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G.R. No.

112567 February 7, 2000

THE DIRECTOR, LANDS MANAGEMENT BUREAU, petitioner,

vs.

COURT OF APPEALS and AQUILINO L. CARIÑO, respondents.

FACTS:

In 1975, Private respondent, Aquilino Cariño, filed with the then Branch I, Court of First Instance
of Laguna, a petition for registration of Lot No. 6, a sugar land. According to him, the property was
originally owned by his mother. In 1949, private respondent and his brother, Severino Cariño, became co-
owners of Lot No. 6.

Herein petitioner, challenged the alleged ownership of private respondents. In its contention,
private respondents’ claim of ownership is characterized as insufficient in evidence. Nonetheless the trial
court granted the private respondents petition. In the same manner, the CA affirmed the decision.

ISSUE:

Whether, under the law, private respondents satisfied the necessary requirements for the ownership of
the subject property.

RULING:

No, because the private respondent has not produced sufficient evidence of ownership over the
property.

Sec. 48(b) of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended R.A. No. 1942 and R.A. No. 3872 explicitly
provides that, “Sec. 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of the public
domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest therein, but whose titles have not been perfected
or completed, may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for
confirmation of their claim and the issuance of title therefor, under the Land Registration Act, to wit:

(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open,
continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the
public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition or ownership, for at least thirty years
immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title except when
prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all
the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title
under the provisions of this chapter.

In the case under consideration, private respondent can only trace his own possession of subject
parcel of land to the year 1949. The private respondent has possessed the property thus partitioned for
only twenty-six (26) years as of 1975, when he filed his petition for the registration thereof. To bridge the
gap, he proceeded to tack his possession to what he theorized upon as possession of the same land by his
parents. However, other than his unilateral assertion, private respondent has not introduced sufficient
evidence to substantiate his allegation that his late mother possessed the land in question even prior to
1911. To reiterate, under the Regalian doctrine all lands belong to the State. Unless alienated in
accordance with law, it retains its basic rights over the same as dominus.

Hence, the Court is of the opinion, and so finds, that subject Lot No. 6 surveyed under Psu-108952,
forms part of the public domain not registrable in the name of private respondent.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

G.R. No. L-64818 May 13, 1991

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner,

vs.

MARIA P. LEE and INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, respondents.

FACTS:

On June 29, 1976, respondent Maria P. Lee filed before the then Court of First Instance (now
Regional Trial Court) of Pangasinan, an application1 for registration in her favor of a parcel of land.

The Director of Lands, in representation of the Republic of the Philippines, filed an opposition,
alleging that neither the applicant nor her predecessors-in-interest have acquired the land under any of
the Spanish titles or any other recognized mode for the acquisition of title.

Private respondent, on the other hand, contends that she was able to prove her title to the land
in question through documentary evidence consisting of Deeds of Sale and tax declarations and receipts
as well as her testimony that her predecessors-in-interest had been in possession of the land in question
for more than 20 years.

In the decision of the trial court, it favored the respondents. The Republic of the Philippines
appealed to the then Intermediate Appellate Court (now Court of Appeals), which however affirmed the
lower court's decision. Likewise, CA affirmed the decision of the lower court.

ISSUE:

Whether, under the law, mere assertions of private respondent would constitute as sufficient proof of
ownership over the subject land.

RULING:

NO. Equally basic is the rule that no public land can be acquired by private persons without any grant,
express or implied, from government. A grant is conclusively presumed by law when the claimant, by
himself or through his predecessors-in-interest, has occupied the land openly, continuously,
exclusively, and under a claim of title since July 26, 1894 or prior thereto.

The doctrine upon which these rules are based is that all lands that were not acquired from the
government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain.

In is held that it is incumbent upon the respondent to prove that her predecessor-in-interest is the
persons of Urbano Diaz and Bernarda Vinluan have been in adverse, continuous, open, public, peaceful
possession in the concept of an owner for 20 years which she failed to provide a clear and convincing
evidence to prove. Her bare allegations do not constitute substantial proof. Respondent failed to comply
with the requirements of the law to confirm her title on the land applied for registration. Lower court
decision was set aside.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

G.R. No. 184869 September 21, 2010

CENTRAL MINDANAO UNIVERSITY, Represented by Officer-In-Charge Dr. Rodrigo L. Malunhao,


Petitioner,

vs.

THE HONORABLE EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF


ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE CHAIRPERSON AND COMMISSIONERS OF THE
NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, and THE LEAD CONVENOR OF THE NATIONAL ANTI-
POVERTY COMMISSION, Respondents.

