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HEIRS OF MARIO MALABANAN vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES GR No.

179987 April 29, 2009 en banc FACTS: On 20 February 1998, Mario Malabanan filed an application for land registration before the RTC of Cavite-Tagaytay, covering a parcel of land situated in Silang Cavite, consisting of 71,324 square meters. Malabanan claimed that he had purchased the property from Eduardo Velazco, and that he and his predecessors-in-interest had been in open, notorious, and continuous adverse and peaceful possession of the land for more than thirty (30) years. Velazco testified that the property was originally belonged to a twenty-two hectare property owned by his great-grandfather, Lino Velazco. Lino had four sons Benedicto, Gregorio, Eduardo and Estebanthe fourth being Aristedess grandfather. Upon Linos death, his four sons inherited the property and divided it among themselves. But by 1966, Estebans wife, Magdalena, had become the administrator of all the properties inherited by the Velazco sons from their father, Lino. After the death of Esteban and Magdalena, their son Virgilio succeeded them in administering the properties, including Lot 9864-A, which originally belonged to his uncle, Eduardo Velazco. It was this property that was sold by Eduardo Velazco to Malabanan. Among the evidence presented by Malabanan during trial was a Certification dated 11 June 2001, issued by the Community Environment & Natural Resources Office, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (CENRO-DENR), which stated that the subject property was verified to be within the Alienable or Disposable land per Land Classification Map No. 3013 established under Project No. 20-A and approved as such under FAO 4-1656 on March 15, 1982. On 3 December 2002, the RTC approved the application for registration. The Republic interposed an appeal to the Court of Appeals, arguing that Malabanan had failed to prove that the property belonged to the alienable and disposable land of the public domain, and that the RTC had erred in finding that he had been in possession of the property in the manner and for the length of time required by law for confirmation of imperfect title. On 23 February 2007, the Court of Appeals reversed the RTC ruling and dismissed the appliocation of Malabanan. ISSUES: 1. In order that an alienable and disposable land of the public domain may be registered under Section 14(1) of Presidential Decree No. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree, should the land be classified as alienable and disposable as of June 12, 1945 or is it sufficient that such classification occur at any time prior to the filing of the applicant for registration provided that it is established that the applicant has been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945 or earlier? 2. For purposes of Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree may a parcel of land classified as alienable and disposable be deemed private land and therefore susceptible to acquisition by prescription in accordance with the Civil Code? 3. May a parcel of land established as agricultural in character either because of its use or because its slope is below that of forest lands be registrable under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree in relation to the provisions of the Civil Code on acquisitive prescription? 4. Are petitioners entitled to the registration of the subject land in their names under Section 14(1) or Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree or both? HELD: The Pertition is denied. (1) In connection with Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree, Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act recognizes and confirms that those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, since June 12, 1945 have acquired ownership of, and registrable title to, such lands based on the length and quality of their possession. (a) Since Section 48(b) merely requires possession since 12 June 1945 and does not require that the lands should have been alienable and disposable during the entire period of possession, the possessor is entitled to secure judicial confirmation of his title thereto as soon as it is declared alienable and disposable, subject to the timeframe imposed by Section 47 of the Public Land Act. (b) The right to register granted under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is further confirmed by Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. (2) In complying with Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree, consider that under the Civil Code, prescription is recognized as a mode of acquiring ownership of patrimonial property. However, public domain lands become only patrimonial property not only with a declaration that these are alienable or disposable. There must also be an express government manifestation that the property is already patrimonial or no longer retained for public service or the development of national wealth, under Article 422 of the Civil Code. And only when the property has become patrimonial can the prescriptive period for the acquisition of property of the public dominion begin to run. (a) Patrimonial property is private property of the government. The person acquires ownership of patrimonial property by prescription under the Civil Code is entitled to secure registration thereof under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree.

