of a parcel of land acquired under a free patent or homestead within five years
from the grant of such patent. Furthermore, such encumbrance results in the cancellation of the grant and the reversion of the land to the public
domain. Encumbrance has been defined as [a]nything that impairs the use or transfer of property; anything which constitutes a burden on the title;
a burden or charge upon property; a claim or lien upon property. It may be a legal claim on an estate for the discharge of which the estate is liable;
an embarrassment of the estate or property so that it cannot be disposed of without being subject to it; an estate, interest, or right in lands,
diminishing their value to the general owner; a liability resting upon an estate.[15] Do the contracts of lease and mortgage executed within five (5)
years from the issuance of the patent constitute an encumbrance and violate the terms and conditions of such patent? Respondent Court
answered in the negative:[16]
From the evidence adduced by both parties, it has been proved that the area of the portion of the land, subject matter of the lease contract (Exh.
B) executed by and between Perfecto Advincula and Josefina L. Morato is only 10 x 12 square meters, whereas the total area of the land granted to
Morato is 1,265 square meters. It is clear from this that the portion of the land leased by Advincula does not significantly affect Moratos ownership
and possession. Above all, the circumstances under which the lease was executed do not reflect a voluntary and blatant intent to violate the
conditions provided for in the patent issued in her favor. On the contrary, Morato was compelled to enter into that contract of lease out of
sympathy and the goodness of her heart to accommodate a fellow man. x x x
It is indisputable, however, that Respondent Morato cannot fully use or enjoy the land during the duration of the lease contract. This restriction on
the enjoyment of her property sufficiently meets the definition of an encumbrance under Section 118 of the Public Land Act, because such contract
impairs the use of the property by the grantee. In a contract of lease which is consensual, bilateral, onerous and commutative, the owner
temporarily grants the use of his or her property to another who undertakes to pay rent therefor.[17] During the term of the lease, the grantee of
the patent cannot enjoy the beneficial use of the land leased. As already observed, the Public Land Act does not permit a grantee of a free patent
from encumbering any portion of such land. Such encumbrance is a ground for the nullification of the award.
Moratos resort to equity, i.e. that the lease was executed allegedly out of the goodness of her heart without any intention of violating the law,
cannot help her. Equity, which has been aptly described as justice outside legality, is applied only in the absence of, and never against, statutory
law or judicial rules of procedure. Positive rules prevail over all abstract arguments based on equity contra legem.[18]
Respondents failed to justify their position that the mortgage should not be considered an encumbrance. Indeed, we do not find any support for
such contention. The questioned mortgage falls squarely within the term encumbrance proscribed by Section 118 of the Public Land Act.[19] Verily,
a mortgage constitutes a legal limitation on the estate, and the foreclosure of such mortgage would necessarily result in the auction of the
property.[20]

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Even if only part of the property has been sold or alienated within the prohibited period of five years from the issuance of the patent, such
alienation is a sufficient cause for the reversion of the whole estate to the State. As a condition for the grant of a free patent to an applicant, the
law requires that the land should not be encumbered, sold or alienated within five years from the issuance of the patent. The sale or the alienation
of part of the homestead violates that condition.[21]
The prohibition against the encumbrance -- lease and mortgage included -- of a homestead which, by analogy applies to a free patent, is mandated
by the rationale for the grant, viz.:[22]
It is well-known that the homestead laws were designed to distribute disposable agricultural lots of the State to land-destitute citizens for their
home and cultivation. Pursuant to such benevolent intention the State prohibits the sale or encumbrance of the homestead (Section 116) within
five years after the grant of the patent. After that five-year period the law impliedly permits alienation of the homestead; but in line with the
primordial purpose to favor the homesteader and his family the statute provides that such alienation or conveyance (Section 117) shall be subject
to the right of repurchase by the homesteader, his widow or heirs within five years. This section 117 is undoubtedly a complement of section 116.
It aims to preserve and keep in the family of the homesteader that portion of public land which the State had gratuitously given to him. It would,
therefore, be in keeping with this fundamental idea to hold, as we hold, that the right to repurchase exists not only when the original homesteader
makes the conveyance, but also when it is made by his widow or heirs. This construction is clearly deducible from the terms of the statute.
By express provision of Section 118 of Commonwealth Act 141 and in conformity with the policy of the law, any transfer or alienation of a free
patent or homestead within five years from the issuance of the patent is proscribed. Such transfer nullifies said alienation and constitutes a cause
for the reversion of the property to the State.
The prohibition against any alienation or encumbrance of the land grant is a proviso attached to the approval of every application.[23] Prior to the
fulfillment of the requirements of law, Respondent Morato had only an inchoate right to the property; such property remained part of the public
domain and, therefore, not susceptible to alienation or encumbrance. Conversely, when a homesteader has complied with all the terms and
conditions which entitled him to a patent for [a] particular tract of public land, he acquires a vested interest therein and has to be regarded an
equitable owner thereof.[24] However, for Respondent Moratos title of ownership over the patented land to be perfected, she should have
complied with the requirements of the law, one of which was to keep the property for herself and her family within the prescribed period of five
(5) years. Prior to the fulfillment of all requirements of the law, Respondent Moratos title over the property was incomplete. Accordingly, if the
requirements are not complied with, the State as the grantor could petition for the annulment of the patent and the cancellation of the title.
Respondent Morato cannot use the doctrine of the indefeasibility of her Torrens title to bar the state from questioning its transfer or
encumbrance. The certificate of title issued to her clearly stipulated that its award was subject to the conditions provided for in Sections 118, 119,
121, 122 and 124 of Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 141. Because she violated Section 118, the reversion of the property to the public domain
necessarily follows, pursuant to Section 124.
Second Issue: Foreshore Land Reverts to the Public Domain
There is yet another reason for granting this petition.
Although Respondent Court found that the subject land was foreshore land, it nevertheless sustained the award thereof to Respondent
Morato:[25]
First of all, the issue here is whether the land in question, is really part of the foreshore lands. The Supreme Court defines foreshore land in the
case of Republic vs. Alagad, 169 SCRA 455, 464, as follows:
Otherwise, where the rise in water level is due to, the extraordinary action of nature, rainful, for instance, the portions inundated thereby are not
considered part of the bed or basin of the body of water in question. It cannot therefore be said to be foreshore land but land outside of the public
dominion, and land capable of registration as private property.
A foreshore land, on the other hand has been defined as follows:
... that part of (the land) which is between high and low water and left dry by the flux and reflux of the tides x x x x (Republic vs. C.A., Nos. L-43105,
L-43190, August 31, 1984, 131 SCRA 532; Government vs. Colegio de San Jose, 53 Phil 423)
The strip of land that lies between the high and low water marks and that is alternatively wet and dry according to the flow of the tide. (Rep. vs. CA,
supra, 539).
The factual findings of the lower court regarding the nature of the parcel of land in question reads:
Evidence disclose that the marginal area of the land radically changed sometime in 1937 up to 1955 due to a strong earthquake followed by
frequent storms eventually eroding the land. From 1955 to 1968, however, gradual reclamation was undertaken by the lumber company owned by

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the Moratos. Having thus restored the land thru mostly human hands employed by the lumber company, the area continued to be utilized by the
owner of the sawmill up to the time of his death in 1965. On or about March 17, 1973, there again was a strong earthquake unfortunately causing
destruction to hundreds of residential houses fronting the Calauag Bay including the Santiago Building, a cinema house constructed of concrete
materials. The catastrophe totally caused the sinking of a concrete bridge at Sumulong river also in the municipality of Calauag, Quezon.
On November 13, 1977 a typhoon code named Unding wrought havoc as it lashed the main land of Calauag, Quezon causing again great erosion
this time than that which the area suffered in 1937. The Court noted with the significance of the newspaper clipping entitled Baryo ng Mangingisda
Kinain ng Dagat (Exh. 11).
xxxxxxxxx
Evidently this was the condition of the land when on or about December 5, 1972 defendant Josefina L. Morato filed with the Bureau of Lands her
free patent application. The defendant Josefina Morato having taken possession of the land after the demise of Don Tomas Morato, she introduced
improvement and continued developing the area, planted it to coconut trees. Having applied for a free patent, defendant had the land area
surveyed and an approved plan (Exh. 9) based on the cadastral survey as early as 1927 (Exh. 10) was secured. The area was declared for taxation
purposes in the name of defendant Josefina Morato denominated as Tax Declaration No. 4115 (Exh. 8) and the corresponding realty taxes
religiously paid as shown by Exh. 8-A). (pp. 12-14, DECISION).
Being supported by substantial evidence and for failure of the appellant to show cause which would warrant disturbance, the afore-cited findings
of the lower court, must be respected.
Petitioner correctly contends, however, that Private Respondent Morato cannot own foreshore land:
Through the encroachment or erosion by the ebb and flow of the tide, a portion of the subject land was invaded by the waves and sea advances.
During high tide, at least half of the land (632.5 square meters) is 6 feet deep under water and three (3) feet deep during low tide. The Calauag Bay
shore has extended up to a portion of the questioned land.
While at the time of the grant of free patent to respondent Morato, the land was not reached by the water, however, due to gradual sinking of the
land caused by natural calamities, the sea advances had permanently invaded a portion of subject land. As disclosed at the trial, through the
testimony of the court-appointed commissioner, Engr. Abraham B. Pili, the land was under water during high tide in the month of August 1978. The
water margin covers half of the property, but during low tide, the water is about a kilometer (TSN, July 19, 1979, p. 12). Also, in 1974, after the
grant of the patent, the land was covered with vegetation, but it disappeared in 1978 when the land was reached by the tides (Exhs. E-1; E-14). In
fact, in its decision dated December 28, 1983, the lower court observed that the erosion of the land was caused by natural calamities that struck
the place in 1977 (Cf. Decision, pp. 17-18).[26]
Respondent-Spouses Quilatan argue, however, that it is unfair and unjust if Josefina Morato will be deprived of the whole property just because a
portion thereof was immersed in water for reasons not her own doing.[27]
As a general rule, findings of facts of the Court of Appeals are binding and conclusive upon this Court, unless such factual findings are palpably
unsupported by the evidence on record or unless the judgment itself is based on a misapprehension of facts.[28] The application for a free patent
was made in 1972. From the undisputed factual findings of the Court of Appeals, however, the land has since become foreshore. Accordingly, it can
no longer be subject of a free patent under the Public Land Act. Government of the Philippine Islands vs. Cabagis[29] explained the rationale for
this proscription:
Article 339, subsection 1, of the Civil Code, reads:
Art. 339. Property of public ownership is
1. That devoted to public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State, riverbanks, shores, roadsteads, and
that of a similar character.
********
Article 1, case 3, of the Law of Waters of August 3, 1866, provides as follows:
ARTICLE 1. The following are part of the national domain open to public use:
********

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3. The Shores. By the shore is understood that space covered and uncovered by the movement of the tide. Its interior or terrestrial limit is the line
reached by the highest equinoctal tides. Where the tides are not appreciable, the shore begins on the land side at the line reached by the sea
during ordinary storms or tempests.
In the case of Aragon vs. Insular Government (19 Phil. 223), with reference to article 339 of the Civil Code just quoted, this Court said:
We should not be understood, by this decision, to hold that in a case of gradual encroachment or erosion by the ebb and flow of the tide, private
property may not become property of public ownership. as defined in article 339 of the code, where it appear that the owner has to all intents and
purposes abandoned it and permitted it to be totally destroyed, so as to become a part of the playa (shore of the sea), rada (roadstead), or the like.
***
In the Enciclopedia Jurdica Espaola, volume XII, page 558, we read the following:
With relative frequency the opposite phenomenon occurs; that is, the sea advances and private properties are permanently invaded by the waves,
and in this case they become part of the shore or beach. They then pass to the public domain, but the owner thus dispossessed does not retain any
right to the natural products resulting from their new nature; it is a de facto case of eminent domain, and not subject to indemnity.
In comparison, Article 420 of the Civil Code provides:
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.
When the sea moved towards the estate and the tide invaded it, the invaded property became foreshore land and passed to the realm of the
public domain. In fact, the Court in Government vs. Cabangis[30] annulled the registration of land subject of cadastral proceedings when the parcel
subsequently became foreshore land.[31] In another case, the Court voided the registration decree of a trial court and held that said court had no
jurisdiction to award foreshore land to any private person or entity.[32] The subject land in this case, being foreshore land, should therefore be
returned to the public domain.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. This Court hereby REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the assailed Decision of Respondent Court and ORDERS the
CANCELLATION of Free Patent No. (IV-3) 275 issued to Respondent Morato and the subsequent Original Certificate of Title No. P-17789. The subject
land therefore REVERTS to the State. No costs.
SO ORDERED.
EN BANC
G.R. No. 133250

May 6, 2003

FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ, petitioner,


vs.
PUBLIC ESTATES AUTHORITY and AMARI COASTAL BAY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, respondents.
RESOLUTION
CARPIO, J.:
For resolution of the Court are the following motions: (1) Motion to Inhibit and for Re-Deliberation filed by respondent Amari Coastal Bay
Development Corporation ("Amari" for brevity) on September 13, 2002; (2) Motion to Set Case for Hearing on Oral Argument filed by Amari on
August 20, 2002; (3) Motion for Reconsideration and Supplement to Motion for Reconsideration filed by Amari on July 26, 2002 and August 20,
2002, respectively; (4) Motion for Reconsideration and Supplement to Motion for Reconsideration filed by respondent Public Estates Authority
("PEA" for brevity) on July 26, 2002 and August 8, 2002, respectively; and (5) Motion for Reconsideration and/or Clarification filed by the Office of
the Solicitor General on July 25, 2002. Petitioner Francisco I. Chavez filed on November 13, 2002 his Consolidated Opposition to the main and
supplemental motions for reconsideration.
To recall, the Courts decision of July 9, 2002 ("Decision" for brevity) on the instant case states in its summary:
We can now summarize our conclusions as follows:
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 domain. PEA may lease these lands to private corporations but may not sell or transfer ownership of these

18

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lands to private corporations. PEA may only sell these lands to Philippine citizens, subject to the ownership limitations in the 1987
Constitution and existing laws.
2. The 592.15 hectares of submerged areas of Manila Bay remain inalienable natural resources of the public domain until classified as
alienable or disposable lands open to disposition and declared no longer needed for public service. The government can make such
classification and declaration only after PEA has reclaimed these submerged areas. Only then can these lands qualify as agricultural lands
of the public domain, which are the only natural resources the government can alienate. In their present state, the 592.15 hectares of
submerged areas are inalienable and outside the commerce of man.
3. Since the Amended JVA seeks to transfer to AMARI, a private corporation, ownership of 77.34 hectares of the Freedom Islands, such
transfer is void for being contrary to Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits private corporations from acquiring
any kind of alienable land of the public domain.
4. Since the Amended JVA also seeks to transfer to AMARI ownership of 290.156 hectares of still submerged areas of Manila Bay, such
transfer is void for being contrary to Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which prohibits the alienation of natural resources
other than agricultural lands of the public domain. PEA may reclaim these submerged areas. Thereafter, the government can classify the
reclaimed lands as alienable or disposable, and further declare them no longer needed for public service. Still, the transfer of such
reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain to AMARI will be void in view of Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution which
prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain.
Clearly, the Amended JVA violates glaringly Sections 2 and 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. Under Article 1409 of the Civil Code, contracts
whose "object or purpose is contrary to law," or whose "object is outside the commerce of men," are "inexistent and void from the beginning." The
Court must perform its duty to defend and uphold the Constitution, and therefore declares the Amended JVA null and void ab initio.
Amari seeks the inhibition of Justice Antonio T. Carpio, ponente of the Decision, on the ground that Justice Carpio, before his appointment to the
Court, wrote in his Manila Times column of July 1, 1997, "I have always maintained that the law requires the public bidding of reclamation
projects." Justice Carpio, then a private law practitioner, also stated in the same column, "The Amari-PEA reclamation contract is legally flawed
because it was not bid out by the PEA." Amari claims that because of these statements Justice Carpio should inhibit himself "on the grounds of bias
and prejudgment" and that the instant case should be "re-deliberated" after being assigned to a new ponente.
The motion to inhibit Justice Carpio must be denied for three reasons. First, the motion to inhibit came after Justice Carpio had already rendered
his opinion on the merits of the case. The rule is that a motion to inhibit must be denied if filed after a member of the Court had already given an
1
opinion on the merits of the case, the rationale being that "a litigant cannot be permitted to speculate upon the action of the Court xxx (only to)
raise an objection of this sort after a decision has been rendered." Second, as can be readily gleaned from the summary of the Decision quoted
above, the absence of public bidding is not one of the ratio decidendi of the Decision which is anchored on violation of specific provisions of the
Constitution. The absence of public bidding was not raised as an issue by the parties. The absence of public bidding was mentioned in the Decision
only to complete the discussion on the law affecting reclamation contracts for the guidance of public officials. At any rate, the Office of the Solicitor
General in its Motion for Reconsideration concedes that the absence of public bidding in the disposition of the Freedom Islands rendered the
2
Amended JVA null and void. Third, judges and justices are not disqualified from participating in a case just because they have written legal articles
3
on the law involved in the case. As stated by the Court in Republic v. Cocofed, The mere fact that, as a former columnist, Justice Carpio has written on the coconut levy will not disqualify him, in the same manner that
jurists will not be disqualified just because they may have given their opinions as textbook writers on the question involved in a case.
Besides, the subject and title of the column in question was "The CCP reclamation project" and the column referred to the Amari-PEA contract only
in passing in one sentence.
Amaris motion to set the case for oral argument must also be denied since the pleadings of the parties have discussed exhaustively the issues
involved in the case.
The motions for reconsideration reiterate mainly the arguments already discussed in the Decision. We shall consider in this Resolution only the
new arguments raised by respondents.
In its Supplement to Motion for Reconsideration, Amari argues that the Decision should be made to apply prospectively, not retroactively to cover
the Amended JVA. Amari argues that the existence of a statute or executive order prior to its being adjudged void is an operative fact to which legal
4
consequences are attached, citing De Agbayani v. PNB, thus:
x x x. It does not admit of doubt that prior to the declaration of nullity such challenged legislative or executive act must have been in
force and had to be complied with. This is so as until after the judiciary, in an appropriate case, declares its invalidity, it is entitled to
obedience and respect. Parties may have acted under it and may have changed their positions. What could be more fitting than that in a
subsequent litigation regard be had to what has been done while such legislative or executive act was in operation and presumed to be
valid in all respects. It is now accepted as a doctrine that prior to its being nullified, its existence as a fact must be reckoned with. This is
merely to reflect awareness that precisely because the judiciary is the governmental organ which has the final say on whether or not a
legislative or executive measure is valid, a period of time may have elapsed before it can exercise the power of judicial review that may
lead to a declaration of nullity. It would be to deprive the law of its quality of fairness and justice then, if there be no recognition of what
had transpired prior to such adjudication.

