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EN BANC

G.R. No. 81564

April 26, 1990

ACTING REGISTRARS OF LAND TITLES AND DEEDS OF PASAY CITY, PASIG AND MAKATI, METRO MANILA, petitioners,
vs.
THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT, BRANCH 57, IN MAKATI, METRO MANILA PRESIDED OVER BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE
FRANCISCO X. VELEZ, AND THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE DELFIN CASAL, represented by DOMINGO C.
PALOMARES, ADMINISTRATOR, respondents.
G.R. No. 90176

April 26, 1990

THE INTESTATE ESTATE OF THE LATE DELFIN CASAL, represented by DOMINGO C. PALOMARES, ADMINISTRATOR,
petitioner,
vs.
HONORABLE CONRADO VASQUEZ, JR., Presiding Judge, BRANCH 118, RTC, RICARDO P. SANTIAGO, ET AL., respondents.
The petitioners ** charge His Honor, Judge Francisco Velez, of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 57, Makati, Metro Manila, with grave
abuse of discretion in issuing an order authorizing the private respondent, through Domingo Palomares, to perform acts of ownership
over a 2,574-hectare parcel of land known as Hacienda de Maricaban spread out in various parts of Makati, Pasig, Taguig, Pasay City,
and Paraaque.
Facts:
On November 5, 1985, the private respondent, Domingo Palomares, as administrator of the heirs of Delfin Casal, commenced suit with
the RTC of Makati for declaratory relief, quieting of title, cancellation of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 192, and cancellation of
entries upon Original Certificate of Title No. 291.
Palomares had earlier (February 27, 1985) filed a similar petition, and in addition, to direct the Register of Deeds to issue a duplicate
owner's copy of OCT No. 291, embracing allegedly Hacienda de Maricaban, in lieu of the (alleged) lost one. On September 9, 1985, the
Court denied the petition for lack of merit. (G.R. No. 69834).
On December 19, 1985, the petitioners filed their answer.

On June 2, 1986, the private respondent


filed a motion to admit amended
complaint impleading the Republic of the
Philippines and the ROD of Pasig, Makati,
and Pasay City as parties-respondents,
and alleging, among other things, that:
(1) on October 1, 1906, the Court of Land
Registration (James Ostrand, Presiding Judge)
confirmed the title of Dolores Pascual Casal y
Ochoa, a native of Madrid, Spain, over the
2,574-hectare parcel above-mentioned;
(2) on October 17, 1906, the Register of
Deeds of Rizal issued OCT No. 291 in her
name;
(3) upon her death, and successive deaths of
her heirs, the property devolved on Gerardo,
Reynaldo, Lolita, and Erlinda, all surnamed
Casal, great grandchildren of Dolores;
(4) no conveyances or dispositions of any kind
have been allegedly made upon the parcel;
(5) TCT No. 192, which covers the same
landholding, is allegedly spurious and
inexistent;

On June 26, 1986, the petitioners filed an


answer, stating, among other things, that:

(1) the estate of Dolores Casal (or Delfin Casal,


her grandchild) is not a juridical person authorized
by law to bring suit;
(2) the Registers of Deeds of Makati, Pasig, and
Pasay City are not the real parties in interest, but
rather, the registered owners over which the court
had not acquired jurisdiction;
(3) the non-joinder of the real parties in interest is
fatal;
(4) OCT No. 291 has long been cancelled;
(5) Judge Gregorio Pineda of the then Court of
First Instance of Rizal, Branch XXI, Pasig, had
earlier denied prayers for the issuance of
duplicate owner's copy of OCT No. 291
because the land embraced therein had been
validly delivered to the Government;
(6) the Supreme Court itself had denied the

In their
comment,
respondent averred,
things, that:

the private
among other

(1) the respondent court, contrary to the


petitioners' claim, did not decide the
case "before trial";
2) OCT No. 291 had not been validly
cancelled and that the rubber stamp
impression thereon, "CANCELLED" is a
forgery;
(3) the act of Judge Pineda, in denying
issuance of OCT No. 291, duplicate
owner's copy, cannot be considered res
judicata because that case involved
purportedly a mere petition for issuance
of duplicate owner's copy;
(4) non-joinder of proper parties is not a
jurisdictional defect;
(5) the TCTs issued thereafter are a
nullity because OCT No. 291 had not
been shown to have been duly

(6) the State itself, by placing 27,213,255


square meters thereof under a military
reservation (Fort McKinley now Fort Bonifacio),
by Proclamation No. 423, and fifty hectares
thereof pursuant to Proclamation No. 192, had
been guilty of landgrabbing;

Casals' appeal; ***

cancelled;

(7) as a consequence, res judicata is a bar;

(6) OCT No. 291


imprescriptible; and

(7) any and all holders of any and all TCTs


emanating therefrom or from TCT No. 192,
are null, void, and of no force and effect; and

(9) the Casal's claims cannot validly override


the titles of innocent purchasers for value.

has

become

(8) prescription has also set in; and


(7) the private respondent has a valid
right of dominion over the property.

