CHEESMAN V IAC 193 SCRA 93 G.R. No. 74833 January 21, 1991 FACTS: This appeal concerns the attempt by an American citizen (petitioner Thomas Cheesman) to annul—for lack of consent on his part—the sale by his Filipino wife (Criselda) of a residential lot and building to Estelita Padilla •December 4, 1970 – Thomas Cheesman and Criselda Cheesman were married but have been separated since February 15, 1981 •June 4, 1974 – a Deed of Sale and Transfer of Possessory Rights was executed by Armando Altares, conveying a parcel of land in favor of ―Criselda Cheesman, married to Thomas Cheesman.‖ Thomas, although aware of the deed, did not object to the transfer being made only to his wife. Tax declarations for the said property were issued in the name of Criselda Cheesman alone and she assumed exclusive management and administration of the property • July 1, 1981 – Criselda sold the property to Estelita Padilla without knowledge and consent of Thomas •July 31, 1981 – Thomas filed a suit for the annulment of the sale on the ground that the transaction had been executed without his knowledge and consent. Criselda filed an answer alleging that the property sold was paraphernal, having purchased the property from her own money; that Thomas, an American was disqualified to have any interest or right of ownership in the land and; that Estelita was a buyer in good faith •During the trial, it was found out that the transfer of property took place during the existence of their marriage as it was acquired on June 4, 1974 •June 24, 1982 – RTC declared the sale executed by Criselda void ab initio and ordered the delivery of the property to Thomas as administrator of the conjugal property •Thomas appealed to IAC where he assailed the granting of Estelita‘s petition for relief and resolution of matters not subject of said petition; in declaring valid the sale to Estelita without his knowledge and consent. On January 7, 1986, IAC affirmed summary judgment decision ISSUE: Whether or not the wife can dispose of the property in question; Whether or not Cheesman, being an American citizen, can question the sale HELD: Section 14, Art. XIV of 1973 Constitution provides that: ―save in cases of hereditary succession, no private land shall be transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.‖ Thus, assuming that it was his intention that the lot in question be purchased by him and his wife, he acquired no right whatsoever over the property by virtue of that purchase; and in attempting to acquire a right or interest in land, he was knowingly violating the Constitution. As such, the sale to him was null and void. At any rate, Cheesman had and has NO CAPACITY TO QUESTION THE SUBSEQUENTSALE OF THE SAME PROPERTY BY HIS WIFE ON THE THEORY THAT IN SO DOING HEIS MERELY EXERCISING THE PREROGATIVE OF A HUSBAND IN RESPECT OFCONJUGAL PROPERTY. To sustain such a theory would permit indirect controversion of the Constitutional prohibition.
If the property were to be declared conjugal, this would accord to the alien husband a not insubstantial interest and right over land, as he would then have a decisive vote as to its transfer or disposition. This is a right that the Constitution does not permit him to have. Even if the wife did use conjugal funds to make the acquisition, his recovering and holding the property cannot be warranted as it is against the constitution. Consequently, Estelita is a purchaser in good faith since she knew that Thomas cannot intervene in the sale or disposition of the said property. DECISION: The Court AFFIRMED the appealed decision.
G.R. No. L-31956 April 30, 1984 FILOMENA GERONA DE CASTRO, petitioner, vs. JOAQUIN TENG QUEEN TAN, TAN TENG BIO, DOLORES TAN, ROSARIO TAN HUA ING, and TO O. HIAP, respondents.
FACTS: Review on certiorari of the order of the former Court of First Instance of Sorsogon dismissing petitioner's action for annulment of contract with damages.In 1938, petitioner Filomena Gerona de Castro sold a 1,258 sq. m. residential lot in Bulan, Sorsogon to Tan Tai, a Chinese. In 1956, Tan Tai died leaving herein respondents — his widow, To O. Hiap, and children Joaquin Teng Queen Tan, Tan Teng Bio, Dolores Tan and Rosario Tan Hua Ing. Before the death of Tan Tai or on August 11, 1956, one of his sons, Joaquin, became a naturalized Filipino. Six years after Tan Tai's death, or on November 18, 1962, his heirs executed an extra-judicial settlement of estate with sale, whereby the disputed lot in its entirety was alloted to Joaquin. On July 15, 1968, petitioner commenced suit against the heirs of Tan Tai for annulment of the sale for alleged violation of the 1935 Constitution prohibiting the sale of land to aliens. ISSUE: Whether the heirs are not allowed to inherit the land owned by Tan Tai because the sale of the land to him violated the 1935 Constitution prohibiting the sale of land to aliens. HELD: Except for respondent Tan Teng Bio who filed an answer to the complaint, respondents moved to dismiss the complaint on the grounds of (a) lack of cause of action, the plaintiff being in pari delicto with the vendee, and the land being already owned by a Philippine citizen; (b) laches; and (c) acquisitive prescription. The court a quo dismissed the complaint, sustaining the first two grounds invoked by the movants.Independently of the doctrine of pari delicto, the petitioner cannot have the sale annulled and recover the lot she herself has sold. While the vendee was an alien at the time of the sale, the land has since become the property, of respondent Joaquin Teng, a naturalized Philippine citizen, who is constitutionally qualified to own land. The litigated property is now in the hands of a naturalized Filipino.
It is no longer owned by a disqualified vendee. Laches also militates against petitioner's cause. She sold the disputed lot in 1938. She instituted the action to annul the sale only on July 15, 1968. What the Court said in the cited Sarsosa case applies with equal force to the petitioner.... it is likewise inescapable that petitioner Epifania had slept on her rights for 26 years from 1936 to 1962. By her long inaction of inexcusable neglect, she should be held barred from asserting her claim to the litigated property. Respondent, therefore, must be declared to be the rightful owner of the property.The appealed order is affirmed.
Director of Forestry v. Villareal [G.R. No. L-32266. February 27, 1989.]En Banc, Cruz (J): 13 concur, 1 took no part. Facts: Ruperto Villareal applied for its registration on 25 January 1949, a land consisting of 178,113 sq. m. of mangrove swamps located in the municipality of Sapian, Capiz, alleging that he and his predecessors-ininterest had been in possession of the land for more than 40 years. He was opposed by several persons, including the Director of Forestry on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines. After trial, the application was approved by the CFI Capiz. The decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. The Director of Forestry then came to the Supreme Court in a petition for review on certiorari. ISSUE: Whether or not the land in dispute was forestal in nature and not subject to private appropriation? HELD: The Supreme Court set aside the decision of the Court of Appeals and dismissed the application for registration of title of Villareal,
Director of Lands vs. Kalahi Investments Inc.
Facts: This is an appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Pampanga, denying the application of Kalahi Investments, Inc. (Kalahi, for short) for registration of Lot No. 1851-B of the Floridablanca Cadastre. In its decision, the Court of Appeals found the following facts to be established by the evidence: On December 12, 1963, Kalahi Investment, Inc. moved for an advanced hearing of Lot No. 1851-B, Floridablanca Cadastre. Evidence was presented and Kalahi's title was to be registered under the provisions of Act 496. The Bureau of Forestry's opposition is based on the ground that these lands are part of the vast public forest, known as TIMBER LAND of Project No. 11, Exhibit 4, Director of Forestry. Until now these lands are not released by the proper authorities as alienable
agricultural lands; instead on August 9, 1966, the President of the Philippines issued Proclamation No. 82, declaring these lands as part of the Mt. Dorst Forest Reserve. Issue: a. Whether or not mining claims, acquired, registered, perfected acted, and patentable under the Old Mining Law, mature to private ownership which would entitle the claimant-applicant to the ownership thereof. b. Which agency has the authority to examine, process and find out whether or not the requirements of the Act of Congress of 1902 have been complied with, by the applicant — the courts or the Bureau of Mines?