(b) There are two kinds of prescription by which patrimonial property may be acquired, one ordinary and other extraordinary. Under ordinary acquisitive prescription, a person acquires ownership of a patrimonial property through possession for at least ten (10) years, in good faith and with just title. Under extraordinary acquisitive prescription, a persons uninterrupted adverse possession of patrimonial property for at least thirty (30) years, regardless of good faith or just title, ripens into ownership. It is clear that the evidence of petitioners is insufficient to establish that Malabanan has acquired ownership over the subject property under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. There is no substantive evidence to establish that Malabanan or petitioners as his predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the property since 12 June 1945 or earlier. The earliest that petitioners can date back their possession, according to their own evidencethe Tax Declarations they presented in particularis to the year 1948. Thus, they cannot avail themselves of registration under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree. Neither can petitioners properly invoke Section 14(2) as basis for registration. While the subject property was declared as alienable or disposable in 1982, there is no competent evidence that is no longer intended for public use service or for the development of the national evidence, conformably with Article 422 of the Civil Code. The classification of the subject property as alienable and disposable land of the public domain does not change its status as property of the public dominion under Article 420(2) of the Civil Code. Thus, it is insusceptible to acquisition by prescription. Manila International Airport Authority vs CA GR No. 155650, July 20, 2006, 495 SCRA 591 Facts: Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) is the operator of the Ninoy International Airport located at Paranaque City. The Officers of Paranaque City sent notices to MIAA due to real estate tax delinquency. MIAA then settled some of the amount. When MIAA failed to settle the entire amount, the officers of Paranaque city threatened to levy and subject to auction the land and buildings of MIAA, which they did. MIAA sought for a Temporary Restraining Order from the CA but failed to do so within the 60 days reglementary period, so the petition was dismissed. MIAA then sought for the TRO with the Supreme Court a day before the public auction, MIAA was granted with the TRO but unfortunately the TRO was received by the Paranaque City officers 3 hours after the public auction. MIAA claims that although the charter provides that the title of the land and building are with MIAA still the ownership is with the Republic of the Philippines. MIAA also contends that it is an instrumentality of the government and as such exempted from real estate tax. That the land and buildings of MIAA are of public dominion therefore cannot be subjected to levy and auction sale. On the other hand, the officers of Paranaque City claim that MIAA is a government owned and controlled corporation therefore not exempted to real estate tax. Issues: Whether or not MIAA is an instrumentality of the government and not a government owned and controlled corporation and as such exempted from tax. Whether or not the land and buildings of MIAA are part of the public dominion and thus cannot be the subject of levy and auction sale. Ruling: Under the Local government code, government owned and controlled corporations are not exempted from real estate tax. MIAA is not a government owned and controlled corporation, for to become one MIAA should either be a stock or non stock corporation. MIAA is not a stock corporation for its capital is not divided into shares. It is not a non stock corporation since it has no members. MIAA is an instrumentality of the government vested with corporate powers and government functions. Under the civil code, property may either be under public dominion or private ownership. Those under public dominion are owned by the State and are utilized for public use, public service and for the development of national wealth. The ports included in the public dominion pertain either to seaports or airports. When properties under public dominion cease to be for public use and service, they form part of the patrimonial property of the State. The court held that the land and buildings of MIAA are part of the public dominion. Since the airport is devoted for public use, for the domestic and international travel and transportation. Even if MIAA charge fees, this is for support of its operation and for regulation and does not change the character of the land and buildings of MIAA as part of the public dominion. As part of the public dominion the land and buildings of MIAA are outside the commerce of man. To subject them to levy and public auction is contrary to public policy. Unless the President issues a proclamation withdrawing the airport land and buildings from public use, these properties remain to be of public dominion and are inalienable. As long as the land and buildings are for public use the ownership is with the Republic of the Philippines. G.R. No. 134209 January 24, 2006 REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES vs. NAGUIAT (full case) Before the Court is this petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court seeking the reversal of the Decision 1 dated May 29, 1998 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 37001 which affirmed an earlier decision 2 of the Regional Trial Court at Iba, Zambales, Branch 69 in Land Registration Case No. N-25-1. The decision under review recites the factual backdrop, as follows: This is an application for registration of title to four (4) parcels of land located in Panan, Botolan, Zambales, more particularly described in the amended application filed by Celestina Naguiat on 29 December 1989 with the Regional Trial