(8) as a consequence thereof, the heirs of


Dolores Casal suffered various damages and
attorney's fees.

On August 29, 1986, the respondent judge issued a TRO directing the petitioners to cease and desist from performing the acts
complained of.
In a subsequent memorandum, the petitioners alleged that Dolores Casal had conveyed the property to the Government of the United
States in 1906 and the Manila Railroad Company on which Judge Ostrand, the Presiding Judge of the Court of Land Registration, later
Justice of this Court, had stamped his imprimatur.
On October 12, 1987, the respondent court issued an order authorizing Domingo C. Palomares:
1. To order such subdivision and/or individual survey or surveys within Parcel II, Parcel III and Parcel IV under Survey Plan
Psu-2031 by a licensed geodetic engineer or engineers at plaintiffs' expense in order to facilitate and simplify the efficient
administration of the property described in OCT 291; and
2. To sell, exchange, lease or otherwise dispose (of) any area or areas or portion or portions thereof, subject to the approval of
the Intestate Estate Court, to cover expenses for the payment of taxes to which the property is subject, as well as expenses of
administration and for the protection of the integrity of the said lands.
Eleven days later, or on October 23, 1987, a clarificatory order was issued, affirming the power of Domingo C. Palomares to execute
and perform the acts authorized in the said Order of October 12, 1987 without the need of a Writ of Execution, where no relief has been
sought therefrom by any party, said Order being implementable at the instance of the said plaintiff Domingo C. Palomares, anytime
when the said Order becomes final 15 days after the said plaintiff received copy of the same ( see Section 39, Chapter IV, B.P. Blg.
129). Plaintiff Domingo C. Palomares may therefore take whatever steps he considers appropriate for the implementation of the said
Order without need of further Orders or additional authority from the Court.
The petitioners filed a notice of appeal; the respondent court, however, denied it" "it being directed against . . . an interlocutory
order. . .
Hence, this recourse.
In the meantime, the private respondent came to this Court on certiorari (G.R. No. 90176) alleging that on December 15, 1987, in
connection with Sp. Proc. No. P-2993 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 118, Pasay City, entitled "In the matter of the Intestate Estate
of the Late Fortunato Santiago and Mariano Pantanilla Crisanta P. Santiago, et al., Petitioners," Judge Conrado Vasquez, Jr. issued an
order disposing of certain parcels which the private respondent claims as forming part and parcel of Hacienda de Maricaban.
On June 20, 1988, the respondent judge in G.R. No. 81564 filed his own comment, asserting, among other things, that: (1) what he
had sought to bar, by virtue of injunction, was incursions and forcible entries of trespassers and squatters; (2) the petitioners cannot
rightly claim that he had prematurely adjudicated the case, because there was allegedly no decision to begin with; (3) that he issued the
writ of preliminary injunction in order only to maintain the status quo ante bellum that is, to re-place the private respondent, which had
been allegedly in prior possession, in possession; (4) he did not allegedly authorize unbridled "acts of ownership" to be exercised on
the property; (5) all rights of dominion given thereon were subject to the approval of the intestate estate court; (6) he denied the notice
of appeal because the order dated October 12, 1987, was interlocutory in nature from which no appeal lies; (7) as to jurisdiction, the
various motions filed by petitioners, allegedly accepting the court's jurisdiction, have clothed the court with jurisdiction, and that besides,
the jurisdictional question was never raised except now.
On July 7, 1988, the petitioners filed a reply traversing the respondent judge's allegations.

On August 26, 1988, the respondent judge filed a supplemental comment. He reiterated that the writ of injunction was directed only
on such spaces not occupied by the Government (Fort Bonifacio, Libingan ng mga Bayani, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Nayong
Pilipino, Population Commission, National Science and Development Board, and National Housing Authority).
Meanwhile, Atty. Antonio J. Dalangpan for and on behalf purportedly of the "Heirs of Delfin Casal" and the private respondent,
Domingo Palomares, file a Comment/Opposition in Intervention", dated December 23, 1988 asking for the outright dismissal of the
petition.
On December 14, 1989, the private respondent filed a manifestation, stating, among other things, that assuming OCT No. 291 had
been cancelled, there was still basis for the respondent judge to prevent land grabbers from entering into vacant portions of the state
embraced thereby.
ISSUES:

(1) Is OCT No. 291 still valid and subsisting?