HELD: ‗Mere location does not mean absolute ownership over the affected land or the located claim. It merely segregates the located land or area from the public domain by barring other would be locators from locating the same and appropriating for themselves the minerals found therein. To rule otherwise would imply that location is all that is needed to acquire and maintain rights over a located mining claim. This, the Court cannot approve or sanction because it is contrary to the intention of the lawmaker that the locator should faithfully and consistently comply with the requirements for annual work and improvements in the located mining claims. It is not clear if claimant Kalahi has fully complied with the requirements of the Act of Congress of 1902. This is a factual issue which is not within the scope of our jurisdiction. The records show that claimant has already filed a mining lease application (p. 357, Record on Appeal). Its mining claims, therefore, are deemed covered by P.D. 1214, and the Bureau of Mines may, accordingly process the same as a lease application, in accordance with P.D. 463, pursuant to Sec. 2 of P.D. No. 1214. It is understood of course that prior to the approval of the lease application, the applicant must show that it has fully and faithfully complied with the requirements of the Philippine Bill of 1902, in effect upholding the dissenting opinion of Justice Concepcion in the Gold Creek Mining case. As to whether or not the Bureau of Mines is likewise qualified to rule on whether there has been full and faithful compliance with the requirements of the Philippine Bill of 1902 as amended, the Court ruled that the Bureau of Mines is so empowered as a corollary function in the processing of mining lease applications. The decision of the CFI of Pampanga, (now Regional Trial Court) is hereby AFFIRMED, with the MODIFICATION in that Kalahi's mining claims may be processed as a mining lease application by the Bureau of Mines.
FELIPE YSMAEL, JR. & CO., INC. vs. THE DEPUTY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY 18 October 1990
FACTS: This case dealt with the cancellation of a timber license and the question whether a court could interfere in matters which were addressed to the discretion of government agencies. The petitioner sought the reinstatement of its timber license agreement which was cancelled in August 1983 during the Marcos administration. He stated that after the Government had made an order canceling his logging concession pursuant to presidential instructions, a part of the area was allowed to be logged by Filipino companies without a license; and, that the latter entities were controlled or owned by relatives or
cronies of deposed President Ferdinand Marcos. The Ministry refused to reverse the order, ruling that a timber license was only a privilege which could be withdrawn whenever public interest or welfare so demanded. Issue: Whether or not the refusal of the respondents to reverse the final administrative orders did not constitute grave abuse of discretion. Held: The court held that the refusal of the respondents to reverse the final administrative orders did not constitute grave abuse of discretion. It was an established doctrine in its jurisdiction that the orders of administrative agencies had upon their finality, the force of a final judgment within the purview of the doctrine of res judicata. These decisions and orders were as conclusive upon the rights of the affected parties as though the same had been rendered by a court of general jurisdiction. Besides that, the administrative actions were apparently in response to the growing global concern over the despoliation of forest lands and the utter disregard of their crucial role in sustaining a balanced ecological system. The legitimacy of such concern could hardly be disputed. While there was a desire to harness natural resources to amass profit and to meet the country‘s immediate financial requirements, the more essential need to ensure future generations of Filipinos of their survival in a viable environment demanded effective Government action to check further denudation of whatever remained of the forest lands.There was a basic rule that the courts would not interfere in matters which were addressed to the sound discretion of government agencies entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under the special technical knowledge of such agencies. Timber licenses could be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the Chief Executive when national interests so required. The petition was dismissed. Nevertheless, the Court expressed its concern regarding alleged irregularities in the issuance of timber license agreements to a number of logging concessionaires.
Isagani Cruz vs DENR
Facts: Cruz, a noted constitutionalist, assailed the validity of the RA 8371 or the Indigenous People‘s Rights Act on the ground that the law amount to an unlawful deprivation of the State‘s ownership over lands of the public domain as well as minerals and other natural resources therein, in violation of the regalian doctrine embodied in Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution. The IPRA law basically enumerates the rights of the indigenous peoples over ancestral domains which may include natural resources. Cruz et al contend that, by providing for an all-encompassing definition of ―ancestral domains‖ and ―ancestral lands‖ which might even include private lands found within said areas, Sections 3(a) and 3(b) of said law violate the rights of private landowners. ISSUE: Whether or not the IPRA law is unconstitutional. HELD: The SC deliberated upon the matter. After deliberation they voted and reached a 7-7 vote. They deliberated again and the same result transpired. Since there was no majority vote, Cruz‘s petition was dismissed and the IPRA law was sustained. Hence, ancestral domains may include public domain – somehow against the regalian doctrine.
Lee Hong Hok vs David G.R. No. L-30389, Dec. 27, 1972 FACTS: This is regarding a piece of land which Aniano David acquired lawful title thereto, pursuant to his miscellaneous sales application. After approval of his application, the Director of Lands issued an order of award and issuance of sales patent, covering said lot by virtue of which the Undersecretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources issued a Miscellaneous Sales Patent. The Register of Deeds then issued an original certificate of title to David. During all this time, Lee Hong Kok did not oppose nor file any adverse claim. ISSUE: Whether or not Lee Hong Kok may question the government grant HELD: Only the Government, represented by the Director of Lands or the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, can bring an action to cancel a void certificate of title issued pursuant to a void patent. This was not done by said officers but by private parties like the plaintiffs, who cannot claim that the patent and title issued for the land involved are void since they are not the registered owners thereof nor had they been declared as owners in the cadastral proceedings after claiming it as their private property. The fact that the grant was made by the government is undisputed. Whether the grant was in conformity with the law or not is a question which the government may raise, but until it is raised by the government and set aside, the defendant cannot question it. The legality of the grant is a question between the grantee and the government. The decision of respondent Court of Appeals of January 31, 1969 and its resolution of March 14, 1969 are affirmed.
LOEONARDO A. PAAT vs. COURT OF APPEALS Facts: On May 19, 1989 when the truck of private respondent Victoria de Guzman while on its way to Bulacan from San Jose, Baggao, Cagayan, was seized by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR, for brevity)personnel in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya because the driver could not produce the required documents for the forest products found concealed in the truck. Petitioner Jovito Layugan, the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) in Aritao, Cagayan, issued on May 23, 1989 an order of confiscation of the truck and gave the owner thereof fifteen (15) days within which to submit an explanation why the truck should not be forfeited. Private respondents, however, failed to submit the required explanation. On June 22, 1989, Regional Executive Director Rogelio Baggayan of DENR sustained petitioner Layugan's action of confiscation and ordered the forfeiture of the truckinvoking Section 68-A of Presidential Decree No. 705 as amended by Executive Order No. 277. Private respondents filed a letter of reconsideration dated June28, 1989 of the June 22, 1989 order of Executive Director Baggayan, which was, however, denied in a subsequent order of July 12, 1989.Subsequently, the case was brought by the petitioners to the Secretary of DENR pursuant to private respondents' statement in their letter dated June 28, 1989 that in case their letter for reconsideration would
be denied then "this letter should be considered as an appeal to the Secretary."Pending resolution however of the appeal, a suit for replevin, docketed as Civil Case 4031, was filed by the private respondents against petitioner Layugan and Executive Director Baggayan with the Regional Trial Court, Branch 2 of Cagayan, which issued a writ ordering the return of the truck to private respondents.Petitioner Layugan and Executive Director Baggayan filed a motion to dismiss with the trial court contending, inter alia, that private respondents had no cause of action for their failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The trial court denied the motion to dismiss in an order dated December 28, 1989.Their motion for reconsideration having been likewise denied, a petition for certiorari was filed by the petitioners with the respondent Court of Appeals which sustained the trial court's order ruling that the question involved is purely a legal question. Issue: Whether or not the secretary of DENR and his representatives are empowered to confiscate and forfeit conveyances used in transporting illegal forest product in favor of the government. Held: A reading, however, of the law persuades us not to go along with private respondents' thinking not only because the aforequoted provision apparently does not mention nor include "conveyances" that can be the subject of confiscation by the courts, but to a large extent, due to the fact that private respondents' interpretation of the subject provision unduly restricts the clear intention of the law and inevitably reduces the other provision of Section 68-A,which is quoted herein below: Sec. 68-A. Administrative Authority of the Department or His Duly Authorized Representative To Order Confiscation. In all cases of violation of this Code or other forest laws, rules and regulations, theDepartment Head or his duly authorized representative , may order the confiscation of any forest products illegally cut, gathered, removed, or possessed or abandoned, and all conveyances used either by land, water or air in the commission of the offense and to dispose of the same in accordance with pertinent laws, regulations and policies on the matter . It is, thus, clear from the foregoing provision that the Secretary and his duly authorized representatives are given the authority to confiscate and forfeit any conveyances utilized in violating the Code or other forest laws, rules and regulations. The phrase "to dispose of the same" is broad enough to cover the act of forfeiting conveyances in favor of the government. The only limitation is that it should be made "in accordance with pertinent laws, regulations or policies on the matter." In the construction of statutes, it must be read in such a way as to give effect to the purpose projected in the statute.Statutes should be construed in the light of the object to be achieved and the evil or mischief to be suppressed, and they should be given such construction as will advance the object, suppress the mischief, and secure the benefits intended. In this wise, the observation of the Solicitor General is significant, thus: But precisely because of the need to make forestry laws "more responsive to present situations and realities" and in view of the "urgency to conserve the remaining resources of the country," that the government opted to add Section68-A. This amendatory provision is an administrative remedy totally separate and distinct from criminal proceedings. More than anything else, it is intended to supplant the
inadequacies that characterize enforcement of forestry laws through criminal actions. The preamble of EO 277-the law that added Section 68-A to PD705-is most revealing: "WHEREAS, there is an urgency to conserve the remaining forest resources of the country for the benefit and welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos; WHEREAS, our forest resources may be effectively conserved and protected through the vigilant enforcement and implementation of our forestry laws, rules and regulations; WHEREAS, the implementation of our forestry laws suffers from technical difficulties, due to certain inadequacies in the penal provisions of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines; and WHEREAS, to overcome this difficulties, there is a need to penalize certain acts more responsive to present situations and realities. DECISION: the Petition is GRANTED; the Decision of the respondent Court of Appeals dated October 16, 1991 and its Resolution dated July 14, 1992 are hereby SET ASIDE AND REVERSED; the Restraining Order promulgated on September 27, 1993 is hereby made permanent; and the Secretary of DENR is directed to resolve the controversy with utmost dispatch.