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In the language of an American Supreme Court decision: "The actual existence of a statute, prior to such a determination [of
unconstitutionality], is an operative fact and may have consequences which cannot justly be ignored. The past cannot always be erased
by a new judicial declaration. The effect of the subsequent ruling as to invalidity may have to be considered in various aspects, - with
respect to particular relations, individual and corporate, and particular conduct, private and official." This language has been quoted with
approval in a resolution in Araneta v. Hill and the decision in Manila Motor Co., Inc. v. Flores. x x x.
xxx
x x x That before the decision they were not constitutionally infirm was admitted expressly. There is all the more reason then to yield
assent to the now prevailing principle that the existence of a statute or executive order prior to its being adjudged void is an operative
fact to which legal consequences are attached.
Amari now claims that "assuming arguendo that Presidential Decree Nos. 1084 and 1085, and Executive Order Nos. 525 and 654 are
inconsistent with the 1987 Constitution, the limitation imposed by the Decision on these decrees and executive orders should only be
applied prospectively from the finality of the Decision."
Amari likewise asserts that a new doctrine of the Court cannot operate retroactively if it impairs vested rights. Amari maintains that the new
doctrine embodied in the Decision cannot apply retroactively on those who relied on the old doctrine in good faith, citing Spouses Benzonan v.
5
Court of Appeals, thus:
At that time, the prevailing jurisprudence interpreting section 119 of R.A. 141 as amended was that enunciated in Monge and Tupas cited
above. The petitioners Benzonan and respondent Pe and the DBP are bound by these decisions for pursuant to Article 8 of the Civil Code
"judicial decisions applying or interpreting the laws or the Constitution shall form a part of the legal system of the Philippines." But while
our decisions form part of the law of the land, they are also subject to Article 4 of the Civil Code which provides that "laws shall have no
retroactive effect unless the contrary is provided." This is expressed in the familiar legal maxim lex prospicit, non respicit, the law looks
forward not backward. The rationale against retroactivity is easy to perceive. The retroactive application of a law usually divests rights
that have already become vested or impairs the obligations of contract and hence, is unconstitutional (Francisco v. Certeza, 3 SCRA 565
[1961]).
The same consideration underlies our rulings giving only prospective effect to decisions enunciating new doctrines. Thus, we emphasized in People
v. Jabinal, 55 SCRA 607 [1974] "x x x when a doctrine of this Court is overruled and a different view is adopted, the new doctrine should be applied
prospectively and should not apply to parties who had relied on the old doctrine and acted on the faith thereof.
There may be special cases where weighty considerations of equity and social justice will warrant a retroactive application of doctrine to temper
the harshness of statutory law as it applies to poor farmers or their widows and orphans. In the present petitions, however, we find no such
equitable considerations. Not only did the private respondent apply for free agricultural land when he did not need it and he had no intentions of
applying it to the noble purposes behind the law, he would now repurchase for only P327,995.00, the property purchased by the petitioners in
good faith for P1,650,000.00 in 1979 and which, because of improvements and the appreciating value of land must be worth more than that
amount now.
The buyers in good faith from DBP had a right to rely on our rulings in Monge and Tupas when they purchased the property from DBP in 1979 or
thirteen (13) years ago. Under the rulings in these two cases, the period to repurchase the disputed lot given to respondent Pe expired on June 18,
1982. He failed to exercise his right. His lost right cannot be revived by relying on the 1988 case of Belisario. The right of petitioners over the
subject lot had already become vested as of that time and cannot be impaired by the retroactive application of the Belisario ruling.
Amaris reliance on De Agbayani and Spouses Benzonan is misplaced. These cases would apply if the prevailing law or doctrine at the time of the
signing of the Amended JVA was that a private corporation could acquire alienable lands of the public domain, and the Decision annulled the law or
reversed this doctrine. Obviously, this is not the case here.
Under the 1935 Constitution, private corporations were allowed to acquire alienable lands of the public domain. But since the effectivity of the
1973 Constitution, private corporations were banned from holding, except by lease, alienable lands of the public domain. The 1987 Constitution
continued this constitutional prohibition. The prevailing law before, during and after the signing of the Amended JVA is that private corporations
cannot hold, except by lease, alienable lands of the public domain. The Decision has not annulled or in any way changed the law on this matter. The
Decision, whether made retroactive or not, does not change the law since the Decision merely reiterates the law that prevailed since the effectivity
of the 1973 Constitution. Thus, De Agbayani, which refers to a law that is invalidated by a decision of the Court, has no application to the instant
case.
Likewise, Spouses Benzonan is inapplicable because it refers to a doctrine of the Court that is overruled by a subsequent decision which adopts a
new doctrine. In the instant case, there is no previous doctrine that is overruled by the Decision. Since the case of Manila Electric Company v. Judge
6
Castro-Bartolome, decided on June 29, 1982, the Court has applied consistently the constitutional provision that private corporations cannot hold,
except by lease, alienable lands of the public domain. The Court reiterated this in numerous cases, and the only dispute in the application of this
7
constitutional provision is whether the land in question had already become private property before the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution. If the
land was already private land before the 1973 Constitution because the corporation had possessed it openly, continuously, exclusively and
adversely for at least thirty years since June 12, 1945 or earlier, then the corporation could apply for judicial confirmation of its imperfect title. But
if the land remained public land upon the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution, then the corporation could never hold, except by lease, such public
land. Indisputably, the Decision does not overrule any previous doctrine of the Court.

20

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The prevailing doctrine before, during and after the signing of the Amended JVA is that private corporations cannot hold, except by lease, alienable
lands of the public domain. This is one of the two main reasons why the Decision annulled the Amended JVA. The other main reason is that
submerged areas of Manila Bay, being part of the sea, are inalienable and beyond the commerce of man, a doctrine that has remained immutable
since the Spanish Law on Waters of 1886. Clearly, the Decision merely reiterates, and does not overrule, any existing judicial doctrine.
Even on the characterization of foreshore lands reclaimed by the government, the Decision does not overrule existing law or doctrine. Since the
adoption of the Regalian doctrine in this jurisdiction, the sea and its foreshore areas have always been part of the public domain. And since the
enactment of Act No. 1654 on May 18, 1907 until the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution, statutory law never allowed foreshore lands reclaimed by
the government to be sold to private corporations. The 1973 and 1987 Constitution enshrined and expanded the ban to include any alienable land
of the public domain.
There are, of course, decisions of the Court which, while recognizing a violation of the law or Constitution, hold that the sale or transfer of the land
8
may no longer be invalidated because of "weighty considerations of equity and social justice." The invalidation of the sale or transfer may also be
superfluous if the purpose of the statutory or constitutional ban has been achieved. But none of these cases apply to Amari.
Thus, the Court has ruled consistently that where a Filipino citizen sells land to an alien who later sells the land to a Filipino, the invalidity of the
9
first transfer is corrected by the subsequent sale to a citizen. Similarly, where the alien who buys the land subsequently acquires Philippine
10
citizenship, the sale is validated since the purpose of the constitutional ban to limit land ownership to Filipinos has been achieved. In short, the
law disregards the constitutional disqualification of the buyer to hold land if the land is subsequently transferred to a qualified party, or the buyer
himself becomes a qualified party. In the instant case, however, Amari has not transferred the Freedom Islands, or any portion of it, to any
11
qualified party. In fact, Amari admits that title to the Freedom Islands still remains with PEA.
The Court has also ruled consistently that a sale or transfer of the land may no longer be questioned under the principle of res judicata, provided
12
the requisites for res judicata are present. Under this principle, the courts and the parties are bound by a prior final decision, otherwise there will
13
be no end to litigation. As the Court declared in Toledo-Banaga v. Court of Appeals, "once a judgement has become final and executory, it can no
longer be disturbed no matter how erroneous it may be." In the instant case, there is no prior final decision adjudicating the Freedom Islands to
Amari.
There are, moreover, special circumstances that disqualify Amari from invoking equity principles. Amari cannot claim good faith because even
before Amari signed the Amended JVA on March 30, 1999, petitioner had already filed the instant case on April 27, 1998 questioning precisely the
14
qualification of Amari to acquire the Freedom Islands. Even before the filing of this petition, two Senate Committees had already approved on
September 16, 1997 Senate Committee Report No. 560. This Report concluded, after a well-publicized investigation into PEAs sale of the Freedom
Islands to Amari, that the Freedom Islands are inalienable lands of the public domain. Thus, Amari signed the Amended JVA knowing and assuming
all the attendant risks, including the annulment of the Amended JVA.
Amari has also not paid to PEA the full reimbursement cost incurred by PEA in reclaiming the Freedom Islands. Amari states that it has paid PEA
15
only P300,000,000.00 out of the P1,894,129,200.00 total reimbursement cost agreed upon in the Amended JVA. Moreover, Amari does not claim
to have even initiated the reclamation of the 592.15 hectares of submerged areas covered in the Amended JVA, or to have started to construct any
permanent infrastructure on the Freedom Islands. In short, Amari does not claim to have introduced any physical improvement or development on
the reclamation project that is the subject of the Amended JVA. And yet Amari claims that it had already spent a "whopping P9,876,108,638.00" as
16
its total development cost as of June 30, 2002. Amari does not explain how it spent the rest of the P9,876,108,638.00 total project cost after
paying PEA P300,000,000.00. Certainly, Amari cannot claim to be an innocent purchaser in good faith and for value.
In its Supplement to Motion for Reconsideration, PEA claims that it is "similarly situated" as the Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA)
which under R.A. No. 7227 is tasked to sell portions of the Metro Manila military camps and other military reservations. PEAs comparison is
incorrect. The Decision states as follows:
As the central implementing agency tasked to undertake reclamation projects nationwide, with authority to sell reclaimed lands, PEA
took the place of DENR as the government agency charged with leasing or selling reclaimed lands of the public domain. The reclaimed
lands being leased or sold by PEA are not private lands, in the same manner that DENR, when it disposes of other alienable lands, does
not dispose of private lands but alienable lands of the public domain. Only when qualified private parties acquire these lands will the
lands become private lands. In the hands of the government agency tasked and authorized to dispose of alienable or disposable lands of
the public domain, these lands are still public, not private lands.
PEA is the central implementing agency tasked to undertake reclamation projects nationwide. PEA took the place of Department of
Environment and Natural Resources ("DENR" for brevity) as the government agency charged with leasing or selling all reclaimed lands of
the public domain. In the hands of PEA, which took over the leasing and selling functions of DENR, reclaimed foreshore lands are public
lands in the same manner that these same lands would have been public lands in the hands of DENR. BCDA is an entirely different
government entity. BCDA is authorized by law to sell specific government lands that have long been declared by presidential
proclamations as military reservations for use by the different services of the armed forces under the Department of National Defense.
BCDAs mandate is specific and limited in area, while PEAs mandate is general and national. BCDA holds government lands that have
been granted to end-user government entities the military services of the armed forces. In contrast, under Executive Order No. 525,
PEA holds the reclaimed public lands, not as an end-user entity, but as the government agency "primarily responsible for integrating,
directing, and coordinating all reclamation projects for and on behalf of the National Government."

21

17

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In Laurel v. Garcia, cited in the Decision, the Court ruled that land devoted to public use by the Department of Foreign Affairs, when no longer
needed for public use, may be declared patrimonial property for sale to private parties provided there is a law authorizing such act. Well-settled is
the doctrine that public land granted to an end-user government agency for a specific public use may subsequently be withdrawn by Congress from
public use and declared patrimonial property to be sold to private parties. R.A. No. 7227 creating the BCDA is a law that declares specific military
reservations no longer needed for defense or military purposes and reclassifies such lands as patrimonial property for sale to private parties.
Government owned lands, as long they are patrimonial property, can be sold to private parties, whether Filipino citizens or qualified private
18
corporations. Thus, the so-called Friar Lands acquired by the government under Act No. 1120 are patrimonial property which even private
corporations can acquire by purchase. Likewise, reclaimed alienable lands of the public domain if sold or transferred to a public or municipal
corporation for a monetary consideration become patrimonial property in the hands of the public or municipal corporation. Once converted to
patrimonial property, the land may be sold by the public or municipal corporation to private parties, whether Filipino citizens or qualified private
corporations.
We reiterate what we stated in the Decision is the rationale for treating PEA in the same manner as DENR with respect to reclaimed foreshore
lands, thus:
To allow vast areas of reclaimed lands of the public domain to be transferred to PEA as private lands will sanction a gross violation of the
constitutional ban on private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. PEA will simply turn around, as
PEA has now done under the Amended JVA, and transfer several hundreds of hectares of these reclaimed and still to be reclaimed lands
to a single private corporation in only one transaction. This scheme will effectively nullify the constitutional ban in Section 3, Article XII of
the 1987 Constitution which was intended to diffuse equitably the ownership of alienable lands of the public domain among Filipinos,
now numbering over 80 million strong.
This scheme, if allowed, can even be applied to alienable agricultural lands of the public domain since PEA can "acquire x x x any and all kinds of
lands." This will open the floodgates to corporations and even individuals acquiring hundreds, if not thousands, of hectares of alienable lands of the
public domain under the guise that in the hands of PEA these lands are private lands. This will result in corporations amassing huge landholdings
never before seen in this country - creating the very evil that the constitutional ban was designed to prevent. This will completely reverse the clear
direction of constitutional development in this country. The 1935 Constitution allowed private corporations to acquire not more than 1,024
hectares of public lands. The 1973 Constitution prohibited private corporations from acquiring any kind of public land, and the 1987 Constitution
has unequivocally reiterated this prohibition.
Finally, the Office of the Solicitor General and PEA argue that the cost of reclaiming deeply submerged areas is "enormous" and "it would be
19
difficult for PEA to accomplish such project without the participation of private corporations." The Decision does not bar private corporations
from participating in reclamation projects and being paid for their services in reclaiming lands. What the Decision prohibits, following the explicit
constitutional mandate, is for private corporations to acquire reclaimed lands of the public domain. There is no prohibition on the directors,
officers and stockholders of private corporations, if they are Filipino citizens, from acquiring at public auction reclaimed alienable lands of the
public domain. They can acquire not more than 12 hectares per individual, and the land thus acquired becomes private land.
Despite the nullity of the Amended JVA, Amari is not precluded from recovering from PEA in the proper proceedings, on a quantum meruit basis,
whatever Amari may have incurred in implementing the Amended JVA prior to its declaration of nullity.
WHEREFORE, finding the Motions for Reconsideration to be without merit, the same are hereby DENIED with FINALITY. The Motion to Inhibit and
for Re-Deliberation and the Motion to Set Case for Hearing on Oral Argument are likewise DENIED.
SO ORDERED.
EN BANC
G.R. No. 103882 November 25, 1998
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,
vs.
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS AND REPUBLIC REAL ESTATE CORPORATION, respondents, CULTURAL CENTER OF THE PHILIPPINES,
intervenor.
G.R. No. 105276 November 25, 1998
PASAY CITY AND REPUBLIC REAL ESTATE CORPORATION, petitioners,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents.

PURISIMA, J.:
At bar are two consolidated petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules of Court. Here, the Court is confronted with a case
commenced before the then Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Rizal in Pasay City, in 1961, more than 3 decades back, that has
spanned six administrations of the Republic and outlasted the tenure of ten (10) Chief Justices of the Supreme Court.