Court of Zambales, Branch 69. Applicant [herein respondent] alleges, inter alia, that she is the owner of the said parcels of land having acquired them by purchase from the LID Corporation which likewise acquired the same from Demetria Calderon, Josefina Moraga and Fausto Monje and their predecessors-in-interest who have been in possession thereof for more than thirty (30) years; and that to the best of her knowledge, said lots suffer no mortgage or encumbrance of whatever kind nor is there any person having any interest, legal or equitable, or in possession thereof. On 29 June 1990, the Republic of the Philippines [herein petitioner]. . . filed an opposition to the application on the ground that neither the applicant nor her predecessors-in interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the lands in question since 12 June 1945 or prior thereto; that the muniments of title and tax payment receipts of applicant do not constitute competent and sufficient evidence of a bona-fide acquisition of the lands applied for or of his open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation thereof in the concept of (an) owner; that the applicants claim of ownership in fee simple on the basis of Spanish title or grant can no longer be availed of . . .; and that the parcels of land applied for are part of the public domain belonging to the Republic of the Philippines not subject to private appropriation. On 15 October 1990, the lower court issued an order of general default as against the whole world, with the exception of the Office of the Solicitor General, and proceeded with the hearing of this registration case. After she had presented and formally offered her evidence . . . applicant rested her case. The Solicitor General, thru the Provincial Prosecutor, interposed no objection to the admission of the exhibits. Later . . . the Provincial Prosecutor manifest (sic) that the Government had no evidence to adduce. 3 In a decision4 dated September 30, 1991, the trial court rendered judgment for herein respondent Celestina Naguiat, adjudicating unto her the parcels of land in question and decreeing the registration thereof in her name, thus: WHEREFORE, premises considered, this Court hereby adjudicates the parcels of land situated in Panan, Botolan, Zambales, appearing on Plan AP-03-003447 containing an area of 3,131 square meters, appearing on Plan AP-03-003446 containing an area of 15,322 containing an area of 15,387 square meters to herein applicant Celestina T. Naguiat, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married to Rommel Naguiat and a resident of Angeles City, Pampanga together with all the improvements existing thereon and orders and decrees registration in her name in accordance with Act No. 496, Commonwealth Act No. 14, [should be 141] as amended, and Presidential Decree No. 1529. This adjudication, however, is subject to the various easements/reservations provided for under pertinent laws, presidential decrees and/or presidential letters of instructions which should be annotated/ projected on the title to be issued. And once this decision becomes final, let the corresponding decree of registration be immediately issued. (Words in bracket added) With its motion for reconsideration having been denied by the trial court, petitioner Republic went on appeal to the CA in CA-G.R. CV No. 37001. As stated at the outset hereof, the CA, in the herein assailed decision of May 29, 1998, affirmed that of the trial court, to wit: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED. SO ORDERED. Hence, the Republics present recourse on its basic submission that the CAs decision " is not in accordance with law, jurisprudence and the evidence, since respondent has not established with the required evidence her title in fee simple or imperfect title in respect of the subject lots which would warrant their registration under (P.D. 1529 or Public Land Act (C.A.) 141." In particular, petitioner Republic faults the appellate court on its finding respecting the length of respondents occupation of the property subject of her application for registration and for not considering the fact that she has not established that the lands in question have been declassified from forest or timber zone to alienable and disposable property. Public forest lands or forest reserves, unless declassified and released by positive act of the Government so that they may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public domain, are not capable of private appropriation. 5 As to these assets, the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do not apply. 