Manila Prince Hotel vs GSIS
Facts: Pursuant to the privatization program of the government, GSIS decided to sell 30-51% of the Manila Hotel Corporation. Two bidders participated, MPH and Malaysian Firm Renong Berhad. MPH‘s bid was at P41.58/per share while RB‘s bid was at P44.00/share. RB was the highest bidder hence it was logically considered as the winning bidder but is yet to be declared so. Pending declaration, MPH matches RB‘s bid but GSIS refused to accept. In turn MPH filed a TRO to avoid the perfection/consummation of the sale to Berhad. Issue: Whether or not the sale of Manila Hotel to Renong Berhad violates the 1987 Constitution as Manila Hotel is considered part of national patrimony.
HELD: MPH should be awarded the sale pursuant to Art 12 of the 1987 Const. This is in light of the Filipino First Policy. Herein resolved as well is the term Qualified Filipinos which not only pertains to individuals but to corporations as well and other juridical entities/personalities.
MUSTANG LUMBER, INC. Vs. COURT OF APPEALS Facts: Petitioner, a domestic corporation with principal office at Nos. 1350-1352Juan Luna Street, Tondo, Manila, and with a Lumberyard at Fortune Street, Fortune Village, Paseo de Blas, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, was duly registered as a lumber dealer with the Bureau of Forest Development (BFD) under Certificate of Registration No. NRD-4-092590-0469. Its permit as such was toexpire on 25 September 1990.Respondent Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., and respondent Atty. Vincent A. Robles were, during all the time material to these cases, the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Chief of the Special Actions and Investigation Division (SAID) of the DENR, respectively. The material operative facts are as follows: On 1 April 1990, acting on an information that a huge stockpile of narra flitches, shorts, and slabs were seen inside the lumberyard of the petitioner inValenzuela, Metro Manila, the SAID organized a team of foresters and policemen and sent it to conduct surveillance at the said lumberyard. In the course thereof, the team members saw coming out from the lumberyard the petitioner's truck, with Plate No. CCK-322, loaded with lauan and almaciga lumber of assorted sizes and dimensions. Since the driver could not produce the required invoices and transport documents, the team seized the truck together with its cargo and impounded them at the DENR compound at Visayas Avenue, Quezon City.The team was not able to gain entry into the premises because of the refusal of the owner.On 3 April 1990, the team was able to secure a search warrant from Executive Judge Adriano R. Osorio of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Valenzuela, Metro Manila. By virtue thereof, the team seized on that date from the petitioner‘s lumberyard four truckloads of narra shorts, trimmings, and slabs; a negligible number of narra lumber; and approximately 200,000 board feet of lumber and shorts of various species including almaciga and supa.On 4 April 1990, the team returned to the premises of the petitioner's lumberyard in Valenzuela and placed under administrative seizure the remaining stockpile of almaciga, supa, and lauan lumber with a total volume of 311,000 board feet because the petitioner failed to produce upon demand the corresponding certificate of lumber origin, auxiliary invoices, tally sheets, and delivery receipts from the source of the invoices covering the lumber to prove the legitimacy of their source and origin.Parenthetically, it may be stated that under an administrative seizure the owner retains the physical possession of the seized articles. Only an inventory of the articles is taken and signed by the owner or his representative. The owner is prohibited from disposing them until further orders. On 10 April 1990, counsel for the petitioner sent a letter to Robles requesting an extension of fifteen days from 14 April 1990 to produce the required documents covering the seized articles because some of them, particularly the certificate of lumber origin, were allegedly in the Province of Quirino Robles denied the motion on the ground that the documents being required from the petitioner must accompany the lumber or forest products placed under seizure. On 11 April 1990, Robles submitted his memorandum-report recommending to Secretary Factoran the following: 1. Suspension and subsequent cancellation of the lumber Dealer's Permit of Mustang Lumber, Inc. for operating an unregistered lumberyard and resaw mill and possession of Almaciga Lumber (a banned specie) without the requireddocuments;2. Confiscation of the lumber seized at the Mustang Lumberyard including the truck with Plate No. CCK-322 and the lumber loaded herein [sic ] now at the DENR compound in the event its owner fails to submit documents showing legitimacy of the source of said
lumber within ten days from date of seizure;3. Filing of criminal charges against Mr. Ri Chuy Po, owner of Mustang Lumber Inc. and Mr. Ruiz, or if the circumstances warrant for illegal possession of narraand almaciga lumber and shorts if and when recommendation no. 2 pushesthrough;4. Confiscation of Trucks with Plate No. CCS-639 and CDV. 458 as well as the lumber loaded therein for transport lumber using "recycled" documents. Issue: Whether or not that a lumber cannot be considered a timber and that petitioner should not be held for illegal logging Held: The foregoing disquisitions should not, in any manner, be construed as an affirmance of the respondent Judge's conclusion that lumber is excluded from the coverage of Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, and thus possession thereof without the required legal documents is not a crime. On the contrary, this Court rules that such possession is penalized in the said section because lumber is included in the term timber. The Revised Forestry Code contains no definition of either timber or lumber .While the former is included in forest products as defined in paragraph (q) of Section 3, the latter is found in paragraph (aa) of the same section in the definition of "Processing plant," which reads: (aa) Processing plant is any mechanical set-up, machine or combination of machine used for the processing of logs and other forest raw materials into lumber , veneer, plywood,wallbond, blockboard, paper board, pulp, paper or other finished wood products. This simply means that lumber is a processed log or processed forest raw material. Clearly, the Code uses the term lumber in its ordinary or common usage. In the 1993 copyright edition of Webster's Third New International Dictionary, lumber is defined,inter alia, as "timber or logs after being prepared for the market." 32.Simply put, lumber is a processed log or timber .It is settled that in the absence of legislative intent to the contrary, words and phrases used in a statute should be given their plain, ordinary, and common usage meaning. 33.And insofar as possession of timber without the required legal documents is concerned, Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, makes no distinction between raw or processed timber. Neither should we. Ubi lex nondistinguere debemus .Indisputably, respondent Judge Teresita Dizon-Capulong of Branch 172 of the RTC of Valenzuela, Metro Manila, committed grave abuse of discretion in granting the motion to quash the information in the CRIMINAL CASE and in dismissing the said case.