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In G.R. No. 103882, the Republic of the Philippines, as petitioner, assails the Decision, dated January 29, 1992 and Amended Decision, dated April
1
28, 1992, of the Court of Appeals which affirmed with modification the Decision of the former Court of First Instance of Rizal (Branch 7, Pasay City)
in Civil Case No. 2229-P, entitled "Republic of the Philippines vs. Pasay City and Republic Real Estate Corporation".
The facts that matter are, as follows:
Republic Act No. 1899 ("RA 1899"), which was approved on June 22, 1957, authorized the reclamation of foreshore lands by chartered cities and
municipalities. Section I of said law, reads:
Sec. 1. Authority is hereby granted to all municipalities and chartered cities to undertake and carry out at their own expense the
reclamation by dredging, filling, or other means, of any foreshore lands bordering them, and to establish, provide, construct, maintain
and repair proper and adequate docking and harbor facilities as such municipalities and chartered cities may determine in consultation
with the Secretary of Finance and the Secretary of Public Works and Communications.
On May 6, 1958, invoking the a forecited provision of RA 1899, the Pasay City Council passed Ordinance No. 121, for the reclamation of Three
Hundred (300) hectares of foreshore lands in Pasay City, empowering the City Mayor to award and enter into reclamation contracts, and
prescribing terms and conditions therefor. The said Ordinance was amended on April 21, 1959 by Ordinance No. 158, which authorized the
Republic Real Estate Corporation ("RREC") to reclaim foreshore lands of Pasay City under certain terms and conditions.
2

On April 24, 1959, Pasay City and RREC entered into an Agreement for the reclamation of the foreshore lands in Pasay City.
3

On December 19, 1961, the Republic of the Philippines ("Republic") filed a Complaint for Recovery of Possession and Damages with Writ of
Preliminary Preventive injunction and Mandatory Injunction, docketed as Civil Case No. 2229-P before the former Court of First Instance of Rizal,
(Branch 7, Pasay City).
4

On March 5, 1962, the Republic of the Philippines filed an Amended Complaint questioning subject Agreement between Pasay City and RREC
(Exhibit "P") on the grounds that the subject-matter of such Agreement is outside the commerce of man, that its terms and conditions are violative
of RA 1899, and that the said Agreement was executed without any public bidding.
5

The Answers of RREC and Pasay City, dated March 10 and March 14, 1962, respectively, averred that the subject-matter of said Agreement is
within the commerce of man, that the phrase "foreshore lands" within the contemplation of RA 1899 has a broader meaning than the cited
definition of the term in the Words and Phrases and in the Webster's Third New International Dictionary and the plans and specifications of the
reclamation involved were approved by the authorities concerned.
6

On April 26,1962, Judge Angel H. Mojica, (now deceased) of the former Court of First Instance of Rizal (Branch 7, Pasay City) issued an Order the
dispositive portion of which was to the following effect:
WHEREFORE, the court hereby orders the defendants, their agents, and all persons claiming under them, to refrain from
"further reclaiming or committing acts of dispossession or dispoilation over any area within the Manila Bay or the Manila Bay
Beach Resort", until further orders of the court.
7

On the following day, the same trial court issued a writ of preliminary injunction which enjoined the defendants, RREC and Pasay City, their
agents, and all persons claiming under them "from further reclaiming or committing acts of dispossession."
8

Thereafter, a Motion to Intervene , dated June 27, 1962, was filed by Jose L. Bautista, Emiliano Custodio, Renato Custodio, Roger de la Rosa, Belen
Gonzales, Norma Martiner, Emilia E. Paez, Ambrosio R. Parreno, Antolin M. Oreta, Sixto L. Orosa, Pablo S. Sarmiento, Jesus Yujuico, Zamora
Enterprises, Inc., Industrial and Commercial Factors, Inc., Metropolitan Distributors of the Philippines, and Bayview Hotel, Inc. stating inter alia that
they were buyers of lots in the Manila Bay area being reclaimed by RREC, whose rights would be affected by whatever decision to be rendered in
9
the case. The Motion was granted by the trial court and the Answer attached thereto admitted.
The defendants and the intervenors then moved to dismiss
which reads:

10

the Complaint of the Republic, placing reliance on Section 3 of Republic Act No. 5187,

Sec. 3. Miscellaneous Projects


xxx xxx xxx
m. For the construction of seawall and limited access highway from the south boundary of the City of Manila to Cavite City, to the south,
and from the north boundary of the City of Manila to the municipality of Mariveles, province of Bataan, to the north, including the
reclamation of the foreshore and submerged areas: Provided, That priority in the construction of such seawalls, highway and attendant
reclamation works shall be given to any corporation and/or corporations that may offer to undertake at its own expense such projects, in
which case the President of the Philippines may, after competitive didding, award contracts for the construction of such project, with the
winning bidder shouldering all costs thereof, the same to be paid in terms of percentage fee of the contractor which shall not exceed fifty
percent of the area reclaimed by the contractor and shall represent full compensation for the purpose, the provisions of the Public Land
Law concerning disposition of reclaimed and foreshore lands to the contrary notwithstanding: Provided, finally, that the foregoing
provisions and those of other laws, executive orders, rules and regulations to the contrary notwithstanding, existing rights, projects and/or
contracts of city or municipal governments for the reclamation of foreshore and submerged lands shall be respected. . . . . (emphasis ours).

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Since the aforecited law provides that existing contracts shall be respected, movants contended that the issues raised by the pleadings
have become "moot, academic and of no further validity or effect."
11

Meanwhile, the Pasay Law and Conscience Union, Inc. ("PLCU") moved to intervene , alleging as legal interest in the matter in litigation the
avowed purpose of the organization for the promotion of good government in Pasay City. In its Order of June 10, 1969, the lower court of origin
12
allowed the said intervention .
On March 24, 1972, the trial court of origin came out with a Decision, disposing, thus:
WHEREFORE, after carefully considering (1) the original complaint, (2) the first Amended Complaint, (3) the Answer of Defendant Republic
Real Estate Corporation to the first Amended Complaint, (4) the Answer of Defendant Pasay City to the first Amended Complaint, (5) the
Second Amended Complaint, (6) the Answer of Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation to the Second Amended Complaint, (7) the
Answer of Defendant Pasay City to the Second Amended Complaint, (8) the Memorandum in Support of Preliminary Injunction of Plaintiff,
(9) the Memorandum In Support of the Opposition to the Issuance of Preliminary Injunction of Defendant Pasay City and Defendant
Republic Real Estate Corporation, (10) the Answer in Intervention of Intervenors Bautista, et. al., (11) Plaintiff's Opposition to Motion to
Intervene, (12) the Reply to Opposition to Motion to Intervene of Intervenors Bautista, et. al., (13) the Stipulation of Facts by all the parties,
(14) the Motion for Leave to Intervene of Intervenor Pasay Law and Conscience Union, Inc., (15) the Opposition to Motion For Leave to
Intervene of Intervenors Bautista, et. al., (16) the Reply of Intervenor Pasay Law and Conscience Union, Inc., (17) the Supplement to
Opposition to Motion to Intervene of Defendant Pasay City and Republic Real Estate Corporation (18) the Complain in Intervention of
Intervenor Pasay Law and Conscience Union, Inc., (19) the Answer of Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation, (20) the Answer of
Intervenor Jose L. Bautista, et. al., to Complaint in Intervention, (21) the Motion to Dismiss of Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation,
and Intervenors Bautista, et. al., (22) the Opposition of Plaintiff to said Motion to Dismiss, (23) the Opposition of Intervenor Pasay Law and
Conscience Union, Inc., (24) the Memorandum of the Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation, (25) the Memorandum for the
Intervenor Pasay Law and Conscience Union, Inc., (26) the Manifestation of Plaintiff filed by the Office of the Solicitor General, and all the
documentary evidence by the parties to wit: (a) Plaintiff's Exhibits "A" to "YYY- 4", (b) Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation's Exhibits
"1-RREC" to "40-a" and (c) Intervenor Pasay Law and Conscience Union, Inc's., Exhibits "A-PLACU" to "C-PLACU", the Court hereby:
(1) Denies the "Motion to Dismiss" filed on January 10, 1968, by Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation and Intervenors Bautista, et. al.,
as it is the finding of this Court that Republic Act No. 5187 was not passed by Congress to cure any defect in the ordinance and agreement in
question and that the passage of said Republic Act No. 5187 did not make the legal issues raised in the pleadings "moot, academic and of no
further validity or effect;" and
(2) Renders judgment:
(a) dismissing the Plaintiff's Complaint;
(b) Dismissing the Complaint in Intervention of Intervenor Pasay Law and Conscience Union, Inc.,
(c) Enjoining Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation and Defendant Pasay City to have all the plans and specifications in the
reclamation approved by the Director of Public Works and to have all the contracts and sub-contracts for said reclamation awarded by
means of, and only after, public bidding; and
(d) Lifting the preliminary Injunction issued by the Court on April 26, 1962, as soon as Defendant Republic Real Estate Corporation and
Defendant Pasay City shall have submitted the corresponding plans and specifications to the Director of Public Works, and shall have
obtained approval thereof, and as soon as the corresponding public bidding for the award to the contractor and sub-contractor that will
undertake the reclamation project shall have been effected.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED. (See Court of Appeals' Decision dated January 28, 1992; pp. 6-8)
Dissatisfied with the said judgment, the Republic appealed therefrom to the Court of Appeals. However, on January 11, 1973, before the appeal
could be resolved, Presidential Decree No. 3-A issued, amending Presidential Decree No. 3, thus:
Sec. 1. Section 7 of Presidential Decree No. 3, dated September 26, 1972, is hereby amended by the addition of the following paragraphs:
The provisions of any law to the contrary notwithstanding, the reclamation of areas under water, whether foreshore or inland, shall be
limited to the National Government or any person authorized by it under a proper contract.
All reclamations made in violation of this provision shall be forfeited to the State without need of judicial action.
Contracts for reclamation still legally existing or whose validity has been accepted by the National Government shall be taken over by the
National Government on the basis of quantum meruit, for proper prosecution of the project involved by administration.
13

On November 20, 1973, the Republic and the Construction Development Corporation of the Philippines ("CDCP") signed a Contract for the
Manila-Cavite Coastal Road Project (Phases I and II) which contract included the reclamation and development of areas covered by the Agreement
between Pasay City and RREC. Then, there was issued Presidential Decree No. 1085 which transferred to the Public Estate Authority ("PEA") the
rights and obligations of the Republic of the Philippines under the contract between the Republic and CDCP.

24

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Attempts to settle amicably the dispute between representatives of the Republic, on the one hand, and those of Pasay City and RREC, on the other,
did not work out. The parties involved failed to hammer out a compromise.
On January 28, 1992, the Court of Appeals came out with a Decision

14

dismissing the appeal of the Republic and holding, thus:

WHEREFORE, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED with the following modifications:
1. The requirement by the trial court on public bidding and submission of RREC's plans specification to the Department Public Works and
Highways in order that RREC may continue the implementation of the reclamation work is deleted for being moot and academic;
2. Ordering the plaintiff-appellant to turn over to Pasay City the ownership and possession over all vacant spaces in the twenty-one
hectare area already reclaimed by Pasay City and RREC at the time it took over the same. Areas thereat over which permanent structures
has (sic) been introduced shall, including the structures, remain in the possession of the present possessor, subject to any negotiation
between Pasay City and the said present possessor, as regards the continued possession and ownership of the latter area.
3. Sustaining RREC's irrevocable option to purchase sixty (60%) percent of the Twenty-One (21) hectares of land already reclaimed by it,
to be exercised within one (1) year from the finality of this decision, at the same terms and condition embodied in the Pasay City-RREC
reclamation contract, and enjoining appellee Pasay City to respect RREC's option.
SO ORDERED.
On February 14, 1992, Pasay City and RREC presented a Motion for Reconsideration of such Decision of the Court of Appeals, contending, among
others, that RREC had actually reclaimed Fifty-Five (55) hectares, and not only Twenty-one (21) hectares, and the respondent Court of Appeals
erred in not awarding damages to them, movants.
On April 28, 1992, the Court of Appeals acted favorably on the said Motion for Reconsideration, by amending the dispositive portion of its
judgment of January 28, 1992, to read as follows:
WHEREFORE, the dispositive portion of our Decision dated January 28, 1992 is hereby AMENDED to read as follows:
1. The requirement by the trial court on public bidding and the submission of the RREC's plans and specification to the Department of
Public Works and Highways in order that RREC may continue the implementation of the reclamation work is deleted for being moot and
academic.
2. Ordering plaintiff-appellant to turn over to Pasay City the ownership and possession of the above enumerated lots (1 to 9).
3. Sustaining RREC's irrevocable option to purchase sixty (60%) percent of the land referred to in No. 2 of this dispositive portion, to be
exercised within one (1) year from the finality of this Decision, at the same terms and condition embodied in the Pasay City-RREC
reclamation contract, and enjoining Pasay City to respect RREC's irrevocable option.
SO ORDERED.
From the Decision and Amended Decision of the Court of Appeals aforementioned, the Republic of the Philippines, as well as Pasay City and RREC,
have come to this Court to seek relief, albeit with different prayers.
On September 10, 1997, the Court commissioned the former thirteenth Division of Court of Appeals to hear and receive evidence on the
controversy. The corresponding Commissioner's Report, dated November 25, 1997, was submitted and now forms part of the records.
On October 11, 1997, the Cultural Center of the Philippines ("CCP") filed a Petition in Intervention, theorizing that it has a direct interest in the case
being the owner of subject nine (9) lots titled in its (CCP) name, which the respondent Court of Appeals ordered to be turned over to Pasay City.
The CCP, as such intervenor, was allowed to present its evidence, as it did, before the Court of Appeals, which evidence has been considered in the
formulation of this disposition.
In G.R. No. 103882, the Republic of the Philippines theorizes, by way of assignment of errors, that:
I
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN UPHOLDING THE VALIDITY OF PASAY CITY ORDINANCE NO. 158 DATED APRIL 21, 1959 AND THE
RECLAMATION CONTRACT ENTERED INTO BETWEEN PASAY CITY AND RREC;
II
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN FINDING THAT RREC HAD RECLAIMED 55 HECTARES AND IN ORDERING THE TURN-OVER TO PASAY CITY
OF THE OWNERSHIP AND POSSESSION OF NINE (9) LOTS TITLED IN THE NAME OF CCP.
In G.R. No. 105276, the petitioners, Pasay City and RREC, contend, that:
I
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT DECLARING PRESIDENTIAL DECREE NO. 3-A UNCONSTITUTIONAL;
II

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LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT AWARDING DAMAGES IN FAVOR OF PASAY CITY AND RREC.
Let us first tackle the issues posed in G.R. No. 103882.
On the first question regarding the validity of Pasay City Ordinance No. 158 dated April 21, 1959 and the Agreement dated April 24, 1959 between
Pasay City and RREC, we rule in the negative.
Sec. 1 of RA 1899, reads:
Sec. 1. Authority is hereby granted to all municipalities and chartered cities to undertake and carry out at their own expense the
reclamation by dredging, filling, or other means, of any foreshore lands bordering them, and to establish, provide, construct, maintain and
repair proper and adequate docking and harbor facilities as such municipalities and chartered cities may determine in consultation with
the Secretary of Finance and the Secretary of Public Works and Communications.
15