FACTS:

Petitioner Central Mindanao University (CMU) is a chartered educational institution owned and run by
the State.1 In 1958, the President issued Presidential Proclamation 476, reserving 3,401 hectares of
lands of the public domain in Musuan, Bukidnon, as school site for CMU.

Forty-five years later or on January 7, 2003 President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Presidential
Proclamation 310 that takes 670 hectares from CMU’s registered lands for distribution to indigenous
peoples and cultural communities.

CMU filed a petition for prohibition against respondents before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Malaybalay City (Branch 9), seeking to stop the implementation of Presidential Proclamation 310 and
have it declared unconstitutional.

RTC ruled that Presidential Proclamation 310 was constitutional, being a valid State act. The RTC said
that the ultimate owner of the lands is the State and that CMU merely held the same in its behalf.

CA dismissed CMU’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction, ruling that CMU’s recourse should have been a
petition for review on certiorari filed directly with this Court, because it raised pure questions law.

ISSUE:

Whether, under the law, the land acquired by CMU became inalienable and is not subject to transfer by
the proclamation of President Arroyo.

RULING:

YES, because the lands by their character have become inalienable from the moment President Garcia
dedicated them for CMU’s use in scientific and technological research in the field of agriculture. They
have ceased to be alienable public lands.
Secretary of DENR vs Yap

Natural Resources and Environmental Laws:

Regalian Doctrine

GR No. 167707; Oct 8, 2008

FACTS:

This petition is for a review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA) affirming that of the
Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Kalibo Aklan, which granted the petition for declaratory relief filed by
respondents-claimants Mayor Jose Yap et al, and ordered the survey of Boracay for titling purposes.

On Nov. 10, 1978, President Marcos issued Proclamation No. 1801 declaring Boracay Island as a tourist
zone and marine reserve. Claiming that Proc. No. 1801 precluded them from filing an application for a
judicial confirmation of imperfect title or survey of land for titling purposes, respondents-claimants filed
a petition for declaratory relief with the RTC in Kalibo, Aklan.

The Republic, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) opposed the petition countering that
Boracay Island was an unclassified land of the public domain. It formed part of the mass of lands
classified as “public forest,” which was not available for disposition pursuant to section 3(a) of PD No.
705 or the Revised Forestry Code.

ISSUE: Whether unclassified lands of the public domain are automatically deemed agricultural land,
therefore making these lands alienable.

HELD:

No. To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable, the applicant must
establish the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an
executive order, an administrative action, investigative reports of the Bureau of Lands investigators, and
a legislative act or statute. A positive act declaring land as alienable and disposable is required. In
keeping with the presumption of state ownership, the Court has time and again emphasized that there
must be a positive act of the government, such as an official proclamation, declassifying inalienable
public land into disposable land for agricultural or other purposes.

The Regalian Doctrine dictates that all lands of the public domain belong to the State, that the State is
the source of any asserted right to ownership of land and charged with the conservation of such
patrimony.

All lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the
State. Thus, all lands that have not been acquired from the government, either by purchase or by grant,
belong to the State as part of the inalienable public domain.
[G.R. No. L-39492. March 23, 1990.]

ANTIPAZ L. PINEDA, CARLOS P. PINPIN, AMADEO J. HILARIO and SALVADOR D. SANTOS, Petitioners,

v.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, FELISA ESGUERRA, BENJAMIN ESGUERRA, DAVID ESGUERRA,
LOLITA ESGUERRA, SOLEDAD ESGUERRA, ARTURO ESGUERRA, ROMULO ESGUERRA, EDUARDO
ESGUERRA, ANGEL DOMINGO, LEONARDO REYES, Respondents.

FACTS:

Private respondents filed an action for recovery of ownership and possession of a parcel of land.
In their complaint, private respondents asserted ownership based on open, continuous, exclusive,
peaceful, adverse and notorious possession; that sometime in April, 1957, Antipaz L. Pineda, Carlos P.
Pinpin, Amadeo J. Hilario and Salvador P. Santos (hereafter, petitioners) entered the land clandestinely
and squatted thereon by force and intimidation and against their will. That on April 4, 1957 petitioners
filed with the Bureau of Lands applications for free patent in which they made deceptive and fraudulent
misrepresentations.

Petitioners on the other hand, state that they obtained the titles only after complying with the
requirements of the law and the rules and regulations of the Bureau of Lands concerning the grant of
public lands and issuance of titles.

trial court rendered judgment in favor of private respondents. CA reversed.