Oh Cho vs. Director of Lands G.R. No. 48321, August 31, 1946
FACTS: Oh Cho, a Chinese citizen, purchased from the Lagdameos a parcel of land in Tayabas, which they openly, continuously and adversely possessed since 1880. On January 17, 1940, Oh Cho applied for registration of this land. The Solicitor General opposed on the ground that Oh Cho lacked title to said land and also because he was an alien. ISSUEs:
Whether or not Oh Cho had title
Whether or not Oh Cho is entitled to a decree of registration
HELD: Oh Cho failed to show that he has title to the lot, which may be confirmed under the Land Registration Act.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 interest 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. The applicant does not come under the exception, for the earliest possession of the lot by his first predecessor in interest began in 1880.Under the Public Land Act, Oh Cho is not entitled to a decree of registration of the lot, because he is an alien disqualified from acquiring lands of the public domain.Oh Cho's predecessors in interest would have been entitled toa decree of registration had they applied for the same. The application for the registration of the land was a condition precedent, which was not complied with by the Lagmeos. Hence, the most they had was mere possessory right, not title. This possessory right was what was transferred to Oh Cho, but since the latter is an alien, the possessory right could never ripen to ownership by prescription. As an alien, Oh Cho is disqualified from acquiring title over public land by prescription.
Oposa et al. v. Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr. et al (G.R.No. 101083) Facts This case is unique in that it is a class suit brought by 44children, through their parents, claiming that they bring the case in the name of ―their generation as well as those generations yet unborn.‖ Aiming to stop deforestation, it was filed against the Secretary of the Department, seeking to have him cancel all the timber license agreements (TLAs) in the country and to cease and desist from accepting and approving more timber license agreements. The children invoked their right to a balanced and healthful ecology and to protection by the State in its capacity as parens patriae. The petitioners claimed that the DENR Secretary's refusal to cancel the TLAs and to stop issuing them was "contrary to the highest law of humankind-- the natural law—and violative of plaintiffs' right to self-preservation and perpetuation." The case was dismissed in the lower court, invoking the law on non-impairment of contracts, so it was brought to the Supreme Court on certiorari. Issue Whether or not the children have the legal standing to file the case. Ruling Yes. The Supreme Court in granting the petition ruled that the children had the legal standing to file the case based on the concept of ―intergenerational responsibility‖. Their right to a healthy environment carried with it an obligation to preserve that environment for the succeeding generations. In this, the Court recognized legal standing to sue on behalf of future generations. Also, the Court said, the law on nonimpairment of contracts must give way to the exercise of the police power of the state in the interest of public welfare.
Ramirez v. Vda. De Ramirez G.R. No. L-27952 February 15, 1982 Facts: The deceased was survived by his spouse, 2 grandnephews, and his companion. The administrator submitted a partition to the court which divided the estate into 2: one-half would go to the widow in satisfaction of her legitime; the other half, which is the free portion, would go to the grandnephews; however, 1/3 of the free portion is charged with the widow‘s usufruct and the remaining 2/3 with a usufruct in favor of the companion. The grandnephews opposed the substitution on the ground that the 1st heirs are not related to the substitutes within the 1st degree. Issue: Whether the fideicommissary substitution is valid if the substitutes are related to the companion within one degree. Decision: SC ruled that the fideicommissary substitution is void. The substitutes (grandnephews) are not related to the companion within one degree. In effect, the SC ruled that ―one degree‖ means ―one generation‖ and not ―one designation.‖ So, it follows that the fideicommissary can only be either a child or a parent of the 1st heir.
SAN MIGUEL CORPORATION VS. COURT OF APPEALS (GR # 57667, May 28, 1990) FACTS: This is a petition for review on certiorari where petitioner San Miguel Corporation who purchased Lot 684 from Silverio Perez, seeks the reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals denying its application for registration of the said land in view of its failure to show entitlement thereto. The Solicitor General opposed and appealed the application contending that the land in question is part of public domain and that petitioner being a private corporation is disqualified from holding alienable lands of the public domain. In this case, petitioner claims that its predecessor-in-interest had open, exclusive and undisputed possession of the land in question based on documentary evidence of tax declarations and receipts, and testimonial evidence of vendor Silverio Perez. ISSUE: Whether or not the evidence presented by the petitioner is sufficient to warrant a ruling that petitioner and/or its predecessor-in-interest has a registrable right over Lot 684. HELD: No, documentary evidence of tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership or right of possession over a piece of land but mere indicia of a claim of ownership. They only become strong evidence of ownership of land acquired by prescription when accompanied by proof of actual possession. Also, the testimony of vendor Silverio Perez as proof of actual possession is weak and was not corroborated by other witnesses.
SANTA ROSA MINING COMPANY VS. JOSE LEIDO, JR. GR # L-49109 December 1, 1987 FACTS: Presidential Decree No.1214 was issued requiring holders of subsisting and valid patentable mining claims located under the provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902 to file a mining lease of application within one (1) year from the approval of the Decree. To protect its rights, petitioner Santa Rosa Mining Company files a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition confronting the said Decree as unconstitutional in that it amounts to a deprivation of property without due process of law. Subsequently, three (3) days after, petitioner filed a mining lease application, but ―under protest‖, with a reservation that it is not waiving its rights over its mining claims until the validity of the Decree shall have been passed upon by the Court. The respondents allege that petitioner has no standing to file the instant petition and question the Decree as it failed to fully exhaust administrative remedies. ISSUE: Whether or not Presidential Decree No. 1214 is constitutional. HELD: Yes, Presidential Decree No. 1214 is constitutional, even assuming arguendo that petitioners was not bound to exhaust administrative remedies for its mining claims to be valid in the outset. It is a valid exercise of the sovereign power of the State, as owner, over the lands of the public domain, of which petitioner‘s mining claims still form a part. Moreover, Presidential Decree No. 1214 is in accord with Sec. 8, Art XIV of the 1937 Constitution.