(2) Did the respondent judge, in issuing the orders, dated October 12 and October 23, 1987, commit a grave abuse of
discretion equivalent to lack or excess of jurisdiction?

I.
Is OCT No. 291 still valid and subsisting?
The Court takes judicial notice of the fact that the hectarage embraced by TCT No. 192 (OCT No. 291) consists of
Government property. Three things persuade the Court: (1) the decrees of Proclamations Nos. 192 and 435; (2) the
incontrovertible fact that OCT No. 291 has been duly cancelled; and (3) the division of the Court of Appeals in ACG.R. CV No. 00293, affirming the decision of Hon. Gregorio Pineda, Judge of the then Court of First Instance of Rizal,
Branch XXI, in LRC (GLRO) Rec. No. 2484, Case No. R-1467 thereof, entitled "In Re: Issuance of Owner's Duplicate
of Certificate of Title No. 291," as well as our own Resolution, in G.R. No. 69834, entitled "Domingo Palomares, et al.,
v. Intermediate Appellate Court".
(a) Proclamation No. 192 ("RESERVING FOR THE VETERANS CENTER SITE PURPOSES CERTAIN PARCEL OF LAND OF THE
PUBLIC DOMAIN SITUATED IN THE PROVINCE OF RIZAL, ISLAND OF LUZON") and Proclamation No. 423 ("RESERVING FOR
MILITARY PURPOSES CERTAIN PARCELS OF THE PUBLIC DOMAIN SITUATED IN THE MUNICIPALITY OF PASIG, TAGUIG, AND
PARAAQUE PROVINCE OF RIZAL, AND PASAY CITY") have the character of official assertions of ownership, and the presumption
is that they have been issued by right of sovereignty and in the exercise of the State's dominical authority. The Court take not only
judicial notice thereof but accept the same as a valid asseveration of regalian light over property.
With respect to the premises occupied by the Libingan ng mga Bayani, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Nayong
Pilipino, the Population Commission, National Science and Development Board, and the National Housing Authority,
the Court have no slightest doubt that they stand on Government property by sheer presumption that, unless
otherwise shown, what the Government occupies is what the Government owns.
While there is no presumption that property is Government property until otherwise shown, because the law
recognizes private ownership, thus:
Art. 425. Property of private ownership, besides the patrimonial property of the State, provinces, cities, and
municipalities, consists of all property belonging to private persons, either individually or collectively. 7
The Court find hard evidence on record that: (1) the property covered by OCT No. 291 had been conveyed to the
United States of America; (2) it had been later ceded to the Republic of the Philippines, and (3) as a consequence,
OCT No. 291 was cancelled upon final order of Judge Ostrand.
Be that as it may, the private respondent in G.R. No. 81564 is pressed hard to establish the fact that portions of the property, especially
the open spaces referred to in the lower court's writ of injunction and the private respondent's manifestation of December 14, 1989, and
which open spaces it claims to be outside Maricaban, are indeed outside Maricaban (or OCT 291).
With respect, however, to parts thereof on which Fort Bonifacio, Libingan ng mga Bayani, Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Nayong
Pilipino, Population Commission National Science and Development Board, and National Housing Authority sit, the hands of the private
respondent are tied.
Claims that Judge Ostrand's decree was a counterfeit is not only self-serving, it finds no support from the records. The presumptions is
"that official duty has been regularly performed," 8 and the burden is on the private respondent to prove irregular performance. The
barren insistence that Judge Ostrands order was a forgery is not sufficient to overthrow the presumption. To begin with, the act of
forgery has been seasonably disputed by the petitioners. Secondly, the Acting Registrar of Deeds of Pasig, who supposedly certified to
the fake character of Judge Ostrand's order, has himself joined the other petitioners in opposing the reconveyance sought.