6 Given this postulate, the principal issue to be addressed turns on the question of whether or not the areas in question have ceased to have the status of forest or other inalienable lands of the public domain. Forests, in the context of both the Public Land Act 7 and the Constitution8 classifying lands of the public domain into "agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands and national parks," do not necessarily refer to a large tract of wooded land or an expanse covered by dense growth of trees and underbrush. As we stated in Heirs of Amunategui 9A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain does not lose such classification simply because loggers or settlers have stripped it of its forest cover. Parcels of land classified as forest land may actually be covered with grass or planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other farmers. "Forest lands" do not have to be on mountains or in out of the way places. xxx. The classification is merely descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like. xxx Under Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution,10 which embodies the Regalian doctrine, all lands of the public domain belong to the State the source of any asserted right to ownership of land. 11 All lands not appearing to be clearly of private dominion presumptively belong to the State.12 Accordingly, public lands not shown to have been reclassified or released as alienable agricultural land or alienated to a private person by the State remain part of the inalienable public domain.13 Under Section 6 of the Public Land Act, the prerogative of classifying or reclassifying lands of the public domain, i.e., from forest or mineral to agricultural and vice versa, belongs to the Executive Branch of the government and not the court.14 Needless to stress, the onus to overturn, by incontrovertible evidence, the presumption that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable or disposable rests with the applicant. 15 In the present case, the CA assumed that the lands in question are already alienable and disposable. Wrote the appellate court: The theory of [petitioner] that the properties in question are lands of the public domain cannot be sustained as it is directly against the above doctrine. Said doctrine is a reaffirmation of the principle established in the earlier cases . . . that open, exclusive and undisputed possession of alienable public land for period prescribed by law creates the legal fiction whereby the land, upon completion of the requisite period, ipso jure and without the need of judicial or other sanction, ceases to be public land and becomes private property . (Word in bracket and underscoring added.) The principal reason for the appellate courts disposition, finding a registerable title for respondent, is her and her predecessor-in-interests open, continuous and exclusive occupation of the subject property for more than 30 years. Prescinding from its above assumption and finding, the appellate court went on to conclude, citing Director of Lands vs.

Intermediate Appellate Court (IAC)16 and Herico vs. DAR,17 among other cases, that, upon the completion of the requisite period of possession, the lands in question cease to be public land and become private property. Director of Lands, Herico and the other cases cited by the CA are not, however, winning cards for the respondent, for the simple reason that, in said cases, the disposable and alienable nature of the land sought to be registered was established, or, at least, not put in issue. And there lies the difference. Here, respondent never presented the required certification from the proper government agency or official proclamation reclassifying the land applied for as alienable and disposable. Matters of land classification or reclassification cannot be assumed. It calls for proof.18 Aside from tax receipts, respondent submitted in evidence the survey map and technical descriptions of the lands, which, needless to state, provided no information respecting the classification of the property. As the Court has held, however, these documents are not sufficient to overcome the presumption that the land sought to be registered forms part of the public domain.19 It cannot be overemphasized that unwarranted appropriation of public lands has been a notorious practice resorted to in land registration cases.20 For this reason, the Court has made it a point to stress, when appropriate, that declassification of forest and mineral lands, as the case may be, and their conversion into alienable and disposable lands need an express and positive act from the government.21 The foregoing considered, the issue of whether or not respondent and her predecessor-in-interest have been in open, exclusive and continuous possession of the parcels of land in question is now of little moment. For, unclassified land, as here, cannot be acquired by adverse occupation or possession; occupation thereof in the concept of owner, however long, cannot ripen into private ownership and be registered as title. 