G.R. No. L-33048 April 16, 1982 EPIFANIA SARSOSA VDA. DE BARSOBIA and PACITA W. VALLAR, petitioners, vs. VICTORIANO T. CUENCO, respondent. FACTS: Sought to be reviewed herein is the judgment dated August 18, 1970, of the Court of Appeals, rendered in CA-G.R. No. 41318-R, entitled "Victoriano T. Cuenco, Plaintiff-appellant, vs. Epifania Sarsosa Vda. de Barsobia and Pacita W. Vallar, Defendants- appellees, " declaring Victoriano T. Cuenco (now the respondent) as the absolute owner of the coconut land in question. The lot in controversy is a one-half portion (on the northern side) of two adjoining parcels of coconut land located at Barrio Mancapagao, Sagay, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental (now Camiguin province), with an area of 29,150 square meters, more or less. The entire land was owned previously by a certain Leocadia Balisado, who had sold it to the spouses Patricio Barsobia (now deceased) and Epifania Sarsosa, one of the petitioners herein. They are Filipino citizens. On September 5, 1936, Epifania Sarsosa then a widow, sold the land in controversy to a Chinese, Ong King Po, for the sum of P1,050.00 .Ong King Po took actual possession and enjoyed the fruits thereof. On August 5, 1961, Ong King Po sold the litigated property to Victoriano T. Cuenco (respondent herein), a naturalized Filipino, for the sum of P5,000.00. Respondent immediately took actual possession and harvested the fruits therefrom. On March 6, 1962, Epifania "usurped" the controverted property, and on July 26, 1962, Epifania (through her only daughter and child, Emeteria Barsobia), sold a one-half (1/2) portion of the land in question to Pacita W. Vallar, the other petitioner herein .On September 19, 1962, respondent filed a Forcible Entry case against Epifania before the Municipal Court of Sagay, Camiguin. The case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction since, as the laws then stood, the question of possession could not be properly determined without first settling that of ownership. On December 27, 1966, respondent instituted before the Court of First Instance of Misamis Oriental a Complaint for recovery of possession and ownership of the litigated land, against Epifania and Pacita Vallar (hereinafter referred to simply as petitioners). Issue: Whether or not Victoriano T. Cuenco ), a naturalized Filipino is the rightful owner of the land after buying it from Ong King Po, a Chinese. HELD: The trial Court rendered judgment: 1. Dismissing the complaint with costs against plaintiff (respondent herein). 2. Declaring the two Deeds of Sale, Exhibits A and B, respectively, inexistent and void from the beginning; and 3. Declaring defendant Pacita W. Vallar as the lawful owner and possessor of the portion of land she bought from Emeteria Barsobia (pp. 57, 67, Record.) The respondent appealed and the Court of Appeals reversed the the aforementioned Decision and decreed instead that respondent was the owner of the litigated property. The judgment appealed from is hereby reversed. In lieu thereof, The Court renders judgment:
(a) Declaring the plaintiff-appellant Victoriano T. Cuenco the absolute owner of the land in question, with the right of possession thereof; (b) Ordering the defendants-appellees to restore the possession of said land to the plaintiff; (c) Dismissing the defendants' counterclaim; (d) Condemning the defendants to pay to the plaintiff the sum of P10,000.00 representing the latter's share from the sale of copra which he failed to receive since March, 1962 when he was deprived of his possession over the land, and which defendants illegally appropriated it to their own use and benefit, plus legal interest from the filing of the complaint until fully paid; plus P2,000.00 representing expenses and attorney's fees; (e) Sentencing the defendants to pay the costs.
TANO v. SOCRATES
Facts: The petitioners filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition assailing the constitutionality of:(1) Ordinance No. 15-92 entitled:" AN ORDINANCE BANNING THE SHIPMENT OF ALL LIVEFISH AND LOBSTER OUTSIDE PUERTO PRINCESA CITY FROM JANUARY 1, 1993 TO JANUARY 1,1998 AND PROVIDING EXEMPTIONS, PENALTIES AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES THEREOF"(2) Office Order No. 23, requiring any person engaged or intending to engage in any business, trade, occupation, calling or profession or having in his possession any of the articles for which a permit is required to be had, to obtain first a Mayor‘s and authorizing and directing to check or conduct necessary inspections on cargoes containing live fish and lobster being shipped out from Puerto Princesa and,( 3 ) R e s o l u t i o n N o . 3 3 , O r d i n a n c e N o . 2 e n t i t l e d : " A R E S O L U T I O N P R O H I B I T I N G T H E CATCHING, GATHERING, POSSESSING, BUYING, SELLING AND SHIPMENT OF LIVE MARINE CORAL DWELLING AQUATIC ORGANISMS‖T h e p e t i t i o n e r s c o n t e n d t h a t t h e s a i d O r d i n a n c e s d e p r i v e d t h e m o f d u e p r o c e s s o f l a w , t h e i r livelihood, and unduly restricted them from the practice of their trade, in violation of Section 2, Article XII and Sections 2 and 7 of Article XIII of the 1987 Constitution and that the Mayor had the absolute authority to determine whether or not to issue the permit. They also claim that it took away their right to earn their livelihood in lawful ways; and insofar as the Airline Shippers Association are concerned, they were unduly prevented from pursuing their vocation and entering "into contracts which are proper, necessary, and essential to carry out their business endeavors to a successful conclusionPublic respondents Governor Socrates and Members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Palawan defended the validity of Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993, as a valid exercise of the Provincial Government‘s power under the general welfa re clause; they likewise maintained that there was no violation of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Constitution. Issue: Whether or not the Ordinances in question are unconstitutional Held: NO
Ratio: In light then of the principles of decentralization and devolution enshrined in the LGC and the powers granted therein to local government units under Section 16 (the General Welfare Clause), and under Sections 149, 447(a) (1) (vi), 458 (a) (1) (vi) and 468 (a) (1) (vi), which unquestionably involve the exercise of police power, the validity of the questioned Ordinances cannot be doubted.***Sec. 16. General Welfare. — Every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective governance, and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. Within their respective territorial jurisdictions, local government units shall ensure and support, among other things, the preservation and enrichment of culture, promote health and safety,enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology , encourage and support the development of appropriate and self-reliant scientific and technological capabilities, improve public morals, enhance economic prosperity and social justice, promote full employment among their residents, maintain peace and order, and preserve the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants. (emphasis supplied).It is clear to the Court that both Ordinances have two principal objectives or purposes: (1) to establish a "closed season" for the species of fish or aquatic animals covered therein for a period of five years; and (2) to protect the coral in the marine waters of the City of Puerto Princesa and the Province of Palawan from further destruction due to illegal fishing activities. It imposes upon the sangguniang bayan, the sangguniang panlungsod, and the sangguniang panlalawigan the duty to enact ordinances to "[p]rotect the environment and impose appropriate penalties f o r a c t s w h i c h e n d a n g e r t h e e n v i r o n m e n t s u c h a s d y n a m i t e f i s h i n g a n d o t h e r f o r m s o f d e s t r u c t i v e fishing . . . and such other activities which result in pollution, acceleration of eutrophication of rivers and lakes or of ecological imbalance." DECISION: The petition is dismissed.
YAP vs. Court of Appeals Ramon Yap purchased a parcel of land situated in Quezon City, from the spouses Carlos and Josefina Nery. The lot was thereupon registered in the name of Ramon Yap he also declared the property in his name for tax purposes and paid the real estate taxes due thereon from 1966 to 1992.In 1962 Ramon Yap constructed a two storey 3 door apartment building for the use of the Yap family. 1/5 of the cost of the construction was defrayed by Ramon Yap while the rest was shouldered by Chua Mia, the mother of Lorenzo, Benjamin and Ramon. Upon the request of the old woman the tax declaration for real estate was placed under the name of Lorenzo Yap.Lorenzo Yap died on 11 July 1970. A few month later, his heirs including Ramon yap allowed petitioners to use one unit of the apartment building. On March 18, 1992, Ramon Yap sold the land and his share of the 3-door apartment to his brother, his herein co-respondent Benjamin Yap, for the sum of P337,500.00 pursuant to a Deed of Sale. Petitioners advised respondents of the former‘s claim of ownership over the property and demanded that respondents execute the proper deed necessary to transfer the title to them. Petitioners claim that Lorenzo requested his brother Ramon to allow the use of the latter‘s name in the purchase, registration, and declaration for tax purposes of the subject lot to which Ramon Yap consented. It was agreed that the property would remain registered in the name of Ramon yap until such time as Lorenzo would have acquired Philippine citizenship but that, should Lorenzo, the lot would then be transferred to Lorenzo‘s heirs upon the latter‘s naturalization. Both the Trial Court and the Appellate Court denied the petition and dismisses the case.
Issue: Whether or not the petitioners are entitled to own the questioned property. HELD: Petitioners were not able to prove adequately the agreement between them and the respondent. The petition was denied and affirmed the decision of the court of appeals.