(b) The decision in AC-G.R. No. 00293, dismissing the private respondent's petition for the issuance of a new owner's copy of
OCT No. 291, a dismissal affirmed by this Court in G.R. No. 69834, also militates against the return of the property to the heirs of Delfin
Casal. The Appellate Court's judgment, a judgment sustained by this Court, operates as, at the very least, the law of the case between
the parties, that OCT No. 291 has been cancelled and the land covered has been conveyed and ceded to the National
Government. The fact that AC-G.R. CV No. 00293 dealt with a petition for issuance of lost owner's duplicate copy is no argument
because be that as it may, the private respondent cannot rightfully say that the heirs of Delfin Casal still have title to the land. If it cannot
secure a new owner's copy, it can mean that they have lost title thereto.
(c) The principle of res judicata is also a bar to the instant proceedings. It should be noted that in G.R. No. 69834, Mr. Domingo
Palomares prayed:
WHEREFORE, premises considered it is most respectfully prayed to the most Honorable Supreme Court, that in the
name of law, justice and fair play, to prevent and frustrate "land-grabbing" by the government, decision be rendered:
FIRST, That a thorough review of the aforementioned resolution of the Intermediate Appellate Court be made;
SECOND, That after due consideration, the resolution subject of review be set aside based on the aforestated
assignment of error;
THIRD, That the Order of the Lower Court dated Jan. 19, 1977 be affirmed as the lawful and valid order;
FOURTH, To erase all doubts by declaring OCT No. 291 as continuously and existing validly against the whole world;
FIFTH, Clearing OCT No. 291 of all adverse claims, since the herein petitioners are the true and legally declared heirs;
and
SIXTH, Ordering the Register of Deeds of Pasig, Rizal to issue the Owner's Duplicate Copy of OCT No. 291.
Petitioner-Appellant further prays for other just and equitable reliefs.****
The Court therefore denied that petition, it, in effect, held that reconstitution (of lost duplicate owner's copy) was not possible
because the mother title (OCT No. 291) had been duly cancelled. And when the Court therefore declared OCT No. 291 to have
been cancelled, it perished all doubts as to the invalidity of Mr. Palomares' pretenses of title to Maricaban. The judgment was
conclusive not only as to Mr. Palomares, but also as to the existing status of the property. As the Court held:
The lower Court correctly ruled that the present action is barred by the final judgment rendered in the previous case
of Tuason & Co. vs. Aguila, Civil Case No. Q-4275, of the Court of First Instance of Rizal. The reason is plain: if the
herein appellants really had a preferential right to a conveyance of the land from J.M. Tuason & Co., or if the
certificate of (Torrens) title held by Tuason & Co. were truly void and ineffective, then these facts should have been
pleaded by these appellants in the previous case (Q-4275), since such facts, if true, constituted a defense to the
claim of Tuason & Co. for recovery of possession. If appellants failed to plead such defenses in that previous case,
they are barred from litigating the same in any subsequent proceeding, for it is a well established rule that as between
the same parties and on the same subject and cause of action, a final judgment is conclusive not only on matters
directly adjudicated, but also as to any other matter that could have been raised in relation thereto. 9
II
Did the respondent judge, in issuing the order, dated October 12, 1987, commit a grave abuse of discretion equivalent to lack of excess
of jurisdiction?
(a)The Court has no doubt that Judge Velez is here guilty of grave abuse of discretion tantamount to lack or excess of jurisdiction to
warrant certiorari. As above-stated, what he gave away, by virtue of reconveyance, was property that inalienably belongs to the
Government or its successors. Worse, he gave away property without notice to the actual possessors, that is, the present registered
owner. It is beyond debate, as we have indicated, that the land had been, since the cancellation of OCT No. 291, parcelled out to a
succession of buyers and owners. In the absence of notice, it acquired no jurisdiction to decree redelivery or reconveyance. It is wellestablished that owners of property over which reconveyance is asserted are indispensable parties, without whom no relief is available
and without whom the court can render no valid judgment. 10
Furthermore, the present holders of the land in question are innocent purchasers for value, or presumed to be so in the absence of
contrary evidence, against whom reconveyance does not lie. 11
(b)The respondent judge cannot conceal his faults behind arguments that he did not intend to convey the premises, but rather, to
secure, allegedly, vacant portions thereof from interlopers. First, this is not stated in his order. Second, that order is clear and

unequivocal that Domingo Palomares has the right "[t]o sell, exchange, lease or otherwise dispose of any area or areas or portion or
portions thereof . . . " 12 Third and last, the security of the property is the lookout of the claimants, and not the court's. In case the
premises the respondent judge's injunctive writ have been directed belong to others, let them air their plaints.
(c)The Court is also agreed that the challenged order was issued with no benefit of trial or hearing. The private respondent cannot
validly rely on AC-G.R. No. 00293 as the "trial or hearing" to justify the issuance of its said order, in the first place, because it is a
different proceeding. But above all, the private respondent itself says that AC-G.R. CV No. 00293 cannot be made a basis for denying
reconveyance because "the . . . petition was merely for the issuance of a new owner's duplicate copy . . . 13 Accordingly, it cannot invoke
that case and yet, repudiate its effects. It is the height of contradiction.
(d) It was also grave error for the lower court to deny the Solicitor General's notice of appeal. The Government had all the right to
appeal because: (1) the order of October 12, 1987 was in the nature of a final judgment, as "final judgment" is known in law (however it
is captioned), that is to say, one that "finally disposes of the pending action so that nothing more can be done with it in the trial court; 14
(2) it did not merely maintain the status quo, but allowed Mr. Domingo Palomares to transact on the property by near right of dominion
over it.
Judge Velez had therefore no reason, indeed, excuse, to deny the Government's notice of appeal. What is plain is the fact that Judge
Velez was hell-bent, so to speak, in blocking the Government's efforts to defend what rightfully belongs to it.
What has obviously been lost on the parties, Judge Velez in particular, is the established principle that injunction does not lie "to take
property out of the possession or control of one party and place it into that of another." 15 In this wise it has also been held:
xxx

