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G.R. No.

5246 September 16, 1910


MANUELA GREY ALBA, ET AL., petitioners-appellants,
vs.
ANACLETO R. DE LA CRUZ, objector-appellee.
Ramon Salinas, for appellants.
Aniceto G. Reyes, for appellee.
TRENT, J .:
These petitioners, Manuela, Jose, Juan, and Francisco, surnamed Grey y Alba, are the only
heirs of Doa Segunda Alba Clemente and Honorato Grey, deceased. Remedios Grey y Alba, a
sister of the petitioners, was married on the 21st day of March, 1903, to Vicente Reyes and died
on the 13th of July, 1905, without leaving any heirs except her husband. The four petitioners, as
coowners, sought to have registered the following-described property:
A parcel of land situated in the barrio of Talampas, municipality of Baliuag, Province of Bulacan,
upon which are situated three houses and one camarin of light material, having a superficial
area of 52 hectares, 51 ares, and 22 centares; bounded on the north by the highway (calzada)
of Talampas and the lands of Rita Ruiz Mateo; on the east by the lands of the said Rita Ruiz
Mateo, Hermenegildo Prado, Policarpo de Jesus, and a stream called Sapang Buslut; on the
south by the same stream and the lands of the capellania; and on the west by the stream called
Sapang Buslut, and the lands of Vicente de la Cruz, Jose Camacho and Domingo Ruiz Mateo.
This parcel of agricultural land is used for the raising of rice and sugar cane and is assessed at
$1,000 United States currency. The petition, which was filed on the 18th of December, 1906,
was accompanied by a plan and technical description of the above-described parcel of land.
After hearing the proofs presented, the court entered, on the 12th of February, 1908, a decree in
accordance with the provisions of paragraph 6 of section 54 of Act No. 926, directing that the
land described in the petitioner be registered in the names of the four petitioners, as coowners,
subject to the usufructuary right of Vicente Reyes, widower of Remedios Grey.
On the 16th of June, 1908, Anacleto Ratilla de la Cruz filed a motion in the Court of Land
Registration asking for a revision of the case, including the decision, upon the ground that he is
the absolute owner of the two parcels of land which are described in said motion, and which,
according to his allegations, are included in the lands decreed to the petitioners. He alleged that
the decree of February 12, 1908, was obtained maliciously and fraudulently by the petitioners,
thereby depriving him of said two parcels of land. He further alleged that he was the absolute
owner of the two parcels of land, having inherited them from his father, Baldomero R. de la
Cruz, who had a state grant for the same. He therefore asked, under the provisions of section
38 of the Land Registration Act (No. 496), a revision of the case, and that the said decree be
modified so as to exclude the two parcels of land described in said motion. The Land Court
upon this motion reopened the case, and after hearing the additional evidence presented by
both parties, rendered, on the 23rd of November, 1908, its decision modifying the former decree
by excluding from the same the two parcels of land claimed by Anacleto Ratilla de la Cruz. From
this decision and judgment the petitioners appealed and now insist, first, that the trial court erred
in reopening the case and modifying its decree dated the 12th of February, 1908, for the reason
that said decree was not obtained by means of fraud; and, second, that the court erred in
holding that the two parcels of land described in the appellee's motion are not their property.
It was agreed by counsel that the two small parcels now in dispute forma part of the land
described in the petition and were included in the decree of February 12, 1908, and that the
petitioners are the owners of the remainder of the land described in the said decree.
The petitioners inherited this land from their parents, who acquired the same, including the two
small parcels in question, by purchase, as is evidenced by a public document dated the 26th of
November, 1864, duly executed before Francisco Iriarte, alcalde mayor and judge of the Court
of First Instance of the Province of Bulacan.
Baldomero R. de la Cruz, father of the appellee, obtained in march, 1895, a state grant for
several parcels of land, including the two parcels in question. This grant was duly inscribed in
the old register of property in Bulacan on the 6th of April of the same year.
It is admitted that at the time the appellants presented their petition in this case the appellee
was occupying the two parcels of land now in question. It is also admitted that the name of the
appellee does not appear in the said petition as an occupant of the said two parcels. The
petitioners insist that the appellee was occupying these parcels as their tenant and for this
reason they did not include his name in their petition, as an occupant, while the appellee
contends that he was occupying the said parcels as the absolute owner under the estate grant
by inheritance.
The court below held that the failure on the part of the petitioners to include the name of the
appellee in their petition, as an occupant of these two parcels of land, was a violation of section
21 of Act No. 496, and that this constituted fraud within the meaning of section 38 of said Land
Registration Act. The trial court further held that the grant from the estate should prevail over the
public document of purchase of 1864.
The mother of the petitioners died on November 15, 1881; their father died prior to that time.
Manuela, the oldest of the petitioners, was about six years of age when their mother died. So
these children were minors when the father of the appellee obtained the estate grant.
On the 13th of June, 1882, Jose Grey, uncle and representative of the petitioners, who were
then minors, rented the land owned by the petitioners' deceased parents to one Irineo Jose for a
period of three years. On the 23d of March, 1895, the said Jose Grey, as the representative of
the petitioners, rented the same land for a period of six years to Baldomero R. de la Cruz, father
of the appellee. This rental contract was duly executed in writing. This land was cultivated
during these six years by Baldomero R. de la Cruz and his children, one of whom is the
appellee. On the 14th of December, 1905, Jose Grey, for himself and the other petitioners,
rented the same land to Estanislao R. de la Cruz for a period of two years. Estanislao de la Cruz
on entering into this rental contract with Jose Grey did so for himself and his brothers, one of
whom is the appellee. While the appellee admits that his father and brother entered into these
rental contracts and did, in fact, cultivate the petitioners' land, nevertheless he insists that the
two small parcels in question were not included in these contracts. In the rental contract
between the uncle of the petitioners and he father of the appellee the land is not described. In
the rental contract between Jose Grey, one of the petitioners, and Estanislao R. de la Cruz,
brother of the appellee, the two small parcels of land in question are included, according to the
description given therein. This was found to be true by the court below, but the said court held
that as this contract was made by Estanislao R. de la Cruz it was not binding upon Anacleto R.
de la Cruz, the appellee.
The two small parcels of land in question were purchased by the parents of the petitioners in
1864, as is evidenced by the public document of purchase and sale of that year. The same two
parcels of land are included in the state grant issued in favor of Baldomero Ratilla de la Cruz in
1895. This grant was obtained after the death of the petitioners' parents and while they were
minors. So it is clear that the petitioners honestly believed that the appellee was occupying the
said parcels as their lessee at the time they presented their application for registration. They did
not act in bad faith, nor with any fraudulent intent, when they omitted to include in their
application the name of the appellee as one of the occupants of the land. They believed that it
was not necessary nor required that they include in their application the names of their tenants.
Under these circumstances, did the court below commit an error in reopening this case in June,
1908, after its decree had been entered in February of the same year?
The application for the registration is to be in writing, signed and sworn to by the applicant, or by
some person duly authorized in his behalf. It is to contain an accurate description of the land. It
shall contain the name in full and the address of the applicant, and also the names and
addresses of all occupants of land and of all adjoining owners, if known; and, if not known, it
shall state what search has been made to find them. In the form of notice given by statute,
which shall be sworn to, the applicant is required to state and set forth clearly all mortgages or
encumbrances affecting said land, if any, the rights and interests, legal or equitable, in the
possession, remainder, reversion, or expectancy of all persons, with their names in full, together
with their place of residence and post office addresses. Upon receipt of the application the clerk
shall cause notice of the filling to be published twice in the Official Gazette. This published
notice shall be directed to all persons appearing to have an interest in the land sought to be
registered and to the adjoining owners, and also "to all whom it may concern." In addition to the
notice in the Official Gazette the Land Court shall, within seven days after said publication,
cause a copy of the notice, in Spanish, to be mailed by the clerk to every person named in the
application whose address is known; to cause a duly attested copy of the notice, in Spanish, to
be posted in a conspicuous place on every parcel of land included in the application, and in a
conspicuous place on the chief municipal building of the town in which the land is situated. The
court may also cause other or further notice of the application to be given in such manner and to
such persons as it may deem proper. The certificate of the clerk that he has served the notice
as directed by the court by publication or mailing shall be conclusive proof of such service.
Within the time allowed in the notices, if no person appears and answers, the court may at once,
upon motion of the applicant, no reason to the contrary appearing, order a general default. By
the description in the published notice "to all whom it may concern," and by express provisions
of law "all the word are made parties defendant and shall be concluded by the default an order."
If the court, after hearing, finds that the applicant has title, as stated in his application, a decree
or registration shall be entered.
Every decree of registration shall bind the land and quiet title thereto, subject only to the
exceptions stated in the following section. It shall be conclusive upon and against all persons,
including the Insular Government, and all the branches thereof, whether mentioned by name in
the application, notice, or citation, or included in the general description "to all whom it may
concern." Such decree shall not be opened by reason of the absence, infancy, or other disability
of any person affected thereby, nor by any proceedings in any court for reversing judgments or
decrees; subject, however, to the right of any person deprived of land or of any estate or interest
therein by decree of registration obtained by fraud to file in the Court of Land Registration a
petition for review within one year. . . . (Sec. 38 of Act No. 496.)
The appellee is not included in any of the exceptions named in section 38 referred to above.
It will be seen that the applicant is required to mention not only the outstanding interest which he
admits but also all claims of interest, though denied by him. By express provision of law the
world are made parties defendant by the description in the notice "to all whom it may concern."
Although the appellee, occupying the two small parcels of land in question under the
circumstances as we have set forth, was not served with notice, he was made a party defendant
by publication; and the entering of a decree on the 12th of February, 1908, must be held to be
conclusive against all persons, including the appellee, whether his (appellee's) name is
mentioned in the application, notice, or citation.
The said decree of February 12, 1908, should not have been opened on account of the
absence, infancy, or other disability of any person affected thereby, and could have been
opened only on the ground that the said decree had been obtained by fraud. That decree was
not obtained by fraud on the part of the applicants, inasmuch as they honestly believed that the
appellee was occupying these two small parcels of land as their tenant. One of the petitioner
went upon the premises with the surveyor when the original plan was made.
Proof of constructive fraud is not sufficient to authorize the Court of Land Registration to reopen
a case and modify its decree. Specific, intentional acts to deceive and deprive anther of his
right, or in some manner injure him, must be alleged and proved; that is, there must be actual or
positive fraud as distinguished from constructive fraud.
The question as to the meaning of the word "fraud" in the Australian statutes has been
frequently raised. Two distinctions have been noted by the Australian courts; the first is the
distinction between the meaning of the word "fraud" in the sections relating to the conclusive
effect of certificates of title, and its meaning in the sections relating to the protection of bona fide
purchasers from registered proprietors. The second is the distinction between "legal,"
"equitable," or "constructive" fraud, and "actual" or "moral" fraud. In none of the groups of the
sections of the Australian statutes relating to the conclusive effect of certificates of title, and in
which fraud is referred to, is there any express indication of the meaning of "fraud," with the sole
exception of that of the South Australian group. (Hogg on Australian Torrens System, p. 834.)
With regard to decisions on the sections relating to the conclusive effect of certificates of title, it
has been held in some cases that the "fraud" there mentioned means actual or moral fraud, not
merely constructive or legal fraud. In other cases "fraud" has been said to include constructive,
legal, and every kind of fraud. In other cases, against, knowledge of other persons' right, and
the deliberate acquisition of registered title in the face of such knowledge, has been held to be
"fraud" which rendered voidable the certificates of title so obtained; and voluntary ignorance is,
for this purpose, the same as knowledge. But in none of these three classes of cases was there
absent the element of intention to deprive another of just rights, which constitutes the essential
characteristics of actual as distinguished from legal-fraud. (Id., p. 835, and cases cited in
notes Nos. 85, 86, 87, 88, and 89 at bottom of pages 835 and 836.)
By "fraud" is meant actual fraud-dishonesty of some sort. (Judgment of Privy Council in Assets
Co. vs. Mere Roihi, and Assets Co. vs. Panapa Waihopi, decided in March, 1905, cited by Hogg
in his Supplementary Addendum to his work on Australian Torrens System, supra.) The same
meaning should be given to the word "fraud" used in section 38 of our statutes (Act No. 496).
The question as to whether any particular transaction shows fraud, within the meaning of the
word as used in our statutes, will in each case be a question of fact. We will not attempt to say
what acts would constitutes this kind of fraud in other cases. This must be determined from the
fact an circumstances in each particular case. The only question we are called upon to
determine, and have determined, is whether or not, under the facts and circumstances in this
case, the petitioners did obtain the decree of February 12, 1908, by means of fraud.
It might be urged that the appellee has been deprived of his property without due process of
law, in violation of section 5 of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, known as the Philippine Bill,"
which provides "that no law shall be enacted in the said Islands which shall deprive any person
of life, liberty, or property without due process of law."
The Land Registration Act requires that all occupants be named in the petition and given notice
by registered mail. This did not do the appellee any good, as he was not notified; but he was
made a party defendant, as we have said, by means of the publication "to all whom it may
concern." If this section of the Act is to be upheld this must be declared to be due process of
law.
Before examining the validity of this part of the Act it might be well to note the history and
purpose of what is known as the "Torrens Land Registration System." This system was
introduced in South Australia by Sir Robert Torrens in 1857 and was there worked out in its
practicable form.
The main principle of registration is to make registered titles indefeasible. As we have said,
upon the presentation in the Court of Land Registration of an application for the registration of
the title to lands, under this system, the theory of the law is that all occupants, adjoining owners,
adverse claimants, and other interested persons are notified of the proceedings, and have have
a right to appear in opposition to such application. In other words, the proceeding is against the
whole word. This system was evidently considered by the Legislature to be a public project
when it passed Act No. 496. The interest of the community at large was considered to be
preferred to that of private individuals.
At the close of this nineteenth century, all civilized nations are coming to registration of title to
land, because immovable property is becoming more and more a matter of commercial dealing,
and there can be no trade without security. (Dumas's Lectures, p. 23.)
The registered proprietor will no longer have reasons to fear that he may evicted because his
vendor had, unknown to him, already sold the and to a third person. . . The registered proprietor
may feel himself protected against any defect in his vendor's title. (Id., p. 21.)
The following summary of benefits of the system of registration of titles, made by Sir Robert
Torrens, has been fully justified in its use:
First. It has substituted security for insecurity.
Second. It has reduced the costs of conveyances from pounds to shillings, and the time
occupied from months to days.
Third. It has exchanged brevity and clearness for obscurity and verbiage.
Fourth. It has so simplified ordinary dealings that he who has mastered the "three R's" can
transact his own conveyancing.
Fifth. It affords protection against fraud.
Sixth. It has restored to their just value many estates held under good holding titles, but
depreciated in consequence of some blur or technical defect, and has barred the reoccurrence
of any similar faults. (Sheldon on Land Registration, pp. 75, 76.)
The boldest effort to grapple with the problem of simplification of title to land was made by Mr.
(afterwards Sir Robert) Torrens, a layman, in South Australia in 1857. . . . In the Torrens
system title by registrationtakes the place of "title by deeds" of the system under the "general"
law. A sale of land, for example, is effected by a registered transfer, upon which a certificate of
title is issued. The certificate is guaranteed by statute, and, with certain exceptions, constitutes
indefeasible title to the land mentioned therein. Under the old system the same sale would be
effected by a conveyance, depending for its validity, apart from intrinsic flaws, on the
correctness of a long series of prior deeds, wills, etc. . . . The object of the Torrens system,
them, is to do away with the delay, uncertainty, and expense of the old conveyancing system.
(Duffy & Eagleson on The Transfer of Land Act, 1890, pp. 2, 3, 5, 7.)
By "Torrens" system generally are meant those systems of registration of transactions with
interest in land whose declared object . . . is, under governmental authority, to establish and
certify to the ownership of an absolute and indefeasible title to realty, and to simplify its transfer.
(Hogg on Australian Torrens system,supra, pp. 1, 2.)
Compensation for errors from assurance funds is provided in all countries in which the Torrens
system has been enacted. Cases of error no doubt will always occur. The percentage of errors,
as compared with the number of registered dealings in Australia, is very small. In New South
Wales there were, in 1889, 209, 894 registered dealings, the average risk of error being only 2
cents for each dealing. In Queensland the risk of error was only 1 cents, the number of
registered dealings being 233,309. In Tasmania and in Western Australia not a cent was paid
for compensation for errors during the whole time of operation, (Dumas's Lectures, supra, p.
96.) This system has been adopted in various countries of the civilized world, including some of
the States of the American Union, and practical experience has demonstrated that it has been
successful as a public project.
The validity of some of the provisions of the statutes adopting the Torrens system has been the
subject of judicial decision in the courts of the United States. (People vs. Chase, 165 Ill., 527;
State vs. Guilbert, 56 Ohio St., 575; People vs. Simon, 176 Ill., 165; Tyler vs. Judges, 175
Mass., 71.)
Act No. 496 of the Philippine Commission, known as the "Land Registration Act," was copied
substantially from the Massachussetts law of 1898.
The Illinois and Massachusetts statutes were upheld by the supreme courts of those States.
It is not enough to show a procedure to be unconstitutional to say that we never heard of it
before. (Tyler vs. Judges, supra; Hurtado vs. California, 110 U. S., 516.)
Looked at either from the point of view of history or of the necessary requirements of justice, a
proceedingin rem dealing with a tangible res may be instituted and carried to judgment without
personal service upon claimants within the State or notice by name to those outside of it, and
not encounter any provision of either constitution. Jurisdiction is secured by the power of the
court over the res. As we have said, such a proceeding would be impossible, were this not so,
for it hardly would do to make a distinction between the constitutional rights of claimants who
were known and those who were not known to the plaintiff, when the proceeding is to bar all.
(Tyler vs. Judges, supra.)
This same doctrine is annunciated in Pennoyer vs. Neff (95 U. S., 714); The Mary (9 Cranch,
126); Mankin vs. Chandler (2 Brock., 125); Brown vs. Levee Commission (50 Miss., 468); 2
Freeman, Judgments, 4th ed., secs. 606, 611.
If the technical object of the suit is to establish a claim against some particular person, with a
judgment which generally, in theory at least, binds his body, or to bar some individual claim or
objection, so that only certain persons are entitled to be heard in defense, the action is in
personam, although it may concern the right to or possession of a tangible thing. If, on the other
hand, the object is to bar indifferently all who might be minded to make an objection of any sort
against the right sought to be established, and if anyone in the world has a right to be heard on
the strenght of alleging facts which, if true, show an inconsistent interest, the proceeding is in
rem. (Tyler vs. Judges, supra.)
In the case of Hamilton vs. Brown (161 U. S., 256) a judgment of escheat was held conclusive
upon persons notified by advertisement to all persons interested. In this jurisdiction, by the
provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, Act No. 190, a decree allowing or disallowing a will
binds everybody, although the only notice of the proceedings given is by general notice to all
persons interested.
The supreme court Massachusetts, in the case of Tyler vs. Judges (supra), did not rest its
judgment as to the conclusive effect of the decree upon the ground that the State has absolute
power to determine the persons to whom a man's property shall go at his death, but upon the
characteristics of a proceeding in rem. So we conclude that the proceedings had in the case at
bar, under all the facts and circumstances, especially the absolute lack on the part of the
petitioners of any dishonest intent to deprive the appellee of any right, or in any way injure him,
constitute due process of law.
As to whether or not the appellee can succesfully maintain an action under the provisions of
sections 101 and 102 of the Land Registration Act (secs. 2365, 2366, Compilation) we do not
decide.
For these reasons we are of the opinion, and so hold, that the judgment appealed from should
be, and the same is hereby reversed and judgment entered in favor of the petitioners in
conformity with the decree of the lower court of February 12, 1908, without special ruling as to
costs. It is so ordered.
Arellano, C.J., Torres, Johnson and Moreland, JJ., concur.