Ayog et.al. vs. Cusi
Facts: On January 21, 1953, the Director of Lands, after bidding, awarded to Biñan Development Co., Inc. on the basis of its 1951 Sales Application No. V-6834 Cadastral Lot No. 281 located at Barrio Tamugan, Guianga (Baguio District), Davao City with an area of about two hundred fifty hectares. Some occupants of the lot protested against the sale. The Director found that the protestants (defendants in the 1961 ejectment suit, some of whom are now petitioners herein) entered the land only after it was awarded to the corporation and, therefore, they could not be regarded as bona fide occupants thereof. The Director characterized them as squatters. He issued a writ of execution but the protestants defied the writ and refused to vacate the land. Because the alleged occupants refused to vacate the land, the corporation filed against them on February 27, 1961 in the Court of First Instance of Davao, Civil Case No. 3711, an ejectment suit (accion publiciana). The Director of Lands in his memorandum dated June 29, 1974 for the Secretary of Natural Resources, recommending approval of the sales patent, pointed out that the purchaser corporation had complied with the said requirements long before the effectivity of the Constitution, that the land in question was free from claims and conflicts and that the issuance of the patent was in conformity with the guidelines prescribed in Opinion No. 64, series of 1973, of Secretary of Justice Vicente Abad Santos and was an exception to the prohibition in section 11, Article XIV of the Constitution and the Secretary of Natural resources approved the patent. Before the patent was issued, there was a trial, and 15 of the defendants testified that they entered the disputed land long before 1951 and that they planted it to coconuts, coffee, jackfruit and other fruit trees. However the court did not give credence to their testimonies. They found out that the plantings on the land could not be more than ten years old, meaning that they were not existing in 1953 when the sales award was made. Hence, the trial court ordered the defendants to vacate the land and to restore the possession thereof to tile company. After the record was remanded to the trial court, the corporation filed a motion for execution. The defendants, some of whom are now petitioners herein, opposed the motion. They contended that the adoption of the Constitution, which took effect on January 17, 1973, was a supervening fact which rendered it legally impossible to execute the lower court's judgment. They invoked the constitutional prohibition, already mentioned, that "no private corporation or association may hold alienable lands of the public domain except by lease not to exceed one thousand hectares in area." The lower court suspended action on the motion for execution because of the manifestation of the defendants that they would file a petition for prohibition in this Court. On August 24, 1977, the instant prohibition action was filed. Issue: Whether or not the application of section 11, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution (disqualifying a private corporation from purchasing public lands) to a 1953 sales award made by the Bureau of Lands, for which a sales patent and Torrens title were issued in 1975, and to the 1964 decision of the trial court,
ejecting some of the petitioners from the land purchased, which decision was affirmed in 1975 by the Court of Appeals. Held: Some of the petitioners were not defendants in the ejectment case. The Court held that the said constitutional prohibition has no retroactive application to the sales application of Biñan Development Co., Inc. because it had already acquired a vested right to the land applied for at the time the 1973 Constitution took effect. That vested right has to be respected. lt could not be abrogated by the new Constitution. Section 2, Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution allows private corporations to purchase public agricultural lands not exceeding one thousand and twenty-four hectares. Petitioners' prohibition action is barred by the doctrine of vested rights in constitutional law. As they cannot review the factual findings of the trial court and the Court of Appeals, they cannot entertain petitioners' contention that many of them by themselves and through their predecessors-in-interest have possessed portions of land even before the war. They should have filed homestead or free patent applications. Their jurisdiction is limited to the resolution of the legal issue as to whether the 1973 Constitution is an obstacle to the implementation of the trial court's 1964 final and executory judgment ejecting the petitioners. On that issue, we have no choice but to sustain its enforceability. Petition is dismissed for lack of merit but with the clarification that the said judgment cannot be enforced against those petitioners herein who were not defendants in the ejectment case, Civil Case No. 3711, and over whom the lower court did not acquire jurisdiction. The contempt proceeding is also dismissed.
GUIANG VS.KINTANAR FACTS: Petition filed on January 15, 1979 for Certiorari and mandamus seeking the setting aside of the decision and the two orders subsequent thereto of respondent judge dated August 20, 1975 and November 14, 1978 and December 27, 1978, respectively, as acts committed in grave abuse of discretion, the compromise agreement on which said decision was based being allegedly in contravention of the Constitution and the Public Land Act, hence the execution thereof under the two questioned subsequent orders had no legal basis. ISSUE: Whether or not the two orders of the respondent judge have legal basis under the 1973 Constitution. HELD: The Court came to the inevitable conclusion that Section 122 of the Public Land Act has been amended by the 1973 Constitution by reducing the area of land acquired under the Act that could be transferred by any purchaser, patentee or homesteader to only 24 hectares instead of the 144 hectares allowed under the 1935 Constitution. Now, the compromise agreement, executed on August 20, 1975 and here in dispute, provides for the transfer of a total of 146 hectares. It inevitably follows then that said compromise agreement contravenes not only a statute but the fundamental law of the land. Adding to its being contrary to law, which undoubtedly is also covered by the public policy expressed in the Constitution, is the fact that private respondents, the Kintanars, already owned at the time of the agreement a lot of 29 hectares which they had acquired also from the government pursuant to the Public Land Act. It is of no consequence, pursuant to the same article, that petitioners, the Guiang spouses,
executed on August 21, 1975, apparently in ratification of the impugned agreement, the deeds of sale covering the two lots already referred to and that petitioners actually received in part or in whole the money consideration stipulated therein, for according to the same Article 1409, contracts contemplated therein, as the one the Court are dealing with, "cannot be ratified nor the defense of its illegality be waived." With the foregoing view the Court have taken of these cases now before them they saw no need to resolve the other issues discussed by the parties in their memoranda and motions. WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered granting the herein petition and declaring the rights of the parties to be as they are stated above in the paragraph preceding the penultimate one of the above opinion.
REPUBLIC VS. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT G.R. No. 75042 November 29, 1988
FACTS: This is an appeal from the 1) decision * of the FIRST CIVIL CASES DIVISION of the then Intermediate Appellate Court dated May 13, 1986, in AC G.R. No. 01410 entitled the ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF Lucena, represented by Msgr. Jose T. Sanchez, applicant-appellee vs. Republic of the Philippines, et al., Oppositors-appellants, affirming the decision ** of the then Court of FIRST INSTANCE of Quezon, 9th Judicial District, Branch 1, dated November 4, 1980 in Land Registration Case No. N-1106 entitled the ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP of Lucena, represented by Msgr. Jose T. Sanchez, applicant vs. the Director of Lands and the Director, Bureau of Forest Development, oppositors, ordering the registration of title to the parcel of land designated, as lots 1, 2 and 3 of plan PSD-65686 and its technical descriptions, and the parcel of land described in plan PSU-112592 and its technical description, together with whatever improvements existing thereon, in the name of the ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP of Lucena and 2) its resolution Dated June 19,1986, denying appellant's "Motion for Reconsideration for lack of merit." On February 2, 1979, the ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP of Lucena, represented by Msgr. Jose T. Sanchez, filed an application for confirmation of title to four (4) parcels of land. Three of said parcels, denominated as Lots 1, 2 and 3, respectively, of plan PSU-65686 are situated in Barrio Masin, Municipality of Candelaria, Quezon Province. The fourth parcels under plan PSU-112592 is located in Barrio Bucal (Taguan), same municipality and province. In behalf of the Director of Lands and the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development, the Solicitor General filed an Opposition on April 20, 1979, alleging therein among others, that the applicant did not have an imperfect title or title in fee simple to the parcel of land being applied for. At the initial hearing held on November 13, 1979, only the Provincial Fiscal in representation of the Solicitor General appeared to interpose personal objection to the application. Hence, an Order of General Default against the whole world was issued by the Court a quo except for the Director of Lands and the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development. For his part, the Fiscal in a Manifestation dated July 22, 1980, said 'the State will not adduce evidence in support of its opposition and will submit the instant case for decision.‘ Accordingly, the court ordered the registration of the four parcels together with the improvements thereon "in the name of the ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF LUCENA, INC., a religious corporation sole duly registered and existing under the laws of the Republic of the Philippines." A reconsideration of the aforequoted Decision was sought by Appellant