xxx

xxx

It is a well established doctrine in this jurisdiction that an injunction is not the proper remedy for the recovery of
possession of real estate and the improvements thereon, as well as for the ejectments therefrom of the actual
occupants who claim to have title to or material interest therein. The use of said remedy in such cases has invariably
been considered unjustified, in open violation of the legal presumption that the bona fide possessor of a certain piece
of land and improvements thereon, holds the same under claim of ownership and with a just title, and as an
advanced concession of the remedy to which the claimant might be entitled. (Citations omitted) 16
xxx

xxx

xxx

Injunction, moreover, is an extraordinary remedy. It lies only in certain cases, to wit:


Sec. 3. Grounds for issuance of preliminary injunction. - A preliminary injunction may be granted at any time after the commencement of
the action and before judgment when it is established:
(a) That the plaintiff is entitled to the relief demanded, and the whole or part of such relief consists in restraining the
commission or continuance of the acts complained of, or in the performance of an act or acts, either for a limited
period or perpetually;
(b) That the commission or continuance of some act complained of during the litigation or the non-performance
thereof would probably work injustice to the plaintiff; or
(c) That the defendant is doing, threatens, or is about to do, or is procuring or suffering to be done, some act probably
in violation of the plaintiffs rights respecting the subject of the action, and tending to render the judgment ineffectual.
17

xxx

xxx

xxx

The conspicuous and unusual zeal with which Judge Francisco Velez now defends his acts 18 has not escaped us. His Honor should
have borne in mind that in proceedings under Rule 65 of the Rules, such as the present cases, the judge is included only as a nominal
party. Unless otherwise ordained by this Court, he is not called upon to answer or comment on the petition, but rather, the private
respondent. It is indeed distressing to note that it is the very judge who has taken the cudgels for the latter, in defending its interests,
when he, the judge, should have remained a neutral magistrate. Res ipsa loquitor. 19 He must get his just deserts.
III
The Court thus closes the long-drawn tale of Hacienda de Maricaban. In this connection, let trial judges be cautioned on the
indiscriminate disposition of our dwindling natural resources to private persons. Accordingly, we grant G.R. No. 81564 and dismiss G.R.
No. 90176, and so also, end what has come down as nearly a century of uncertainty, doubt, and conflict Maricaban has left in its trail.
The Court has finally spoken. Let the matter rest.

WHEREFORE:
1. The petition in G.R. No. 81564 is GRANTED:
(a) The Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued by our Resolution, dated April 13, 1988, enjoining the respondent judge
from enforcing his: (i) order of October 12, 1987 and (ii) the follow-up order of October 23, 1987, is made permanent
and
(b) Original Certificate of Title No. 291 is declared duly CANCELLED;
2. The petition in G.R. No. 90176 is DISMISSED; and
3. Judge Francisco Velez is ordered to SHOW CAUSE why he should not be administratively dealt with for giving
away, by virtue of reconveyance, property that inalienably belongs to the Government, without notice to the registered
owner, and without benefit of trial or hearing; for blocking Government efforts to defend what rightfully belongs to it;
and for filing his comment of June 17, 1988 and supplemental comment of August 26, 1988 without express leave of
court.
Costs against the private respondent.
SO ORDERED.