[G.R. No. 135385. December 6, 2000]
ISAGANI CRUZ and CESAR EUROPA, petitioners, vs. SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT
AND NATURAL RESOURCES, SECRETARY OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT and
CHAIRMAN and COMMISSIONERS OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDIGENOUS
PEOPLES, respondents.
HON. JUAN M .FLAVIER, HON. PONCIANO BENNAGEN, BAYANI ASCARRAGA, EDTAMI
MANSAYANGAN, BASILIO WANDAG, EVELYN DUNUAN, YAOM TUGAS, ALFREMO
CARPIANO, LIBERATO A. GABIN, MATERNIDAD M. COLAS, NARCISA M. DALUPINES,
BAI KIRAM-CONNIE SATURNO, BAE MLOMO-BEATRIZ T. ABASALA, DATU
BALITUNGTUNG-ANTONIO D. LUMANDONG, DATU MANTUMUKAW TEOFISTO
SABASALES, DATU EDUAARDO BANDA, DATU JOEL UNAD, DATU RAMON BAYAAN,
TIMUAY JOSE ANOY, TIMUAY MACARIO D. SALACAO, TIMUAY EDWIN B. ENDING,
DATU SAHAMPONG MALANAW VI, DATU BEN PENDAO CABIGON, BAI NANAPNAY-LIZA
SAWAY, BAY INAY DAYA-MELINDA S. REYMUNDO, BAI TINANGHAGA HELINITA T.
PANGAN, DATU MAKAPUKAW ADOLINO L. SAWAY, DATU MAUDAYAW-CRISPEN
SAWAY, VICKY MAKAY, LOURDES D. AMOS, GILBERT P. HOGGANG, TERESA GASPAR,
MANUEL S. ONALAN, MIA GRACE L. GIRON, ROSEMARIE G. PE, BENITO CARINO,
JOSEPH JUDE CARANTES, LYNETTE CARANTES-VIVAL, LANGLEY SEGUNDO, SATUR
S. BUGNAY, CARLING DOMULOT, ANDRES MENDIOGRIN, LEOPOLDO ABUGAN,
VIRGILIO CAYETANO, CONCHITA G. DESCAGA, LEVY ESTEVES, ODETTE G. ESTEVEZ,
RODOLFO C. AGUILAR, MAURO VALONES, PEPE H. ATONG, OFELIA T. DAVI,
PERFECTO B. GUINOSAO, WALTER N. TIMOL, MANUEL T. SELEN, OSCAR DALUNHAY,
RICO O. SULATAN, RAFFY MALINDA, ALFREDO ABILLANOS, JESSIE ANDILAB,
MIRLANDO H. MANGKULINTAS, SAMIE SATURNO, ROMEO A. LINDAHAY, ROEL S.
MANSANG-CAGAN, PAQUITO S. LIESES, FILIPE G. SAWAY, HERMINIA S. SAWAY,
JULIUS S. SAWAY, LEONARDA SAWAY, JIMMY UGYUB, SALVADOR TIONGSON,
VENANCIO APANG, MADION MALID, SUKIM MALID, NENENG MALID, MANGKATADONG
AUGUSTO DIANO, JOSEPHINE M. ALBESO, MORENO MALID, MARIO MANGCAL, FELAY
DIAMILING, SALOME P. SARZA, FELIPE P. BAGON, SAMMY SALNUNGAN, ANTONIO D.
EMBA, NORMA MAPANSAGONOS, ROMEO SALIGA, SR., JERSON P. GERADA, RENATO
T. BAGON, JR., SARING MASALONG, SOLEDAD M. GERARDA, ELIZABETH L. MENDI,
MORANTE S. TIWAN, DANILO M. MALUDAO, MINORS MARICEL MALID, represented by
her father CORNELIO MALID, MARCELINO M. LADRA, represented by her father MONICO
D. LADRA, JENNYLYN MALID, represented by her father TONY MALID, ARIEL M.
EVANGELISTA, represented by her mother LINAY BALBUENA, EDWARD M. EMUY, SR.,
SUSAN BOLANIO, OND, PULA BATO BLAAN TRIBAL FARMERS ASSOCIATION, INTER-
PEOPLES EXCHANGE, INC. and GREEN FORUM-WESTERN VISAYAS, intervenors.
COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, intervenor.
IKALAHAN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE and HARIBON FOUNDATION FOR THE
CONSERVATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES, INC., intervenor.
R E S O L U T I O N
PER CURIAM:
Petitioners Isagani Cruz and Cesar Europa brought this suit for prohibition and mandamus as
citizens and taxpayers, assailing the constitutionality of certain provisions of Republic Act No.
8371 (R.A. 8371), otherwise known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), and
its Implementing Rules and Regulations (Implementing Rules).
In its resolution of September 29, 1998, the Court required respondents to comment.
[1]
In
compliance, respondents Chairperson and Commissioners of the National Commission on
Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the government agency created under the IPRA to implement its
provisions, filed on October 13, 1998 their Comment to the Petition, in which they defend the
constitutionality of the IPRA and pray that the petition be dismissed for lack of merit.
On October 19, 1998, respondents Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR) and Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) filed
through the Solicitor General a consolidated Comment. The Solicitor General is of the view that
the IPRA is partly unconstitutional on the ground that it grants ownership over natural resources
to indigenous peoples and prays that the petition be granted in part.
On November 10, 1998, a group of intervenors, composed of Sen. Juan Flavier, one of the
authors of the IPRA, Mr. Ponciano Bennagen, a member of the 1986 Constitutional
Commission, and the leaders and members of 112 groups of indigenous peoples (Flavier, et.
al), filed their Motion for Leave to Intervene. They join the NCIP in defending the
constitutionality of IPRA and praying for the dismissal of the petition.
On March 22, 1999, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) likewise filed a Motion to
Intervene and/or to Appear as Amicus Curiae. The CHR asserts that IPRA is an expression of
the principle of parens patriae and that the State has the responsibility to protect and guarantee
the rights of those who are at a serious disadvantage like indigenous peoples. For this reason it
prays that the petition be dismissed.
On March 23, 1999, another group, composed of the Ikalahan Indigenous People and the
Haribon Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc. (Haribon, et al.), filed a
motion to Intervene with attached Comment-in-Intervention. They agree with the NCIP and
Flavier, et al. that IPRA is consistent with the Constitution and pray that the petition for
prohibition and mandamus be dismissed.
The motions for intervention of the aforesaid groups and organizations were granted.
Oral arguments were heard on April 13, 1999. Thereafter, the parties and intervenors filed their
respective memoranda in which they reiterate the arguments adduced in their earlier pleadings
and during the hearing.
Petitioners assail the constitutionality of the following provisions of the IPRA and its
Implementing Rules on the ground that they amount to an unlawful deprivation of the States
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:
(1) Section 3(a) which defines the extent and coverage of ancestral domains, and Section 3(b)
which, in turn, defines ancestral lands;
(2) Section 5, in relation to section 3(a), which provides that ancestral domains including
inalienable public lands, bodies of water, mineral and other resources found within ancestral
domains are private but community property of the indigenous peoples;
(3) Section 6 in relation to section 3(a) and 3(b) which defines the composition of ancestral
domains and ancestral lands;
(4) Section 7 which recognizes and enumerates the rights of the indigenous peoples over the
ancestral domains;
(5) Section 8 which recognizes and enumerates the rights of the indigenous peoples over the
ancestral lands;
(6) Section 57 which provides for priority rights of the indigenous peoples in the harvesting,
extraction, development or exploration of minerals and other natural resources within the areas
claimed to be their ancestral domains, and the right to enter into agreements with
nonindigenous peoples for the development and utilization of natural resources therein for a
period not exceeding 25 years, renewable for not more than 25 years; and
(7) Section 58 which gives the indigenous peoples the responsibility to maintain, develop,
protect and conserve the ancestral domains and portions thereof which are found to be
necessary for critical watersheds, mangroves, wildlife sanctuaries, wilderness, protected areas,
forest cover or reforestation.
[2]

Petitioners also content 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) violate the rights of private landowners.
[3]

In addition, petitioners question the provisions of the IPRA defining the powers and jurisdiction
of the NCIP and making customary law applicable to the settlement of disputes involving
ancestral domains and ancestral lands on the ground that these provisions violate the due
process clause of the Constitution.
[4]

These provisions are:
(1) sections 51 to 53 and 59 which detail the process of delineation and recognition of ancestral
domains and which vest on the NCIP the sole authority to delineate ancestral domains and
ancestral lands;
(2) Section 52[i] which provides that upon certification by the NCIP that a particular area is an
ancestral domain and upon notification to the following officials, namely, the Secretary of
Environment and Natural Resources, Secretary of Interior and Local Governments, Secretary of
Justice and Commissioner of the National Development Corporation, the jurisdiction of said
officials over said area terminates;
(3) Section 63 which provides the customary law, traditions and practices of indigenous
peoples shall be applied first with respect to property rights, claims of ownership, hereditary
succession and settlement of land disputes, and that any doubt or ambiguity in the interpretation
thereof shall be resolved in favor of the indigenous peoples;
(4) Section 65 which states that customary laws and practices shall be used to resolve disputes
involving indigenous peoples; and
(5) Section 66 which vests on the NCIP the jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving
rights of the indigenous peoples.
[5]

Finally, petitioners assail the validity of Rule VII, Part II, Section 1 of the NCIP Administrative
Order No. 1, series of 1998, which provides that the administrative relationship of the NCIP to
the Office of the President is characterized as a lateral but autonomous relationship for
purposes of policy and program coordination. They contend that said Rule infringes upon the
Presidents power of control over executive departments under Section 17, Article VII of the
Constitution.
[6]

Petitioners pray for the following:
(1) A declaration that Sections 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 52[I], 57, 58, 59, 63, 65 and 66 and other related
provisions of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional and invalid;
(2) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Chairperson and Commissioners of the
NCIP to cease and desist from implementing the assailed provisions of R.A. 8371 and its
Implementing Rules;
(3) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Secretary of the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources to cease and desist from implementing Department of
Environment and Natural Resources Circular No. 2, series of 1998;
(4) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Secretary of Budget and Management to
cease and desist from disbursing public funds for the implementation of the assailed provisions
of R.A. 8371; and
(5) The issuance of a writ of mandamus commanding the Secretary of Environment and
Natural Resources to comply with his duty of carrying out the States constitutional mandate to
control and supervise the exploration, development, utilization and conservation of Philippine
natural resources.
[7]