ISSUE:

Whether, under the law, private respondents own the land by prescriptive title.

RULING:

YES.

Under present jurisprudence, alienable public land held by a possessor personally, or through his
predecessors-in-interest, openly, continuously and exclusively for the prescribed period, 3 is converted
to private property by mere lapse or completion of said period ipso jure.

Defendants did not even deny this and in fact their evidence is anchored from the year 1945 onward.
The evidence of the plaintiffs on this point appears to be coherent, reliable and contained nothing which
would cast doubt thereon. As regards the evidence concerning facts occurring in and after 1945, the
testimony of Benjamin Esguerra is corroborated in some aspects by his other witnesses and is consistent
with the entire mass of evidence
G.R. No. 73085 June 4, 1990

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. THE INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, PABLO, JUAN,

JR., JULIAN, RUFINA, LEONOR, GLORIA TERESITA, ANTONIO, DOLORES, BERNARDO, JR., and

MARIA VIOLETA, all surnamed MERCHAN

PARAS, J.:

FACTS:

Claiming that they acquired the property by virtue of a document which they alleged to be a Spanish
title

originally issued in the name of Bernardo Merchan, the private respondents filed a complaint against

petitioner Republic of the Philippines for quieting of title over said property located in Quezon

(1,660,000 sqm or 166 hectares).

The petitioner moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the trial court had no jurisdiction over

the subject matter of the case because the land is part of a forest reserve established by Proclamation

No. 42 and by Proclamation No. 716 which declared the area as part of the "Mts. Banahaw-San

Cristobal National Park." The motion to dismiss was denied by the trial court.

The private respondents filed a motion to declare the petitioner in default for failure to file its answer

within the reglementary period and for the appointment of a Commissioner to receive their evidence,

which was granted.

The petitioner filed a motion to lift the order of default which was denied by the trial court. The
petitioner

filed MR of the aforesaid denial.

Meanwhile, Judge Manolo L. Maddela rendered a decision on December 18, 1975, declaring the private

respondents as owners of the land subject of the litigation.

On April 21, 1976, the trial court, presided over by Judge Delia P. Medina, issued an order declaring as

moot and academic petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the order denying the motion to lift the

order of default in view of this Court's resolution declaring null and void all judicial acts, decisions,

orders and resolutions performed, promulgated and issued after January 2, 1976, by then Judge

Manolo L. Maddela. In the same order, Judge Medina required the petitioner to file a reply to the
private

respondents' opposition to its motion to set aside the decision of December 18, 1975. The petitioner
filed its reply on May 10, 1976.

Petitioner's motion to set aside the decision dated December 18, 1975 of the trial court which rendered

judgment in private respondents' favor was granted by the court on July 23, 1976, thereby vacating and

setting aside the questioned decision and the order of default. In the same order, the petitioner was

required to file its answer to the complaint which it did.

Private respondents filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for certiorari and prohibition with

preliminary injunction against Judge Medina. IAC issued a temporary restraining order enjoining

respondent judge from further proceeding with the case. Meanwhile, the private respondents six
months

after the effectivity of P.D. No. 892, filed an application for the registration of the parcel of land. This
was

docketed as Land Registration Case No. N-1055.

IAC denied the aforesaid petition for certiorari and lifted the restraining order. Case remanded to RTC.

The trial court, this time presided by Judge Benigno M. Puno, issued an order setting the case for
pretrial.

For failure of petitioner's counsel to attend the scheduled hearing, the trial court issued an order

declaring the said failure as a waiver to present evidence and to cross-examine the private respondents'

witnesses and declared the case submitted for decision.

RTC rendered a decision in favor of the plaintiffs and against the defendant.

The petitioner appealed to the then IAC which affirmed the judgment of the trial court. Hence, this

petition.

ISSUE/S:

1. W/N the subject parcel of land which was declared a part of the forest reserve in 1921 and later a

national park in 1941 may be subject of private appropriation and registration.

RULING:

The petition is impressed with merit.

It is already a settled rule that forest lands or forest reserves are not capable of private appropriation,

and possession thereof, however long, cannot convert them into private property unless such lands are

reclassified and considered disposable and alienable by the Director of Forestry (now DENR).

In this case, there is no proof of reclassification by the Director of Forestry that the land in question is
disposable or alienable.

Furthermore, with the passage of Presidential Decree No. 892, effective February 16, 1976, Spanish

Titles can no longer be used as evidence of land ownership. Under the same decree, lands not under

the Torrens System shall be considered as unregistered.