Republic of the Philippines, but for lack of merit, its motion for reconsideration was denied on June 19, 1986, by Resolution of the First Civil Case Division, Intermediate Appellate Court which resolution reads in full: Considering appellant Republic of the Philippines "Motion for reconsideration" filed on June 4, 1986; the Court RESOLVED to DENY the Motion for Reconsideration for lack of merit, grounds raised therein having all been considered in the decision. ISSUE: Whether or not the Roman Catholic Bishop of Lucena, as a corporation sole is qualified to apply for confirmation of its title to the four (4) parcels of land subject of this case. HELD: In the light of the facts obtaining in this case and the ruling of this Court in Director of Lands vs. IAC, (supra, 513), the lands subject of this petition were already private property at the time the application for confirmation of title was filed in 1979. There is therefore no cogent reason to disturb the findings of the appellate court. The petition is dismissed for lack of merit and the appealed decision and Resolution of the Intermediate Appellate Court is hereby AFFIRMED.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS AND SPOUSES MARIO B. LAPIÑA AND FLOR DE VEGA
FACTS: On June 17, 1978, respondent spouses bought Lots 347 and 348, Cad. s38-D, as their residence with a total area of 91.77 sq. m. situated in San Pablo City, from one Cristeta Dazo Belen (Rollo, p. 41). At the time of the purchase, respondent spouses where then natural-born Filipino citizens.On February 5, 1987, the spouses filed an application for registration of title of the two (2) parcels of land before the Regional Trial Court of San Pablo City, Branch XXXI. This time, however, they were no longer Filipino citizens and have opted to embrace Canadian citizenship through naturalization.An opposition was filed by the Republic and after the parties have presented their respective evidence, the court a quo rendered a decision confirming private respondents' title to the lots in question.On appeal, respondent court affirmed the decision of the trial court based on the following ratiocination: In the present case, it is undisputed that both applicants were still Filipino citizens when they bought the land in controversy from its former owner. For this reason, the prohibition against the acquisition of private lands by aliens could not apply. In justice and equity, they are the rightful owners of the subject realty considering also that they had paid for it quite a large sum of money. Issue: Whether or not a foreign national can apply for registration of title over a parcel of land which he acquired by purchase while still a citizen of the Philippines, from a vendor who has complied with the requirements for registration under the Public Land Act (CA 141). Held: The Court disagreed on the petition to seek to defeat respondents' application for registration of title on the ground of foreign nationality. This Court, speaking through Justice Davide, Jr., stated: As could be gleaned from the evidence adduced, the private respondents do not rely on fee simple ownership based on
a Spanish grant or possessory information title under Section 19 of the Land Registration Act; the private respondents did not present any proof that they or their predecessors-in-interest derived title from an old Spanish grant such as (a) the "titulo real" or royal grant (b) the "concession especial" or especial grant; (c) the "composicion con el estado" title or adjustment title; (d) the "titulo de compra" or title by purchase; and (e) the "informacion posesoria" or possessory information title, which could become a "titulo gratuito" or a gratuitous title (Director of Forestry v. Muñoz, 23 SCRA 1183 ). The primary basis of their claim is possession, by themselves and their predecessors-in-interest, since time immemorial. Pursuant thereto, Batas Pambansa Blg. 185 was passed into law, the relevant provision of which provides: Sec. 2. Any natural-born citizen of the Philippines who has lost his Philippine citizenship and who has the legal capacity to enter into a contract under Philippine laws may be a transferee of a private land up to a maximum area of one thousand square meters, in the case of urban land, or one hectare in the case of rural land, to be used by him as his residence. In the case of married couples, one of them may avail of the privilege herein granted; Provided, That if both shall avail of the same, the total area acquired shall not exceed the maximum herein fixed. In case the transferee already owns urban or rural lands for residential purposes, he shall still be entitled to be a transferee of an additional urban or rural lands for residential purposes which, when added to those already owned by him, shall not exceed the maximum areas herein authorized. The Court is of the view that the requirements in Sec. 6 of BP 185 do not apply in the instant case since said requirements are primarily directed to the register of deeds before whom compliance therewith is to be submitted. Nowhere in the provision is it stated, much less implied, that the requirements must likewise be submitted before the land registration court prior to the approval of an application for registration of title. An application for registration of title before a land registration court should not be confused with the issuance of a certificate of title by the register of deeds. It is only when the judgment of the land registration court approving the application for registration has become final that a decree of registration is issued. And that is the time when the requirements of Sec. 6, BP 185, before the register of deeds should be complied with by the applicants. This decree of registration is the one that is submitted to the office of the register of deeds for issuance of the certificate of title in favor of the applicant. Prior to the issuance of the decree of registration, the register of deeds has no participation in the approval of the application for registration of title as the decree of registration is yet to be issued. The petition is DISMISSED and the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED.
DIRECTOR OF LANDS VS. AQUINO 192 SCRA 296
FACTS: The center of controversy for the review of petition is a limestone-rich 70-hectare land in Bucay, Abra 66 hectares of which are, according to petitioners, within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve.Private respondent Abra Industrial Corporation (AIC for brevity), a duly registered corporation established for the purpose of setting up a cement factory, claims on the other hand, to be the owner in fee simple of the whole 70-hectare area indicated in survey plans PSU-217518, PSU-217519 and PSU-217520 with a total assessed value of P6,724.48. Thus, on September 23, 1965, it filed in the then Court of First Instance of Abra an application for registration in its name of said parcels of land under the Land Registration Act or, in the alternative, under Sec. 48 of Commonwealth Act No. 141 1 as amended by Republic Act No. 1942 inasmuch as its predecessors-in-interest had allegedly been in possession thereof since July 26, 1894. The requisite publication and posting of notice having been complied with, the application was set for hearing. Except for the Director of Lands, nobody appeared to oppose the application. Hence, the court issued an order of default against the whole world except the Director of Lands.After the applicant had rested its case, the provincial fiscal, appearing for the Director of Lands, submitted evidence supporting the opposition filed by the Solicitor General to the effect that AIC had no registerable title and that the highly mineralized parcels of land applied for were within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve which had not yet been released as alienable and disposable land pursuant to the Public Land Law. On July 22, 1966, the lower court 3 favorably acted on the application and ordered the registration of the parcels of land under the Land Registration Act. Then the Director of Lands filed a motion for reconsideration. AIC having filed its opposition to the motion for reconsideration, the lower court denied it on September 28, 1967 holding that the grounds raised therein were relevant and proper only if the Bureau of Forestry and the Bureau of Mines were parties to the case. AIC filed a motion to dismiss the instant petition on the grounds that it raises "unsubstantial" issues and that it was filed out of time. The motion was denied by the Court 13 but it bears pointing out that AIC's second ground for dismissal, which is premised on its perception that a motion for reconsideration of the order of November 27, 1969 is necessary before the filing of the instant petition, is incorrect. A motion for new trial or reconsideration is not a prerequisite to an appeal, petition for review or a petition for review on Certiorari. Petitioners herein contend that the lower court erred in granting the application for registration of the parcels of land notwithstanding its finding that they are within the forest zone. They also argued that the lower court erred in denying the petition for review based on actual fraud because under Section 38 of Act No. 496, a decree of registration may be reviewed not only by reason of actual fraud but also for a fatal infirmity of the decision upon which the decree is based, provided no innocent purchaser for value will be prejudiced. Issue: Whether or not the lower court erred in granting the application for registration of the parcels of land notwithstanding its finding that they are within the forest zone. Held: The Court found the petition to be meritorious. They reiterated the rule enunciated by this Court in Director of Forestry vs. Muñoz 18 and consistently adhered to in a long line of cases 19 the more recent of which is Republic vs. Court of Appeals, 20 that forest lands or forest reserves are incapable of private appropriation and possession thereof, however long, cannot convert them into private properties. This ruling is premised on the Regalian doctrine enshrined not only in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions but also in the 1987 Constitution Article XIII of which provides that:
"Sec. 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal . . . , forests or timber, . . . and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated." The petitioners therefore validly insisted on the review of the decision ordering the issuance of the decree of registration in view of its patent infirmity. DECISION: The order of November 27, 1969 denying the petition for review under Section 38 of Act No. 496 and the decision of July 22, 1966 insofar as it orders the registration of land within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve is hereby REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The temporary restraining order issued on April 7, 1970 is hereby made permanent.
DIRECTOR OF LANDS VS INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and ACME PLYWOOD & VENEER CO. INC., ETC.