It is the submission of the petitioner, Republic of the Philippines, that there are no foreshore lands along the seaside of Pasay City ; that what
Pasay City has are submerged or offshore areas outside the commerce of man which could not be a proper subject matter of the Agreement
between Pasay City and RREC in question as the area affected is within the National Park, known as Manila Bay Beach Resort, established under
Proclamation No. 41, dated July 5, 1954, pursuant to Act No. 3915, of which area it (Republic) has been in open, continuous and peaceful
possession since time immemorial.
Petitioner faults the respondent court for unduly expanding what may be considered "foreshore land" through the following disquisition:
The former Secretary of Justice Alejo Mabanag, in response to a request for an opinion from the then Secretary of Public Works and
Communications as to whether the term, "foreshore areas" as used in Section I of the immediately aforequoted law is that defined in
Webster's Dictionary and the Law of Waters so as to make any dredging or filling beyond its prescribed limit illegal, opined:
According to the basic letter of the Director of Public Works, the law of Waters speaks of "shore" and defines it thus: "that space
movement of the tide. Its interior or terrestrial limit in the line reached by highest equinoctial tides."
Webster's definition of foreshore reads as follows:
That part of the shore between high water and low-water marks usually fixed at the line to which the ordinary means tide flows: also, by
extension, the beach, the shore near the water's edge.
If we were to be strictly literal the term foreshore or foreshore lands should be confined to but a portion of the shore, in itself a very
limited area. (p. 6, Intervenors-appellees' brief).
Bearing in mind the (Webster's and Law of Waters) definitions of "shore" and of foreshore lands, one is struck with the apparent
inconsistency between the areas thus described and the purpose to which that area, when reclaimed under the provision of Republic Act
No. 1899, shall be devoted. Section I (of said Law) authorizes the construction thereat of "adequate docking and harbor facilities". This
purpose is repeated in Sections 3 and 4 of the Act.
And yet, it is well known fact that foreshore lands normally extend only from 10 to 20 meters along the coast. Not very much more if at
all. In fact certain parts in Manila bordering on Manila Bay, has no foreshore to speak of since the sea washes the sea wall.
It does not seem logical, then, that Congress had in mind. Webster's limited concept of foreshore when it enacted Republic Act No. 1899,
unless it intends that the wharves, piers, docks, etc. should be constructed parallel to the shore, which is impractical.
Since it is to be presumed that Congress could not have intended to enact an ineffectual measure not one that would lead to absurd
consequences, it would seem that it used "foreshore" in a sense wider in scope that defined by Webster. . . .
To said opinion on the interpretation of the R.A. 1899, plaintiff-appellant could not offer any refutation or contrary opinion. Neither can
we. In fact, the above construction is consistent with the "rule on context" in statutory construction which provides that in construing a
statute, the same must be construed as a whole. The particular words, clauses and phrases should not be studied as detached and
isolated expressions, but the whole and every part of the statute must be considered in fixing the meaning of any of its parts in order to
produce a harmonious whole (see Araneta vs. Concepcion, 99 Phil. 709). There are two reasons for this. Firstly, the force and significance
of particular expressions will largely depend upon the connection in which they are found and their relation to the general subject-matter
of the law. The legislature must be understood to have expressed its whole mind on the special object to which the legislative act is
directed but the vehicle for the expressions of that meaning is the statute, considered as one entire and continuous act, and not as an
agglomeration of unrelated clauses. Each clause or provision will be illuminated by those which are cognate to it and by the general tenor
of the whole statute and thus obscurities end ambiguities may often be cleared up by the most direct and natural means. Secondly effect
must be given, if it is possible, to every word and clause of the statute, so that nothing shall be left devoid of meaning or destitute of
force. To this end, each provision of the statute should be read in the light of the whole. For the general meaning of the legislature, as
gathered from the entire act, may often prevail over the construction which would appear to be the most natural and obvious on the face
of a particular clause. If is by this means that contradiction and repugnance between the different parts of the statute may be avoided.
(See Black, Interpretation of Laws, 2nd Ed., pp. 317-319).
Resorting to extrinsic aids, the "Explanatory Note" to House Bill No. 3830, which was subsequently enacted
as Republic Act No. 1899, reads:

26

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In order to develop and expand the Maritime Commerce of the Philippines, it is necessary that harbor facilities be correspondingly
improved and, where necessary, expanded and developed. The national government is not in a financial position to handle all this work.
On the other hand, with a greater autonomy many chartered cities and provinces are financially able to have credit position which will
allow them to undertake these projects. Some cities, such as the City of Bacolod under R.A. 161, has been authorized to reclaim
foreshore lands bordering it.
Other cities end provinces have continuously been requesting for authority to reclaim foreshore lands on the basis of the Bacolod City
pattern, and to undertake work to establish, construct on the reclaimed area and maintain such port facilities as may be necessary. In
order not to unduly delay the undertaking of these projects, and inorder to obviate the passage of individual pieces of legislation for
every chartered city and province, it is hereby recommended that the accompanying bill be approved. It covers Authority for All
chartered cities and provinces to undertake this work. . . . (emphasis supplied)
Utilizing the above explanatory note in interpreting and construing the provisions of R.A. 1899, then Secretary of Justice Mabanag
opined:
It is clear that the "Bacolod City pattern" was the basis of the enactment of the aforementioned bill of general application. This so-called
"Bacolod City pattern" appears to be composed of 3 parts, namely: Republic Ad No. 161, which grants authority to Bacolod City to
undertake or carry out . . . the reclamation . . . of any [sic] carry out the reclamation project conformably with Republic Act No. 161; and
Republic Act No. 1132 authorizing Bacolod City to contract indebtedness or to issue bonds in the amount not exceeding six million pesos to
finance the reclamation of land in said city.
Republic Act No. 161 did not in itself specify the precise space therein referred to as "foreshore" lands, but it provided that docking and
harbor facilities should be erected on the reclaimed portions thereof, while not conclusive would indicate that Congress used the word
"foreshore" in its broadest sense. Significantly, the plan of reclamation of foreshore drawn up by the Bureau of Public Works maps out an
area of approximately 1,600,000 square meters, the boundaries of which clearly extend way beyond Webster's limited concept of the term
"foreshore". As a contemporaneous construction by that branch of the Government empowered to oversee at least, the conduct of the
work, such an interpretation deserves great weight. Finally, Congress in enacting Republic Act No. 1132 (supplement to RA 161), tacitly
confirmed and approved the Bureau's interpretation of the term 'foreshore' when instead of taking the occasion to correct the Bureau of
over extending its plan, it authorized the city of Bacolod to raise the full estimated cost of reclaiming the total area covered by the plan.
The explanatory note to House Bill No. 1249 which became Republic Act No. 1132 states among the things:
The Bureau of Public Works already prepared a plan for the reclamation of about 1,600,000 square meters of land at an estimated costs of
about P6,000,000.00. The project is self-supporting because the proceeds from the sales or leases of lands so reclaimed will be more than
sufficient to cover the cost of the project.
Consequently, when Congress passed Republic Act No. 1899 in order to facilitate the reclamation by local governments of foreshore lands
on the basis of the Bacolod City pattern and in order to obviate the passage of individual pieces of legislation for every chartered city and
provinces requesting authority to undertake such projects, the lawmaking body could not have had in mind the limited area described by
Webster as "foreshore" lands. . . . .
If it was really the intention of Congress to limit the area to the strict literal meaning of "foreshore" lands which may be reclaimed by
chartered cities and municipalities, Congress would have excluded the cities of Manila, Iloilo, Cebu, Zamboanga and Davao from the
operation of RA 1899 as suggested by Senator Cuenco during the deliberation of the bill considering that these cities do not have
'foreshore' lands in the strict meaning of the term. Yet, Congress did not approve the proposed amendment of Senator Cuenco, implying
therefore, that Congress intended not to limit the area that may be reclaimed to the strict definition of "foreshore" lands.
The opinion of the then Secretary of Justice Mabanag, who was at that time the chief law officer and legal adviser of the government and
whose office is required by law to issue opinions for the guidance of the various departments of the government, there being then no
judicial interpretation to the contrary, is entitled to respect (see Bengzon vs. Secretary of Justice and Insular Auditor, 68 Phil. 912).
We are not unmindful of the Supreme Court Resolution dated February 3, 1965 in Ponce vs. Gomez (L-21870) and Ponce vs. City of Cebu (L2266), by a unanimous vote of six (6) justices (the other five (5) members deemed it unnecessary to express their view because in their
opinion the questions raised were not properly brought before the court), which in essence applied the strict dictionary meaning of
"foreshore lands" as used in RA 1899 in the case of the city of Cebu. But this was promulgated long after the then Secretary of Justice
Mabanag rendered the above opinion on November 16, 1959 and long after RREC has started the subject reclamation project.
Furthermore, as held by the lower court, Congress, after the Supreme Court issued the aforementioned Resolution, enacted RA 5187. In
Sec. 3 (m) of said law, Congress appropriated money "for the construction of the seawall and limited access highway from the South
boundary of the city of Manila to Cavite City, to the South, and from the North boundary of the city of Manila to the municipality of
Mariveles, province of Bataan, to the North (including the reclamation of foreshore and submerged areas . . . provided . . . that . . . existing
projects and/or contracts of city or municipal governments for the reclamation of foreshore and submerged lands shall be respected . . ."
This is a clear manifestation that Congress in enacting RA 1899, did not intend to limit the interpretation of the term "foreshore land" to its
dictionary meaning.
It is presumed that the legislature was acquainted with and had in mind the judicial construction given to a former statute on the subject,
and that the statute on the subject, and that the statute was enacted having in mind the judicial construction that the prior enactment had

27

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received, or in the light of such existing judicial decisions as have direct bearing upon it (see 50 Am. Jur., Sec. 321, pp. 312-313). But
notwithstanding said interpretation by the Supreme Court of RA 1899 in the Ponce cases, Congress enacted a law covering the same areas
previously embraced in a RA 1899 (as mentioned earlier, cities without foreshore lands which were sought to be excluded from the
operation of RA 1899 were not excluded), providing that respect be given the reclamation of not only foreshore lands but also of
submerged lands signifying its non-conformity to the judicial construction given to RA 1899. If Congress was in accord with the
interpretation and construction made by the Supreme Court on RA 1899, it would have mentioned reclamation of "foreshore lands" only
in RA 5187, but Congress included "submerged lands" in order to clarify the intention on the grant of authority to cities and municipalities
in the reclamation of lands bordering them as provided in RA 1899. It is, therefore, our opinion that it is actually the intention of Congress
in RA 1899 not to limit the authority granted to cities and municipalities to reclaim foreshore lands in its strict dictionary meaning but
rather in its wider scope as to include submerged lands.
The Petition is impressed with merit.
To begin with, erroneous and unsustainable is the opinion of respondent court that under RA 1899, the term "foreshore lands" includes submerged
areas. As can be gleaned from its disquisition and rationalization aforequoted, the respondent court unduly stretched and broadened the meaning
of "foreshore lands", beyond the intentment of the law, and against the recognized legal connotation of "foreshore lands". Well entrenched, to the
point of being elementary, is the rule that when the law speaks in clear and categorical language, there is no reason for interpretation or
16
construction, but only for application. So also, resort to extrinsic aids, like the records of the constitutional convention, is unwarranted, the
17
language of the law being plain and unambiguous. Then, too, opinions of the Secretary of Justice are unavailing to supplant or rectify any mistake
18
or omission in the law. To repeat, the term "foreshore lands" refers to:
The strip of land that lies between the high and low water marks and that is alternately wet and dry according to the flow of the tide.
(Words and Phrases, "Foreshore")
A strip of land margining a body of water (as a lake or stream); the part of a seashore between the low-water line usually at the seaward
margin of a low-tide terrace and the upper limit of wave wash at high tide usually marked by a beach scarp or berm. (Webster's Third
New International Dictionary)
The duty of the court is to interpret the enabling Act, RA 1899. In so doing, we cannot broaden its meaning, much less widen the coverage thereof.
If the intention of Congress were to include submerged areas, it should have provided expressly. That Congress did not so provide could only signify
the exclusion of submerged areas from the term "foreshore lands".
Neither is there any valid ground to disregard the Resolution of this Court dated February 3, 1965 in Ponce v. Gomez (L-21870) and Ponce v. City of
Cebu (L-22669) despite the enactment of Republic Act No. 5187 ("RA 5187"), the relevant portion of which, reads:
Sec. 3. Miscellaneous Projects
xxx xxx xxx
m. For the construction of seawall and limited access highway from the south boundary of the City of Manila to Cavite City, to the south,
and from the north boundary of the City of Manila to the municipality of Mariveles, province of Bataan, to the north, including the
reclamation of the foreshore and submerged areas: Provided, That priority in the construction of such seawalls, highway and attendant
reclamation works shell be given to any corporation and/or corporations that may offer to undertake at its own expense such projects, in
which case the President of the Philippines may, after competitive bidding, award contracts for the construction of such projects, with
the winning bidder shouldering all costs thereof, the same to be paid in terms of percentage fee of the contractor which shall not exceed
fifty percent of the area reclaimed by the contractor and shall represent full compensation for the purpose, the provisions of the Public
Land Law concerning disposition of reclaimed and foreshore lands to the contrary notwithstanding: Provided, finally, that the foregoing
provisions and those of other laws, executive orders, rules and regulations to the contrary notwithstanding, existing rights, projects
and/or contracts of city or municipal governments for the reclamation of foreshore and submerged lands shall be respected. . . . .
There is nothing in the foregoing provision of RA 5187 which can be interpreted to broaden the scope of "foreshore lands." The said law is not
amendatory to RA 1899. It is an Appropriations Act, entitled "AN ACT APPROPRIATING FUNDS FOR PUBLIC WORKS, SYNCHRONIZING THE SAME
WITH PREVIOUS PUBLIC WORKS APPROPRIATIONS."
All things viewed in proper perspective, we reiterate what was said in Ponce v. Gomez (L-21870) and Ponce v. City of Cebu (L-22669) that the term
"foreshore" refers to "that part of the land adjacent to the sea which is alternately covered and left dry by the ordinary flow of the tides." As
opined by this Court in said cases:
WHEREAS, six (6) members of the Court (Justices Bautista Angelo, Concepcion, Reyes, Barrera, Dizon and Jose P. Bengzon) opine that said
city ordinance and contracts are ultra vires and hence, null and void, insofar as the remaining 60% of the area aforementioned, because
the term "foreshore lands" as used in Republic Act No. 1899 should be understood in the sense attached thereto by common parlance;
(emphasis ours)
The aforesaid ruling was applied by then Secretary of Justice Claudio Teehankee, in his opinion dated December 22, 1966, in a case with analogous
facts as the present one, to wit:
December 22, 1966

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The Secretary of Agriculture
and Natural Resources
Diliman, Quezon City
Sir:
xxx xxx xxx
I. Facts
1. On January 19, 1961, pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 1899, the Municipality of Navotas enacted Ordinance No. 1
authorizing the Municipal Mayor to enter into a reclamation contract with Mr. Chuanico.
2. On March 15, 1961, a reclamation contract was concluded between the Municipality of Navotas, represented by the Municipal
Mayor, and Mr. Chuanico in accordance with the above ordinance. Thereunder, Mr. Chuanico shall be the attorney-in-fact of the
Municipality in prosecuting the reclamation project and shall advance the money needed therefor; that the actual expenses incurred
shall be deemed a loan to the Municipality; that Mr. Chuanico shall have the irrevocable option to buy 70% of the reclaimed area at
P7.00 per square meter; that he shall have the full and irrevocable powers to do any and all things necessary and proper in and about
the premises," including the power to hire necessary personnel for the prosecution of the work, purchase materials and supplies, and
purchase or lease construction machineries and equipment, but any and all contracts to be concluded by him in behalf of the
Municipality shall be submitted to public bidding.
xxx xxx xxx
3. On March 16, 1961, the Municipal Council of Navotas passed Resolution No. 22 approving and ratifying the contract.
xxx xxx xxx
III. Comments
1. The above reclamation contract was concluded on the basis of Navotas Ordinance No. 1 which, in turn, had been enacted avowedly
pursuant to Republic Act No. 1899. This being so, the contract, in order to be valid, must conform to the provisions of the said law.
By authorizing local governments "to execute by administration any reclamation work," (Republic Act No. 1899 impliedly forbids the
execution of said project by contract. Thus, in the case or Ponce et al. vs. Gomez (February 3, 1966), five justices of the Supreme Court
voted to annul the contract between Cebu Development Corporation and Cebu City for the reclamation of foreshore lands because "the
provisions of said . . . contract are not . . . in accordance with the provisions of Republic Act No. 1899," as against one Justice who opined
that the contract substantially complied with the provisions of the said law. (Five Justices expressed no opinion on this point.)
Inasmuch as the Navotas reclamation contract is substantially similar to the Cebu reclamation contract, it is believed that the former is
likewise fatally defective.
2. The Navotas reclamation project envisages the construction of a channel along the Manila Bay periphery of that town and the
reclamation of approximately 650 hectares of land from said channel to a seaward distance of one kilometer. In the basic letter it is
stated that "practically, all the 650 hectares of lands proposed to be reclaimed under the agreement" do not constitute foreshore lands
and that "the greater portion of the area . . . is in fact navigable and presently being used as a fishing harbor by deep-sea fishing
operators as well as a fishing ground of sustenance fisherman. Assuming the correctness of these averments, the Navotas reclamation
contract evidently transcends the authority granted under Republic Act No. 1899, which empowers the local governments to reclaim
nothing more than "foreshore lands, i.e., "that part of the land adjacent to the see which is alternately covered and left dry by the
ordinary flow of the tides." (26 C.J. 890.) It was for this reason that in the cited case Ponce case, the Supreme Court, by a vote of 6-0
with five Justices abstaining, declared ultra vires and void the contractual stipulation for the reclamation of submerged lands off Cebu
City, and permanently enjoined its execution under Republic Act No. 1899.
xxx xxx xxx
In accordance with the foregoing, I have the honor to submit the view that the Navotas reclamation contract is not binding and should
be disregarded for non-compliance with law.
Very truly yours,
(SGD) CLAUDIO TEEHANKEE
Secretary of Justice
The said opinion of Justice Secretary Teehankee who became Associate Justice, and later Chief Justice, of this Court, did, in our considered view,
supersede the earlier opinion of former justice Secretary Alejo Mabanag, aforestated, as the cases, in connection with which subject opinions were
sought, were with similar facts. The said Teehankee opinion accords with RA 1899.