Carquelo Omandam and Rosito Itom v. CA, Blas Trabasas and Amparo Bonilla
This petition for review seeks for reversal of the decision dated October 29, 1996, of the Court of Appeals reversing and setting aside
the decision of the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga del Sur, Branch 23, dated November 15, 1996, and the resolution of the Court of
Appeals dated February 21, 1997, denying the petitioners' motion for reconsideration.
FACTS:
On January 29, 1974, the Bureau of Lands issued a homestead patent in favor of Camilo Lasola, covering Lot No. 8736, with an area of
23, 985 sq. m. in Sagrada, Tambulig, Zamboanga del Sur. The Register of Deeds also issued an Original Title Certificate in his name.
On April 28, 1983, Blas Trabasas bought the land from a certain Dolores Sayson who claimed to be the owner. In 1984, Trabasas
discovered that petitioners Carquelo Omandam and Rosito Itom had occupied the land. Meanwhile, on July 19, 1987, Omandam
protested Lasola's homestead patent before the Bureau of Lands and prayed for the cancellation of the OCT. Upon Sayson's
advice, Trabasas repurchased the land from Lasola, who executed a Deed of Sale dated September 24, 1987. On August 9, 1989,
Trabasa acquired a new Transfer Certificate of Title.
On April 16, 1990, Blas Trabasas and Amparo Bonilla filed a complaint for the recovery of possession and/or ownership of the
land with the Regional Trial Court of Zamboanga del Sur. They alleged that they are the true owners of the land and that the
petitioners should vacate it.
Petitioners, on the other hand, alleged that they purchased the land from one Godofredo Sela who have been in possession for almost
twenty years. After the parties were duly heard, the RTC issued a decision on November 15, 1993, declaring that neither Trabasas
and Bonilla, nor their predecessor-in-interest were ever in possession of the land. The court ordered the Trabasas and Bonilla to
reconvey the title of the land in the name of the petitioners.
The decision was appealed to the Court of Appeals. Pending appeal, the DENR dismissed Omandam's protest previously filed with
the Bureau of Lands. It said that Omandan failed to prove that Lasola committed fraud and misrepresentation in acquiring the patent,
hence there is no ground for the revocation and cancellation of its title.
On October 29, 1996, the Court of Appeals reversed and set aside the decision of the RTC and ordered the petitioners to vacate
the subject land and surrender it to Blas Trabasas and Amparo Bonilla. The Court of Appeals declared that the collateral attack on
the homestead title to defeat private respondents' accion publiciana, was not sanctioned by law; that the patent had already become
indefeasible since April 28, 1977; and that petitioners' action for reconveyance in the nature of their protest with the Bureau of Lands
and counterclaim in their answer to the complaint for recovery of possession, already prescribed. Petitioners filed a motion for
reconsideration but was subsequently denied.
Hence, this petition for review.
ISSUES:
What is the effect of the trial court's decision in a possessory action on the order of the Bureau of Lands regarding a homestead
application and decision of the DENR on the protest over homestead patent?
RULING:
Commonwealth Act 141 as amended, otherwise known as the Public Land Act, gives in its Section 3 and 4 to the Director of Lands
primarily and to the Secretary of the DENR ultimately the authority to dispose public lands. In this regard, the courts have no jurisdiction
to inquire into the validity of the decree of registration issued by the Director of Lands. Only the Secretary of the DENR can review, on
appeal, such decree. Thus, reversal of the RTC of the award given by the Director of Land to Lasola was in error.

DENR's jurisdiction over public lands does not negate the authority of the courts of justice to resolve questions of possession and their
decisions stand in the meantime that the DENR has not settled the respective rights of public land claimants. But once DENR has
decided, particularly with the grant of homestead patent and issuance of an OCT and then TCT later, its decision prevails.
Petition was denied and the decision of the CA was affirmed.

EN BANC
G.R. No. L-39919

January 30, 1934

FORTUNATO ORTUA v. VICENTE SINGSON ENCARNACION, Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce, ET AL.,
MALCOLM, J.:
Case: For the issuance of a writ of mandamus directed against the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce and the Director of Lands,
for the purpose of compelling them to give due course to his sale's application for a tract of public land.
In January, 1920, the petitioner Fortunato Ortua filed an application with the Bureau of Lands for the purchase of a tract of public land
situated in the municipality of San Jose, Province of Camarines Sur. Following an investigation conducted by the Bureau of Lands,
Ortuas application was rejected, allowing him, however, to file a sale or lease application for the portion of the land classified to be
suitable for commercial purposes. Two motions for reconsideration of the decision were filed and denied. On appeal to the then
Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources (Agriculture and Commerce), the decision was affirmed.

It should be explained that one condition for the purchase of a tract of public agricultural land, provided by the Public Land Law, Act No.
2874, in its sections 23 and 88, is that the purchaser shall be a citizen of lawful age of the Philippine Islands or of the United States.
Fortunato Ortua in his application stated that he was a Filipino citizen, but the Director of Lands held that on the contrary, Ortua was a
Chinese citizen. The Dir of Land established the ff facts: Fortunato Ortua was born in 1885 in Lagonoy, Camarines Sur, Philippine
Islands, being the natural son of Irene Demesa, a Filipina, and Joaquin Ortua, a Chinese. In 1896 Fortunato was sent to China to study.
While he was in China his father and mother were legally married. Fortunato returned to the Philippines in 1906, that is, when he was
twenty-one years of age. And that even if presumptively Fortunato Ortua was a Philippine citizen, certain acts of Ortua were pointed to
as demonstrating that he had forfeited his Philippine citizenship.