After due deliberation on the petition, the members of the Court voted as follows:
Seven (7) voted to dismiss the petition. Justice Kapunan filed an opinion, which the Chief
Justice and Justices Bellosillo, Quisumbing, and Santiago join, sustaining the validity of the
challenged provisions of R.A. 8371. Justice Puno also filed a separate opinion sustaining all
challenged provisions of the law with the exception of Section 1, Part II, Rule III of NCIP
Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1998, the Rules and Regulations Implementing the IPRA,
and Section 57 of the IPRA which he contends should be interpreted as dealing with the large-
scale exploitation of natural resources and should be read in conjunction with Section 2, Article
XII of the 1987 Constitution. On the other hand, Justice Mendoza voted to dismiss the petition
solely on the ground that it does not raise a justiciable controversy and petitioners do not have
standing to question the constitutionality of R.A. 8371.
Seven (7) other members of the Court voted to grant the petition. Justice Panganiban filed a
separate opinion expressing the view that Sections 3 (a)(b), 5, 6, 7 (a)(b), 8, and related
provisions of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional. He reserves judgment on the constitutionality of
Sections 58, 59, 65, and 66 of the law, which he believes must await the filing of specific cases
by those whose rights may have been violated by the IPRA. Justice Vitug also filed a separate
opinion expressing the view that Sections 3(a), 7, and 57 of R.A. 8371 are
unconstitutional. Justices Melo, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and De Leon join in the
separate opinions of Justices Panganiban and Vitug.
As the votes were equally divided (7 to 7) and the necessary majority was not obtained, the
case was redeliberated upon. However, after redeliberation, the voting remained the
same. Accordingly, pursuant to Rule 56, Section 7 of the Rules of Civil Procedure, the petition
is DISMISSED.
Attached hereto and made integral parts thereof are the separate opinions of Justices Puno,
Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, and Panganiban.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 17768 September 1, 1922
VICENTE SOTTO, petitioner,
vs.
FILEMON SOTTO, respondent.
Jose P. Fausto for petitioner.
The respondent in his own behalf.
OSTRAND, J .:
This is a petition under section 513 of the Code of Civil Procedure to reopen the land
registration proceedings in regard to lot No. 7510 of the Cadaster of Cebu.
The petitioner alleges that he is the owner of said lot No. 7510; that in or about the year 1907 he
absented himself from the city of Cebu, leaving the respondent in charge of the lot; that on or
about the 16th of April, 1921, the petitioner, upon visiting the office of the clerk of the Court of
First Instance of Cebu, discovered that the respondent had fraudulently obtained the registration
of said lot in his own name and that a certificate of title for said lot had been issued to said
respondent on January 24, 1920; that the petitioner, due to his long absence from Cebu, was
unable to appear in court in the land registration proceedings and to defend his rights; and that
this action is his only remedy to recover the property in question. He therefore asks that the
decision of the Court of First Instance in regard to said lot No. 7510 be annulled and that a new
trial be had. The case is now before us upon demurrer by the respondent to the petition on the
ground that it does not state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action.
The respondent maintains that section 513 of the Code of Civil Procedure is not applicable to
decisions in land registration proceedings which are covered by a final decree and this is the
only question of importance raised by the demurrer.
A brief statement of the history of the legislation relating to the question at issue may be by
some aid in its determination. The original Land Registration Act (No. 496) which established
the Torrens system of registration in these Islands, went into effect on January 1, 1903, It
created a court of land registration and its section 14 provided for an appeal from that court to
the Court o First Instance. Section 38 of the Act reads:
If the court after hearing finds that the applicant has title as stated in his application, and proper
for registration, a decree of confirmation and registration shall be entered. Every decree of
registration shall bind the land, and quiet title thereto, subject only to the exceptions stated in
the following section. It shall be conclusive upon and against all persons, including the Insular
Government and all the branches thereof, whether mentioned by name in the application,
notice, or citation, or included, in the general description "To all whom it may concern.' Such
decree shall not be opened by reason of the absence, infancy, or other disability of any person
affected thereby, nor by any proceeding in any court for reversing judgment or decrees; subject,
however to the right of any person deprived of land or of any estate or interest therein by decree
of registration obtained by fraud to file in the Court of Land Registration a petition for review
within one year after entry of the decree, provided no innocent purchaser for value has acquired
an interest. If there is any such purchaser, the decree of registration shall not be opened, but
shall remain in full force and effect forever, subject only to the right of appeal hereinbefore
provided. But any person aggrieved by such decree in any case may pursue his remedy by
action for damages against the applicant or any other person for fraud in procuring the decree.
Whenever the phrase 'innocent purchaser for value' or an equivalent phrase occurs in this Act, it
shall be deemed to include an innocent lessee, mortgagee, or other encumbrances for value.
On April 15, 1904, Act No. 1108 was enacted which, by its section 4, amended section 14 of the
original Act so as to read as follows:
SEC. 14. Every order, decision, and decree of the Court of Land Registration may be reviewed
by the Supreme Court in the same manner as an order decision, decree or judgment of a Court
of First Instance might be reviewed, and for that purpose sections one hundred and forty-one
one hundred and forty-two, one hundred and forty-three, four hundred and ninety-six, four
hundred ninety-seven (except that portion thereof relating to assessors), four hundred and
ninety-nine, five hundred, five hundred and one, five hundred and two, five hundred and three,
five hundred and four, five hundred and five, five hundred and six, five hundred and seven, five
hundred and eight, five hundred and nine, five hundred and eleven, five hundred and twelve,
five hundred and thirteen, five hundred and fourteen, five hundred and fifteen, five hundred and
sixteen, and five hundred and seventeen of Act Numbered One hundred and ninety, entitled "An
Act providing a Code of Procedure in civil actions and special proceedings in the Philippine
islands," are made applicable to all the proceedings of the Court of Land Registration and to a
review thereof by the Supreme Court, except as otherwise provided in this section: Provided,
however, That no certificates of title shall be issued by the Court of Land Registration until after
the expiration of the period for perfecting a bill of exceptions for filing: And provided further, That
the Court of Land Registration may grant a new trial in any case that has not passed to the
Supreme Court, in the manner and under the circumstances provided in sections one hundred
and forty-five, one hundred and forty-six, and one hundred forty-seven of Act Numbered One
Hundred and ninety: And provided also, That the certificates of judgment to be issued by the
Supreme Court, in cases passing to it from the Court of Land Registration, shall be certified to
the clerk of the last-named court as well as the copies of the opinion of the Supreme Court: And
provided also, That in the bill of exceptions to be printed no testimony or exhibits shall be
printed except such limited portions thereof as are necessary to enable the Supreme Court to
understand the points of law reversed. The original testimony and exhibits shall be transmitted
to the Supreme Court. . . .
Section 513 of the Code of Civil Procedure to which reference is made in the foregoing section,
reads:
When a judgment is rendered by a Court of a First Instance upon default, and a party thereto is
unjustly deprived of a hearing by fraud, accident, mistake or excusable negligence, and the
Court of First Instance which rendered the judgment has finally adjourned so that no adequate
remedy exists in that court, the party so deprived of hearing may present his petition to the
Supreme Court within sixty days after he first learns of the rendition of such judgment, and not
thereafter, setting forth the facts and praying to have such judgment set aside. The court shall
summarily on notice to both parties hear such petition, upon oral written testimony as it shall
direct, and the judgment shall be set aside and the trial upon the merits granted, upon such
terms as may be just, if the facts set forth in the complaint are found to be true, otherwise the
complaint shall be dismissed with costs.
If a trial on the merits is granted, the order shall forthwith be certified to the Court of First
Instance. Pending such petition, any judge of the Supreme Court for cause shown, may order a
suspension of further proceedings to enforce the judgment complained of, upon taking sufficient
security from the petitioner for all costs and damages that may be awarded against him in case
the petition is dismissed.
From the time of passage of Act No. 1108 until the filing of the petition in the recent case of
Caballes vs. Director of Lands (41 Phil., 357) the final decrees in land registration cases were
always regarded as indefeasible and it apparently did not occur to the members of the legal
profession that the provision of section 513, supra, could be applied to such decrees or to the
orders or decisions upon which they were based. Aside from the dictum in the Caballes case,
this court has consistently held that final decrees in land registration cases could not be
reopened except under the circumstances, and in the manner, mentioned in section 38 of the
Land Registration Act. (Grey Alba vs. De la Cruz, 17 Phil., 49; City of Manila vs. Lack, 19 Phil.,
324; Cuyugan and Lim Tuico vs. Sy Quia, 24 Phil., 567; Broce vs. Apurado, 26 Phil., 581;
Roxas vs. Enriquez, 29, Phil., 31; De Jesus vs. City of Manila, 29 Phil., 73; Manila Railroad Co.
vs. Rodriguez, 29 Phil., 336; Legarda and Prieto vs. Saleeby, 31 Phil., 590; Mariano Velasco
and Co. vs. Gochico and Co., 33 Phil., 363; Roman Catholic Archbishop of Manila vs. Sunico
and Catli, 36 Phil., 279; Blas vs. De la Cruz and Melendres, 37 Phil., 1, and Government of the
Philippine Islands vs. Abural, 39 Phil., 996.)
The dominant principle of the Torrens system of land registration is that the titles registered
thereunder are indefeasible or as nearly so as it is possible to make them. (Niblack's Analysis of
the Torrens System, paragraphs 5, 161, and 166; Sheldon on Land Registration, pp. 40 and 41;
Dumas' Registering Title to Land, p. 31; Hogg on the Australian Torrens System, pp. 775 et
seq.) This principle is recognized to the fullest extent in our Land Registration Act and gives the
Act its principle value. (See land Registration Act, section 38 and 39.)
An examination of Act No. 1108 shows that it merely provides for the amendment of section 6,
12, 13, 14, 17, 19, 24, 36, and 114 of the original Land Registration Act. Sections 14 and 19
relate to matters of procedure; all the other section mentioned deal with administrative matters.
Nowhere in Act. No 1108 is there any direct indication of any intention or to impair the strength
of the registered titles.
The purpose of the amendment of section 14 of land Registration Act was clearly to make the
Court of Land Registration coordinate with the Court of First Instance and to make its judgments
appealable to the Supreme Court instead of to the Courts of First instance. In carrying out this
purpose the Legislature by reference to certain sections of the Code of Civil Procedure,
incorporated into the Land Registration Act the then existing provisions for bills of exceptions
and appeals from the Court of First Instance to the Supreme Court and made certain original
actions in the Supreme Court applicable to land registration matters. This was all that was done
and very evidently all it was intended to do.
As Act No. 1108 only amended certain section of the Land Registration Act and did not purport
to amend the Act as whole, or to introduce any new principle therein, the amended section
should be read in connection with the other sections of the Act as if all had been enacted in the
same statute, and, as far as possible, effect should be given to them all in furtherance of the
general design of the Act. Sutherland on Statutory Construction 2d ed., says in paragraph 368:
The practical inquiry is usually what a particular provision, clause, or word means. To answer it
one must proceed as he would with any other composition construe it with reference to the
leading idea or purpose of the whole instrument. A statute is passed as a whole and not in parts
of section and is animated by one general purpose and intent. Consequently each part or
section should be construed in connection with every other part or section and so as to produce
a harmonious whole. It is not proper to confine the attention to the one section to be construed.
"It is always an unsafe way of construing a statute or contract to divided it by a process of
etymological dissection, into separate words, and then apply to each, thus separated from its
context, some particular definition given by lexicographers, and then reconstruct the instrument
upon the basis of these definitions. An instrument must always be construed as a whole, and
the particular meaning to be attached to any word or phrase is usually to be ascertained from
the context, the nature of the subject treated of and the purpose or intention of the parties who
executed the contract, or of the body which enacted or framed the statute or constitution."
(International Trust Co. vs. Am. L. and I. Co., 62 Minn., 501.) Another court says: "Statutes must
receive a reasonable construction, reference being had to their controlling purpose, to all their
provisions, force and effect being given not narrowly to isolated and disjointed clauses, but to
their plain spirit, broadly taking all their provisions together in one rational view. Neither
grammatical construction nor the letter of the statute nor its rhetorical framework should be
permitted to defeat its clear and definite purpose to be gathered from the whole act, comparing
part with part. . . . A statute must receive such reasonable construction as will, if possible, make
all its parts harmonize with each other, and render them consistent with its scope and object."
(Adams vs. Yazoo and Miss Val. R.R. Co., 75 Miss., 275.)
Applying the principles stated, we do not think it impossible to so harmonize the various section
of the Land Registration Act as to carry out its general intent.
It must be conceded that section 14, as amended, is repugnant to several other sections of the
Land Registration Act, if we hold that the final "decree of confirmation and registration" provided
for in section 38 of the Act is a "judgment" within the meaning of section 513 of the Code of Civil
Procedure. But we do not think it necessary to so hold. The Land Registration Act itself
distinguishes between a judgment and the final decree. In section 36 of the Act the decision
rendered by the court is styled "a judgment." The final "decree of confirmation and registration"
cannot be entered until at least thirty days after such judgment has been rendered. The
contents of this final decree is thus prescribed by section 40 of the Act:
Every decree of registration shall bear the day of the year, hour, and minute of its entry, and
shall be signed by the clerk. It shall state whether the owner is married or unmarried, and if
married, the name of husband or wife. If the owner is under disability, and if a minor, shall state
his age. It shall contain a description of the land as finally determined by the court, and shall set
forth the estate of the owner, and also, in such manner as to show their relative priority, all
particular estates, mortgages, easements, liens, attachments, and other incumbrances,
including rights of husband and wife, if any, to which the land or owner's estate is subject, and
may contain any other matter properly to be determined in pursuance of this Act. The decree
shall be stated in a convenient form for transcription upon the certificates of title hereinafter
mentioned.
As provided in the last sentence of the section quoted, the decree is transcribed literally upon
the certificates of title. Section 38 of the Act provides that it "shall not be opened by reason of
the absence infancy, or other disability of any person affected thereby, nor by any proceeding in
any court for reversing judgment or decrees."
It can readily be seen that such a decree possesses very special characteristics and that it
differs not only in form but also in character from the ordinary judgment.
Its features of finality and indefeasibility constitute the cornerstone of the Land Registration Act;
if we eliminate them we may still have a land registration system but it will not be a Torrens
system. To hold that the Legislature by a mere reference in Act No. 1108 to section 513 of the
Code of Civil Procedure intended to include such final decrees in term "judgment" as employed
in that section would therefore equivalent to holding that it proposed in this casual manner to
abolish the Torrens system in these Islands, a system which had given general satisfaction, and
to substitute therefor a mongrel system with all disadvantages of Torrens registration but without
its principal advantages.
Such an interpretation of the law would be in conflict with the view of the effect of final decree
expressed in all decisions of this court upon the subject from the time of the enactment of Act
No. 1108 until the present time, with the sole exception of the aforementioned dictum in the
case of Caballes vs. Director of Lands, supra. It would lay a final land registration decree open
to successive attacks by persons claiming to have been deprived of their interest in the decreed
land by default and would throw the title back into the realm of oral evidence, which, in land
disputes in this country, has always been found notoriously unreliable
Moreover, an examination of the Land Registration Act shows clearly that its prime object is to
give the greatest possible protection to the bona fide holders of the certificates of title provided
for in the Act. If a final decree of confirmation and registration should be reopened and
cancelled, it is, of course, obvious that all certificates of title issued under the decree would fail
whether the holders were guilty of bad faith or not; as far as the validity of his title might be
concerned, the bona fide holder of a transfer certificate an innocent third party would be
exactly in the same position as the holder in bad faith of the first certificate issued under a
decree, i. e, neither would have any legal title whatever.
A bona fide holder of title recorded in the old, or Mortgage Law, register would then be in a
much better position inasmuch as he would enjoy the very important benefits of article 34 of the
Mortgage Law. In other words, the old register would offer greater advantages and afford much
better protection to bona fide third parties than would the Torres register if we were to accept
the interpretation placed upon the law by the petitioner. It requires no argument to show that
such an interpretation would defeat the principal object of the Land Registration Act and render
the certificate of title an instrument of very slight value. It is hardly conceivable that the
legislators intended to create such a state of affairs.
Another circumstances also plainly indicates that in enactment of Act No. 1108 it was not the
purpose to make such drastic changes in the law. The theory of American adaptation of the
Torrens system is that every transfer of title and every memorandum upon the certificate of title
is a judicial act and that the register of deeds merely acts in a ministerial capacity as an officer
of the court.
A transfer certificate of title is both in form and in substance merely a variation of the final
decree in the case; it runs in the name of the judge of the court, contains the same data as the
final decree and transfer and confirms the title just as effectively. If, therefore, we regard the
final decree as a judgment within the meaning of section 513 of the Code of Civil Procedure, we
must also so regard a transfer of certificate of title. Now, if this is so, what can then be the
purpose of maintaining the assurance fund? If both final decrees and transfer certificates of title
can be regarded as judgments and reopened or cancelled by a proceeding under section 513,
how can there ever be any demand upon the assurance fund? Indeed, the fact that in passing
Act No. 1108 the Legislature left the provisions for the assurance fund intact and did not reduce
the amount of the premium to be paid into said fund by an applicant for registration, shows
sufficiently that if did not intend to introduce a new proceeding in substitution of the action
against the assurance fund. We cannot assume or believe that the collection of the assurance
premium or fee is only a scheme on the part o of the Government to obtain money under false
pretenses.
If we, on the other hand, hold that in land registration matters section 513 of the Code of the
Civil Procedure applies only to those judgment which are not covered by final decrees of
confirmation (of which the Caballes case offers a good example) all difficulties in reconciling the
amended section 14 of the Land Registration Act within its other section disappear and the
registration system established by the Act will remain intact. In view of the fact that it obviously
was not the intention of the Legislature to introduce any radical changes in the system itself, this
seems to be the only rational construction which can be placed upon the law.
Such an interpretation can in reality impose no material hardship upon the aggrieved party; he
still has his right of action for damages against the person who has unjustly deprived him of his
land and if the title has not been transferred to a third party, an attachment may be levied upon
the land. Recourse may also be had to be assurance fund in proper cases. Furthermore, we
have already held in the case of Cabanos vs. Register of Deeds of Laguna and Obiana (40
Phil., 620) that in certain cases a suit in equity may be maintained to compel the conveyance of
registered land to the true owner.
A person who, through no fault of his own, has been deprived of his land through registration
proceedings is thus offered all the remedies which he, in justice and equity, ought to have; to go
father and allow his claims to prevail against the rights of a bona fide purchaser for value from
the holder of a registered title is neither justice nor common sense and is, as we have seen,
subversive of the object of the Land Registration Act. This, as far as we can see, would be the
inevitable and logical consequence of adopting the doctrine that final land registration decrees
may be reopened; it is inconceivable that a certificate of title can stand when the decree upon
which it is based fails.
It has been suggested by some of the opponents of the views set forth that as under the final
decree in land registration case the petitioner acquires a legal title a purchaser from him in good
faith also acquires a good title and cannot be disturbed through proceedings under section 513,
and that such proceedings can, therefore, only reach the original holder of the title and his mala
fides transferees. This view is in itself a recognition of the fact that the sweeping language of the
section in question is not, to its full extent, applicable to land registration cases; the only
difference between this theory and ours is that the line of the inapplicability of the section is
drawn at a different point. Instead of being placed at the issuance of the final decree, thus
making the section applicable to judgments not covered by such decrees, the line of
demarcation is drawn at the point of where the land passes into the hands of an innocent
purchaser of value.
While this interpretation of the law has an appearance of reasonableness, at first sight, may
seem harmless, its adoption would in reality be only slightly less disastrous than the holding that
section 513 is applicable to all land registration matters. The fact that the question of good or
bad faith on the part of a purchaser would often have to be determined by oral evidence, would
introduce an element of uncertainty which would impair the value of Torens titles out of all
proportion to the benefits to be derived from the application of the remedy prescribed by section
513 in the manner suggested. There might be few successful attacks on such titles, but from a
practical point of view the possibility of attacks and of litigation in regard to which the Statute of
Limitation does not apply, would necessarily have a deterrent effect on possible investors in
lands covered by such titles. And, as we have seen, there is not now, and never has been, any
real necessity for such an application of the remedy in land registration cases; the field is
sufficiently covered by other remedies, equally effective and much less harmful to the public
interest. It is, therefore, not at all a question of sanctioning or encouraging fraud by curtailing the
remedies against it.
For the reasons stated, we hold that so called "decree of confirmation and registration" provided
for in the Land Registration Act is not a judgment within the meaning of section 513 of the Code
of Civil Procedure and that such a decree cannot be reopened except for the reasons and in the
manner stated in section 38 of the Land Registration Act.
The demurrer must, accordingly, be sustained and it being evident that the petition suffers from
defects not curable by an amendment, an order absolute will be entered dismissing the same
with costs. So ordered.


Separate Opinions
ARAULLO, C.J ., concurring:
I concur in the foregoing decision, and have to state, in addition, that as the declaration made by
this court in the case of Caballes vs. Director of Lands (41 Phil., 357) with regard to the
application of section 513 of the Code of Civil Procedure to cadastral land or registration
proceedings has reference only to the case where final judgment by default has been rendered,
and not to that where the final decree has been entered and the respective certificate of title
issued, as in the instant case, such a declaration cannot serve as ground to support the
pretension of the petitioner, nor is it in conflict with the finding and ruling contained in this
decision.