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It bears stressing that the subject matter of Pasay City Ordinance No. 121, as amended by Ordinance No. 158, and the Agreement under attack,
have been found to be outside the intendment and scope of RA 1899, and therefore ultra vires and null and void.
What is worse, the same Agreement was vitiated by the glaring absence of a public bidding.
Obviously, there is a complete dearth of evidence to prove that RREC had really reclaimed 55 hectares. The letter of Minister Baltazar Aquino relied
upon by RREC is no proof at all that RREC had reclaimed 55 hectares. Said letter was just referring to a tentative schedule of work to be done by
RREC, even as it required RREC to submit the pertinent papers to show its supposed accomplishment, to secure approval by the Ministry of Public
Works and Highways to the reclamation plan, and to submit to a public bidding all contracts and sub-contracts for subject reclamation project but
RREC never complied with such requirements and conditions sine qua non.
No contracts or sub-contracts or agreements, plans, designs, and/or specifications of the reclamation project were presented to reflect any
accomplishment. Not even any statement or itemization of works accomplished by contractors or subcontractors or vouchers and other relevant
papers were introduced to describe the extent of RREC's accomplishment. Neither was the requisite certification from the City Engineer concerned
that "portions of the reclamation project not less than 50 hectares in area shall have been accomplished or completed" obtained and presented by
RREC.
As a matter of fact, no witness ever testified on any reclamation work done by RREC, and extent thereof, as of April 26, 1962. Not a single
contractor, sub-contractor, engineer, surveyor, or any other witness involved in the alleged reclamation work of RREC testified on the 55 hectares
supposedly reclaimed by RREC. What work was done, who did the work, where was it commenced, and when was it completed, was never brought
to light by any witness before the court. Certainly, onus probandi was on RREC and Pasay City to show and point out the as yet unidentified 55
hectares they allegedly reclaimed. But this burden of proof RREC and Pasay City miserably failed to discharge.
So also, in the decision of the Pasay Court of First Instance dismissing the complaint of plaintiff-appellant, now petitioner Republic of the
Philippines, the lifting of the writ of Preliminary Injunction issued on April 26, 1962 would become effective only "as soon as Defendant Republic
Real Estate Corporation and Defendant Pasay City shall have submitted the corresponding plans and specifications to the Director of Public Work,
and shall have obtained approval thereof, and as soon as corresponding public bidding for the award to the contractor and sub-contractor that will
undertake the reclamation project shall have been effected." (Rollo, pp. 127-129, G.R. No. 103882)
From the records on hand, it is abundantly clear that RREC and Pasay City never complied with such prerequisites for the lifting of the writ of
Preliminary Injunction. Consequently, RREC had no authority to resume its reclamation work which was stopped by said writ of preliminary
injunction issued on April 26, 1962.
From the Contract for Dredging Work, dated November 26, 1960, marked Exhibit "21-A" for RREC before the lower court, and Exhibit "EE" for CCP
before the Court of Appeals, it can be deduced that only on November 26, 1960 did RREC contract out the dredging work to C and A Construction
Company, Inc., for the reclamation of the 55 hectares initially programmed to be reclaimed by it. But, as stated by RREC itself in the position paper
filed with this Court on July 15, 1997, with reference to CDCP's reclamation work, mobilization of the reclamation team would take one year before
a reclamation work could actually begin. Therefore, the reclamation work undertaker by RREC could not have started before November 26, 1961.
Considering that on April 26, 1962 RREC was enjoined from proceeding any further with its reclamation work, it had barely five (5) months, from
November, 1961 to April, 1962, to work on subject reclamation project. It was thus physically impossible for RREC to reclaim 55 hectares, with the
stipulated specifications and elevation, in such a brief span of time. In the report of RREC (Exhibit "DD" for CCP), it was conceded that due to the
writ of preliminary injunction issued on April 26, 1962, C and A Construction Co., Inc. had suspended its dredging operation since May, 1962.
The "graphical report" on the Pasay Reclamation project, as of April 30, 1962, attached to the Progress Report marked Exhibit "DD", is a schematic
representation of the work accomplishment referred to in such Progress Report, indicating the various elevations of the land surface it embraced,
ranging from 0.00 meters to the highest elevation of 2.5 meters above MLLW. Such portrayal of work accomplished is crucial in our determination
of whether or not RREC had actually "reclaimed" any land as under its Contract for Dredging Work with C and A Construction Company (Exhibit
"EE", the required final elevation for a completely reclaimed land was 3.5 meters above MLLW, as explicitly provided in said Contract for Dredging
Work. So, the irresistible conclusion is when the work on subject RREC-Pasay City reclamation project stopped in April, 1962 in compliance with
the writ of preliminary injunction issued by the trial court of origin, no portion of the reclamation project worked on by RREC had reached the
stipulated elevation of 3.5 meters above MLLW. The entire area it worked on was only at sea level or 0.00 meter above MLLW. In short, RREC had
not yet reclaimed any area when the writ of preliminary injunction issued in April 1962.
On this point, the testimonies of Architect Ruben M. Protacio, Architect and Managing partner of Leandro V. Locsin and partners, Architect and City
Planner Manuel T. Maoza, Jr. of Planning Resources and Operation System, Inc., Rose D. Cruz, Executive Assistant, Office of the President, from
1966 to 1970, and Dr. Lucrecia Kasilag, National Artist and member of CCP Advisory Committee, come to the fore. These credible, impartial and
knowledgeable witnesses recounted on the witness stand that when the construction of the Main Building of the Cultural Center of the Philippines
(CCP) began in 1966, the only surface land available was the site for the said building (TSN, Sept. 29, 1997, pages 8, 14 and 50), what could be seen
in front of and behind it was all water (TSN, Sept. 29, 1997 pages 127-128). When the CCP Main Building was being constructed, from 1968 to 1969,
the land above sea level thereat was only where the CCP Main Building was erected and the rest of the surroundings were all under water,
particularly the back portion fronting the bay. (TSN, Sept. 13, 1997, pp. 181, 182, 185, 186, 188). Dr. Lucrecia R. Kasilag stressed that on April 16,
1966, during the ground breaking for the CCP Main Building, it was water all around (TSN, Sept. 30, 1997, pp. 320, 324, 325).
There was indeed no legal and factual basis for the Court of Appeals to order and declare that "the requirement by the trial court on public bidding
and the submission of RREC's plans and specification to the Department of Public Works and Highways in order that RREC may continue the

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implementation of the reclamation work is deleted for being moot and academic." Said requirement has never become moot and academic. It has
remained indispensable, as ever, and non-compliance therewith restrained RREC from lawfully resuming the reclamation work under controversy,
notwithstanding the rendition below of the decision in its favor.
Verily, contrary to what the Court of Appeals found, RREC had not reclaimed any area with the prescribed elevation of 3.5 meters above MLLW, so
much so that in 1978, it (RREC) opted to file with the former Ministry of Public Highways, a claim for compensation of P30,396,878.20, for
reclamation work allegedly done before the CDCP started working on the reclamation of the CCP grounds. On September 7, 1979, RREC asked the
Solicitor General to settle its subject claim for compensation at the same amount of P30,396,878.20. But on June 10, 1981, guided by the cost data,
work volume accomplished and other relevant information gathered by the former Ministry of Public Highways, the Solicitor General informed
RREC that the value of what it had accomplished, based on 1962 price levels, was only P8,344,741.29, and the expenses for mobilization of
equipment amounted to P2,581,330.00. The aforesaid evaluation made by the government, through the then Minister of Public Highways, is
factual and realistic, so much so that on June 25, 1981, RREC, in its reply letter to the Solicitor General, stated:
We regret that we are not agreeable to the amount of P10,926,071.29, based on 1962 cost data, etc., as compensation based on quantum
meruit. The least we would consider is the amount of P10,926,071.29 plus interest at the rate of 6% per annum from 1962 to the time of
payment. We feel that 6% is very much less than the accepted rate of inflation that has supervened since 1962 to the present, and even
19
less than the present legal rate of 12% per annum.
Undoubtedly, what RREC claimed for was compensation for what it had done, and for the dredge fill of 1,558,395 cubic meters it used, on subject
reclamation project.
Respondent Court likewise erred in ordering the turn-over to Pasay City of the following titled lots, to wit:
LOT NO. BUILDING AREA OCT/TCT
42 Gloria Maris 9,516 sq.m. OCT 159 in the
Restaurant name of GSIS
3 Asean Garden 76,299 sq.m. OCT 10251 in the
name of CCP
12 Folk Arts Theater 1.7503 hec. TCT 18627 in the
and PICC parking name of CCP
space
22 landscaped with 132,924 sq.m. TCT 75676 in the
sculpture of Asean name of CCP
Artists-site of
Boom na Boom
23 open space, back 34,346 sq.m. TCT 75677 in the
of Philcite name of CCP
24 Parking space for 10,352 sq.m. TCT 75678 in the
Star City, CCP, name of CCP
Philcite
25 open space 11,323 sq.m. TCT 75679 in the
occupied by Star name of CCP
City
28 open space, 27,689 sq.m. TCT 75684 in the
beside PICC name of CCP
29 open space, 106,067 sq.m. TCT 75681 in the
leased by El name of CCP
Shaddai

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We discern no factual basis nor any legal justification therefor. In the first place, in their answer to the Complaint and Amended
Complaint below, RREC and Pasay City never prayed for the transfer to Pasay City of subject lots, title to which had long become
indefeasible in favor of the rightful title holders, CCP and GSIS, respectively.
The annotation of a notice of lis pendens on the certificates of title covering the said lots is of no moment. It did not vest in Pasay City and RREC any
real right superior to the absolute ownership thereover of CCP and GSIS. Besides, the nature of the action did not really warrant the issuance of a
notice of lis pendens.
Sec. 14 of Rule 13, Revised Rules of Civil Procedure, reads:
Sec. 14. Notice of lis pendens. In an action affecting the title or the right of possession of real properly, the plaintiff and the defendant,
when affirmative relief is claimed in his answer, may record in the office of the registry of deeds of the province in which the property is
situated a notice of the pendency of the action. Said notice shall contain the names of the parties and the object of the action or defense,
and a description of the property in that province affected thereby. Only from the time of filing such notice for record shall a purchaser,
or encumbrancer of the property affected thereby, be deemed to have constructive notice of the pendency of the action, and only of its
pendency against the parties designated by their real names.
The notice of lis pendens herein above mentioned may be cancelled only upon order of the court, after proper showing that the notice is
for the purpose of molesting the adverse party, or that it is not necessary to protect the rights of the party who caused it to be recorded.
Under the aforecited provision of law in point, a notice of lis pendens is necessary when the action is for recovery of possession or ownership of a
parcel of land. In the present litigation, RREC and Pasay City, as defendants in the main case, did not counterclaim for the turnover to Pasay City of
the titled lots aforementioned.
What is more, a torrens title cannot be collaterally attacked. The issue of validity of a torrens title, whether fraudulently issued or not, may be
posed only in an action brought to impugn or annul it. (Halili vs. National Labor Relations Commission, 257 SCRA 174, Cimafranca vs. Intermediate
Appellate Court, 147 SCRA 611.) Unmistakable, and cannot be ignored, is the germane provision of Section 48 of P.D. 1529, that a certificate of title
can never be the subject of a collateral attack. It cannot be altered, modified, or cancelled except in a direct proceeding instituted in accordance
with law.
Although Pasay City and RREC did not succeed in their undertaking to reclaim any area within subject reclamation project, it appearing that
something compensable was accomplished by them, following the applicable provision of law and hearkening to the dictates of equity, that no one,
20
not even the government, shall unjustly enrich oneself/itself at the expense of another , we believe; and so hold, that Pasay City and RREC should
be paid for the said actual work done and dredge-fill poured in, worth P10,926,071.29, as verified by the former Ministry of Public Highways, and as
claimed by RREC itself in its aforequoted letter dated June 25, 1981.
It is fervently hoped that long after the end of our sojourn in this valley of tears, the court, for its herein historic disposition, will be exalted by the
future generations of Filipinos, for the preservation of the national patrimony and promotion of our cultural heritage. As writer Channing rightly
puts it: "Whatever expands the affections, or enlarges the sphere of our sympathies Whatever makes us feel our relation to the universe and all
that it inherits in time and in eternity, and to the great and beneficent cause of all, must unquestionably refine our nature, and elevate us in the
scale of being."
WHEREFORE:
In G.R. No. 103882, the Petition is GRANTED; the Decision, dated January 28, 1992, and Amended Decision, dated April 28, 1992, of the Court of
Appeals, are both SET ASIDE; and Pasay City Ordinance No. 121, dated May 6, 1958, and Ordinance No. 158, dated April 21, 1959, as well as the
Reclamation Agreements entered into by Pasay City and Republic Real Estate Corporation (RREC) as authorized by said city ordinances, are
declared NULL and VOID for being ultra vires, and contrary to Rep. Act 1899.
The writ of preliminary injunction issued on April 26, 1962 by the trial court a quo in Civil Case No. 2229-P is made permanent and the notice of lis
pendens issued by the Court of Appeals in CA G.R. CV No. 51349 ordered CANCELLED. The Register of Deeds of Pasay City is directed to take note of
and annotate on the certificates of title involved, the cancellation of subject notice of lis pendens.
The petitioner, Republic of the Philippines, is hereby ordered to pay Pasay City and Republic Real Estate Corporation the sum of TEN MILLION NINE
HUNDRED TWENTY-SIX THOUSAND SEVENTY-ONE AND TWENTY-NINE CENTAVOS (P10,926,071.29) PESOS, plus interest thereon of six (6%) percent
per annum from May 1, 1962 until full payment, which amount shall be divided by Pasay City and RREC, share and share alike.
In G.R. No. 105276, the Petition is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.
No pronouncement as to costs.
SO ORDERED.
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. 160145 November 11, 2005

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REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,
vs.
PEDRO O. ENCISO, Respondent.
DECISION
CALLEJO, SR., J.:
1

Before us is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, as amended, assailing the Decision of the Court of Appeals (CA)
2
dated September 26, 2003, which affirmed the Decision of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Iba, Zambales, Branch 71, promulgated on July 31, 2001
in LRC Case No. RTC-N-75-I. The CA and the trial court adjudicated Lot No. 2278-A, Cad. 652-D, Masinloc Cadastre in favor of respondent Pedro O.
Enciso, pursuant to Section 29 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529.
The facts, as culled from the records of the case, show that on April 24, 2000, the respondent, alleging to be the owner in fee simple of a parcel of
residential land located in Barangay South Poblacion, Masinloc, Zambales, filed a petition for land registration before the RTC of Iba, Zambales. The
lot is described as follows:
A parcel of land (Lot 2278-A of the subdivision plan Csd-03-012562-D being a portion of Lot 2278, Cad. 652-D L.R.C. Rec. No.), situated in the Barrio
of South Poblacion, Municipality of Masinloc, Province of Zambales. Bounded on the NW., along line 1-2 by Sta. Lucia Street; on the NE., along line
2-3 by Capt. Albright Street; on the SE. & SW. along line 3-4-1 by Lot 2278-B of the subd. plan. Beginning at a point marked "1" on plan being N. 39
deg. 35E., 12.05 m. from BLLM.1,
Cad. 652-D.
thence N. 16 deg. 13E., 32.48 m. to point. 2;
thence S. 75 deg. 05E., 44.83 m. to point. 3;
thence S. 16 deg. 19W., 33.36 m. to point. 4;
thence N. 73 deg. 57W., 44.76 m. to point. of;
beginning; containing an area of ONE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE (1,475) square meters. All points referred to are indicated on the
plan and are marked on the ground by P.S. cyl. conc. mons. 15 x 40 cms. Bearings; true; date of original survey; Sept. 1927-July 1928 and that of the
3
subdivision survey; July 22, 1999 and was approved on Jan. 20, 2000.
The respondent averred, inter alia, that he acquired title to the said lot by virtue of an extrajudicial settlement of estate and quitclaim on March 15,
1999; the said property is not tenanted or occupied by any person other than the respondent and his family who are in actual physical possession
of the same; and the respondent and his predecessors-in-interest have been in continuous, peaceful, open, notorious, uninterrupted and adverse
4
possession of the land in the concept of an owner for not less than 30 years immediately preceding the filing of the application.
Petitioner Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), opposed the application on the following grounds: (a)
neither the respondent nor his predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the
subject land since June 12, 1945 or prior thereto; (b) the respondent failed to adduce any muniment of title and/or the tax declaration with the
application to prove bona fide acquisition of the land applied for or its open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation
thereof in the concept of owner since June 12, 1945 or prior thereto; (c) the alleged tax declaration adverted to in the application does not appear
to be genuine and the tax declarations indicate such possession to be of recent vintage; (d) the claim of ownership in fee simple on the basis of
Spanish title or grant can no longer be availed of by the respondent considering that he failed to file an appropriate application for registration
within the period of six months from February 16, 1976 as required by P.D. No. 892; and (e) the subject land is a portion of the public domain
5
belonging to the Republic of the Philippines which is not subject to private appropriation.
6