22 WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED and the assailed decision dated May 29, 1998 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 37001 is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, respondents application for original registration of title in Land Registration Case No. N-25-1 of the Regional Trial Court at Iba, Zambales, Branch 69, is DENIED. No costs. SO ORDERED. Republic vs. Naguiat (Jan. 24, 2006) unclassified lands cannot be acquired by adverse possession/occupation; occupation in the concept of an owner however long cannot ripen into private ownership and be registered as a title. Facts: Respondent applies for registration of title to 4 parcels of land contending she is the owner of the said land which she acquired from the LID Corporation which in turn acquired the same from persons who have been in possession thereof for more than 30 years. The Republic filed in opposition that said lands belong to the public domain and not subject to private appropriation. Issue: Whether or not the land in dispute as a forest land belonging to public domain may be appropriated as private property. Ruling: For a public forest land/reserves to be subject for private appropriation, it requires an express and positive act of the government that it will become a part of alienable and disposable agricultural lands of public domain. Occupation in the concept of an owner cannot ripen into private ownership and be registered to as a title. DENR et al VS. YAP et al G.R. No. 167707 October 8, 2008 FACTS: On November 10, 1978, then President Marcos issued Proc. No. 1801 declaring Boracay Island, among other islands, caves and peninsulas in the Philippines, as tourist zones and marine reserves under the administration of the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA). President Marcos later approved the issuance of PTA Circular 3-82 dated September 3, 1982, to implement Proclamation No. 1801. Claiming that Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No 3-82 precluded them from filing an application for judicial confirmation of imperfect title or survey of land for titling purposes, respondents-claimants Mayor . Yap, Jr., and others filed a petition for declaratory relief with the RTC in Kalibo, Aklan In their petition, respondents-claimants alleged that Proc. No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 raised doubts on their right to secure titles over their occupied lands. They declared that they themselves, or through their predecessors-in-interest, had been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation in Boracay since June 12, 1945, or earlier since time immemorial. They declared their lands for tax purposes and paid realty taxes on them. Respondentsclaimants posited that Proclamation No. 1801 and its implementing Circular did not place Boracay beyond the commerce of man. Since the Island was classified as a tourist zone, it was susceptible of private ownership. Under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act, they had the right to have the lots registered in their names through judicial confirmation of imperfect titles. The Republic, through the OSG, opposed the petition for declaratory relief. The OSG countered 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 the Revised Forestry Code, as amended. The OSG maintained that respondents-claimants reliance on PD No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 was misplaced. Their right to judicial confirmation of title was governed by Public Land Act and Revised Forestry Code, as amended. Since Boracay Island had not been classified as alienable and disposable, whatever possession they had cannot ripen into ownership. On July 14, 1999, the RTC rendered a decision in favor of respondents-claimants, declaring that, PD 1810 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 Revised Forestry Code, as amended. The OSG moved for reconsideration but its motion was denied. The Republic then appealed to the CA. On In 2004, the appellate court affirmed in toto the RTC decision. Again, the OSG sought reconsideration but it was similarly denied.Hence, the present petition under Rule 45.

On May 22, 2006, during the pendency the petition in the trial court, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 1064 classifying Boracay Island partly reserved forest land (protection purposes) and partly agricultural land (alienable and disposable). On August 10, 2006, petitioners-claimants Sacay,and other landowners in Boracay filed with this Court an original petition for prohibition, mandamus, and nullification of Proclamation No. 1064. They allege that the Proclamation infringed on their prior vested rights over portions of Boracay. They have been in continued possession of their respective lots in Boracay since time immemorial. On November 21, 2006, this Court ordered the consolidation of the two petitions ISSUE: the main issue is whether private claimants have a right to secure titles over their occupied portions in Boracay. HELD: petitions DENIED. The CA decision is reversed. Except for lands already covered by existing titles, Boracay was an unclassified land of the public domain prior to Proclamation No. 1064. Such unclassified lands are considered public forest under PD No. 705 . PD No. 705 issued by President Marcos categorized all unclassified lands of the public domain as public forest. Section 3(a) of PD No. 705 defines a public forest as a mass of lands of the public domain which has not been the subject of the present system of classification for the determination of which lands are needed for forest purpose and which are not. Applying PD No. 705, all unclassified lands, including those in Boracay Island, are ipso facto considered public forests. PD No. 705, however, respects titles already existing prior to its effectivity. The 1935 Constitution classified lands of the public domain into agricultural, forest or timber, such classification modified by the 1973 Constitution. The 1987 Constitution reverted to the 1935 Constitution classification with one addition: national parks. Of these, only agricultural lands may be alienated. Prior to Proclamation No. 1064 of May 22, 2006, Boracay Island had never been expressly and administratively classified under any of these grand divisions. Boracay was an unclassified land of the public domain. 