STREET, J ., dissenting:
The complaint in this case, considered as a petition for relief under section 513 of the Code of
Civil Procedure, is apparently defective in more than one respect; and if the court had been
content to sustain the demurrer because of the insufficiency of the complaint to make out a
cause for relief, the undersigned would not have been called upon to record this dissent. Instead
of pursuing this course, the court holds that said section 513 is not applicable in land registration
proceedings. In so holding, the court flatly refuses to give effect to so much of section 4 of Act
No. 1108 of the Philippine Commission as makes section 513 of our Code of Civil Procedure
applicable in land registration cases. The reason suggested for this in substance is that said
section opposed to the spirit and purpose of the Land Registration Act. Our reply to this is that
the same legislative body that introduced the Torrens system in these Islands was not lacking
power to modify the system so introduced; and it is an unusual and in our opinion unjustified
exercise of judicial power to override the legislative will as expressed in the amendatory Act.
It is idle to invoke in such a case as this the familiar rules of interpretation and construction.
These rules were devised for the purpose of enabling the courts to discover the legislative intent
when such intent is not readily discernible, and above all rules of statutory interpretation stands
the fundamental principle that where the intention of the legislative body is clearly revealed no
interpretation or construction is admissible which contradicts that intention.
In dealing with a decision believed to be so entirely untenable as this, the temptation to multiply
words is great but we content ourselves with a few observations on a single aspect of the case,
which has reference to the manner in which section 513 of the Code of Civil Procedure would
operate in land registration case if allowed to have effect.
In the first place it will be noted that section 513 contemplates and assumes the existence of
valid judgment, which means in relation to land registration proceedings that there has
been a conclusive adjudication of title and that the decree has become final in the sense that
the Court of First Instance has lost he power to change the same and that the time for appeal to
the Supreme Court has passed, with the result that, but for the remedy now given in section 513
all right of party adversely affected by the decree has been totally destroyed. In other words the
person in whose name the property has been registered has acquired an indefeasible legal title,
subject only to be divested in a subsequent proceeding under section 513.
This being true, it must follow that any bona fide purchaser of the property who acquires the
same from the person in whose name the same is registered, before any proceeding is
instituted under section 513, acquired a good title and cannot be disturbed, regardless of what
the situation may be as between the petitioner, supposedly the original true owner, and the
person who procured the property to be registered in his own name. Section 38 of the Land
Registration Act, which permits the decree to be opened within one year in the Court of Land
Registration upon the petition of one who have been deprived of an interest in the land by fraud,
expressly saves the interest of any innocent purchaser for value; and in obedience to
recognized principles of jurisprudence the same reservation of the rights of the innocent
purchaser must be understood to exist in connection with the remedy given by section 513. It is
rudimentary in English and American jurisprudence that a person who has acquired the legal
title to property by transfer for value and without notice of any defect in the title will not be
deprived thereof at the instance of any person having equitable right only, even though it be
prior to in point of time. In this connection it should be borne in mind that the remedy granted in
section 513 involves the exercise of the equity power of the court; and the equitable right of a
person against whom a default judgment has been taken in land registration proceeding, under
the conditions mentioned in that section, to have the decree set aside does not rest upon as
high a plane as does the rest upon as high a plane as does the right of an innocent purchaser
from the person in whose name the title has been registered.
It should be observed that section 513 of the Code of Civil Procedure was originally conceived
and reduced to forms with especial reference to ordinary litigation, such as chiefly dealt with in
the Code of Civil Procedure; and some rational adjustment is necessary when we come to apply
that section in land registration case. It results that the "new trial upon the merits" which may be
granted in a proper case under section 513 must of necessity fail of effect against any innocent
purchaser for value claiming by transfer of the Torrens title under the person to whom the
certificate was issued. But as between an owner who has lost he legal title under the conditions
defined in section 513 and the individual who has been unjustly enriched by the decree of the
Land Registration Court in his favor, there is really no reason why the remedy conferred in said
section should not be allowed to operate with full effect. In the end, supposing the petition to
sustained and that the property still remains in the name of the respondent, he should be
compelled to transfer it to the petitioner.
The decision of the court lays great emphasis upon the hardships which might be expected to
result to innocent purchasers of registered land, if section 513 should be given effect in land
registration proceedings, but what has been said shows that this fear is not well founded. It is
needless to say that in the case before us the land in question appears to be still in the
possession of the person who procured registration and against whom the petition is brought.
The view of the land registration system, entertained by the majority seems entirely to ignore
section 70 of the Land Registration Act, and especially the concluding portion which declares
that nothing in said Act shall in any way be construed to change or affect any rights or liabilities
created by law and applicable to registered land, except as otherwise expressly provided in said
Act or in the amendments thereof. This is really a basal idea in the system and when an
amendatory statute has expressly created a liability with reference to registered land, as was
inferentially done when the remedy expressed in section 513 of the Code of Civil Procedure was
made applicable to land registration cases, said liability should undoubtedly be respected by all
the courts called upon to maintain the law. It is to be regretted that our land registration system
should have become an object of superstitious reverence to such a degree as to the statutory
law. No system worth preserving was ever destroyed, or even impaired, by the creation of a
remedy against fraud or for the relief of those who have lost their property without fault.
G.R. No. L-8936 October 2, 1915
CONSUELO LEGARDA, with her husband MAURO PRIETO, plaintiffs-appellants,
vs.
N.M. SALEEBY, defendant-appellee.
Singson, Ledesma and Lim for appellants.
D.R. Williams for appellee.

JOHNSON, J .:
From the record the following facts appear:
First. That the plaintiffs and the defendant occupy, as owners, adjoining lots in the district of
Ermita in the city of Manila.
Second. That there exists and has existed a number of years a stone wall between the said lots.
Said wall is located on the lot of the plaintiffs.
Third. That the plaintiffs, on the 2d day of March, 1906, presented a petition in the Court of Land
Registration for the registration of their lot. After a consideration of said petition the court, on the
25th day of October, 1906, decreed that the title of the plaintiffs should be registered and issued
to them the original certificate provided for under the torrens system. Said registration and
certificate included the wall.
Fourth. Later the predecessor of the defendant presented a petition in the Court of Land
Registration for the registration of the lot now occupied by him. On the 25th day of March, 1912,
the court decreed the registration of said title and issued the original certificate provided for
under the torrens system. The description of the lot given in the petition of the defendant also
included said wall.
Fifth. Several months later (the 13th day of December, 1912) the plaintiffs discovered that the
wall which had been included in the certificate granted to them had also been included in the
certificate granted to the defendant .They immediately presented a petition in the Court of Land
Registration for an adjustment and correction of the error committed by including said wall in the
registered title of each of said parties. The lower court however, without notice to the defendant,
denied said petition upon the theory that, during the pendency of the petition for the registration
of the defendant's land, they failed to make any objection to the registration of said lot, including
the wall, in the name of the defendant.
Sixth. That the land occupied by t he wall is registered in the name of each of the owners of the
adjoining lots. The wall is not a joint wall.
Under these facts, who is the owner of the wall and the land occupied by it?
The decision of the lower court is based upon the theory that the action for the registration of the
lot of the defendant was a judicial proceeding and that the judgment or decree was binding upon
all parties who did not appear and oppose it. In other words, by reason of the fact that the
plaintiffs had not opposed the registration of that part of the lot on which the wall was situate
they had lost it, even though it had been theretofore registered in their name. Granting that
theory to be correct one, and granting even that the wall and the land occupied by it, in fact,
belonged to the defendant and his predecessors, then the same theory should be applied to the
defendant himself. Applying that theory to him, he had already lost whatever right he had
therein, by permitting the plaintiffs to have the same registered in their name, more than six
years before. Having thus lost hid right, may he be permitted to regain it by simply including it in
a petition for registration? The plaintiffs having secured the registration of their lot, including the
wall, were they obliged to constantly be on the alert and to watch all the proceedings in the land
court to see that some one else was not having all, or a portion of the same, registered? If that
question is to be answered in the affirmative, then the whole scheme and purpose of the torrens
system of land registration must fail. The real purpose of that system is to quiet title to land; to
put a stop forever to any question of the legality of the title, except claims which were noted at
the time of registration, in the certificate, or which may arise subsequent thereto. That being the
purpose of the law, it would seem that once a title is registered the owner may rest secure,
without the necessity of waiting in the portals of the court, or sitting in the "mirador de su casa,"
to avoid the possibility of losing his land. Of course, it can not be denied that the proceeding for
the registration of land under the torrens system is judicial (Escueta vs. .Director of Lands, 16
Phil. Rep., 482). It is clothed with all the forms of an action and the result is final and binding
upon all the world. It is an action in rem. (Escueta vs. Director of Lands (supra); Grey
Alba vs. De la Cruz, 17 Phil. rep., 49 Roxas vs. Enriquez, 29 Phil. Rep., 31; Tyler vs. Judges,
175 Mass., 51 American Land Co. vs. Zeiss, 219 U.S., 47.)
While the proceeding is judicial, it involves more in its consequences than does an ordinary
action. All the world are parties, including the government. After the registration is complete and
final and there exists no fraud, there are no innocent third parties who may claim an interest.
The rights of all the world are foreclosed by the decree of registration. The government itself
assumes the burden of giving notice to all parties. To permit persons who are parties in the
registration proceeding (and they are all the world) to again litigate the same questions, and to
again cast doubt upon the validity of the registered title, would destroy the very purpose and
intent of the law. The registration, under the torrens system, does not give the owner any better
title than he had. If he does not already have a perfect title, he can not have it registered. Fee
simple titles only may be registered. The certificate of registration accumulates in open
document a precise and correct statement of the exact status of the fee held by its owner. The
certificate, in the absence of fraud, is the evidence of title and shows exactly the real interest of
its owner. The title once registered, with very few exceptions, should not thereafter be
impugned, altered, changed, modified, enlarged, or diminished, except in some direct
proceeding permitted by law. Otherwise all security in registered titles would be lost. A
registered title can not be altered, modified, enlarged, or diminished in a collateralproceeding
and not even by a direct proceeding, after the lapse of the period prescribed by law.
For the difficulty involved in the present case the Act (No. 496) providing for the registration of
titles under the torrens system affords us no remedy. There is no provision in said Act giving the
parties relief under conditions like the present. There is nothing in the Act which indicates who
should be the owner of land which has been registered in the name of two different persons.
The rule, we think, is well settled that the decree ordering the registration of a particular parcel
of land is a bar to future litigation over the same between the same parties .In view of the fact
that all the world are parties, it must follow that future litigation over the title is forever barred;
there can be no persons who are not parties to the action. This, we think, is the rule, except as
to rights which are noted in the certificate or which arise subsequently, and with certain other
exceptions which need not be dismissed at present. A title once registered can not be defeated,
even by an adverse, open, and notorious possession. Registered title under the torrens system
can not be defeated by prescription (section 46, Act No. 496). The title, once registered, is
notice to the world. All persons must take notice. No one can plead ignorance of the registration.
The question, who is the owner of land registered in the name of two different persons, has
been presented to the courts in other jurisdictions. In some jurisdictions, where the "torrens"
system has been adopted, the difficulty has been settled by express statutory provision. In
others it has been settled by the courts. Hogg, in his excellent discussion of the "Australian
Torrens System," at page 823, says: "The general rule is that in the case of two certificates of
title, purporting to include the same land, the earlier in date prevails, whether the land
comprised in the latter certificate be wholly, or only in part, comprised in the earlier certificate.
(Oelkers vs. Merry, 2 Q.S.C.R., 193; Miller vs. Davy, 7 N.Z.R., 155; Lloyd vs. Myfield, 7 A.L.T.
(V.) 48; Stevens vs. Williams, 12 V.L. R., 152; Register of Titles, vs. Esperance Land Co., 1
W.A.R., 118.)" Hogg adds however that, "if it can be very clearly ascertained by the ordinary
rules of construction relating to written documents, that the inclusion of the land in the certificate
of title of prior date is a mistake, the mistake may be rectified by holding the latter of the two
certificates of title to be conclusive." (See Hogg on the "Australian torrens System," supra, and
cases cited. See also the excellent work of Niblack in his "Analysis of the Torrens System,"
page 99.) Niblack, in discussing the general question, said: "Where two certificates purport to
include the same land the earlier in date prevails. ... In successive registrations, where more
than one certificate is issued in respect of a particular estate or interest in land, the person
claiming under the prior certificates is entitled to the estate or interest; and that person is
deemed to hold under the prior certificate who is the holder of, or whose claim is derived directly
or indirectly from the person who was the holder of the earliest certificate issued in respect
thereof. While the acts in this country do not expressly cover the case of the issue of two
certificates for the same land, they provide that a registered owner shall hold the title, and the
effect of this undoubtedly is that where two certificates purport to include the same registered
land, the holder of the earlier one continues to hold the title" (p. 237).
Section 38 of Act No. 496, provides that; "It (the decree of registration) shall be conclusive upon
and against all persons, including the Insular Government and all the branches thereof, whether
mentioned by name in the application, notice, or citation, or included in the general description
"To all whom it may concern." Such decree shall not be opened by reason of the absence,
infancy, or other disability of any person affected thereby, nor by any proceeding in any court for
reversing judgments or decrees; subject, however, to the right of any person deprived of land or
of any estate or interest therein by decree of registration obtained by fraud to file in the Court of
Land Registration a petition for review within one year after entry of the decree (of registration),
provided no innocent purchaser for value has acquired an interest.
It will be noted, from said section, that the "decree of registration" shall not be opened,
for any reason, in any court, except for fraud, and not even for fraud, after the lapse of one year.
If then the decree of registration can not be opened for any reason, except for fraud, in a direct
proceeding for that purpose, may such decree be opened or set aside in a collateral proceeding
by including a portion of the land in a subsequent certificate or decree of registration? We do not
believe the law contemplated that a person could be deprived of his registered title in that way.
We have in this jurisdiction a general statutory provision which governs the right of the
ownership of land when the same is registered in the ordinary registry in the name of two
persons. Article 1473 of the Civil Code provides, among other things, that when one piece of
real property had been sold to two different persons it shall belong to the person acquiring it,
who first inscribes it in the registry. This rule, of course, presupposes that each of the vendees
or purchasers has acquired title to the land. The real ownership in such a case depends upon
priority of registration. While we do not now decide that the general provisions of the Civil Code
are applicable to the Land Registration Act, even though we see no objection thereto, yet we
think, in the absence of other express provisions, they should have a persuasive influence in
adopting a rule for governing the effect of a double registration under said Act. Adopting the rule
which we believe to be more in consonance with the purposes and the real intent of the torrens
system, we are of the opinion and so decree that in case land has been registered under the
Land Registration Act in the name of two different persons, the earlier in date shall prevail.
In reaching the above conclusion, we have not overlooked the forceful argument of the
appellee. He says, among other things; "When Prieto et al. were served with notice of the
application of Teus (the predecessor of the defendant) they became defendants in a proceeding
wherein he, Teus, was seeking to foreclose their right, and that of orders, to the parcel of land
described in his application. Through their failure to appear and contest his right thereto, and the
subsequent entry of a default judgment against them, they became irrevocably bound by the
decree adjudicating such land to Teus. They had their day in court and can not set up their own
omission as ground for impugning the validity of a judgment duly entered by a court of
competent jurisdiction. To decide otherwise would be to hold that lands with torrens titles are
above the law and beyond the jurisdiction of the courts".
As was said above, the primary and fundamental purpose of the torrens system is to quiet title.
If the holder of a certificate cannot rest secure in this registered title then the purpose of the law
is defeated. If those dealing with registered land cannot rely upon the certificate, then nothing
has been gained by the registration and the expense incurred thereby has been in vain. If the
holder may lose a strip of his registered land by the method adopted in the present case, he
may lose it all. Suppose within the six years which elapsed after the plaintiff had secured their
title, they had mortgaged or sold their right, what would be the position or right of the mortgagee
or vendee? That mistakes are bound to occur cannot be denied, and sometimes the damage
done thereby is irreparable. It is the duty of the courts to adjust the rights of the parties under
such circumstances so as to minimize such damages, taking into consideration al of the
conditions and the diligence of the respective parties to avoid them. In the present case, the
appellee was the first negligent (granting that he was the real owner, and if he was not the real
owner he can not complain) in not opposing the registration in the name of the appellants. He
was a party-defendant in an action for the registration of the lot in question, in the name of the
appellants, in 1906. "Through his failure to appear and to oppose such registration, and the
subsequent entry of a default judgment against him, he became irrevocably bound by the
decree adjudicating such land to the appellants. He had his day in court and should not be
permitted to set up his own omissions as the ground for impugning the validity of a judgment
duly entered by a court of competent jurisdiction." Granting that he was the owner of the land
upon which the wall is located, his failure to oppose the registration of the same in the name of
the appellants, in the absence of fraud, forever closes his mouth against impugning the validity
of that judgment. There is no more reason why the doctrine invoked by the appellee should be
applied to the appellants than to him.
We have decided, in case of double registration under the Land Registration Act, that the owner
of the earliest certificate is the owner of the land. That is the rule between original parties. May
this rule be applied to successive vendees of the owners of such certificates? Suppose that one
or the other of the parties, before the error is discovered, transfers his original certificate to an
"innocent purchaser." The general rule is that the vendee of land has no greater right, title, or
interest than his vendor; that he acquires the right which his vendor had, only. Under that rule
the vendee of the earlier certificate would be the owner as against the vendee of the owner of
the later certificate.
We find statutory provisions which, upon first reading, seem to cast some doubt upon the rule
that the vendee acquires the interest of the vendor only. Sections 38, 55, and 112 of Act No.
496 indicate that the vendee may acquire rights and be protected against defenses which the
vendor would not. Said sections speak of available rights in favor of third parties which are cut
off by virtue of the sale of the land to an "innocent purchaser." That is to say, persons who had
had a right or interest in land wrongfully included in an original certificate would be unable to
enforce such rights against an "innocent purchaser," by virtue of the provisions of said sections.
In the present case Teus had his land, including the wall, registered in his name. He
subsequently sold the same to the appellee. Is the appellee an "innocent purchaser," as that
phrase is used in said sections? May those who have been deprived of their land by reason of a
mistake in the original certificate in favor of Teus be deprived of their right to the same, by virtue
of the sale by him to the appellee? Suppose the appellants had sold their lot, including the wall,
to an "innocent purchaser," would such purchaser be included in the phrase "innocent
purchaser," as the same is used in said sections? Under these examples there would be two
innocent purchasers of the same land, is said sections are to be applied .Which of the two
innocent purchasers, if they are both to be regarded as innocent purchasers, should be
protected under the provisions of said sections? These questions indicate the difficulty with
which we are met in giving meaning and effect to the phrase "innocent purchaser," in said
sections.
May the purchaser of land which has been included in a "second original certificate" ever be
regarded as an "innocent purchaser," as against the rights or interest of the owner of the first
original certificate, his heirs, assigns, or vendee? The first original certificate is recorded in the
public registry. It is never issued until it is recorded. The record notice to all the world. All
persons are charged with the knowledge of what it contains. All persons dealing with the land so
recorded, or any portion of it, must be charged with notice of whatever it contains. The
purchaser is charged with notice of every fact shown by the record and is presumed to know
every fact which the record discloses .This rule is so well established that it is scarcely
necessary to cite authorities in its support (Northwestern National Bank vs. Freeman, 171 U.S.,
620, 629; Delvin on Real Estate, sections 710, 710 [a]).
When a conveyance has been properly recorded such record is constructive notice of its
contents and all interests, legal and equitable, included therein. (Grandin vs. Anderson, 15 Ohio
State, 286, 289; Orvis vs. Newell, 17 Conn., 97; Buchanan vs. Intentional Bank, 78 Ill., 500;
Youngs vs. Wilson, 27 N.Y., 351; McCabe vs. Grey, 20 Cal., 509; Montefiore vs. Browne, 7
House of Lords Cases, 341.)
Under the rule of notice, it is presumed that the purchaser has examined every instrument of
record affecting the title. Such presumption is irrebutable. He is charged with notice of every fact
shown by the record and is presumed to know every fact which an examination of the record
would have disclosed. This presumption cannot be overcome by proof of innocence or good
faith. Otherwise the very purpose and object of the law requiring a record would be destroyed.
Such presumption cannot be defeated by proof of want of knowledge of what the record
contains any more than one may be permitted to show that he was ignorant of the provisions of
the law. The rule that all persons must take notice of the facts which the public record contains
is a rule of law. The rule must be absolute. Any variation would lead to endless confusion and
useless litigation.
While there is no statutory provision in force here requiring that original deeds of conveyance of
real property be recorded, yet there is a rule requiring mortgages to be recorded. (Arts. 1875
and 606 of the Civil Code.) The record of a mortgage is indispensable to its validity. (Art .1875.)
In the face of that statute would the courts allow a mortgage to be valid which had not been
recorded, upon the plea of ignorance of the statutory provision, when third parties were
interested? May a purchaser of land, subsequent to the recorded mortgage, plead ignorance of
its existence, and by reason of such ignorance have the land released from such lien? Could a
purchaser of land, after the recorded mortgage, be relieved from the mortgage lien by the plea
that he was a bona fide purchaser? May there be a bona fide purchaser of said land, bona
fide in the sense that he had no knowledge of the existence of the mortgage? We believe the
rule that all persons must take notice of what the public record contains in just as obligatory
upon all persons as the rule that all men must know the law; that no one can plead ignorance of
the law. The fact that all men know the law is contrary to the presumption. The conduct of men,
at times, shows clearly that they do not know the law. The rule, however, is mandatory and
obligatory, notwithstanding. It would be just as logical to allow the defense of ignorance of the
existence and contents of a public record.
In view, therefore, of the foregoing rules of law, may the purchaser of land from the owner of the
second original certificate be an "innocent purchaser," when a part or all of such land had
theretofore been registered in the name of another, not the vendor? We are of the opinion that
said sections 38, 55, and 112 should not be applied to such purchasers. We do not believe that
the phrase "innocent purchaser should be applied to such a purchaser. He cannot be regarded
as an "innocent purchaser" because of the facts contained in the record of the first original
certificate. The rule should not be applied to the purchaser of a parcel of land the vendor of
which is not the owner of the original certificate, or his successors. He, in nonsense, can be an
"innocent purchaser" of the portion of the land included in another earlier original certificate. The
rule of notice of what the record contains precludes the idea of innocence. By reason of the prior
registry there cannot be an innocent purchaser of land included in a prior original certificate and
in a name other than that of the vendor, or his successors. In order to minimize the difficulties
we think this is the safe rule to establish. We believe the phrase "innocent purchaser," used in
said sections, should be limited only to cases where unregistered land has been wrongfully
included in a certificate under the torrens system. When land is once brought under the torrens
system, the record of the original certificate and all subsequent transfers thereof is notice to all
the world. That being the rule, could Teus even regarded as the holder in good fifth of that part
of the land included in his certificate of the appellants? We think not. Suppose, for example, that
Teus had never had his lot registered under the torrens system. Suppose he had sold his lot to
the appellee and had included in his deed of transfer the very strip of land now in question.
Could his vendee be regarded as an "innocent purchaser" of said strip? Would his vendee be
an "innocent purchaser" of said strip? Certainly not. The record of the original certificate of the
appellants precludes the possibility. Has the appellee gained any right by reason of the
registration of the strip of land in the name of his vendor? Applying the rule of notice resulting
from the record of the title of the appellants, the question must be answered in the negative. We
are of the opinion that these rules are more in harmony with the purpose of Act No. 496 than the
rule contended for by the appellee. We believe that the purchaser from the owner of the later
certificate, and his successors, should be required to resort to his vendor for damages, in case
of a mistake like the present, rather than to molest the holder of the first certificate who has
been guilty of no negligence. The holder of the first original certificate and his successors should
be permitted to rest secure in their title, against one who had acquired rights in conflict therewith
and who had full and complete knowledge of their rights. The purchaser of land included in the
second original certificate, by reason of the facts contained in the public record and the
knowledge with which he is charged and by reason of his negligence, should suffer the loss, if
any, resulting from such purchase, rather than he who has obtained the first certificate and who
was innocent of any act of negligence.
The foregoing decision does not solve, nor pretend to solve, all the difficulties resulting from
double registration under the torrens system and the subsequent transfer of the land. Neither do
we now attempt to decide the effect of the former registration in the ordinary registry upon the
registration under the torrens system. We are inclined to the view, without deciding it, that the
record under the torrens system, supersede all other registries. If that view is correct then it will
be sufficient, in dealing with land registered and recorded alone. Once land is registered and
recorded under the torrens system, that record alone can be examined for the purpose of
ascertaining the real status of the title to the land.
It would be seen to a just and equitable rule, when two persons have acquired equal rights in
the same thing, to hold that the one who acquired it first and who has complied with all the
requirements of the law should be protected.
In view of our conclusions, above stated, the judgment of the lower court should be and is
hereby revoked. The record is hereby returned to the court now having and exercising the
jurisdiction heretofore exercised by the land court, with direction to make such orders and
decrees in the premises as may correct the error heretofore made in including the land in the
second original certificate issued in favor of the predecessor of the appellee, as well as in all
other duplicate certificates issued.
Without any findings as to costs, it is so ordered.
Arellano, C.J., Torrens, and Araullo, JJ., concur.