PREMISES CONSIDERED, the decision of the appellate court is hereby REVERSED, and Civil Case

No. 7840 and Registration Case No. N-1055 are hereby DISMISSED. SO ORDERED.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

The Director of Forestry vs. Villareal

GR No. L-32266

February 27, 1989

Cruz, J.

Facts: The petitioner, Director of Forestry was one of the several persons who opposed the application
for registration of a parcel land classified as mangrove swamps in the municipality of Sapian, Capiz with
an area of 178,113 square meters of mangrove swamps, to the applicant Ruperto Villareal. He alleged
that he and his predecessors-in-interests had been in possession of the said parcel of land for more than
forty years (40). Both parties agreed in one point that the disputed land was a mangrove swamp. The
respondent argued that mangrove swamp are agricultural land but the petitioner contended that it is a
forestall land therefore not disposable.The Court of the First Instance of Capiz however grants the
application of the respondent. The decision of the lower court was later affirmed by the Court of
Appeals.

Hence the Director of Forestry elevated the case to the Supreme Court for review on certiorari.

Issue: Whether or not, mangrove swamps are agricultural land or forest land.

Held: The Supreme Court held that mangrove swamps as forest lands is descriptive of its legal nature or

status and does not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like. Furthermore the
legislative definition embodied in section 1820 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917 which
declares that mangrove swamps or manglares form part of the public forests of the Philippines hence
they are not alienable. The evidence presented by the respondent in its claim were not sufficient to
prove its possession and ownership of the land, he only presented tax declaration. Wherefore the
decision of the Court of Appeals was set aside and the application for registration of title by the
respondent is dismissed by the Supreme Court.
CASE DIGEST OF MAGALLONA VS ERMITA

FACTS OF THE CASE:

The antecedent facts of this case emerged upon the passing of Republic Act 3046 in 1961. The law’s
purpose is to demarcate the maritime baselines of the Philippines as it was deemed to be an
archipelago. RA 3046 stood unchallenged until 2009, when Congress amended it and passed RA 9522.
This amending law shortened one baseline and determined new base points of the archipelago. Moreso,
it has identified the Kalayaan Island Group and the Scarborough Shoal, as "regimes of islands",
generating their own maritime zones.

The petitioners filed a case assailing the constitutionality of RA 9522. To their opinion, the law has
effectively reduced the maritime territory of the country. With this, Article I of the 1987 Constitution will
be violated. The petitioners also worried that that because of the suggested changes in the maritime
baselines will allow for foreign aircrafts and vessels to traverse the Philippine territory freely. In effect, it
steps on the state’s sovereignty and national security. Meanwhile, the Congress insisted that in no way
will the amendments affect any pertinent power of the state. It also deferred to agree that the law
impliedly relinquishes the Philippines claims over Sabah. Lastly, they have questioned the normative
force of the notion that all the waters within the rectangular boundaries in the Treaty of Paris. Now,
because this treaty still has undetermined controversies, the Congress believes that in the perspective of
international law, it did not see any binding obligation to honor it. Thus, this case of prayer for writs of
certiorari and prohibition is filed before the court, assailing the constitutionality of RA 9522. THE
COURT’S RULING:

The Court dismissed the case. It upheld the constitutionality of the law and made it clear that it has
merely demarcated the country’s maritime zones and continental shelves in accordance to UNCLOS III.
Secondly, the Court found that the framework of the regime of islands suggested by the law is not
incongruent with the Philippines’ enjoyment of territorial sovereignty over the areas of Kalayaan Group
of Islands and the Scarborough. Third, the court reiterated that the claims over Sabah remained even
with the adoption of the amendments.

Further, the Court importantly stressed that the baseline laws are mere mechanisms for the UNCLOS III
to precisely describe the delimitations. It serves as a notice to the international family of states and it is
in no way affecting or producing any effect like enlargement or diminution of territories.

With regard to the petitioners’ assertion that RA 9522 has converted the internal waters into
archipelagic waters, the Court did not appear to be persuaded. Instead, the Court suggested that the
political branches of Government can pass domestic laws that will aid in the competent security
measures and policies that will regulate innocent passage. Since the Court emphasized innocent passage
as a right based on customary law, it also believes that no state can validly invoke sovereignty to deny a
right acknowledged by modern states.

In the case of archipelagic states such as ours, UNCLOS III required the imposition of innocent passage as
a concession in lieu of their right to claim the entire waters landward baseline. It also made it possible
for archipelagic states to be recognized as a cohesive entity under the UNCLOS III.