FACTS: The Director of Lands has brought this appeal by certiorari from a judgment of the Intermediate Appellate Court affirming a decision of the Court of First Instance of Isabela, which ordered registration in favor of Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc. of five parcels of land measuring 481, 390 square meters, more or less, acquired by it from Mariano and Acer Infiel, members of the Dumagat tribe. The Director of Lands takes no issue with any of these findings except as to the applicability of the 1935 Constitution to the matter at hand. Concerning this, he asserts that, the registration proceedings have been commenced only on July 17, 1981, or long after the 1973 Constitution had gone into effect, the latter is the correctly applicable law; and since section 11 of its Article XIV prohibits private corporations or associations from holding alienable lands of the public domain, except by lease not to exceed 1,000 hectares (a prohibition not found in the 1935 Constitution which was in force in 1962 when Acme purchased the lands in question from the Infiels), it was reversible error to decree registration in favor of Acme Section 48, paragraphs (b) and (c), of Commonwealth Act No. 141. Issue: Whether or not the 1935 Constitution is applicable as the sale of the disputed land took place on October 29, 1962. Held: When the conditions as specified in the foregoing provision are complied with, the possessor is deemed to have acquired, by operation of law, a right to a grant, a government grant, without the necessity of a certificate of title being issued. The land, therefore, ceases to be of the public domain and beyond the authority of the Director of Lands to dispose of. The application for confirmation is mere formality, the lack of which does not affect the legal sufficiency of the title as would be evidenced by the patent and the Torrens title to be issued upon the strength of said patent. Even on the proposition that the land remained technically "public" land, despite immemorial possession of the Infiels and their ancestors, until title in their favor was actually confirmed in appropriate proceedings under the Public Land Act, there can be no serious question of Acmes right to acquire the land at the time it did, there also being
nothing in the 1935 Constitution that might be construed to prohibit corporations from purchasing or acquiring interests in public land to which the vendor had already acquired that type of so-called "incomplete" or "imperfect" title. The Court, in the light of the foregoing, is of the view, and so holds, that the majority ruling in Meralco must be reconsidered and no longer deemed to be binding precedent. The ends of justice would best be served, therefore, by considering the applications for confirmation as amended to conform to the evidence, i.e. as filed in the names of the original persons who as natural persons are duly qualified to apply for formal confirmation of the title that they had acquired by conclusive presumption and mandate of the Public Land Act and who thereafter duly sold to the herein corporations (both admittedly Filipino corporations duly qualified to hold and own private lands) and granting the applications for confirmation of title to the private lands so acquired and sold or exchanged. There is also nothing to prevent Acme from reconveying the lands to the Infiels and the latter from themselves applying for confirmation of title and, after issuance of the certificate/s of title in their names, deeding the lands back to Acme. There being no reversible error in the appealed judgment of the Intermediate Appellate Court, the same is hereby affirmed, without costs in this instance.
LEE VS. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES FACTS:
The case under consideration is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision of the Court of Appeals nullifying that of the Regional Trial Court, Roxas City, in Reconstitution Case No. R1928, pertaining to Lot 398, Capiz Cadastre, covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 3389. Sometime in March 1936, Rafael, Carmen, Francisco, Jr., Ramon, Lourdes, Mercedes, Concepcion, Mariano, Jose, Loreto, Manuel, Rizal and Jimmy, all surnamed Dinglasan sold to Lee Liong, a Chinese citizen, a parcel of land with an approximate area of 1,631 square meters, designated as Lot 398 and covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 3389, situated at the corner of Roxas Avenue and Pavia Street, Roxas City.However, in 1948, the former owners filed with the Court of First Instance, Capiz an action against the heirs of Lee Liong for annulment of sale and recovery of land. The plaintiffs assailed the validity of the sale because of the constitutional prohibition against aliens acquiring ownership of private agricultural land, including residential, commercial or industrial land. Rebuffed in the trial court and the Court of Appeals, plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled that granting the sale to be null and void and can not give title to the vendee, it does not necessarily follow therefrom that the title remained in the vendor, who had also violated the constitutional prohibition, or that he (vendor) has the right to recover the title of which he has divested himself by his act in ignoring the prohibition. Then the same owners filed an action for the recovery of the land and the heirs of Lee Liong filed a motion to dismiss it but the trial court denied it. On September 7, 1993, Elizabeth Manuel-Lee and Pacita Yu Lee filed with the Regional Trial Court, Roxas City a petition for reconstitution of title of Lot No. 398 of the Capiz Cadastre, formerly covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 3389 of the Register of Deeds of Roxas City. On January 25, 1995, the Solicitor General filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for annulment of judgment in Reconstitution Case No. 1928, alleging that the Regional Trial Court, Roxas City had no jurisdiction over the case.
Issue: Whether or not the sale of land to aliens is violable under the 1935 Constitution. The fact that the Court did not annul the sale of the land to an alien did not validate the transaction, for it was still contrary to the constitutional proscription against aliens acquiring lands of the public or private domain. Although ownership of the land cannot revert to the original sellers, because of the doctrine of pari delicto, the Solicitor General may initiate an action for reversion or escheat of the land to the State, subject to other defenses, as hereafter set forth. The constitutional proscription on alien ownership of lands of the public or private domain was intended to protect lands from falling in the hands of non-Filipinos. In this case, however, there would be no more public policy violated since the land is in the hands of Filipinos qualified to acquire and own such land. The Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G. R. SP No. 36274. In lieu thereof, the Court sets aside the order of reconstitution of title in Reconstitution Case No. R-1928, Regional Trial Court, Roxas City, and dismisses the petition, without prejudice.
DIRECTOR OF LANDS vs. COURT OF APPEALS FACTS: Petitioners-public officials, through the Solicitor General, seek a review of the Decision and Resolution of the then Court of Appeals affirming the judgment of the former Court of First Instance of Bulacan, Branch III, decreeing registration of a parcel of land in private respondents' favor. The land in question, Identified as Lot 2347, Cad-302-D, Case 3, Obando Cadastre, under Plan Ap-03-000535, is situated in Obando, Bulacan, and has an area of approximately 9.3 hectares. It adjoins the Kailogan River and private respondents have converted it into a fishpond. In their application for registration filed on May 10, 1976, private respondents (Applicants, for brevity) claimed that they are the co-owners in fee simple of the land applied for partly through inheritance in 1918 and partly by purchase on May 2, 1958; that it is not within any forest zone or military reservation; and that the same is assessed for taxation purposes in their names. The Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development opposed the application on the principal ground that the land applied for is within the unclassified region of Obando, Bulacan, per BF Map LC No. 637 dated March 1, 1927; and that areas within the unclassified region are denominated as forest lands and do not form part of the disposable and alienable portion of the public domain. After hearing, the Trial Court ordered registration of the subject land in favor of the Applicants. This was affirmed on appeal by respondent Appellate Court, which found that "through indubitable evidence (Applicants) and their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, public, continuous, peaceful and adverse possession of the subject parcel of land under a bona fide claim of ownership for more than 30 years prior to the filing of the application" and are, therefore, entitled to registration. Issue: Whether or not the areas within the unclassified region are denominated as forest lands and do not form part of the disposable and alienable portion of the public domain. Held: In effect, what the Courts a quo have done is to release the subject property from the unclassified category, which is beyond their competence and jurisdiction. The classification of public lands is an
exclusive prerogative of the Executive Department of the Government and not of the Courts. In the absence of such classification, the land remains as unclassified land until it is released therefrom and rendered open to disposition. 3 This should be so under time-honored Constitutional precepts. This is also in consonance with the Regalian doctrine that all lands of the public domain belong to the State, 4 and that the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership in land and charged with the conservation of such patrimony. The conversion of subject property into a fishpond by Applicants, or the alleged titling of properties around it, does not automatically render the property as alienable and disposable. Applicants' remedy lies in the release of the property from its present classification. The appealed Decision is reversed and the application for registration in Land Registration Case No. N299-V-76 of the former Court of First Instance of Bulacan, Branch III, is hereby dismissed, without prejudice to the availment by the applicants of the proper administrative remedy.
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Submitted by: Jonathan B. Chiong LLB-I-A