Separate Opinions

TRENT, J ., dissenting:
I dissent.
In cases of double or overlapping registration, I am inclined to agree with the reasoning and
authority on which it is held in the majority opinion (first) that the original holder of the prior
certificate is entitled to the land as against the original holder of the later certificate, where there
has been no transfer of title by either party to an innocent purchaser; both, as is shown in the
majority opinion, being at fault in permitting the double registration to take place; (second) that
an innocent purchaser claiming under the prior certificate is entitled to the land as against the
original holder of the later certificate, and also as against innocent purchasers from the holder of
the later certificate; the innocent purchaser being in no wise at fault in connection with the
issuance of the later certificate.
But I am of opinion that neither the authorities cited, nor the reasoning of the majority opinion
sustains the proposition that the original holder of the prior certificate is entitled to the land as
against an innocent purchaser from the holder of the later certificate.
As to the text-book authorities cited in the majority opinion, it is sufficient to say that the rules
laid down by both Hogg and Niblack are mere general rules, admittedly subject to exception,
and of course of no binding force or authority where the reasoning upon which these rules are
based is applicable to the facts developed in a particular case.
In its last analysis the general rule laid down in the majority opinion rests upon the proposition
set forth in the last page of the opinion wherein it is said that "it would seem to be a just and
equitable rule, when two persons have acquired equal rights in the same thing, to hold that the
one who acquired it first and who has complied with all the requirements of the law should be
protected." The rule, as applied to the matter in hand, may be stated as follows: It would seem
to be a just and equitable rule when two persons have acquired separate and independent
registered titles to the same land, under the Land Registration Act, to hold that the one who first
acquired registered title and who has complied with all the requirements of the law in that regard
should be protected, in the absence of any express statutory provision to the contrary.
Thus stated I have no quarrel with the doctrine as a statement of the general rule to be applied
in cases of double or overlapping registration under the Land Registration Act; for it is true as
stated in the majority opinion that in the adjudication and registration of titles by the Courts of
Land Registration "mistakes are bound to occur, and sometimes the damage done thereby is
irreparable;" and that in the absence of statutory provisions covering such cases, "it is the duty
of the courts to adjust the rights of the parties, under such circumstances, so as to minimize
such damages, taking into consideration all of the conditions, and the diligence of the respective
parties to avoid them."
But like most such general rules, it has its exceptions and should not be applied in a case
wherein the reasons on which it is based do not exist, or in cases wherein still more forceful
reasons demand the application of a contrary rule.
The general rule relied upon in the majority opinion is a mere application of a well settled equity
rule that: "Where conflicting equities are otherwise equal in merit, that which first occurred will
be given the preference." But it is universally laid down by all the courts which have had
occasion to apply this equity rule that "it should be the last test resorted to," and that "it never
prevails when any other equitable ground for preference exists." (See 19 Cent. Dig., tit. Equity,
par. 181; and may cases cited in 16 Cyc., 139, note 57.) It follows that the general rules, that in
cases of double or overlapping registration the earlier certificate should be protected, ought not
to prevail so as to deprive an innocent purchaser under the later certificate of his title of the
earlier certificate contributed to the issuance of the later certificate. Hence the holder of the
earlier certificate of title should not be heard to invoke the"just and equitable rule" as laid down
in the majority opinion, in order to have his own title protected and the title of an innocent
purchaser of a later certificate cancelled or annulled, in any case wherein it appears that the
holder of the later certificate was wholly without fault, while the holder of the issuance of the
later certificate, in that he might have prevented its issuance by merely entering his appearance
in court in response to lawful summons personally served upon him in the course of the
proceedings for the issuance of the second certificate, and pleading his superior rights under
the earlier certificate, instead of keeping silent and by his silence permitting a default judgment
to be entered against him adjudicating title in favor of the second applicant.
The majority opinion clearly recognizes the soundness of the principles I am contending for by
reasoning (with which I am inclined to agree) whereby it undertakes to demonstrate that as
between the original holders of the double or overlapping registration the general rule should
prevail, because both such original parties must held to have been fault and, their equities being
equal, preference should be given to the earlier title.
The majority opinion further recognizes the soundness of my contention by the reasoning
whereby it undertakes to sustain the application of the general rule in favor of the original holder
of the earlier certificate against purchasers from the original holder of the later certificate, by an
attempt to demonstrate that such purchasers can in no event be held to be innocent
purchasers; because, as it is said, negligence may and should always be imputed to such a
purchaser, so that in no event can he claim to be without fault when it appears that the lands
purchased by him from the holder of a duly registered certificate of title are included within the
bounds of the lands described in a certificate of title of an earlier date.
At considerable length the majority opinion (in reliance upon the general rule laid down under
the various systems of land registration, other than those based on the torrens system) insists
that a purchaser of land land duly registered in the Land Registration Court, is charged with
notice of the contents of each and every one of the thousands and tens of thousands of
certificates of registry on file in the land registry office, so that negligencemay be imputed to him
if he does not ascertain that all or any part of the land purchased by him is included within the
boundary lines of any one of the thousands or tens of thousands of tracts of land whose original
registry bears an earlier date than the date of the original registry of the land purchased by him.
It is contended that he cannot claim to be without fault should he buy such land because, as it is
said, it was possible for him to discover that the land purchased by him had been made the
subject of double or overlapping registration by a comparison of the description and boundary
lines of the thousands of tracts and parcels of land to be found in the land registry office.
But such ruling goes far to defeat one of the principal objects sought to be attained by the
introduction and adoption of the so-called torrens system for the registration of land. The
avowed intent of that system of land registration is to relieve the purchase of registered lands
from the necessity of looking farther than the certificate of title of the vendor in order that he may
rest secure as to the validity of the title to the lands conveyed to him. And yet it is said in the
majority opinion that he is charged with notice of the contents of every other certificate of title in
the office of the registrar so that his failure to acquaint himself with its contents may be imputed
to him as negligence.
If the rule announced in the majority opinion is to prevail, the new system of land registration,
instead of making transfers of real estate simple, expenditious and secure, and instead of
avoiding the necessity for expensive and oftimes uncertain searches of the land record and
registries, in order to ascertain the true condition of the title before purchase, will, in many
instances, add to the labor, expense and uncertainty of any attempt by a purchaser to satisfy
himself as to the validity of the title to lands purchased by him.
As I have said before, one of the principal objects, if not the principal object, of the torrens
system of land registration upon which our Land Registration Act is avowedly modelled is to
facilitate the transfer of real estate. To that end the Legislature undertakes to relieve prospective
purchasers and all others dealing in registered lands from the necessity of looking farther than
the certificate of title to such lands furnished by the Court of Land Registration, and I cannot,
therefore, give my consent to a ruling which charges a purchaser or mortgage of registered
lands with notice of the contents of every other certificate of title in the land registry, so that
negligence and fault may be imputed to him should he be exposed to loss or damages as a
result of the lack of such knowledge.
Suppose a prospective purchaser of lands registered under the Land Registration Act desires to
avoid the imputation of negligence in the event that, unknown to him, such lands have been
made the subject of double or overlapping registration, what course should he pursue? What
measures should he adopt in order to search out the information with notice of which he is
charged? There are no indexes to guide him nor is there anything in the record or the certificate
of title of the land he proposes to buy which necessarily or even with reasonable probability will
furnish him a clue as to the fact of the existence of such double or overlapping registration.
Indeed the only course open to him, if he desires to assure himself against the possibility of
double or overlapping registration, would even seem to be a careful, laborious and extensive
comparison of the registered boundary lines contained in the certificate of title of the tract of
land he proposes to buy with those contained in all the earlier certificates of title to be found in
the land registry. Assuredly it was never the intention of the author of the new Land Registration
Act to impose such a burden on a purchaser of duly registered real estate, under penalty that a
lack of the knowledge which might thus be acquired may be imputed to him by this court as
negligence in ruling upon the respective equities of the holders of lands which have been the
subject of double or overlapping registration.
On the other hand, I think that negligence and fault may fairly be imputed to a holder of a
registered certificate of title who stood supinely by and let a default judgment be entered against
him, adjudicating all or any part of his registered lands to another applicant, if it appears that he
was served with notice or had actual notice of the pendency of the proceedings in the Court of
Land Registration wherein such default judgment was entered.
The owner of land who enjoys the benefits secured to him by its registry in the Court of Land
Registration may reasonably be required to appear and defend his title when he has actual
notice that proceedings are pending in that court wherein another applicant, claiming the land as
his own, is seeking to secure its registry in his name. All that is necessary for him to do is to
enter his appearance in those proceedings, invite the court's attention to the certificate of title
registered in his name, and thus, at the cost of the applicant, avoid all the damage and
inconvenience flowing from the double or overlapping registration of the land in question. There
is nothing in the new system of land registration which seems to render it either expedient or
necessary to relieve a holder of a registered title of the duty of appearing and defending that
title, when he has actual notice that it is being attacked in a court of competent jurisdiction, and
if, as a result of his neglect or failure so to do, his lands become subject to double or
overlapping registration, he should not be permitted to subject an innocent purchaser, holding
under the later certificate, to all the loss and damage resulting from the double or overlapping
registration, while he goes scot free and holds the land under a manifest misapplication of the
equitable rule that "where conflicting equities are otherwise equal in merit, that which first
accrued will be given the preference." It is only where both or neither of the parties are at fault
that the rule is properly applicable as between opposing claimants under an earlier and a later
certificate of registry to the same land.
Of course all that is said in the briefs of counsel and the majority opinion as to the right of the
holder of a certificate to rest secure in his registered title so that those dealing with registered
lands can confidently rely upon registry certificates thereto is equally forceful by way of
argument in favor of the holder of one or the other certificate in case of double or overlapping
registration. The problem is to determine which of the certificate holders is entitled to the land.
The decision of that question in favor of either one must necessarily have the effect of
destroying the value of the registered title of the other and to that extent shaking the public
confidence in the value of the whole system for the registration of lands. But, in the language of
the majority opinion, "that mistakes are bound to occur cannot be denied and sometimes the
damage done thereby is irreparable. It is the duty of the courts to adjust the rights of the parties
under such circumstances so as to minimize the damages, taking into consideration all the
conditions and the diligence of the respective parties to avoid them."lawphil.net
It will be observed that I limit the exception to the general equitable rule, as laid down in the
majority opinion, to case wherein the holder of the earlier certificate of title has actual notice of
the pendency of the proceedings in the course of which the latter certificate of title was issued,
or to cases in which he has received personal notice of the pendency of those proceedings.
Unless he has actual notice of the pendency of such proceedings I readily agree with the
reasoning of the majority opinion so far as it holds that negligence, culpable negligence, should
not be imputed to him for failure to appear and defend his title so as to defeat his right to the
benefit of the equitable rule. It is true that the order of publication in such cases having been
duly complied with, all the world is charged with notice thereof, but it does not necessarily follow
that, in the absence of actual notice, culpable negligence in permitting a default judgment to be
entered against him may be imputed to the holder of the earlier certificate so as to defeat his
right to the land under the equitable rule favoring the earlier certificate. Such a holding would
have the effect (to quote the language of the majority opinion) of requiring the holder of a
certificate of title to wait indefinitely "in the portals of the court" and to sit in the "mirador de su
casa" in order to avoid the possibility of losing his lands; and I agree with the writer of the
majority opinion that to do so would place an unreasonable burden on the holders of such
certificate, which was not contemplated by the authors of the Land Registration Act. But no
unreasonable burden is placed upon the holder of a registered title by a rule which imputes
culpable negligence to him when he sits supinely by and lets a judgment in default be entered
against him adjudicating title to his lands in favor of another applicant, despite the fact that he
has actual knowledge of the pendency of the proceedings in which such judgment is entered
and despite the fact that he has been personally served with summons to appear and default his
title.
"Taking into consideration all of the conditions and the diligence of the respective parties," it
seems to me that there is no "equality in merit" between the conflicting equities set up by an
innocent purchaser who acquires title to the land under a registered certificate, and the holder of
an earlier certificate who permitted a default judgment to be entered against him, despite actual
notice of the pendency of the proceedings in the course of which the later certificate was issued.
I am convinced, furthermore, that aside from the superior equities of the innocent purchaser in
cases such as that now under discussion, there are strong reasons of convenience and public
policy which militate in favor of the recognition of his title rather than that of the holder of the
earlier title.
One ruling exposes all persons purchasing or dealing in registered lands to unknown,
unspecified and uncertain dangers, to guard against which all such persons will be put to
additional cost, annoyance and labor on every occasion when any transaction is had with regard
to such lands; while the other ruling tends to eliminate consequences so directly adverse to the
purpose and object for which the land registration law was enacted, and imposes no burden
upon any holder of a certificate of registered lands other than that of defending his title on those
rare, definite and specific occasions wherein he has actual notice that his title is being
challenged in a Court of Land Registration, a proceeding in which the cost and expense is
reduced to the minimum by the conclusive character of his certificate of title in support of his
claim of ownership. Furthermore, judgment against the innocent purchaser and in favor of the
holder of the earlier certificate in a case such as that under consideration must inevitably tend to
increase the danger of double or overlapping registrations by encouraging holders of registered
titles, negligently or fraudulently and conclusively, to permit default judgments to be entered
against them adjudicating title to all or a part of their registered lands in favor of other
applicants, despite actual notice of the pendency of judicial proceedings had for that purpose,
and this, without adding in any appreciable degree to the security of thir titles, and merely to
save them the very slight trouble or inconvenience incident to an entry of appearance in the
court in which their own titles were secured, and inviting attention to the fact that their right, title
and ownership in the lands in questions has already been conclusively adjudicated.
The cases wherein there is a practical possibility of double or overlapping registration without
actual notice to the holder of the earlier certificate must in the very nature of things to be so rare
as to be practically negligible. Double or overlapping registration almost invariably occurs in
relation to lands held by adjoining occupants or claimants. It is difficult to conceive of a case
wherein double registration can take place, in the absence of fraud, without personal service of
notice of the pendency of the proceedings upon the holder of the earlier certificate, the statute
requiring such notice to be served upon the owner or occupant of all lands adjoining those for
which application for registration is made; and the cases wherein an adjoining land owner can,
even by the use of fraud, conduct proceedings for the registration of his land to a successful
conclusion without actual notice to the adjoining property owners must be rare indeed.
In the case at bar the defendant purchased the land in question from the original holder of a
certificate of title issued by the Court of Land Registration, relying upon the records of the Court
of Land Registration with reference thereto and with no knowledge that any part of the land thus
purchased was included in an earlier certificate of title issued to the plaintiff. The plaintiff, the
holder of the earlier certificate of title, negligently permitted a default judgment to be entered
against him in the Court of Land Registration, adjudicating part of the lands included in his own
certificate of title in favor of another applicant, from whom the defendant in this action acquired
title, and this despite the fact that he was an adjoining land owner, had actual notice of the
pendency of the proceedings and was personally served with summons to appear and defends
his rights in the premises. It seems to me that there can be no reason for doubt as to the
respective merits of the equities of the parties, and further that the judgment of the majority in
favor of the plaintiff will inevitably tend to increase the number of cases wherein registered land
owners in the future will fail to appear and defend their titles when challenged in other
proceedings in the Courts of Land Registration, thereby enormously increasing the possibility
and probability of loss and damage to innocent third parties and dealers in registered lands
generally, arising out of erroneous, double or overlapping registration of lands by the Courts of
Land Registration.
Carson, J., concurs.