After ascertaining that the jurisdictional requirements for the application were done in accordance with the law during the initial hearing on
7
November 9, 2000, the trial court issued an Order of Default on January 3, 2001 against all persons with the exception of the government.
The respondent presented tax receipts to show that the property was declared for taxation purposes in his name. He also testified that he acquired
the property by inheritance from his deceased father, Vicente Enciso, who died on May 18, 1991. He then immediately took possession of the
property and constructed a house thereon in 1991. On March 15, 1999, he and his siblings executed an extrajudicial settlement of estate where the
land was adjudicated in his favor.
The respondent further narrated that the property was originally owned by the Municipality of Masinloc, Zambales. On October 5, 1968, the
8
municipality passed Resolution No. 71, undertaking to construct a road along the shoreline of the poblacion, but requiring landowners adjoining
the roads to share in the expenses for an inner wall adjacent to their lots. In view of this, the same resolution provided that:
WHEREAS, where the above landowners share in the construction of the roads, the same may be given the priority to acquire such additional
available areas by purchase, if such additional areas are not needed by the government for public use, the advances of the landowners as a result
of his [sic] construction (inner wall) be considered as price of the land, provided that the cost and value of the inner wall exceeds the assessed
value of the land, and if the cost of the inner wall is less than the assessed value of the land, the landowners will have to pay the corresponding
9
balance to the government;

33

LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


10

On March 8, 1969, the Municipality of Masinloc, Zambales passed supplementary Resolution No. 102, which stated that in consideration of the
financial assistance extended by the abutting property owners, and because the government no longer needed the additional areas for public use,
the municipality was authorizing the Municipal Mayor to enter into and sign deeds of purchase between the municipality and the landowners
11
concerned. Consequently, the Municipal Council of Masinloc, Zambales unanimously approved Resolution No. 102-A dated March 15, 1969,
authorizing its mayor to execute a deed of sale in favor of Honorato Edao, covering a portion of the reclaimed lots no longer needed for public
use. Honorato was thus entitled to buy the lot for his help in carrying out the project envisioned in Resolution No. 71, and after the submission of
an itemized statement of the cost of the construction of the inner wall along Sta. Lucia Street.
12

Immediately thereafter, the Municipality of Masinloc, Zambales, represented by its Mayor, P.A. Edao, executed a Deed of Absolute Sale covering
a piece of reclaimed land containing more or less 2,790 square meters in favor of Honorato Edao. The deed stated that the vendee constructed
the inner wall needed to facilitate the fabrication of a portion of Sta. Lucia Street, which was opposite his lot, and the extensions of Magsaysay and
Capt. Albright Streets at a total expense of P1,683.80. Considering that the assessed value of the lot was P2,092.50, or P408.70
more than the vendee spent for the construction of the inner wall, the vendee paid P408.70 to the vendor.
13

The respondent admitted that Honorato was his uncle, being his fathers half-brother. He further narrated that on December 9, 1980, the spouses
14
Honorato and Esperanza Edao sold the lot to Vicente B. Enciso for P2,092.50 via a Deed of Absolute Sale. On January 17, 1981, Vicente Enciso,
15
Natividad Edao Asuncion and Thelma A. Edao entered into a Deed of Partition involving the same parcel of land. Vicente was awarded one-half
of the total area of the property, 1,398 square meters, more or less; Natividad and Thelma got one-fourth each, or approximately 697.5 square
meters individually.
No cross-examination was conducted and no evidence was adduced by the government to controvert the application for registration.
16

On May 8, 2001, Director Felino M. Cortez of the Department on Registration submitted the Report of the Land Registration Authority, informing
the trial court that it was not in a position to verify whether the parcel of land subject of registration was already covered by a land patent and
previously approved isolated survey. Acting on this report, the trial court directed the Lands Management Bureau, the Community Environment
and Natural Resources Office of Iba, Zambales, and the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources Regional Executive Director for Region III, San Fernando, Pampanga, to submit a report on the
17
status of the parcel of land.
Without waiting for the final report, the trial court granted the application for registration on July 31, 2001, the dispositive portion of the decision
reads:
WHEREFORE, this Court, after confirming the Order of General Default entered into the record of this case on January 3, 2001 hereby adjudicates
Lot No. 2278-A, Cad. 652-D, Masinloc Cadastre, containing an area of 1,475 square meters, situated at Brgy. South Poblacion, Masinloc, Zambales,
Philippines, as appearing on the approved Plan No. Csd-03-012562-D (Exhibit "M") and also in the Technical Description of said lot (Exhibit "K") in
favor of the applicant whose address is at Brgy. South Poblacion, Masinloc, Zambales, Philippines, in accordance with Section 29 of Presidential
Decree No. 1529. This adjudication however is subject to the various easements/reservations provided for under pertinent laws, Presidential
Decree and/or Presidential Letters of Instruction, which should be annotated/projected in the title to be issued.
Once this decision becomes final, let the corresponding decree and title be issued.
SO ORDERED.

18

The trial court ruled that the respondent satisfactorily proved his ownership in fee simple, as well as the identity of the land sought to be titled.
Likewise, the trial court found that the respondent, as well as his predecessors-in-interest, had been in open, peaceful, continuous, public, adverse,
and under a bona fide claim of ownership. According to the trial court, there was no evidence that the subject parcel of land was within any
19
government reservation, or that the applicant was disqualified from owning real property under the Constitution.
The Republic of the Philippines appealed the case before the CA, contending that the trial court erred in granting the application despite his failure
to prove registrable title over Lot No. 2278-A.
The CA disposed of the appeal on September 26, 2003 and affirmed the decision of the trial court. The fallo of the decision reads:
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the assailed decision dated July 31, 2001 of the RTC, Branch 71 of Iba, Zambales in LRC Case No. RTC-N-75-1 is
hereby AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.

20

The petitioner dispensed with the filing of a motion for reconsideration and forthwith filed the instant petition.
The OSG assigned the following error to the appellate court:
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED ON A QUESTION OF LAW IN GRANTING RESPONDENTS PETITION FOR REGISTRATION SANS ANY SHOWING THAT
21
THE SUBJECT PROPERTY WAS PREVIOUSLY DECLARED ALIENABLE AND DISPOSABLE LANDS OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN.
The petitioner contends that the first and primordial element in order to warrant the registration of title is to show that the land must be an
alienable and disposable land of the public domain. On this note, the petitioner believes that the respondent failed to adduce any evidence to show
that the subject land was already previously declared part of such alienable and disposable land of the public domain. Furthermore, the petitioner

34

LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


adds that under the Regalian doctrine, all lands of the public domain belong to the State, and those not otherwise appearing to be clearly within
private ownership are presumed to belong to it.
In his comment to the petition, the respondent asserts that the CA was correct in affirming the decision of the land registration court. The
respondent cites the following justification of the CA in supporting his claim over Lot No. 2278-A:
Records reveal that subject land is a residential land owned by the Municipality of Masinloc, Zambales. The Municipality of Masinloc, through
Resolutions 71, 102 and 102-A-29 sold the subject land to Honorato Edao as evidenced by the Deed of Absolute Sale dated March 31, 1969
executed by the Municipal Mayor.
Article 423 of the Civil Code provides that:
"Art. 423. The property of provinces, cities, and municipalities is divided into property for public use and patrimonial property."
Properties of political subdivision*s+ which are patrimonial in character may be alienated. By analogy, when a municipalitys properties for public
use are no longer intended for such use, the same become patrimonial and may be the subject of a contract. Thus, the Deed of Absolute Sale
executed by and between the Municipal Mayor of Masinloc and Honorato Edao was a valid contract. Subject land was likewise sold by Honorato
Edao to petitioner-appellees father, Vicente Enciso, by virtue of a Deed of Absolute Sale. From then, subject land changed hand until it was
acquired by petitioner-appellee when his siblings executed an Extrajudicial Partition assigning said land to him. It was declared for taxation
purposes in his name under Tax Declaration No. 007-0700R.

Subject land was reclassified as residential. It was already segregated from the public domain and assumed the character of private ownership. It
was reclaimed by the Municipality of Masinloc and eventually adjudicated to Honorato Edao. The Municipality of Masinloc must have been in
possession of the subject land even before 1969 considering that it was originally surveyed way back in 1927-1928. In the exercise of its proprietary
right, the Municipality of Masinloc validly conveyed the subject land to petitioner-appellees predecessors-in-interest. Petitioner-appellees
possession and occupation of the subject land is continuous, public, adverse and uninterrupted and in the concept an owner and no other person
claimed possession and ownership of the same. Article 1137 of the Civil Code provides:
"Art. 1137. Ownership and other real rights over immovables also prescribed (sic) through uninterrupted adverse possession thereof for thirty
years, without need of titles or of good faith."
Parenthetically, petitioner-appellees possession tacked with that of his predecessors-in-interest already complied with the thirty (30)-year
requirement of open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession required under the law.
Prescinding from the foregoing, petitioner-appellee sufficiently and satisfactorily proved his real and absolute ownership in fee simple; that he has
a registrable title over the subject land and that he complied with the requirements under the law to warrant registration of title over the subject
22
land.
The petition is meritorious.
While it is the rule that findings of fact of appellate courts are conclusive upon this Court, among the recognized exceptions is where the findings of
23
fact are not supported by the record or are conspicuously erroneous as to constitute a serious abuse of discretion. This is the situation in this
case.
Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree, 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-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.
Applicants for registration of title must therefore prove the following: (a) that the land forms part of the disposable and alienable lands of the
public domain; and (b) that they have been in open, continuous, exclusive,
and notorious possession and occupation of the same under a bona fide claim of ownership either since time immemorial, or since June 12, 1945. It
is not disputed that the land sought to be registered was originally part of the reclamation project undertaken by the Municipality of Masinloc,
Zambales. The prevailing rule is that reclaimed disposable lands of the public domain may only be leased and not sold to private parties. These
lands remained sui generis, as the only alienable or disposable lands of the public domain which the government could not sell to private parties
except if the legislature passes a law authorizing such sale. Reclaimed lands retain their inherent potential as areas for public use or public
24
service. The ownership of lands reclaimed from foreshore areas is rooted in the Regalian doctrine, which declares that all lands and waters of the
25
public domain belong to the State. On November 7, 1936, the National Assembly approved Commonwealth Act No. 141, also known as the Public
Land Act, compiling all the existing laws on lands of the public domain. This remains to this day the existing and applicable general law governing
the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain. The State policy prohibiting the sale of government reclaimed, foreshore and
marshy alienable lands of the public domain to private individuals continued under the 1935 Constitution.

35

LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


Indeed, there is nothing to support the respondents claim that the property "was reclassified as residential already segregated from the public
domain and assumed the character of private ownership." At the
moment, it is not clear as to when the proper authorities classified the subject as alienable and disposable. It must be stressed that incontrovertible
26
evidence must be presented to establish that the land subject of the application is alienable or disposable.
According to the CA, "the Municipality of Masinloc must have been in possession of the subject land even before 1969 considering that it was
originally surveyed way back in 1927-1928." This is not the kind of possession and occupation contemplated under the law. While the subject
property was still in the hands of the municipality, it was undeniably part of the public domain. The municipality cannot then be considered a
predecessor-in-interest of the applicant from whom the period of possession and occupation required by law may be reckoned with. Any other
interpretation would be dangerously detrimental to our national patrimony.
Even assuming that Honorato Edao, the respondents earliest predecessor-in-interest, possessed the property as early as 1969, the respondents
claim must still fail, as he was unable to prove open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the subject land under a
27
bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership. As the Court ruled in Republic v. Alconaba:
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.
The respondents possession and that of his "predecessors-in-interest" will not suffice for purposes of judicial confirmation of title. What is
categorically required by law is open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation under a bona fide claim of ownership
since June 12, 1945 or earlier.
The evidence on record shows that a house was constructed on the subject property only in 1991. Certain discrepancies likewise surround the
application for registration: Honorato Edao sold a parcel of land consisting of 2,790 square meters on December 9, 1980 to Vicente Enciso alone;
on January 17, 1981, Vicente Enciso, Natividad Edao Asuncion and Thelma Edao executed a deed of partition covering the same lot. Why was
there a need to partition the property if the entire land had already been sold to Vicente? The Court also notes that in the said deed of partition,
one-half of the total area of the land, which was 1,398 square meters, was adjudicated in favor of Vicente; however, in the respondents
application for registration, the land sought to be registered consists of 1,475 square meters.
Well-entrenched is the rule that the burden of proof in land registration cases rests on the applicant who must show clear, positive and convincing
evidence that his alleged possession and occupation were of the nature and duration required by law. Bare allegations, without more, do not
28
amount to preponderant evidence that would shift the burden to the oppositor.
Evidently, the respondent failed to prove that (1) Lot No. 2278-A was classified as part of the disposable and alienable land of the public domain;
and (2) he and his predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation thereof in the
concept of owners since time immemorial, or from June 12, 1945.
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals dated September 26, 2003 in CA-G.R. CV No. 72859 is REVERSED and
SET ASIDE. Respondent Pedro O. Encisos application for registration and issuance of title to Lot No. 2278-A, Cad. 652-D, Masinloc Cadastre, is
hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
DAY 15
MALABANAN v. REPUBLIC (2009)
FIRST DIVISION
G.R. No. 154953

June 26, 2008

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,


vs.
T.A.N. PROPERTIES, INC., respondent.
DECISION
CARPIO, J.:
The Case
1

Before the Court is a petition for review assailing the 21 August 2002 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 66658. The Court of
3
Appeals affirmed in toto the 16 December 1999 Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Tanauan, Batangas, Branch 6 (trial court) in Land
Registration Case No. T-635.

36

LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


The Antecedent Facts
This case originated from an Application for Original Registration of Title filed by T.A.N. Properties, Inc. covering Lot 10705-B of the subdivision plan
Csd-04-019741 which is a portion of the consolidated Lot 10705, Cad-424, Sto. Tomas Cadastre. The land, with an area of 564,007 square meters,
or 56.4007 hectares, is located at San Bartolome, Sto. Tomas, Batangas.
On 31 August 1999, the trial court set the case for initial hearing at 9:30 a.m. on 11 November 1999. The Notice of Initial Hearing was published in
4
the Official Gazette, 20 September 1999 issue, Volume 95, No. 38, pages 6793 to 6794, and in the 18 October 1999 issue of Peoples Journal
5
Taliba, a newspaper of general circulation in the Philippines. The Notice of Initial Hearing was also posted in a conspicuous place on the bulletin
6
board of the Municipal Building of Sto. Tomas, Batangas, as well as in a conspicuous place on the land. All adjoining owners and all government
7
agencies and offices concerned were notified of the initial hearing.
On 11 November 1999, when the trial court called the case for initial hearing, there was no oppositor other than the Opposition dated 7 October
8
1999 of the Republic of the Philippines represented by the Director of Lands (petitioner). On 15 November 1999, the trial court issued an Order of
General Default against the whole world except as against petitioner.
During the hearing on 19 November 1999, Ceferino Carandang (Carandang) appeared as oppositor. The trial court gave Carandang until 29
9
November 1999 within which to file his written opposition. Carandang failed to file his written opposition and to appear in the succeeding
10
hearings. In an Order dated 13 December 1999, the trial court reinstated the Order of General Default.
During the hearings conducted on 13 and 14 December 1999, respondent presented three witnesses: Anthony Dimayuga Torres (Torres),
respondents Operations Manager and its authorized representative in the case; Primitivo Evangelista (Evangelista), a 72-year old resident of San
Bartolome, Sto. Tomas, Batangas since birth; and Regalado Marquez, Records Officer II of the Land Registration Authority (LRA), Quezon City.
The testimonies of respondents witnesses showed that Prospero Dimayuga (Kabesang Puroy) had peaceful, adverse, open, and continuous
possession of the land in the concept of an owner since 1942. Upon his death, Kabesang Puroy was succeeded by his son Antonio Dimayuga
(Antonio). On 27 September 1960, Antonio executed a Deed of Donation covering the land in favor of one of his children, Fortunato Dimayuga
(Fortunato). Later, however, Antonio gave Fortunato another piece of land. Hence, on 26 April 1961, Antonio executed a Partial Revocation of
11
Donation, and the land was adjudicated to one of Antonios children, Prospero Dimayuga (Porting). On 8 August 1997, Porting sold the land to
respondent.
The Ruling of the Trial Court
In its 16 December 1999 Decision, the trial court adjudicated the land in favor of respondent.
The trial court ruled that a juridical person or a corporation could apply for registration of land provided such entity and its predecessors-in-interest
have possessed the land for 30 years or more. The trial court ruled that the facts showed that respondents predecessors-in-interest possessed the
land in the concept of an owner prior to 12 June 1945, which possession converted the land to private property.
The dispositive portion of the trial courts Decision reads:
WHEREFORE, and upon previous confirmation of the Order of General Default, the Court hereby adjudicates and decrees Lot 10705-B,
identical to Lot 13637, Cad-424, Sto. Tomas Cadastre, on plan Csd-04-019741, situated in Barangay of San Bartolome, Municipality of Sto.
Tomas, Province of Batangas, with an area of 564,007 square meters, in favor of and in the name of T.A.N. Properties, Inc., a domestic
th
corporation duly organized and existing under Philippine laws with principal office at 19 Floor, PDCP Bank Building, 8737 Paseo de
Roxas, Makati City.
Once this Decision shall have become final, let the corresponding decree of registration be issued.
SO ORDERED.