ISSUE: WON the question of law arising from the undisputed evidence was correctly decided by the Director of Lands.

HELD: NO.
ON QUESTION OF FACT. A decision rendered by the Director of Lands and approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and
Commerce, upon a question of fact is conclusive and not subject to be reviewed by the courts, in the absence of a showing that such
decision was rendered in consequence of fraud, imposition, or mistake, other than error of judgment in estimating the value or effect of
evidence, regardless of whatever or not it is consistent with the preponderance of the evidence, so long as there is some evidence
upon which the finding in question could be made.
There is, however, another side to the case. It certainly was not intended by the legislative body to remove from the jurisdiction of
courts all right to review decisions of the Bureau of Lands, for to do so would be to attempt something which could not be done legally.
Giving force to all possible intendments regarding the facts as found by the Director of Lands

ON QUESTION OF LAW. The decision of the Director of Lands approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce on a
question of law, is in no sense conclusive upon the courts, but is subject to review. Any action of the Director of Lands which is based
upon a misconstruction of the law can be corrected by the courts.

The Director of Lands gave too much prominence, we think, to two minor facts, susceptible of explanation. When Ortua returned from
China at the age of twenty-one, it was the most natural thing in the world for him to land as a Chinese, for this would facilitate entry and
obviate complications. Again, when Ortua applied for the registration of a boat, there may have been any number of reasons why he did
not care to appeal from the decision of the Insular Collector of Customs. On the other hand, some consideration should be given to the
intention of the petitioner, and he vigorously insists that it is his desire to be considered a Philippine citizen. He has taken a Filipino
name. He has gone into business and has improved the property here in question to a great extent. There has been no implied
renunciation of citizenship, because the petitioner has been domiciled in these Islands except for a short period during his infancy when
he temporarily sojourned in China for study. On the contrary, he states that he has always considered himself to be a Filipino, and that
he has elected to remain as a Philippine citizen. Therefore, on the facts found by the Director of Lands, we hold that clear error of law
resulted in not considering petitioner a Philippine citizen and so qualified under the Public Land Law to purchase public agricultural
lands.
Sustaining the assigned errors, the order of the trial court will be set aside, and the record will be remanded to the court of origin for
further proceedings in accordance with law. No pronouncement as to costs in this instance.
G.R. No. L-35408 October 27, 1973
FIRMALO ET. AL v. HON. TUTAAN, HON. TANDAYAG and TARUC
The petitioners Firmalos were grantees of a free patent title covering more than 13 hectares of land situated in Barrio Demologan,
Municipality of Bacolod, Province of Lanao del Norte.
On November 5, 1969, the said petitioners brought an action in the CFI of Lanao del Norte (Branch II) against the respondents Tarucs
for "ownership, possession and damages with preliminary mandatory injunction," affecting about 9 hectares of the
aforementioned property.
A writ of preliminary mandatory injunction was issued by the trial court on November 24, 1969, upon a bond of P20,000, and the
possession of the property was effectively transferred to the Firmalos.
However, on a final judgment of the same court, the Tarucs succeeded in securing a writ of execution and placing themselves in
possession once more of the disputed land, as the "equitable owners" of the said property,
The Firmalos immediately sought the intervention of the SC in L-32651-52. On August 31, 1971 the SC rendered a decision setting
aside as being null and void, the decision of the court a quo in civil case 1218 dated October 28, 1968, together with the writ of
execution and the order of September 12, 1970 deriving therefrom. It ordered the reinstatement of the writ of preliminary mandatory
injunction dated December 16, 1969 issued in civil case 1528 .
On October 15, 1971, the SCs judgment became final, the trial court issued an order rescinding its writ of execution in Civil Case
1218 and reinstating, in Civil Case 1528, the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction of December 16, 1969, thus placing the
Firmalos in possession of the property in question pending decision on the merits.
On February 22, 1972 the Firmalos' bondsman, the Workmen's Insurance Co., Inc., filed, with the conformity of the counsel for the
Tarucs, an urgent motion to withdraw and have its bond cancelled on the ground of the non-payment of the premiums due on the said
bond. On February 24, 1972 the trial court issued an order requiring the Firmalos to pay the overdue amortizations within 15 days of
their receipt of the order at the pain of having the bond cancelled.
Civil Case 1528 was transferred from the sala of the respondent Judge Teodulo Tandayag (Branch II) to the sala of the respondent
Judge Eduardo C. Tutaan and there given a new docket number: Civil Case IV-146. The Firmalos moved, to no avail, for the return of
the said case to the sala of Judge Tandayag.
On July 11, 1972 the Tarucs filed an unverified urgent motion to lift and/or to reconsider the preliminary mandatory injunction
then in force or to place the property in dispute under receivership pending adjudication on the merits of the Civil Case IV-146, upon the
ground that the said preliminary mandatory injunction "was improvidently issued and not only contravenes justice and equity but, more
specifically, contravenes the law and jurisprudence on the matter ..."
The Firmalos opposed this motion and submitted a lengthy memorandum to bolster their position.
In a reasoned order of August 1, 1972, the trial court, presided by the respondent Judge Tutaan, placed the property in dispute
under receivership (appointing the respondent deputy sheriff Elias Anacleto as receiver) and, in effect, removed the possession
thereof from the Firmalos.