SM PRIME HOLDINGS, INC.,
Petitioner,




- versus -





ANGELA V. MADAYAG,
Respondent.

G.R. No. 164687

Present:

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
NACHURA, and
PERALTA, JJ.

Promulgated:

February 12, 2009

x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x


DECISION

NACHURA, J .:





This is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision
[1]
of the Court of Appeals (CA) dated
March 19, 2004 and Resolution dated July 15, 2004, which set aside the lower courts order to
suspend the proceedings on respondents application for land registration.

On July 12, 2001, respondent Angela V. Madayag filed with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of
Urdaneta, Pangasinan an application for registration of a parcel of land with an area of 1,492
square meters located in Barangay Anonas, Urdaneta City, Pangasinan.
[2]
Attached to the
application was a tracing cloth of Survey Plan Psu-01-008438, approved by the Land
Management Services (LMS) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources
(DENR), Region 1, San Fernando City.

On August 20, 2001, petitioner SM Prime Holdings, Inc., through counsel, wrote the Chief,
Regional Survey Division, DENR, Region I, demanding the cancellation of the respondents
survey plan because the lot encroached on the properties it recently purchased from several lot
owners and that, despite being the new owner of the adjoining lots, it was not notified of the
survey conducted on June 8, 2001.
[3]


Petitioner then manifested its opposition to the respondents application for registration. The
Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General, and the heirs of Romulo
Visperas also filed their respective oppositions.

On February 6, 2002, petitioner filed its formal opposition. Petitioner alleged that it had recently
bought seven parcels of land in Barangay Anonas, Urdaneta, delineated as Lots B, C, D, E, G,
H and I in Consolidation-Subdivision Plan No. (LRC) Pcs-21329, approved by the Land
Registration Commission on August 26, 1976, and previously covered by Survey Plan No. Psu-
236090 approved by the Bureau of Lands on December 29, 1970. These parcels of land are
covered by separate certificates of title, some of which are already in the name of the petitioner
while the others are still in the name of the previous owners.

On February 20, 2002, the RTC declared a general default, except as to the petitioner, the
Republic, and the heirs of Romulo Visperas. Thereafter, respondent commenced the
presentation of evidence.

Meanwhile, acting on petitioners request for the cancellation of the respondents survey plan,
DENR Assistant Regional Executive Director for Legal Services and Public Affairs, Allan V.
Barcena, advised the petitioner to file a petition for cancellation in due form so that the DENR
could properly act on the same.
[4]
Accordingly, petitioner formally filed with the DENR a
petition
[5]
for cancellation of the survey plan sometime in March 2002, alleging the following
grounds:

I.

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ALIENABLE OR DISPOSABLE PROPERTY WHICH IS THE
SUBJECT LOT IN THIS CASE

II.

NO NOTICE WAS MADE UPON PETITIONER (AS ADJOINING LANDOWNER AND WHO
BEARS INTEREST OVER THE SUBJECT LOT) MUCH LESS THE OWNERS OF ADJOINING
LANDS.

III.

THE CIRCUMSTANCES EVIDENTLY SHOW THAT BAD FAITH AND/OR MALICE ATTENDED
THE APPROVAL OF (PLAN WITH PSU NO. 01-008438).
[6]



On July 17, 2002, petitioner filed an Urgent Motion to Suspend Proceedings
[7]
in the land
registration case, alleging that the court should await the DENR resolution of the petition for the
cancellation of the survey plan as the administrative case is prejudicial to the determination of
the land registration case.

On October 8, 2002, the RTC issued an Order granting the motion, thus:

WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, the Court hereby GRANTS the instant motion and
suspends the proceedings herein. In the meantime, and until receipt by this Court of a copy of
the resolution of the petition for cancellation by the DENR, the instant case is hereby
ARCHIVED.

SO ORDERED.
[8]



Emphasizing that a survey plan is one of the mandatory requirements in land registration
proceedings, the RTC agreed with the petitioner that the cancellation of the survey plan would
be prejudicial to the petition for land registration.
[9]


On February 13, 2003, the RTC denied the respondents motion for reconsideration of its
order.
[10]
Respondent thereafter filed a petition for certiorari with the CA assailing the order
suspending the proceedings.

On March 19, 2004, finding that the RTC committed grave abuse of discretion in suspending the
proceedings, the CA granted the petition for certiorari, thus:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is hereby GRANTED. The challenged
Orders dated October 8, 2002 and February 13, 2003 of the respondent Court are declared
NULL and VOID.

The Court a quo is directed to continue the proceedings until its final determination. No
pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.
[11]



The CA ratiocinated that the survey plan which was duly approved by the DENR should be
accorded the presumption of regularity, and that the RTC has the power to hear and determine
all questions arising from an application for registration.
[12]


On July 15, 2004, the CA issued a Resolution
[13]
denying the petitioners motion for
reconsideration. Petitioner was, thus, compelled to file this petition for review, ascribing the
following errors to the CA:

I. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED MANIFEST ERROR IN NOT FINDING
THAT THE SUSPENSION OF THE PROCEEDINGS IN THE LAND REGISTRATION CASE IS
LEGAL AND PROPER PENDING THE DETERMINATION AND RESOLUTION OF THE
ADMINISTRATIVE CASE BEFORE THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL
RESOURCES-REGION 1.

II. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED MANIFEST ERROR IN FAILING TO
FIND THAT THE ASSAILED ORDERS OF THE LOWER COURT HAVE PROPER AND
SUFFICIENT BASES IN FACT AND IN LAW.

III. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED MANIFEST ERROR IN HOLDING THAT
THE LOWER COURT HAS ACTED WITH GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION IN SUSPENDING
THE PROCEEDINGS AND ARCHIVING THE CASE.

IV. THE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED MANIFEST ERROR IN FAILING TO
FIND THAT THE FILING OF THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI, UNDER RULE 65 OF THE
REVISED RULES OF CIVIL PROCEDURE, IS NOT THE ONLY PLAIN, SPEEDY AND
ADEQUATE REMEDY IN THE ORDINARY COURSE OF LAW ON THE PART OF HEREIN
RESPONDENT.
[14]



The petition has no merit.

Petitioner contends that, since the respondents cause of action in the land registration case
depends heavily on the survey plan, it was only prudent for the RTC to suspend the
proceedings therein pending the resolution of the petition for cancellation of the survey plan by
the DENR.
[15]
It, therefore, insists that recourse to a petition for certiorari was not proper
considering that respondent was not arbitrarily deprived of her right to prosecute her application
for registration.
[16]


Undeniably, the power to stay proceedings is an incident to the power inherent in every court to
control the disposition of the cases in its dockets, with economy of time and effort for the court,
counsel and litigants. But courts should be mindful of the right of every party to a speedy
disposition of his case and, thus, should not be too eager to suspend proceedings of the cases
before them. Hence, every order suspending proceedings must be guided by the following
precepts: it shall be done in order to avoid multiplicity of suits and prevent vexatious litigations,
conflicting judgments, confusion between litigants and courts,
[17]
or when the rights of parties to
the second action cannot be properly determined until the questions raised in the first action are
settled.
[18]
Otherwise, the suspension will be regarded as an arbitrary exercise of the courts
discretion and can be corrected only by a petition for certiorari.

None of the circumstances that would justify the stay of proceedings is present. In fact, to await
the resolution of the petition for cancellation would only delay the resolution of the land
registration case and undermine the purpose of land registration.

The fundamental purpose of the Land Registration Law (Presidential Decree No. 1529) is to
finally settle title to real property in order to preempt any question on the legality of the title
except claims that were noted on the certificate itself at the time of registration or those that
arose subsequent thereto. Consequently, once the title is registered under the said law, owners
can rest secure on their ownership and possession.
[19]


Glaringly, the petition for cancellation raises practically the very same issues that the herein
petitioner raised in its opposition to the respondents application for registration. Principally, it
alleges that the survey plan should be cancelled because it includes portions of the seven
properties that it purchased from several landowners, which properties are already covered by
existing certificates of title.

Petitioner posits that it is the DENR that has the sole authority to decide the validity of the
survey plan that was approved by the LMS.
[20]
It cites Section 4(15), Chapter 1, Title XIV,
Administrative Code of 1987 which provides that the DENR shall

(15) Exercise (of) exclusive jurisdiction on the management and disposition of all lands of the
public domain and serve as the sole agency responsible for classification, sub-classification,
surveying and titling of lands in consultation with appropriate agencies.


However, respondent argues that the land registration court is clothed with adequate authority
to resolve the conflicting claims of the parties, and that even if the DENR cancels her survey
plan, the land registration court is not by duty bound to dismiss the application for registration
based solely on the cancellation of the survey plan.
[21]


Without delving into the jurisdiction of the DENR to resolve the petition for cancellation, we hold
that, as an incident to its authority to settle all questions over the title of the subject property, the
land registration court may resolve the underlying issue of whether the subject property overlaps
the petitioners properties without necessarily having to declare the survey plan as void.

It is well to note at this point that, in its bid to avoid multiplicity of suits and to promote the
expeditious resolution of cases, Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529 eliminated the distinction
between the general jurisdiction vested in the RTC and the latters limited jurisdiction when
acting merely as a land registration court. Land registration courts, as such, can now hear and
decide even controversial and contentious cases, as well as those involving substantial
issues.
[22]
When the law confers jurisdiction upon a court, the latter is deemed to have all the
necessary powers to exercise such jurisdiction to make it effective.
[23]
It may, therefore, hear
and determine all questions that arise from a petition for registration.

In view of the nature of a Torrens title, a land registration court has the duty to determine
whether the issuance of a new certificate of title will alter a valid and existing certificate of
title.
[24]
An application for registration of an already titled land constitutes a collateral attack on
the existing title,
[25]
which is not allowed by law.
[26]
But the RTC need not wait for the decision of
the DENR in the petition to cancel the survey plan in order to determine whether the subject
property is already titled or forms part of already titled property. The court may now verify this
allegation based on the respondents survey plan vis--vis the certificates of title of the petitioner
and its predecessors-in-interest. After all, a survey plan precisely serves to establish the true
identity of the land to ensure that it does not overlap a parcel of land or a portion thereof already
covered by a previous land registration, and to forestall the possibility that it will be overlapped
by a subsequent registration of any adjoining land.
[27]


Should the court find it difficult to do so, the court may require the filing of additional papers to
aid in its determination of the propriety of the application, based on Section 21 of P.D. No. 1529:

SEC. 21. Requirement of additional facts and papers; ocular inspection. The court may
require facts to be stated in the application in addition to those prescribed by this Decree not
inconsistent therewith and may require the filing of any additional papers.


The court may also directly require the DENR and the Land Registration Authority to submit a
report on whether the subject property has already been registered and covered by certificates
of title, like what the court did in Carvajal v. Court of Appeals.
[28]
In that case, we commended
such move by
the land registration court for being in accordance with the purposes of the Land Registration
Law.
[29]


WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The Court of Appeals Decision
dated March 19, 2004 and Resolution dated July 15, 2004 are AFFIRMED. The Regional Trial
Court of Urdaneta, Pangasinan is DIRECTED to continue with the proceedings in L.R.C. Case
No. U-1134 and to resolve the same with dispatch.

SO ORDERED.
[G.R. No. 14167. August 14, 1919. ]

THE GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS, petitioner and appellee. ANTIPAS
VAZQUEZ and BASILIO GAYARES, Petitioners-Appellants, v. RUFINA ABURAL ET. AL.,
objectors-appellees.

Cohn & Fisher, for Appellants.

Hilado & Hilado, for Appellees.

SYLLABUS
1. LAND REGISTRATION; TORRENS SYSTEM; PURPOSE. The prime purpose of the
Torrens System, as established in the Philippine Islands by the Land Registration Law (Act No.
496), is to decree land titles that shall be final, irrevocable, and indisputable.

2. ID.; CADASTRAL SYSTEM; PURPOSE. The purpose of the offspring of the Torrens
System here known as the Cadastral System, as established in the Philippine Islands by the
Cadastral Act (No. 2259), is, like the purpose of the Torrens System, proper incontestability of
title. As stated in Section 1 of the Cadastral Act, the purpose is to serve the public interest, by
requiring that the titles to any lands "be settled and adjudicated."cralaw virtua1aw library

3. ID.; ID.; PROCEEDINGS. Many precautions are taken to guard against injustice.

4. ID.; ID.; ID. After trial in a cadastral case, three actions are taken. The first adjudicates
ownership in favor of one of the claimants. This constitutes the decision the judgment the
decree of the court. The second action is the declaration by the court that the decree is final and
its order for the issuance of the certificates of title by the Chief of the Land Registration Office.
Such order is made if within thirty days from the date of receipt of a copy of the decision no
appeal is taken from the decision. The third and last action devolves upon the General Land
Registration Office.

5. ID.; ID.; ID.; FINALITY OF DECREE. For a decree to exist in legal contemplation, it is not
necessary to await the preparation of a so-called decree by the Land Registration Office.

6. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID. Cadastral proceedings commenced. Notice published in the Official
Gazette. Trial judge also issued general notice. S asks for the registration in his name of lot No.
1608. Hearing had. On September 21, 1916, the court in a decree awarded the lot to S. On
November 23, 1916, the time for an appeal having passed, the court declares the decree final.
On July 23, 1917, before the issuance by the Land Registration Office of the so-called technical
decree, V and G ask that the case be reopened to receive proof relative to the ownership of the
lot. Motion denied by the trial court. Held: That since the judgment of the Court of First Instance
of September 21, 1916, has become final, and since no action was taken within the time
provided by law for the prosecution of an appeal by bill of exceptions, the Supreme Court is
without jurisdiction, and the appeal must be dismissed.