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 a presidential proclamation or an executive order; an administrative action; investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators; and a legislative act or a statute. The applicant may also secure a certification from the government that the land claimed to have been possessed for the required number of years is alienable and disposable. The burden of proof in overcoming such presumption is on the person applying for registration (or claiming ownership), who must prove that the land subject of the application is alienable or disposable. In the case at bar, no such proclamation, executive order, administrative action, report, statute, or certification was presented to the Court. The records are bereft of evidence showing that, prior to 2006, the portions of Boracay occupied by private claimants were subject of a government proclamation that the land is alienable and disposable. Matters of land classification or reclassification cannot be assumed. They call for proof. Proc. No. 1801 cannot be deemed the positive act needed to classify Boracay Island as alienable and disposable land. If President Marcos intended to classify the island as alienable and disposable or forest, or both, he would have identified the specific limits of each, as President Arroyo did in Proclamation No. 1064. This was not done in Proclamation No. 1801. NOTES: 1. Private claimants reliance on Ankron and De Aldecoa is misplaced. Ankron and De Aldecoa were decided at a time when the President of the Philippines had no power to classify lands of the public domain into mineral, timber, and agricultural. At that time, the courts were free to make corresponding classifications in justiciable cases, or were vested with implicit power to do so, depending upon the preponderance of the evidence. Act No. 2874, promulgated in 1919 and reproduced in Section 6 of Public Land Act, gave the Executive Department, through the President, theexclusive prerogative to classify or reclassify public lands into alienable or disposable, mineral or forest. Since then, courts no longer had the authority, whether express or implied, to determine the classification of lands of the public domain. 2. Each case must be decided upon the proof in that particular case, having regard for its present or future value for one or the other purposes. We believe, however, considering the fact that it is a matter of public knowledge that a majority of the lands in the Philippine Islands are agricultural lands that the courts have a right to presume, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that in each case the lands are agricultural lands until the contrary is shown. Whatever the land involved in a particular land registration case is forestry or mineral land must, therefore, be a matter of proof. Its superior value for one purpose or the other is a question of fact to be settled by the proof in each particular case Forests, in the context of both the Public Land Act and the Constitution classifying lands of the public domain into agricultural, forest or timber, mineral lands, and national parks , do not necessarily refer to large tracts of wooded land or expanses covered by dense growths of trees and underbrushes. The discussion in Heirs of Amunategui v. Director of Forestry is particularly instructive: A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain does not lose such classification simply because loggers or settlers may have stripped it of its forest cover. Parcels of land classified as forest land may actually be covered with grass or planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other farmers. Forest lands do not have to be on mountains or in out of the way places. Swampy areas covered by mangrove trees, nipa palms, and other trees growing in brackish or sea water may also be classified as forest land. The classification is descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like. Unless and until the land classified as forest is released in an official proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public domain, the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do not apply. There is a big difference between forest as defined in a dictionary and forest or timber land as a classification of lands of the public domain as appearing in our statutes. One is descriptive of what appears on the land while the other is a legal status, a classification for legal purposes. At any rate, the Court is tasked to determine the legal status of Boracay Island, and not look into its physical layout. Hence, even if its forest cover has been replaced by beach resorts, restaurants and other commercial establishments, it has not been automatically converted from public forest to alienable agricultural land. 3. All is not lost, however, for private claimants. While they may not be eligible to apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under Section 48(b) of CA No. 141, as amended, this does not denote their automatic ouster from the residential, commercial, and other areas they possess now classified as agricultural. Neither will this mean the loss of their substantial investments on their occupied alienable lands. Lack of title does not necessarily mean lack of right to possess.