The Firmalos immediately filed the present petition. On August 31, 1972 SC granted the petitioners' prayer for a temporary restraining
order, and enjoined the respondents from enforcing the questioned order of August 1, 1972 and "from gathering the coconuts on the
land subject of the litigation and from selling the already produced copras in favor of any person or persons."
ISSUES: Whether the respondent Judge Tutaan may alter the mandate of the SC in L-32651-52 directing the reinstatement of the writ
of preliminary mandatory injunction dated December 16, 1969 issued in Civil Case 1528. NO.
Whether the order of the Respondent Judge to place the disputed property under receivership is proper.
HELD:
The
trial
court
has
no
power
to
alter
the
effect
of
SCs
final
decision
in
L-32651-52 by lifting the writ of preliminary mandatory injunction ordered reinstated by the SC and substituting in its place a
receivership which would take away the possession of the property in dispute from the Firmalos, pending the trial on the merits in Civil
Case IV-146.
That neither the Tarucs' motion to lift and/or reconsider the preliminary mandatory injunction nor the disputed order of August 1, 1972
placing the property in the possession and administration of a receiver, attests to any new fact overtaking the case after the same was
remanded by this Court for trial on the merits.
Indeed, the disputed order itself admits that the court a quo was ruling upon the following issues: "First, whether or not the writ (of
preliminary mandatory injunction) was improvidently issued and contravenes just.
As found by the court, the Firmalos have in their favor a decree of registration issued by the Director of Lands covering the property in
dispute, the Tarucs do not have even a semblance of title in their name, the judgment in Civil Case 1218 upon which they desperately
relied having been annulled by this Court.
It was erroneous on the part of the court a quo, presided by the respondent Judge Tutaan, to inquire into the validity of the decree of
registration issued by the Director of Lands over the property in dispute. The decision of the Director of Lands may be annulled or
reviewed only in a direct proceeding and not collaterally as the respondent judge would have it in the case at bar. Moreover, the patent
title issued in favor of the Firmalos by the Director of Lands is by now already indefeasible due to the lapse of one year following the
entry of the decree of registration (March 28, 1969 at the latest when the title to the property was issued) in the records of the register of
deeds.
The two basic issues stand out between the litigants:
1)

2)

With respect to the title of ownership over the property.


It was resolved by the SC in L-32651-52 when it annulled the judgment in Civil Case 1218 relied upon by the Tarucs and
recognized the decision of the Director of Lands in favor of the Firmalos. Importantly, the Firmalos' title is to be respected,
given effect, and accorded due recognition unless and until a superior title, if any there be, overtakes the same.
Whether, notwithstanding the title of the Firmalos, the Tarucs have any right of possession over the property, and, if they have
none, what liability, if any, they have for holding the property illegally.

As for the failure of the Firmalos to pay the premiums due to their bondsman, the record shows that on March 7, 1972, within the time
then prescribed by the respondent Judge Tandayag, the Firmalos duly renewed the surety bond of P20,000 in their favor and paid the
corresponding premiums.
The trial court was ordered to hold a hearing with respect to the proceeds of the sale, made by Anacleto, acting as receiver for the
court, of the coconuts gathered from the disputed property and converted into copra, sold for P1,184.27.
ACCORDINGLY, the order of the trial court dated August 1, 1972 is hereby annulled and set aside, and Civil Case IV-146 (formerly Civil
Case 1528 of Branch II) is hereby again remanded to the court a quo for further hearing and determination, consistent with the views
herein expressed. Costs against the respondents Wenceslao Taruc, Faustino Taruc, Aniceta Taruc Malolot, Artemio Taruc, Rodolfo
Taruc and Epifania Paculba Vda. de Taruc.