7. ID.; ID.; RELIEF FROM JUDGMENT. Whether Sections 113 and 513 of the Code of Civil
Procedure apply to cadastral proceedings, quare.

8. GENERAL LAND REGISTRATION OFFICE. The General Land Registration Office has
been instituted "for the due effectuation and accomplishment of the laws relative to the
registration of land." (Administrative Code of 1917, Sec. 174.)


D E C I S I O N


MALCOLM, J . :


The principal question which this appeal presents is When does the registration of title, under
the Torrens System of Land Registration, especially under the different Philippine laws
establishing the Cadastral System, become final, conclusive, and indisputable? The
supplementary questions are At what stage of the cadastral proceedings does a decree exist
in legal contemplation? Does it exist from the moment that the court, after hearing the evidence,
adjudicates the land in favor of a person and then, or later decrees the land in favor of this
person, or does it exist when the Chief of the Land Registration Office transcribes the
adjudication in the prescribed form?

STATEMENT OF THE CASE.

Cadastral proceedings were commenced in the municipality of Hinigaran, Province of
Occidental Negros, upon an application of the Director of Lands, on June 16, 1916. Notice of
the proceedings were published in the Official Gazette as provided by law. The trial judge also
issued general notice to all interested parties. Among others, Victoriano Siguenza presented an
answer asking for registration in his name of lot No. 1608. The instant petitioners, Antipas
Vazquez and Basilio Gayares, although said to reside in this municipality, and although said to
have participated in other cadastral cases, did not enter any opposition as to this lot. Hearing
was had during September, 1916. On September 21 of this year, the court issued the following
decree:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"It is hereby decreed that, upon a previous declaration of general default, the following lots be
adjudged and registered in the names of those persons whose names appear next after the lots,
and in accordance with the following conditions: . . .

"Lot No. 1608 with the improvements thereon to the conjugal partnership of Victoriano Siguenza
and Marcela Guanzon."cralaw virtua1aw library

On November 23 of the same year, the court declared final the foregoing decree in the following
language:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"The decision rendered by the court in the above-entitled case having become final on
September 21, 1916, it is hereby ordered that the Chief of the General Land Registration Office
issue the decrees corresponding to the lots adjudged by said decision.

"An appeal having however been interposed as to the lots enumerated as follows, the decrees
thereon, must be suspended until further order by this court:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Lot No. 521.

Eight months later, that is, on July 23, 1917, but before the issuance by the Land Registration
Office of the so-called technical decree, Antipas Vazquez and Basilio Gayares, the latter as
guardian of the minor Estrella Vazquez, came into the case for the first time. The petitioners,
after setting forth their right of ownership in lot No. 1608, and that it was included in their
"Hacienda Santa Filomena," and after stating that they were in complete ignorance of the
proceedings, asked that the judgment of the court be annulled and that the case be reopened to
receive proof relative to the ownership of the lot. Counsel for Victoriano Siguenza answered by
counter-motion, asking the court to dismiss the motion presented on behalf of Vazquez and
Gayares. The court denied the motion for a new trial on the theory that there being a decree
already rendered and no allegation of fraud having been made, the court lacked jurisdiction. It
may also be stated parenthetically that counsel for Vazquez and Gayares made an
unsuccessful attempt in the Supreme Court, through mandamus, to have the record completed
by the taking of evidence.

In order that the matter may not be confused, let it again be made clear that counsel for
petitioners have not raised the question of fraud as provided for in Section 38 of the Land
Registration Law, nor have they asked to be relieved from a judgment or order, pursuant to
Section 113 of the Code of Civil Procedure, because of mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or
excusable neglect. As a matter of fact, they could not well claim fraud because all the
proceedings were public and free from any suspicion of chicanery. As a matter of fact, also, any
special reliance on Section 113 of the Code of Civil Procedure would not get them anywhere
because more than six months had elapsed after the issuance of a judgment in this case. The
issue fundamentally becomes one of whether or not the Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the
appeal, since if the judgment and the supplemental decree issued by the Judge of the Court of
First Instance on September 21, 1916, and November 23, 1916, respectively, have become
final, petitioners may no bring their appeal before this court, because the time for the filing of
their bill of exceptions has expired; while, if the cadastral proceedings did not become final until
the formal decree was issued by the Land Registration Office, then it was proper for them to ask
for a reopening of the case, and it would, consequently, be just as proper for this court to order
the trial court to permit the same.

OPINION.

The prime purpose of the Torrens System is, as has been repeatedly stated, to decree land
titles that shall be final, irrevocable, and indisputable. Incontestability of title is the goal. All due
precaution must accordingly be taken to guard against injustice to interested individuals who, for
some good reason, may not be able to protect their rights. Nevertheless, even at the cost of
possible cruelty which may result in exceptional cases, it does become necessary in the interest
of the public weal to enforce registration laws. No stronger words can be found than those
appearing in Section 38 of the Land Registration Law (Act No. 496) wherein it is said that:
"Every decree of registration shall bind the land, and quiet title thereto. . . . It shall be conclusive
upon and against all persons, including the Insular Government and all the branches thereof,
whether mentioned by name in the application, notice, or citation, or included in the general
description To all whom it may concern, Such decree shall not be opened by reason of the
absence, infancy, or other disability of any person affected thereby, nor by any proceeding in
any court for reversing judgments or decrees; subject, however, to the right of any person
deprived of land or of any estate or interest therein by decree of registration obtained by fraud to
file in the Court of Land Registration (Court of First Instance) a petition for review within one
year after entry of the decree, provided no innocent purchaser for value has acquired an
interest."cralaw virtua1aw library

While such statements can be made of the Torrens System proper, they become even more
incisive and peremptory when we come to consider the offspring of this system, here known as
the Cadastral System. Under the Torrens System proper, whether action shall or shall not be
taken is optional with the solicitant. Under the Cadastral System, pursuant to initiative on the
part of the Government, titles for all the land within a stated area, are adjudicated whether or not
the people living within this district desire to have titles issued. The purpose, as stated in section
one of the Cadastral Act (NO. 2259), is to serve the public interests, by requiring that the titles to
any lands "be settled and adjudicated."cralaw virtua1aw library

Admitting that such compulsory registration of land and such excessive interference with private
property constitutes due process of law and that the Acts providing for the same are
constitutional, a question not here raised, yet a study of the law indicates that many precautions
are taken to guard against injustice. The proceedings are initiated by a notice of survey. When
the lands have been surveyed and plotted, the Director of Lands, represented by the Attorney
General, files a petition in court praying that the titles to the lands named be settled and
adjudicated. Notice of the filing of the petition is then published twice in successive issues of the
Official Gazette in both the English and Spanish languages. All persons interested are given the
benefit of assistance by competent officials and are informed of their rights. A trial is had. "All
conflicting interests shall be adjudicated by the court and decrees awarded in favor of the
persons entitled to the lands or the various parts thereof, and such decrees, when final, shall be
the bases of original certificates of title in favor of said persons." (Act No. 2259, Sec. 11.) Aside
from this, the commotion caused by the survey and a trial affecting ordinarily many people,
together with the presence of strangers in the community, should serve to put all those affected
on their guard.

After trial in a cadastral case, three actions are taken. The first adjudicates ownership in favor of
one of the claimants. This constitutes the decision the judgment the decree of the court,
and speaks in a judicial manner. The second action is the declaration by the court that the
decree is final and its order for the issuance of the certificates of title by the Chief of the Land
Registration Office. Such order is made if within thirty days from the date of receipt of a copy of
the decision no appeal is taken from the decision. This again is judicial action, although to a less
degree than the first.

The third and last action devolves upon the General Land Registration Office. This office has
been instituted "for the due effectuation and accomplishment of the laws relative to the
registration of land." (Administrative Code of 1917, Sec. 174.) An official found in the office,
known as the chief surveyor, has as one of his duties "to prepare final decrees in all adjudicated
cases." (Administrative Code of 1917, Sec. 177.) This latter decree contains the technical
description of the land and may not be issued until a considerable time after the promulgation of
the judgment. The form for the decree used by the General Land Registration Office concludes
with the words: "Witness, the Honorable (name of the judge), on this the (date)." The date that is
used as authority for the issuance of the decree is the date when, after hearing the evidence,
the trial court decreed the adjudication and registration of the land.

The judgment in a cadastral survey, including the rendition of the decree, is a judicial act. As the
law says, the judicial decree when final is the base of the certificate of title. The issuance of the
decree by the Land Registration Office is ministerial act. The date of the judgment, or more
correctly stated, the date on which the defeated party receives a copy of the decision, begins
the running of the time for the interposition of a motion for a new trial or for the perfection of an
appeal to the Supreme Court. The date of the title prepared by the Chief Surveyor is
unimportant, for the adjudication has taken place and all that is left to be performed is the mere
formulation of the technical description. If an unknown individual could wait possibly years until
the day before a surveyor gets around to transcribing a technical description of a piece of land,
the defeated party could just as reasonably expect the same consideration for his appeal. As a
matter of fact, the so-called unknown is a party just as much as the known oppositor for notice is
to all the world, and the decree binds all the world.

Both counsel for petitioners and respondents rely upon the decision of this court in the case of
Tambunting v. Manuel ([1916], 35 Phil.; 699) . That case and the instant case are not the same.
In the Tambunting case the contest was really between two parties each claiming to have a
Torrens title; here one party has the title and the other is seeking to oust him from his fortress.
In the Tambunting case the declaration of ownership but not the decree of registration had
issued; here both declaration and decree have issued. The doctrines announced in the decision
in Grey Alba v. De la Cruz ([1910], 17 Phil., 49) relating to general notice and the indefensibility
of land titles under the Torrens system are much more applicable and can, with as much
reason, be applied to the cadastral system.

As a general rule, registration of title under the cadastral system is final, conclusive and
indisputable, after the passage of the thirty-day period allowed for an appeal from the date of
receipt by the party of a copy of the judgment of the court adjudicating ownership without any
step having been taken to perfect an appeal. The prevailing party may then have execution of
the judgment as of right and is entitled to the certificate of title issued by the chief of the Land
Registration Office. The exception is the special provision providing for fraud.

Counsel for appellants and appellees have favored the court with able arguments relative to the
applicability of Sections 113 and 513 of the Code of Civil Procedure to cadastral proceedings.
The view we take of the case would make unprofitable any discussion of this question.

It appearing that the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Occidental Negros of September
21, 1916, has become final, and that no action was taken within the time provided by law for the
prosecution of an appeal by bill of exceptions, this court is without jurisdiction. Accordingly the
appeal is dismissed with costs against the appellants. So ordered.
G.R. No. L-8539 December 24, 1914
MARIA DEL CONSUELO FELISA ROXAS Y CHUIDIAN, petitioner-appellee,
vs.
RAFAEL ENRIQUEZ, ET AL., objectors-appellants.
Southworth and Faison for appellants.
D. R. Williams for appellee.

JOHNSON, J .:
It appears from the record that on the 12th day of January, 1906, the said petitioner, Maria del
Consuelo Felisa Roxas y Chuidian, presented a petition in the Court of Land Registration for the
purpose of having registered, under the Torrens system, four parcels of land, known as Parcel
A, Parcel B, Parcel C, and Parcel D, all of which were located in the city of Manila. The only one
of said parcels to which attention need be given in the present appeal is Parcel A.
From an examination of said petition we find that parcel A was described generally and
technically.
I. General description. It is a parcel of land with the buildings erected thereon, located in the
district of Binondo of this city between Nos. 84, 90, 92, 94, and 96 Calle Escolta and the
northern bank of the Pasig River; bounded on the north by Calle Escolta for 31.08 meters, on
the south by the Pasig River for 25.19 meters, on the east by the estate of Pedro P. Roxas for
66.48 meters, and on the west by the estate of the heirs of Antonio Enriquez for 62.10 meters;
with an area of 1,817.03 square meters as set forth in the attached plan.
II. Technical description. The undersigned on the 26th of the present month proceeded to
survey and fix the boundaries for preparing the topographical plan of a lot occupied by buildings
of strong materials one and two stories high belonging to Maria del Consuelo Roxas y Chuidian,
located in the district of Binondo of this city between Nos. 84, 90, 92, 94, and 96 Calle Escolta
and the northern bank of the Pasig River. The point marked on the plan with the letter "X,"
located at the vertex of the angle formed by the northeastern side of Calle Escolta and the
corner of the Pasaje de Perez was selected as the basic point, whence S. 49 40' W., 27.75
meters is located Point A, chosen as the point of beginning for the topographical operations, the
result whereof is as follows:1awphil.net
| Points or |
Directions in | Distances | Boundaries |
| stations. | degrees. | in meters. | |

| A to B | S. 44 30' W | 31.08 | Calle Escolta. |
| B to C | S. 46 15' E | 16.15 | Heirs of Antonio |
| C to D | S. 42 00' E | 32.75 | } Enriquez. |
| D to E | S. 40 50' E | 13.20 | |
| E to F | N. 49 45' E | 14.25 | } Pasig River. |
| F to G | N. 52 00' E | 10.94 | |
| G to H | N. 37 10' W | 24.90 | |
| H to I | N. 35 45' W | 6.56 | |
| I to J | N. 50 30' E | 1.92 | } Pedro P. Roxas. |
| J to K | N. 35 00' W | 7.60 | |
| K to A | N. 42 05' W | 25.50 | |