12

Petitioner appealed from the trial courts Decision. Petitioner alleged that the trial court erred in granting the application for registration absent
clear evidence that the applicant and its predecessors-in-interest have complied with the period of possession and occupation as required by law.
Petitioner alleged that the testimonies of Evangelista and Torres are general in nature. Considering the area involved, petitioner argued that
additional witnesses should have been presented to corroborate Evangelistas testimony.
The Ruling of the Court of Appeals
In its 21 August 2002 Decision, the Court of Appeals affirmed in toto the trial courts Decision.
The Court of Appeals ruled that Evangelistas knowledge of the possession and occupation of the land stemmed not only from the fact that he
worked there for three years but also because he and Kabesang Puroy were practically neighbors. On Evangelistas failure to mention the name of
his uncle who continuously worked on the land, the Court of Appeals ruled that Evangelista should not be faulted as he was not asked to name his
uncle when he testified. The Court of Appeals also ruled that at the outset, Evangelista disclaimed knowledge of Fortunatos relation to Kabesang
Puroy, but this did not affect Evangelistas statement that Fortunato took over the possession and cultivation of the land after Kabesang Puroys
death. The Court of Appeals further ruled that the events regarding the acquisition and disposition of the land became public knowledge because
San Bartolome was a small community. On the matter of additional witnesses, the Court of Appeals ruled that petitioner failed to cite any law
requiring the corroboration of the sole witness testimony.

37

LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


The Court of Appeals further ruled that Torres was a competent witness since he was only testifying on the fact that he had caused the filing of the
application for registration and that respondent acquired the land from Porting.
Petitioner comes to this Court assailing the Court of Appeals Decision. Petitioner raises the following grounds in its Memorandum:
The Court of Appeals erred on a question of law in allowing the grant of title to applicant corporation despite the following:
1. Absence of showing that it or its predecessors-in-interest had open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation in
the concept of an owner since 12 June 1945 or earlier; and
2. Disqualification of applicant corporation to acquire the subject tract of land.

13

The Issues
The issues may be summarized as follows:
1. Whether the land is alienable and disposable;
2. Whether respondent or its predecessors-in-interest had open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the
land in the concept of an owner since June 1945 or earlier; and
3. Whether respondent is qualified to apply for registration of the land under the Public Land Act.
The Ruling of this Court
The petition has merit.
Respondent Failed to Prove
that the Land is Alienable and Disposable
Petitioner argues that anyone who applies for registration has the burden of overcoming the presumption that the land forms part of the public
domain. Petitioner insists that respondent failed to prove that the land is no longer part of the public domain.
14

The well-entrenched rule is that all lands not appearing to be clearly of private dominion presumably belong to the State. The onus to overturn,
by incontrovertible evidence, the presumption that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable and disposable rests with the
15
applicant.
In this case, respondent submitted two certifications issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The 3 June 1997
16
Certification by the Community Environment and Natural Resources Offices (CENRO), Batangas City, certified that "lot 10705, Cad-424, Sto.
Tomas Cadastre situated at Barangay San Bartolome, Sto. Tomas, Batangas with an area of 596,116 square meters falls within the ALIENABLE AND
17
DISPOSABLE ZONE under Project No. 30, Land Classification Map No. 582 certified [on] 31 December 1925." The second certification in the form
of a memorandum to the trial court, which was issued by the Regional Technical Director, Forest Management Services of the DENR (FMS-DENR),
stated "that the subject area falls within an alienable and disposable land, Project No. 30 of Sto. Tomas, Batangas certified on Dec. 31, 1925 per LC
No. 582."
18

The certifications are not sufficient. DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 20, dated 30 May 1988, delineated the functions and authorities of the
offices within the DENR. Under DAO No. 20, series of 1988, the CENRO issues certificates of land classification status for areas below 50 hectares.
The Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Offices (PENRO) issues certificate of land classification status for lands covering over 50
19
hectares. DAO No. 38, dated 19 April 1990, amended DAO No. 20, series of 1988. DAO No. 38, series of 1990 retained the authority of the CENRO
to issue certificates of land classification status for areas below 50 hectares, as well as the authority of the PENRO to issue certificates of land
20
classification status for lands covering over 50 hectares. In this case, respondent applied for registration of Lot 10705-B. The area covered by Lot
10705-B is over 50 hectares (564,007 square meters). The CENRO certificate covered the entire Lot 10705 with an area of 596,116 square meters
which, as per DAO No. 38, series of 1990, is beyond the authority of the CENRO to certify as alienable and disposable.
The Regional Technical Director, FMS-DENR, has no authority under DAO Nos. 20 and 38 to issue certificates of land classification. Under DAO No.
20, the Regional Technical Director, FMS-DENR:
1. Issues original and renewal of ordinary minor products (OM) permits except rattan;
2. Approves renewal of resaw/mini-sawmill permits;
3. Approves renewal of special use permits covering over five hectares for public infrastructure projects; and
4. Issues renewal of certificates of registration for logs, poles, piles, and lumber dealers.
Under DAO No. 38, the Regional Technical Director, FMS-DENR:
1. Issues original and renewal of ordinary minor [products] (OM) permits except rattan;
2. Issues renewal of certificate of registration for logs, poles, and piles and lumber dealers;
3. Approves renewal of resaw/mini-sawmill permits;

38

LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


4. Issues public gratuitous permits for 20 to 50 cubic meters within calamity declared areas for public infrastructure projects; and
5. Approves original and renewal of special use permits covering over five hectares for public infrastructure projects.
Hence, the certification issued by the Regional Technical Director, FMS-DENR, in the form of a memorandum to the trial court, has no probative
value.
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.
Only Torres, respondents Operations Manager, identified the certifications submitted by respondent. The government officials who issued the
certifications were not presented before the trial court to testify on their contents. The trial court should not have accepted the contents of the
certifications as proof of the facts stated therein. Even if the certifications are presumed duly issued and admissible in evidence, they have no
probative value in establishing that the land is alienable and disposable.
Public documents are defined under Section 19, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules on Evidence as follows:
(a) The written official acts, or records of the official acts of the sovereign authority, official bodies and tribunals, and public officers,
whether of the Philippines, or of a foreign country;
(b) Documents acknowledged before a notary public except last wills and testaments; and
(c) Public records, kept in the Philippines, of private documents required by law to be entered therein.
Applying Section 24 of Rule 132, the record of public documents referred to in Section 19(a), when admissible for any purpose, may be evidenced
by an official publication thereof or by a copy attested by the officer having legal custody of the record, or by his deputy x x x. The CENRO is not
the official repository or legal custodian of the issuances of the DENR Secretary declaring public lands as alienable and disposable. The CENRO
21
should have attached an official publication of the DENR Secretarys issuance declaring the land alienable and disposable.
Section 23, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules on Evidence provides:
Sec. 23. Public documents as evidence. Documents consisting of entries in public records made in the performance of a duty by a public
officer are prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein. All other public documents are evidence, even against a third person, of the
fact which gave rise to their execution and of the date of the latter.
The CENRO and Regional Technical Director, FMS-DENR, certifications do not fall within the class of public documents contemplated in the first
sentence of Section 23 of Rule 132. The certifications do not reflect "entries in public records made in the performance of a duty by a public
22
23
officer," such as entries made by the Civil Registrar in the books of registries, or by a ship captain in the ships logbook. The certifications are not
the certified copies or authenticated reproductions of original official records in the legal custody of a government office. The certifications are not
24
25
even records of public documents. The certifications are conclusions unsupported by adequate proof, and thus have no probative value.
Certainly, the certifications cannot be considered prima facie evidence of the facts stated therein.
The CENRO and Regional Technical Director, FMS-DENR, certifications do not prove that Lot 10705-B falls within the alienable and disposable land
26
as proclaimed by the DENR Secretary. Such government certifications do not, by their mere issuance, prove the facts stated therein. Such
government certifications may fall under the class of documents contemplated in the second sentence of Section 23 of Rule 132. As such, the
certifications are prima facie evidence of their due execution and date of issuance but they do not constitute prima facie evidence of the facts
stated therein.
The Court has also ruled that a document or writing admitted as part of the testimony of a witness does not constitute proof of the facts stated
27
therein. Here, Torres, a private individual and respondents representative, identified the certifications but the government officials who issued
28
the certifications did not testify on the contents of the certifications. As such, the certifications cannot be given probative value. The contents of
29
the certifications are hearsay because Torres was incompetent to testify on the veracity of the contents of the certifications. Torres did not
prepare the certifications, he was not an officer of CENRO or FMS-DENR, and he did not conduct any verification survey whether the land falls
within the area classified by the DENR Secretary as alienable and disposable.
Petitioner also points out the discrepancy as to when the land allegedly became alienable and disposable. The DENR Secretary certified that based
on Land Classification Map No. 582, the land became alienable and disposable on 31 December 1925. However, the certificate on the blue print
plan states that it became alienable and disposable on 31 December 1985.
We agree with petitioner that while the certifications submitted by respondent show that under the Land Classification Map No. 582, the land
became alienable and disposable on 31 December 1925, the blue print plan states that it became alienable and disposable on 31 December 1985.
Respondent alleged that "the blue print plan merely serves to prove the precise location and the metes and bounds of the land described therein x
30
x x and does not in any way certify the nature and classification of the land involved." It is true that the notation by a surveyor-geodetic engineer
on the survey plan that the land formed part of the alienable and disposable land of the public domain is not sufficient proof of the lands
31
classification. However, respondent should have at least presented proof that would explain the discrepancy in the dates of classification.

39

LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


Marquez, LRA Records Officer II, testified that the documents submitted to the court consisting of the tracing cloth plan, the technical description
of Lot 10705-B, the approved subdivision plan, and the Geodetic Engineers certification were faithful reproductions of the original documents in
the LRA office. He did not explain the discrepancy in the dates. Neither was the Geodetic Engineer presented to explain why the date of
classification on the blue print plan was different from the other certifications submitted by respondent.
There was No Open, Continuous, Exclusive, and Notorious
Possession and Occupation in the Concept of an Owner
Petitioner alleges that the trial courts reliance on the testimonies of Evangelista and Torres was misplaced. Petitioner alleges that Evangelistas
statement that the possession of respondents predecessors-in-interest was open, public, continuous, peaceful, and adverse to the whole world
was a general conclusion of law rather than factual evidence of possession of title. Petitioner alleges that respondent failed to establish that its
predecessors-in-interest had held the land openly, continuously, and exclusively for at least 30 years after it was declared alienable and disposable.
We agree with petitioner.
Evangelista testified that Kabesang Puroy had been in possession of the land before 1945. Yet, Evangelista only worked on the land for three years.
Evangelista testified that his family owned a lot near Kabesang Puroys land. The Court of Appeals took note of this and ruled that Evangelistas
knowledge of Kabesang Puroys possession of the land stemmed "not only from the fact that he had worked thereat but more so that they were
32
practically neighbors." The Court of Appeals observed:
In a small community such as that of San Bartolome, Sto. Tomas, Batangas, it is not difficult to understand that people in the said
community knows each and everyone. And, because of such familiarity with each other, news or events regarding the acquisition or
disposition for that matter, of a vast tract of land spreads like wildfire, thus, the reason why such an event became of public knowledge to
33
them.
Evangelista testified that Kabesang Puroy was succeeded by Fortunato. However, he admitted that he did not know the exact relationship between
Kabesang Puroy and Fortunato, which is rather unusual for neighbors in a small community. He did not also know the relationship between
Fortunato and Porting. In fact, Evangelistas testimony is contrary to the factual finding of the trial court that Kabesang Puroy was succeeded by his
son Antonio, not by Fortunato who was one of Antonios children. Antonio was not even mentioned in Evangelistas testimony.
The Court of Appeals ruled that there is no law that requires that the testimony of a single witness needs corroboration. However, in this case, we
find Evangelistas uncorroborated testimony insufficient to prove that respondents predecessors-in-interest had been in possession of the land in
the concept of an owner for more than 30 years. We cannot consider the testimony of Torres as sufficient corroboration. Torres testified primarily
on the fact of respondents acquisition of the land. While he claimed to be related to the Dimayugas, his knowledge of their possession of the land
was hearsay. He did not even tell the trial court where he obtained his information.
The tax declarations presented were only for the years starting 1955. While tax declarations are not conclusive evidence of ownership, they
34
constitute proof of claim of ownership. Respondent did not present any credible explanation why the realty taxes were only paid starting 1955
considering the claim that the Dimayugas were allegedly in possession of the land before 1945. The payment of the realty taxes starting 1955 gives
rise to the presumption that the Dimayugas claimed ownership or possession of the land only in that year.
Land Application by a Corporation
Petitioner asserts that respondent, a private corporation, cannot apply for registration of the land of the public domain in this case.
We agree with petitioner.
Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution provides:
Sec. 3. Lands of the public domain are classified into agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands, and national parks. Agricultural lands of
the public domain may be further classified by law according to the uses to which they may be devoted. Alienable lands of the public
domain shall be limited to agricultural lands. Private corporations or associations may not hold such alienable lands of the 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 hectares, or acquire not more than twelve
hectares thereof by purchase, homestead or grant.
Taking into account the requirements of conservation, ecology, and development, and subject to the requirements of agrarian reform,
the Congress shall determine, by law, the size of lands of the public domain which may be acquired, developed, held, or leased and the
conditions therefor.
The 1987 Constitution absolutely prohibits private corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. In Chavez v. Public
35
Estates Authority, the Court traced the law on disposition of lands of the public domain. Under the 1935 Constitution, there was no prohibition
against private corporations from acquiring agricultural land. The 1973 Constitution limited the alienation of lands of the public domain to
individuals who were citizens of the Philippines. Under the 1973 Constitution, private corporations, even if wholly owned by Filipino citizens, were
no longer allowed to acquire alienable lands of the public domain. The present 1987 Constitution continues the prohibition against private
36
corporations from acquiring any kind of alienable land of the public domain. The Court explained in Chavez:

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LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


The 1987 Constitution continues the State policy in the 1973 Constitution banning private corporations from acquiring any kind of
alienable land of the public domain. Like the 1973 Constitution, the 1987 Constitution allows private corporations to hold alienable lands
of the public domain only through lease. x x x x
[I]f the constitutional intent is to prevent huge landholdings, the Constitution could have simply limited the size of alienable lands of the
public domain that corporations could acquire. The Constitution could have followed the limitations on individuals, who could acquire not
more than 24 hectares of alienable lands of the public domain under the 1973 Constitution, and not more than 12 hectares under the
1987 Constitution.
If the constitutional intent is to encourage economic family-size farms, placing the land in the name of a corporation would be more
effective in preventing the break-up of farmlands. If the farmland is registered in the name of a corporation, upon the death of the
owner, his heirs would inherit shares in the corporation instead of subdivided parcels of the farmland. This would prevent the continuing
break-up of farmlands into smaller and smaller plots from one generation to the next.
In actual practice, the constitutional ban strengthens the constitutional limitation on individuals from acquiring more than the allowed
area of alienable lands of the public domain. Without the constitutional ban, individuals who already acquired the maximum area of
alienable lands of the public domain could easily set up corporations to acquire more alienable public lands. An individual could own as
many corporations as his means would allow him. An individual could even hide his ownership of a corporation by putting his nominees
as stockholders of the corporation. The corporation is a convenient vehicle to circumvent the constitutional limitation on acquisition by
individuals of alienable lands of the public domain.
The constitutional intent, under the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions, is to transfer ownership of only a limited area of alienable land of the
public domain to a qualified individual. This constitutional intent is safeguarded by the provision prohibiting corporations from acquiring
alienable lands of the public domain, since the vehicle to circumvent the constitutional intent is removed. The available alienable public
lands are gradually decreasing in the face of an ever-growing population. The most effective way to insure faithful adherence to this
constitutional intent is to grant or sell alienable lands of the public domain only to individuals. This, it would seem, is the practical benefit
37
arising from the constitutional ban.
38

In Director of Lands v. IAC, the Court allowed the land registration proceeding filed by Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc. (Acme) for five parcels of
land with an area of 481,390 square meters, or 48.139 hectares, which Acme acquired from members of the Dumagat tribe. The issue in that case
was whether the title could be confirmed in favor of Acme when the proceeding was instituted after the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution which
prohibited private corporations or associations from holding alienable lands of the public domain except by lease not to exceed 1,000 hectares. The
Court ruled that the land was already private land when Acme acquired it from its owners in 1962, and thus Acme acquired a registrable title.
Under the 1935 Constitution, private corporations could acquire public agricultural lands not exceeding 1,024 hectares while individuals could
39
acquire not more than 144 hectares.
In Director of Lands, the Court further ruled that open, exclusive, and undisputed possession of alienable land for the period prescribed by law
created 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. The Court ruled:
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 that the
possessor(s) "x x x shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be
entitled to a certificate of title x x x." 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 effected by operation of law from
the moment the required period of possession became complete.
x x x [A]lienable public land held by a possessor, personally or through his predecessors-in-interest, openly, continuously and exclusively
for the prescribed statutory period of (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
40
being at the time no prohibition against said corporations holding or owning private land. x x x. (Emphasis supplied)
Director of Lands is not applicable to the present case. In Director of Lands, the "land x x x was already private property at the time it was
acquired x x x by Acme." In this case, respondent 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. In short,
when respondent acquired the land from Porting, the land was not yet private property.
For Director of Lands to apply and enable a corporation to file for registration of alienable and disposable land, the corporation must have acquired
the land when its transferor had already a vested right to a judicial confirmation of title to the land by virtue of his open, continuous and adverse
41
possession of the land in the concept of an owner for at least 30 years since 12 June 1945. Thus, in Natividad v. Court of Appeals, the Court
declared:

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LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


Under the facts of this case and pursuant to the above rulings, the parcels of land in question had already been converted to private
ownership through acquisitive prescription by the predecessors-in-interest of TCMC when the latter purchased them in 1979. All that was
needed was the confirmation of the titles of the previous owners or predecessors-in-interest of TCMC.
Being already private land when TCMC bought them in 1979, the prohibition in the 1973 Constitution against corporations acquiring
alienable lands of the public domain except through lease (Article XIV, Section 11, 1973 Constitution) did not apply to them for they were
no longer alienable lands of the public domain but private property.
What is determinative for the doctrine in Director of Lands to apply is for the corporate applicant for land registration to establish that when it
acquired the land, the same was already private land by operation of law because the statutory acquisitive prescriptive period of 30 years had
already lapsed. The length of possession of the land by the corporation cannot be tacked on to complete the statutory 30 years acquisitive
prescriptive period. Only an individual can avail of such acquisitive prescription since both the 1973 and 1987 Constitutions prohibit corporations
from acquiring lands of the public domain.
Admittedly, a corporation can at present still apply for original registration of land under the doctrine in Director of Lands. Republic Act No. 9176
43
(RA 9176) further amended the Public Land Act and extended the period for the filing of applications for judicial confirmation of imperfect and
incomplete titles to alienable and disposable lands of the public domain until 31 December 2020. Thus:

42

Sec. 2. Section 47, Chapter VIII of the same Act, as amended, is hereby further amended to read as follows:
Sec. 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 of said persons from acting under this Chapter at any time prior to the period fixed by the
President.
Sec. 3. All pending applications filed before the effectivity of this amendatory Act shall be treated as having been filed in accordance with
the provisions of this Act.
Under RA 9176, the application for judicial confirmation is limited only to 12 hectares, consistent with Section 3, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution
that a private individual may only acquire not more than 12 hectares of alienable and disposable land. Hence, respondent, as successor-in-interest
of an individual owner of the land, cannot apply for registration of land in excess of 12 hectares. Since respondent applied for 56.4007 hectares, the
application for the excess area of 44.4007 hectares is contrary to law, and thus void ab initio. In applying for land registration, a private corporation
cannot have any right higher than its predecessor-in-interest from whom it derived its right. This assumes, of course, that the corporation acquired
the land, not exceeding 12 hectares, when the land had already become private land by operation of law. In the present case, respondent has failed
to prove that any portion of the land was already private land when respondent acquired it from Porting in 1997.
WHEREFORE, we SET ASIDE the 21 August 2002 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 66658 and the 16 December 1999 Decision of
the Regional Trial Court of Tanauan, Batangas, Branch 6 in Land Registration Case No. T-635. We DENY the application for registration filed by
T.A.N. Properties, Inc.
SO ORDERED.
SECOND DIVISION
G.R. No. L-67399 November 19, 1985
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES (The Director of Lands), petitioner,
vs.
THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and AVELINO LEYCO, LEANDRO LEYCO, ZARA LEYCO, JUSTINA LEYCO and FELIPA LEYCO, represented by
LEANDRO LEYCO, respondents.
Solicitor General for petitioner.
Restituto L. Opis for respondents.

MAKASIAR, C.J.:
Petition to review a decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court which affirmed in toto that of the trial court.
In LRC No. N-173 of the then Court of First Instance of Marinduque, Avelino, Leandro, Justina, Zara and Felipa all surnamed LEYCO applied for
judicial confirmation of their title to two (2) parcels of land with a combined area of 138.5413 hectares (pp. 1-9, ROA).
The Director of lands for the Republic of the Philippines opposed the petition.

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LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


Respondent applicants' alleged possession of Lots 1 and 2 of Psu-133612 (consisting of 138.5413 hectares) from 1962 up to the filing of their
application for registration in 1976 about 14 years only does not constitute possession under claim of ownership so as to entitle them to a
State grant under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act (Com. Act No. 141), as amended.
Respondent applicants failed to establish conclusively that they and their predecessor-in-interest were in continuous possession and occupancy of
the lots in question under bona fide claim of ownership. Even the alleged long-time possession by respondent applicants' mother, Fausta de Jesus,
who claimed to have entered into possession of the land in question in 1911 until her death in 1962, does not appear to be indubitable.
The tax declarations presented as evidence by respondent applicants are not by themselves conclusive proof of their alleged possession under
claim of ownership over the lots in question. The earliest tax declaration is dated 1927 while the others are recent tax declarations.
Respondent applicants presented the following exhibits:
Exh. M-2" Tax Declaration No. 3431 (1966) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut (15.4182 has.) and cogon
(40000 has.) lands. Planted to 1512 coconut bearing trees. Value of land assessed at P3,590.00 and value of improvements
assessed at P9,070.00 or a total value of P12,660.00. This TD cancelled TD No. 664.
Exh. M-3" Tax Declaration No. 664 (1966) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut (15.4182 has.) and cogon
(40000 has.) lands. Planted to 1512 coconut bearing trees. Value of land assessed at 114,360 and value of improvements
assessed at P11,340 or a total value of P15,700. This TD cancelled TD No. 4023.
Exh. M-4" Tax Declaration No. 4023 (1958) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut and cogon lands, with a total
area of 19.4182 has. . Planted to 1,012 coconut fruit bearing trees. Total value of land assessed at P 2,900.00 while value of
improvements assessed at P 5,570.00 or a total assessed value of P 8,470.00. This TD cancelled TD No. 3480.
Exh. M-5" Tax Declaration No. 3480 (1958) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut land with a total area of
19.4182 has. . Planted to 1364 coconut trees (fruit bearing). Value of land assessed at P 3,500.00 and value of improvements
thereon assessed at P7,500.00 or a total value of P11,900.00. This declaration cancelled TD No. 2778.
Exh. M-6" Tax Declaration No. 2778 (1955) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut land with a total area of
19.4182 has. . Planted to 620 coconut trees fruit bearing. Value of land assessed at P2,330.00 and value of improvements
assessed at P2,920.00 or a total assessed value of P5,250.00. This declaration cancelled TD No. 475.
Exh. M-7" Tax Declaration No. 475 (1949) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut (6.0000 has.) and cogon
(17.0000 has.) lands. Planted to 500 coconut trees bearing fruits and 120 coconut trees not bearing fruits. Total value of land
assessed at P940.00 and improvements at P1550.00 or a total value of P2490.00. This TD cancelled TD No. 5319.
Exh. M-8" Tax Declaration No. 5319 (1928) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as "Cogonalos para cocal, cogonalos
para paste," with an area of 23.0000 has . . Planted to 150 "ponos de cocos frutales." Value of land assessed at P690 and
improvements thereon at P300 or a total assessed value of P990.00.
Exh. 0-2" Tax Declaration No. 3432 (1966) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut (19.1231 has.) and cogon
(100.0000 has.) lands, or with a total area of 119.1231. Planted to 1685 coconut trees. Total value of land assessed at P9210.00
while total value of improvements assessed at P10,110.00 or a total assessed value of P19,320.00. This declaration cancelled TD
No. 665.
Exh. 0-3" Tax Declaration No. 665 (1966) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut (19.1231 has.) and cogon
(100.0000 has.) lands. Planted to 1,685 coconut fruit bearing trees. Land assessed at P10,120 while improvements thereon at
P12,640 or a total assessed value of P22,760. This declaration cancelled TD No. 4022.
Exh. 0-4" Tax Declaration No. 4022 (1958) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut (19.1231 has.) and cogon
(P100.00 has.) lands. Planted to 1,685 coconut trees bearing fruits. Land assessed at P5,840.00 and improvements thereon at
P9,270.00. This declaration cancelled TD No. 3543.
Exh. 0-5" Tax Declaration No. 3543 (1958) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut land with a total area of
119.1231 has. . Planted to 1843 coconut trees fruit bearing. Land assessed at P21,440.00 while improvements thereon at
P10,140.00 or a total value of P31,580.00. This declaration cancelled TD No. 2779.
Exh. 0-6" Tax Declaration No. 2779 (1955) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut land with a total area of
119.1231 has. . Planted to 2,190 coconut trees fruit bearing and 200 coconut trees not bearing fruit (3 years old). Land assessed
at P14,290.00 while improvements thereon at P10,290.00 or a total value of P24,590.00. This TD cancelled TD No. 4476
Exh. 0-7" Tax Declaration No. 476 (1949) in the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as coconut (20.8595 has.) and pasture
(642042 has.) lands or a total area of 85.0637 has. . Planted to 2,190 coconut trees fruit bearing. Land assessed at P3370.00
while improvements thereon valued at P660.00 or a total assessed value of P10,030.00. This TD cancelled TD No. 5321.
Exh. 0-8" Tax Declaration No. 5321 (1941) on the name of Fausta de Jesus. Declared as "Llani cocal" with an area of 88.0637
has. . Planted to "2191 cocos frutales." Land assessed at P2320 and improvements there at P4380 or a total assessed value of
P6700.00. This declaration cancelled TD No. 3231.

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LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


Likewise, respondent applicants herein presented the following tax declarations:
Exh. L" Tax Declaration No. 2485 (1974) in the name of Avelino Leandro, Justina, Zara & Felipe, all surnamed Leyco. Classified
as coconut land with an area of P5.0000 has. . Planted to 140 coconut bearing trees. Value of land assessed at P5280 and value
or improvements therein at P8020 or a total assessed value of P13,300.00. This declaration cancelled TD No. 4166.
Exh. M" Tax Declaration No. 4166 (1970) in the name of Avelino, Leandro, Justina and Felipa Leyco. Declared as coconut
(15.4182 has.) and cogon (4.0000 has,) lands, or with a total area of has. . Planted to 1512 coconut fruit bearing trees. Value of
land is assessed at P3590 while value of improvements at P9070 or a total assessed value of P12,660. This declaration cancelled
TD No. 3431.
Exh. N" Tax Declaration No. 2484 (1974) in the name of Avelino, Leandro, Justina, Zara and Felipa Leyco. Classified as
coconut (19.0000 has.) and cogon (50.0000 has.) lands. Planted to 1425 coconut bearing trees and 550 coconut not bearing
fruits. Land assessed at P13.730 and improvements thereon assessed at P9,860 or a total assessed value of P24,590. This
declaration cancelled TD No. 4165.
Exh. O" Tax Declaration No. 4165 (1970) in the name of Avelino Alejandro, Justina, Zara and Felipa Leyco. Declared as
coconut (19.1231 has.) and cogon (100.0000 has.) lands. Planted to 1685 coconut trees fruit bearing. Value of land assessed at
P9,210 and thereon at P10,111 or a total assessed value of P19,320. This declaration cancelled TD No. 3432.
A cursory look at the exhibits (tax declarations) presented by respondent applicants herein reveals a number of discrepancies that cast serious
doubts on respondents' claim over the lots in question:
1. Tax Declaration No. 5319 dated 1928 (Exh. M-8) declared in the name of Fausta de Jesus with an area of 23.0000 hectares, specifies its
boundaries as follows:
North: Sapa
East: Florencio Corral
South: Fausta de Jesus
West: Mar.
In 1949, Fausta de Jesus filed Tax Declaration No. 475 (Exh. M-7) which cancelled Tax Declaration 475 (Exh. M-7) which cancelled Tax Declaration
No. 5319 over the same parcel of land. A close examination, however, of Tax Declaration No. 475 shows that the listing of the adjoining owners
therein was at variance with what was previously stated in Tax Declaration No. 5319, thus:
North. Brook
East: Aurelia de Jesus
South: Seashore (before Fausta de Jesus)
West: Hrs. of Florencio Corral
This anomaly in the listing of adjoining owners in the two aforestated tax declarations over the same parcel of land only reveals the flaw that
apparently attended the acquisition of the lots in question by respondent applicants and their predecessor-in-interest.
2. Under Tax Declaration No. 5321 dated 1941 (Exh. 0-8), respondent applicants' predecessor-in-interest, Fausta de Jesus, declared a parcel of land
in her name with an area of 88.0637 hectares.
Later, in 1949, Fausta de Jesus filed Tax Declaration No. 476 (Exh. 0-7) which cancelled Tax Declaration No. 5321 over the same parcel of land.
However, under Tax Declaration No. 476, the total area of the land declared was only 85.0637 hectares (84.0637 as erroneously stated in Tax
Declaration No. 476).
Again, the foregoing disparity in the size of the land as declared in the two tax declarations is a clear indication that respondent applicants herein
and their predecessor-in-interest were uncertain and contradictory as to the exact or actual size of the land they purportedly possessed.
Likewise, it is noteworthy to mention that six years after Fausta de Jesus filed Declaration No. 476 in 1949, Tax Declaration No. 2779 was filed
cancelling Tax Declaration No. 476 showing this time a whopping land area of 119.1231 hectares. As to how Fausta de Jesus managed to
increase her landholdings in so short a span of time intrigues one no end, considering that from 1949 up to her death in 1962, she listed Manila as
her place of residence.
3. Tax Declaration No. 3432 (1966), 665 (1966), and 4022 (1958) presented as Exhibits 0-2, 0-3, and 0-4, respectively, show that of the total
declared area of 119.1231 hectares, only about 19.1231 hectares were planted to coconuts and the remaining 100.000,00 hectares were cogonal or
uncultivated lands.
The unjustifiable award of this vast tract of land which are cogon lands and therefore pasture lands still forming part of the public domain and
released by the Bureau of Lands for disposition to the respondent applicants herein, who are undeserving, is tantamount to putting a premium
on absentee landlordism.

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LAND TITLES AND DEEDS 2015- CASES


The record shows that even the taxes due o the litigated lots were not paid regularly. As per certification of the municipal treasurer of Buenavista,
Marinduque, it was shown that the taxes due on the land registered in the name of Fausta de Jesus were paid only from 1949 until 1957 an
indication that respondent applicants and their predecessor-in-interest did not pay taxes to the government from 1928 to 1940, and from 1958
until July 6, 1978 when the respondent applicants closed their evidence a total of 32 years. The respondent applicants presented their evidence
on April 19, 1977, October 12, 1977, March 29, 1978 and July 6, 1978.
The testimonies of respondent applicants' alleged overseers and hired tenants should not be accorded weight and significance; because it is only
natural for the overseers and hired tenants to testify as they did in respondent applicants' favor as they stand to benefit from a decision favorable
to their supposed landlords and benefactors.
But even granting that the witnesses presented by herein respondent applicants were indeed bona fide overseers and tenants or workers of the
land in question, it appears rather strange why only about 3,000 coconut trees and some fruit trees were planted (2,000 coconut trees on Lot 1
which is 119 hectares. and 1,000 coconut trees on Lot 2 which is 19 hectares) on the vast tract of land subject of the instant petition. In a practical
and scientific way of planting, a one- hectare land can be planted to about 144 coconut trees. In the instant case, if the hired tenants and workers
of respondent applicants managed to plant only 3,000 coconut trees, it could only mean that about only 25 hectares out of the 138 hectares
claimed by herein respondent applicants were cleared, cultivated and planted to coconut trees and fruit trees. Once planted, a coconut is left to
grow and need not be tended or watched. This is not what the law considers as possession under claim of ownership. On the contrary, it merely
showed casual or occasional cultivation of portions of the land in question. In short, possession is not exclusive nor notorious, much less
continuous, so as to give rise to a presumptive grant from the government.
Moreover, respondent applicants herein have not shown nor clearly their right to inherit from their predecessor-in-interest. The observation of the
Solicitor General on this point is thus well taken:
Even assuming that applicants' deceased mother acquired registerable title over the parcels in question, applicants cannot be
said to have acquired the same right proper for registration. They have not presented any evidence of value to prove that they
have the right to inherit whatever portion of the properties left by Fausta de Jesus. They have first to show their right to
succeed Fausta, testate or intestate; to establish who Fausta's legal heirs are or that applicants. and no other, are Fausta's sole
heirs. But all these should be threshed out in a proper proceeding, certainly not in a land registration case.
Finally, this is a clear case of land-grabbing of over 100 hectares of land, which could be divided among the landless and the poor to defuse the
seething unrest among the underprivileged. At this point in time in our country's history, land-grabbing by the powerful, moneyed and influential
absentee claimants should not be tolerated nor condoned if only to avoid fanning further the fires of discontent, dissidence or subversion which
menacingly threaten the very survival of our nation.
WHEREFORE, THE PETITION IS HEREBY GRANTED. THE DECISION OF THE RESPONDENT INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT IS HEREBY REVERSED
AND SET ASIDE. NO COSTS.
SO ORDERED.
Concepcion Jr., Escolin, Cuevas and Alampay, JJ., concur.
Aquino (Chairman), J., took no part.

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