For one thing, those with lawful possession may claim good faith as builders of improvements. They can take steps to preserve or protect their possession. For another, they may look into other modes of applying for original registration of title, such as by homestead or sales patent, subject to the conditions imposed by law. More realistically, Congress may enact a law to entitle private claimants to acquire title to their occupied lots or to exempt them from certain requirements under the present land laws. There is one such bill now pending in the House of Representatives. Secretary vs. Yap (G.R. No. 167707,October 8, 2008) Several persons want to secure titles over lands in Boracay. They declared that they had been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation in Boracay since time immemorial. They also argued that they invested billions of pesos in developing their lands and building internationally renowned first class resorts on their lots. Do these give them the right to apply for a title to the land they are presently occupying? SUGGESTED ANSWER: No. Boracay Island (prior to Proclamation No. 1064 of May 22, 2006) had not been classified as alienable and disposable, whatever possession they had cannot ripen into ownership. 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. (visit fellester.blogspot.com) All lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. xxx 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. (G.R. No. 167707, Secretary of DENR v. Yap, October 8, 2008) The 1987 Constitution classified lands of the public domain into agricultural, forest or timber and National Parks. Of these, only agricultural lands may be alienated. Prior to Proclamation No. 1064 of May 22, 2006, Boracay Island had never been expressly and administratively classified under any of these grand divisions. What is then the classification of Boracay prior to Proc. No. 1064? SUGGESTED ANSWER: Forest. PD No. 705 categorized all unclassified lands of the public domain as public forest. xxx Nevertheless, that the occupants of Boracay have built multi-million peso beach resorts on the island; that the island has already been stripped of its forest cover; or that the implementation of Proclamation No. 1064 will destroy the islands tourism industry, do not negate its character as public forest. The classification is descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like. (Heirs of Amunategui v. Director of Forestry) President can classify lands of Public Domain Sometime in 2006, President Arroyo issued Proclamation No. 1064 classifying Boracay into reserved forest and agricultural land. It was such Proclamation which positively declared part of Boracay as alienable and opened the same to private ownership. Petitioners filed petition to nullify Proc. No. 1064. They argued that since Boracay is a public forest under PD No. 705, President Arroyo can no longer convert it into an agricultural land without running afoul the provisions of the CARL. Is the argument of the petitioners tenable? SUGGESTED ANSWER: No. In issuing Proclamation No. 1064, President Arroyo merely exercised the authority granted to her to classify lands of the public domain, presumably subject to existing vested rights. Classification of public lands is the exclusive prerogative of the Executive Department, through the Office of the President. Courts have no authority to do so. Absent such classification, the land remains unclassified until released and rendered open to disposition. Proclamation No. 1064 does not violate the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. Moreover, the prohibition under the CARL applies only to a reclassification of land. If the land had never been previously classified, as in the case of Boracay, there can be no prohibited reclassification under the agrarian law. (G.R. No. 173775, Sacay v. Secretary of DENR, October 8, 2008) Pasio vs. Monterroyo G.R. No. 159494. July 31, 2008. [560 SCRA 739 (2008)] Non-registration of patent with Register of Deeds, the deed as a contract between the Government and the patentee rendered it functus officious. FACTS: Petitioners filed an action for recovery of possession and damages against respondents. They alleged that the subject land was occupied, cultivated and cleared by Laureano Pasio in 1933; that after Laureano died, the Dir. of Lands issued an Order for the issuance of a homestead patent in his favor. However, the heirs of Laureano failed to receive the order. Consequently, the land was not registered. In their answer, respondents claimed that they had been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the subject lot for over 30 years. HELD: The Court ruled in favor of the respondents. In Director of Lands vs. IAC [146 SCRA 509 (1986)], the Court held that alienable public land held by a possessor, continuously or through his predecessors-in-interest, openly, continuously and

exclusively for the prescribed statutory period (30 years under the Public Land Act, as amended) is converted to private property by the mere lapse or completion of the period, ipso jure. Furthermore, the Court stated that once a homestead patent in accordance with law is registered the certificate of title issued by virtue of the patent has the force and effect of a Torrens title issued under the land registration law. In this case, the issuance of a homestead patent in 1952 in favor of Laureano was not registered. Sec. 103 of Presidential Decree No. 1529 mandates the registration of patents since it is the operative act to convey the land to the patentee. Non-registration of patent with Register of Deeds, the deed as a contract between the Government and the patentee rendered it functus officious.