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FACTS: This case originated from an action for recovery of possession and damages, with prayer for the

issuance of a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary mandatory injunction, filed by Rogelio, eorge, !olita, Rosalinda and "osephine, all surnamed #asi$o, represented by their father and attorney%in%fact "ose #asi$o &petitioners' against (r) Teofilo *duardo F) +onterroyo &(r) +onterroyo', later substituted by his heirs Romualdo, +aria Teresa and Stephen, all surnamed +onterroyo &respondents') Cad) !ot ,o) -./0 of Cad) -0-, 1ligan Cadastre &!ot ,o) -./0', with an area of .0,020 s3uare meters, located at #anul%iran, Abuno, 1ligan City, was part of a -4%hectare land occupied, cultivated and cleared by !aureano #asi$o &!aureano' in .0//) The -4%hectare land formed part of the public domain which was later declared alienable and disposable) 5n .6 February .0/7, !aureano filed a homestead application over the entire -4%hectare land under 8omestead Application ,o) -97647):7; 5n -- April .049, the <ureau of Forestry wrote !aureano and informed him that the tract of land covered by his application was not needed for forest purposes) :=; 5n .. September .04., the (irector of !ands issued an 5rder :2; approving !aureano>s homestead application and stating that 8omestead *ntry ,o) .74=7. was recorded in his name for the land applied for by him) !aureano died on -4 +arch .079) 5n .7 April .07-, the (irector of !ands issued an :6; 5rder for the issuance of a homestead patent in favor of !aureano, married to raciana 8erbito:0; & raciana') !aureano>s heirs did not receive the order and conse3uently, the land was not registered under !aureano>s name or under that of his heirs) 1n .07/, the property was covered by Ta? (eclaration ,o) ...9-:.9; in the name of !aureano with raciana:..; as administrator) <etween .040 and .074, a Cadastral Survey was conducted in 1ligan City) The surveyor found that a small cree@ divided the -4%hectare parcel of land into two portions, identified as !ot ,o) -./6 and !ot ,o) -./0) #etitioners claimed that !aureano>s heirs, headed by his son "ose, continuously possessed and cultivated both lots) 5n .= 5ctober .0=-, "ose>s co%heirs e?ecuted a (eed of Auitclaim renouncing their rights and interest over the land in favor of "ose) "ose secured a title in his name for !ot ,o) -./6) !ater, "ose alienated !ot ,o) -./0 in favor of his children &petitioners in this case' who, on 6 "anuary .004, simultaneously filed applications for grant of Free #atent Titles over their respective shares of !ot ,o) -./0 before the !and +anagement <ureau of the (epartment of *nvironment and ,atural Resources &(*,R') 5n -- August .004, the (*,R granted petitioners> applications and issued 5riginal Certificate of Title &5CT' ,o) #%./-- &a)f)' in favor of Rogelio #asi$o, 5CT ,o) #%./.6 &a)f)' in favor of eorge #asi$o, 5CT ,o) #%./.2 &a)f)' in favor of !olita #asi$o, 5CT ,o) #%./-. &a)f)' in favor of "osephine #asi$o, and 5CT ,o) #%./.0 &a)f)' in favor of Rosalinda #asi$o) #etitioners alleged that their possession

of !ot ,o) -./0 was interrupted on / "anuary .00/ when respondents forcibly too@ possession of the property) Respondents alleged that they had been in open, continuous, e?clusive and notorious possession of !ot ,o) -./0, by themselves and through their predecessors%in%interest, since .9 "uly .040) They alleged that on .9 "uly .040, Rufo !arumbe &!arumbe' sold !ot ,o) -./0 to #etra Teves &#etra') 5n -2 February .064, #etra e?ecuted a deed of sale over !ot ,o) -./0 in favor of Bicente Teves &Bicente') 5n -9 February .067, Bicente e?ecuted a pacto de retro sale over the land in favor of Arturo Teves &Arturo') 1n .00-, Arturo sold !ot ,o) -./0 in favor of respondents> father, (r) +onterroyo, by virtue of an oral contract) 5n 7 "anuary .007, Arturo e?ecuted a (eed of Confirmation of Absolute Sale of Cnregistered !and in favor of (r) +onterroyo>s heirs) Respondents alleged that "ose was not the owner of !ot ,o) -./0 and as such, he could not sell the land to his children) They alleged that petitioners> 5CTs were null and void for having been procured in violation of the #ublic !and Act) They further alleged that the !and +anagement <ureau had no authority to issue the free patent titles because !ot ,o) -./0 was a private land) 1ssue: whether the Court of Appeals erred in sustaining the trial court>s (ecision declaring respondents as the rightful owners and possessors of !ot ,o) -./0 Ruling: trial court found that the preponderance of evidence favors respondents as the possessors of !ot ,o) -./0 for over /9 years, by themselves and through their predecessors%in%interest) The 3uestion of who between petitioners and respondents had prior possession of the property is a factual 3uestion whose resolution is the function of the lower courts):.2; Dhen the factual findings of both the trial court and the Court of Appeals are supported by substantial evidence, they are conclusive and binding on the parties and are not reviewable by this Court) :.6; Dhile the rule is subject to e?ceptions, no e?ception e?ists in this case) Respondents were able to present the original (eed of Absolute Sale, dated .9 "uly .040, e?ecuted by !arumbe in favor of #etra):.0;Respondents also presented the succeeding (eeds of Sale showing the transfer of !ot ,o) -./0 from #etra to Bicente:-9; and from Bicente to Arturo:-.; and the (eed of Confirmation of Absolute Sale of Cnregistered Real #roperty e?ecuted by Arturo in favor of respondents):--; Respondents also presented a certification :-/; e?ecuted by #ESr) Superintendent "ulmunier A@bar "ubail, City (irector of 1ligan City #olice Command and verified from the !og <oo@ records by Senior #olice 5fficer <etty (alongenes +ab%Abo confirming that Andres Auina3uin made a report that "ose, Rogelio and !uciana #asi$o, !ucino

#elarion and ,ando Avilo forcibly too@ his copra) This belied petitioners> allegation that they were in possession of !ot ,o) -./0 and respondents forcibly too@ possession of the property only in "anuary .00/) Considering that petitioners> application for free patent titles was filed only on 6 "anuary .004, when !ot ,o) -./0 had already become private land ipso jure, the !and +anagement <ureau had no jurisdiction to entertain petitioners> application)