The lot described has an area of 1,817.03 square meters; all the points specified are marked on
the attached plan, the bearings are magnetic, and its boundaries are: on the north, Calle
Escolta; on the south, the Pasig River; on the east, the estate of Pedro P. Roxas; and on the
west, the estate of the heirs of Antonio Enriquez.
The plan to which reference is made in the above technical description and which accompanied
the petition is as follows and is marked "Exhibit A."
{bmc 029035a.bmp}
By comparing the above technical description with the plan presented (Exhibit A), it will be noted
that the line A-B in the technical description runs S. 44, 30' W., and that the distance between
A and B was 31.08 meters, while in the plan line A-B runs S. 46, 30' W., a distance of 31.08
meters. Attention is called to this difference between the technical description and the plan at
this time, but its importance to the questions presented will be discussed below.
Attached to said petition was a number of documents presented as exhibits, showing the chain
of title of the petitioner.
We find that said petition contains a statement of the names of the adjoining owners of the land
in question. The petition gives the names of said persons, as follows:
The names, surnames, and post-office addresses of the owners of the parcels of land
conterminous with this estate are, according to my information:
The heirs of Antonio Enriquez, whose representatives are the attorneys Hartigan, Marple,
Solignac & Gutierrez, 7 Anda, Intramuros, Manila, Pedro P. Roxas, 154 Malacaang, San
Miguel.
Upon the presentation of said petition, the plan, and the documents showing the chain of title of
the petitioner, the matter was referred to the examiner of titles of the Court of Land Registration,
who made a very careful examination of the title of the petitioner to the land in question, and on
the 5th day of March, 1906, presented a very carefully prepared report, in which he sets out in
detail the title of the petitioner to said Parcel A, as well as the other parcels, the recommends
the registration of said Parcel A, as well as the others, in the name of the petitioner.
Upon the issue thus presented we find that the Honorable Simplicio del Rosario, judge, on the
23d day of March, 1906, in accordance with the provisions of section 31 of Act No. 496, issued
the following notice:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.
[Registration of title. Court of Land Registration.
Case No. 1895.]
To the Attorney-General of the Philippine Islands; the Municipal Board of the city of Manila; A.
Sing, Nos. 84-88; A. Burke, No. 90; Messrs. Macke and Chandler and F. M. Sousa, these two
No. 90 interior; Ramon Genato, No. 142; Tomas Serreno, No. 92; Rosendo Comas, No. 94;
Cheng Tao Sang, No. 96; Luciano Cordoba, No. 28; Messrs. Salgado, Gordillo and Martinez,
No. 32; Messrs. Greilsammer Bros., No. 36; and Messrs. Williams & Chandler, No. 34, upstairs;
these on Calle Escolta; Antonio Vy Chuico, No. 226, and Lim Tinco, No. 200, these two on Calle
Rosario; Ang Seng Queng, Calle Nueva No. 149; and Candido Lim, Calle Jaboneros No. 113;
all these of the district of Binondo; Messrs. Hartigan, Rohde & Gutierrez, attorneys of the heirs
of Antonio Enriquez, Calle Santo Tomas, corner of Calle Cabildo, district of Intramuros; Carmen
Ayala de Roxas, No. 154; and Maximo Cortes and Dolores Ochoa, these two No. 330, the three
on Calle Malacaang, district of San Miguel; Francisco Saez, Plaza de Goiti No. 14, Alfonso
Tiaoqui, Calle Lacoste No. 122, and Gervasio Rosario Ventura, Calle Dulumbayan No. 111,
these three of the district of Santa Cruz; and Enrique Somes, Calle Alix No. 140, district of
Sampaloc; all of the city of Manila, P. I., and to all whom it may concern:
Whereas an application has been presented to said court by Maria del Consuelo Felisa Roxas y
Chuidian, through her attorney in fact Antonio Bonifas, Calle Padre Herrera No. 59, district of
Tondo, city of Manila, P. I., to register and confirm her title in the following described land: Four
parcels of land with the improvements of strong materials thereon, situated in the district of
Binondo, Manila, P. I., more particularly bounded and described as follows:
Parcel A. Situated on the Escolta Nos. 84-96, beginning at a pt. marked "A" on plan, being S.
49 40' W., 27.75 m. from the W. end of the chaflan at the S. intersection of the Escolta and
Pasaje de Perez; thence S. 46 30' W., 31.08 m. along the SE. line of the Escolta, to pt. "B"; S.
46 15' E., 16.15 m. to pt. "C"; S. 42 E., 32.75 m. to pt. "D"; S. 40 50' E., 13.20 m. to pt. "E"; N.
49 45' E., 14.25 m. to pt. "F"; N. 52 E., 10.94 m. to pt. "G"; N. 36 20' W., 14.20 m. to pt. "H";
N. 38 40' W., 17.16 m. to pt. "I"; N. 52 35' E., 2.27 m. to pt. "J"; N. 38 50' W., 4.12 m. to pt.
"K"; N. 53 30' E., 0.30 m. to pt. "L"; N. 40 05' W., 14 m. to pt. "M"; N. 44 W., 15.35 m. to pt.
"E" to "G" follow the NW. bank of the Pasig River.
Bounded on the NE. by property of Carmen Ayala de Roxas; SE. by the Pasig River; SW. by
property of the heirs of Antonio Enriquez and NW. by the Escolta.
Date of survey, December 26, 1905.
You are hereby cited to appear at the Court of Land Registration to be held at the City Hall,
Calzada de las Aguadas, city of Manila, P. I., on the 25th day of April, A. D. nineteen hundred
and six, at 8 o'clock in the forenoon, to show cause, if any you have, why the prayer of said
application shall not be granted; and unless you appear at such court at the time and place
aforesaid your default will be recorded and the said application will be taken as confessed, and
you will be forever barred from contesting said application or any decree entered thereon.
Witness the Hon. S. del Rosario, judge of said court, this 23d day of March in the year nineteen
hundred and six.
Attest: A. K. JONES,
Clerk of said Court.
In accordance with said order of publication, the clerk of the Court of Land Registration, on the
28th day of March, 1906, sent a copy of said order to each of the persons mentioned therein, by
registered mail. The record shows that each of said persons received a copy of said notice,
including the representative of the heirs of Antonio Enriquez (Hartigan, Rohde & Gutierrez). The
record further shows, by the certificate of James J. Peterson, sheriff of the city of Manila, that
said notice was posted upon the land in question. The record further shows that said notice had
been published in two daily newspapers of the city of Manila. The Manila Times and La
Democracia.
On the 17th day of April, 1906, A. K. Jones, clerk of the Court of Land Registration, made the
following certificate relating to the notice and to the publication of the notices required by section
31 of Act No. 496.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.
COURT OF LAND REGISTRATION.
Case No. 1895.
Maria del Consuelo Felisa Roxas y Chuidian, Applicant.
I, A. K. Jones, clerk of the Court of Land Registration of the Philippine Islands, certify that, in
compliance with the order issued by said court, a notice referring to the application for registry
No. 1895, presented by Antonio Bonifas, as representative of Maria del Consuelo Felisa Roxas
y Chuidian, was published once only in the daily newspapers of this city, The Manila Times on
March 28, 1906, and La Democracia on the 31st of the same month and year, in English and
Spanish respectively, and notice was served upon the Attorney-General of the Philippine
Islands; the Municipal Board of the city of Manila; A. Sing; A. Burke; Macke & Chandler; F. M.
Sousa; Ramon Genato; Tomas Serrano; Rosendo Comas; Cheng Tao Sang; Luciano Cordoba;
Salgado, Gordillo & Martinez; Greilsammer Hermanos; Williams & Chandler; Antonio Vy Chuico;
Lim Tinco; Ang Seng Queng; Candido Lim; Hartigan, Rohde & Gutierrez; Carmen Ayala de
Roxas; Maximo Cortes and Dolores Ochoa, Francisco Saez; Alfonso Tiaoqui; Gervasia Rosario
Ventura; and Enrique Somes, a copy of said notice in Spanish having been sent to each one on
March 28, 1906, by registered mail. And for the purposes of the necessary procedure, I issue
the present in Manila on the 17th day of April, 1906.
A. K. JONES,
Clerk of the Court.
On the 19th day of April, 1906, the record shows that Modesto Reyes, attorney for the city of
Manila (p. 131, record) presented a written statement to the court calling its attention to the fact
that there existed an "error of closure" in the plan of said Parcel A, and asked the court to
correct the error. The said attorney also called the attention of the other plans of the other
parcels of land, included in the original petition. Our attention has not been called to any order
made by the lower court, relating to said request of the attorney of the city of Manila.
In accordance with said notice to all of the interested parties, the hearing on the said petition
was brought on for trial on the 25th day of April, 1906, at 9 o'clock a. m., at the place mentioned
in said notice. At the hearing the petitioner was represented. No one appeared to represent the
"heirs of Antonio Enriquez."
On said date (April 25, 1906, at 9 o'clock a. m.) the cause relating to said Parcel A was brought
on for trial. Mr. Antonio Bonifas appeared for the petitioner and My. Modesto Reyes, attorney for
the city of Manila, appeared for the city of Manila. Mr. Reyes called the attention of the court
again to the fact that there existed certain errors in the measurement of some of the sides of the
plan presented by the petitioner. In view of said fact (the existence of errors) the court ordered
that said errors be corrected. So far as the record shows no correction whatever was made in
the plan of said Parcel A.
On the 21st day of July, 1906, the cause having been brought on for hearing, the honorable
Simplicio del Rosario, judge, distated the following order or judgment in default against all
persons:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.
COURT OF LAND REGISTRATION.
No. 1895.
Application of Maria del Consuelo Felisa Roxas y Chuidian for registration of the real estate
described herein,
vs.
The Attorney-General of the Philippine Islands; the Municipal Board of the city of Manila; A.
Sing; A. Burke: Macke & Chandler; F. M. Sousa; Ramon Geneto; Tomas Serrano; Rosendo
Comas; Cheng Tao Sang; Luciano Cordoba; Salgado, Gordillo & Martinez; Greilsammer
Hermanos; Williams & Chandler; Antonio Vy Chuico; Lim Tinco; And Seng Queng; Candido Lim;
Hartigan, Rohde & Gutierrez; Carmen Ayala de Roxas; Maximo Cortes and Dolores Ochoa;
Francisco Saez; Alfonso Tiaoqui; Gervasia Rosario Ventura; and Enrique Somes; and
whomsoever it may concern, defendants.
The present case having been duly tried, and
Whereas, the clerk of this court caused to be published once only a notice in due from referring
to the application mentioned, in two newspapers of general circulation, one printed in the
English language and another in the Spanish language, to wit, The Manila Times of this city,
and La Democracia of the same city; and 119 days have elapsed since publication of said
notice was effected;
Whereas, said clerk caused to be sent by registered mail, within seven days after the
publication of the said notice, a copy thereof in the Spanish language to each one of the
persons named in the application or who appeared to be concerned therein;
Whereas, the sheriff of Manila posted in a conspicuous place on each of the parcels of land
included in the application a certified copy of the notice in Spanish, and also in a conspicuous
place in the principal municipal building of the city of Manila, before the fourteen days preceding
that set for the termination of the period fixed;
Whereas, all of the persons cited as defendants have failed to appear to impugn the application,
within the period fixed by the law;
This court orders a declaration of default against all the defendants and other persons who may
be concerned in opposing the application, which is granted.
Given by the Honorable S. del Rosario, judge of the said Court of Land Registration, in Manila,
this 21st day of July, 1906.
Attest: A. K. JONES,
Clerk of the Court.
Later the Honorable Simplicio del Rosario dictated the following order, decreeing that said
parcel of land, A, be registered as the absolute property of Maria del Consuelo Felisa Roxas Y
Chuidian. Said decree was as follows:
Having tried case No. 1895, this court decrees that Maria del Consuelo Felisa Roxas y
Chuidian, of Manila, Philippine Islands, applicant, spinster, is the absolute owner of the real
property, which is adjudicated to her, located in the city of Manila, the description whereof is
hereinafter set forth:
A parcel of land, situated at Nos. 84 to 96 Calle Escolta, district of Binondo; bounded on the NE.
by the property of Carmen Ayala de Roxas; on the SE. by the Pasig River; on the SW. by the
property of the heirs of Antonio Enriquez; and on the NW. by Calle Escolta.
Beginning at a point marked A on the plan, which point is 27.75 m. S., 49 40' W. from the
extreme W. of the angle situated at the intersection S. of Calle Escolta and Passage de Perez;
and from said point A., S., 46 30' W., 31.08 m. to point B; thence S., 46 15' E., 16.15 m. to
point C; thence S., 42 E., 32.75 m. to point D; thence S., 40 50' E., 13.20 m. to point E.;
thence N., 49 45' E., 14.25 m. to point F; thence N., 52 E., 10.94 m. to point G; thence N., 36
20' W., 14.20 m. to point H; thence N., 38 40' W., 17.16 m. to point I; thence N., 52 35' E., 2.27
m. to point J; thence N., 38 50' W., 4.12 m. to point K; thence N., 53 30' E., 0.30 m. to point L;
thence N., 40 05' W., 14 m. to point M; thence N., 44 W., 15.35 m. to point of beginning;
having an area of 1,817.03 square meters.
All the points named are marked on the plan; the bearings are magnetic; date of survey,
December 26, 1905.
Wherefore this court orders that the said real property be registered in accordance with the
provisions of the Land Registration Act in the name of the aforesaid Maria del Consuelo Felisa
Roxas y Chuidian, subject however to any of the encumbrances set forth in section 39 of said
Act that may be in force and effect.
Given by the Honorable S. del Rosario, judge of the said Court of Land Registration, in Manila,
this twenty-first day of July, nineteen hundred and six, at eight o'clock and ten minutes ante
meridian.
Attest:
[SEAL.] (Sgd.) A. K. Jones,
Clerk of the Court.
A copy of this decree was sent to the register of deeds of Manila, September 25, 1906.
On the 21st day of July, 1906, the court issued the certificate of title known as No. 742, and
delivered to the petitioner the owner's duplicate, and the property became registered under the
Torrens system, in the name of the petitioner.
After the registration of said Parcel A in the name of the petitioner, on the 21st day of July,
1906, nothing further seems to have been done in the Court of Land Registration until on or
about the 19th day of December, 1911, nearly five years and a half after said land had been
registered, when we find that the assistant attorney of the city of Manila filed the following
petition:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.
COURT OF LAND REGISTRATION.
Case No. 1895.
Roxas y Cuyugan, applicant.
MOTION.
The city of Manila, through its undersigned attorney, comes now into the court and respectfully
represents;
I. That the plan of the property with which the present case deals is affected by an error of
closure greater than 1/1500;
II. That the city of Manila is interested in the correction of said error as it has to expropriate a
portion of said land for use as a public street;
Therefore, the petitioner prays the court to order a new survey of said property described in the
plan filed in this case.
Manila, P. I., December 18, 1911.
It is not clear whether said petition refers to the incorrections in the plan of Parcel A or to the
incorrections in the plans of the other parcels of land (B, C, and D), which were included in the
petition of the petitioner.
On the 23d date of December, 1911, the honorable Charles H. Smith, judge of the Court of
Land Registration, referred the petition of the city of Manila to the chief surveyor of the court. On
the 27th day of December, 1911, the said surveyor reported to the court that there existed
"errors of closure in said plans."
On the 5th day of January, 1912, the judge of the Court of Land Registration ordered the chief
surveyor to prepare new plans, in accordance with section 4 of Act No. 1875, and directed that
notice be given to the adjoining owners.
On the 28th day of February, 1912, the original petitioner, Maria del Consuelo Felisa Roxas y
Chuidian, presented a petition for the correction of the certificate issued to her on the 21st day
of July, 1906, so as to include the buildings upon the lands included in her petition. Said petition
was as follows:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
PHILIPPINE ISLANDS.
COURT OF LAND REGISTRATION:
Case No. 1895.
Maria del Consuelo Felisa Roxas y Chuidian, applicant.
Comes now the applicant into the Honorable Court of Land Registration and represents:
1. That on January 10, 1906, Don Antonio Bonifas, in the name and representation of the
applicant, sought the legalization of property title to four estates, among them the following:
(a) A parcel of land with the buildings erected thereon, located at Nos. 84 to 96 Calle Escolta,
district of Binondo.
(b) Another parcel of land with the buildings erected thereon located at Nos. 28 to 36 Calle
Escolta, district of Binondo.
(c) Another parcel of land with the buildings erected thereon, located at No. 149 Calle Nueva,
corner of Callejon Carvajal, district of Binondo.
2. That the other estate mentioned in the said application refers to a parcel of land, with the
buildings erected thereon, located at Nos. 222 to 230 Calle Rosario, district of Binondo, which
buildings were totally destroyed by the fire that occurred on the 2d of November of the year just
past, and it cannot therefore be included in the purpose of the present application.
3. That in the said application it is stated that the land of the estate designated by the letter (a)
was assessed at 65,072 dollars and 50 cents United States currency, and the buildings at
18,500 dollars United States currency; that the land of the estate designated by the letter (b)
was assessed at 55,020 dollars and 50 cents, United States currency, and the buildings at
15,000 dollars, United States currency; and the land of the estate designated by the letter (c)
was assessed at 5,658 dollars Unites States currency, and the buildings at 5,000 dollars United
States currency.
4. That both in the property titles to the said estates and in the plans and technical descriptions
thereof which accompany said application and are annexed to the above-entitled case, it
appears that on the parcels of land which form part of the estates under consideration there are
erected buildings, consisting of two houses of strong materials, one behind the other, in the
estate designated by the letter (a); a house of stone and masonry in that designated by the
letter (b); and another house of stone and masonry in that designated by the letter (c).
5. That in the record of the register of deeds, in the registration entries referring to the said
estates, it appears that they consist of the parcels of land and the buildings stated.
6. That in the notice to the Attorney-General, the Municipal Board, the tenants, and owners
conterminous with the estates referred to therein, the buildings erected on them are likewise
mentioned.
7. That by decree of June 21, 1906, adjudication and registration of the estates were ordered in
applicant's favor in the terms set forth in the application; but in the certificate of the decree or
resolution under consideration, issued by the clerk of the court, the description of the parcel of
land corresponding to each estate was given, but the respective building on each was omitted,
and in this form were issued the certificates of title, Nos. 472, 764, and 743, which accompany
this application.
8. That on January 12, September 21, October 9 and 22, 1906, the legal representative of the
applicant guaranteed by deposit, as assurance fund, the rights of issuance of title and one-tenth
of 1 per cent of the assessed valuation, the sum of P943.70 Philippine currency, the receipts
and vouchers wherefore do not accompany this application because the applicant destroyed
them in the belief that there was no need to exhibit them, but averring that the amounts paid for
those purposes are credited in the accounting division of the Court of Land Registration and the
office of the register of deeds, as has been ascertained by a person delegated therefor by the
applicant.
9. That when applicant attempted to alienate one of the estates mentioned she observed the
omission in the corresponding certificate of title of the building existing thereon, the same as in
the certificates of title corresponding to the other two estates; and as it is to be supposed that
said omission is due solely to a simple clerical error, which nevertheless greatly affects the
applicant's right, she appeals to your honorable court with the request that you order the
correction of said omission, especially as there at present exist on the said parcels of land,
without modification or alteration, the same buildings that existed when legalization of title
thereto was applied for and which appear in the titles of acquisition annexed to the above-
entitled case, reference whereto has been made in the third paragraph.
10. That for greater assurance and for the purpose of proving that the said estates consist not
only in the parcel of land or lot but also in the building erected on each, the applicant attaches
hereto the assessment or property-tax receipts for each of the said estates, wherein are stated
the two points mentioned.
11. That in view of what has been set forth and explained, the applicant prays the honorable
court to decree, after the necessary legal proceedings, correction of the omission referred to by
ordering the free issuance of a new certificate of title to each of the said estates, wherein record
be made of the building erected on each, consisting of those enumerated in the third paragraph
of this application.
Manila, February 28, 1912.
MARIA DEL CONSUELO FELISA ROXAS Y CHUIDIAN.
On the 9th of April, 1912, the Masonic Temple Association of Manila sent a communication to
Honorable Charles H. Smith, judge of the Court of Land Registration, accompanied by a
contract, showing that on the 20th day of March, 1912, Maria del Consuelo Felisa Roxas y
Chuidian had sold all her rights, title, and interest in said Parcel A, including the buildings
thereon, to the said Masonic Temple Association of Manila. Said Masonic Temple Association
of Manila requested the judge of the Land Court to attach said contract to the record in the case
and issue a new certificate to it.
On the 19th day of April, 1912, a new plan of said Parcel A, prepared by Mr. B. W. Hay,
surveyor of the Bureau of Lands, was presented, in accordance with the order of the court of the
23d of December, 1911. Said new plan was made for the purpose of correcting the errors in
closure in the original plan presented by the petitioner on the 10th day of January, 1906. Said
new plan is as follows (see page 48):
After the presentation of said new or corrected plan, the motions:
(a) That of the city of Manila to have corrected the error of closure in the original plan;
(b) That of Maria del Consuelo Felisa Roxas y Chuidian, to have included in her certificate of
title the buildings located upon the lands registered in accordance with her original petition; and
(c) That of the Masonic Temple Association of Manila, to have a certificate issued to it in
accordance with its contract of purchase of said lands from Maria del Consuelo

{bmc 029048.bmp}

Felisa Roxas y Chuidian after notice had been given to all the interested parties, were set
down for hearing. For one reason or another, the hearings on said motion were transferred from
one date to another from the 22d of April, 1912, until the 24th of August, 1912. During said
various hearings, in addition to the appointment of a commission to view the premises, certain
proof was taken upon the question of the correctness of the original plan presented by the
petitioner, in January, 1906. During said hearings the heirs of Don Antonio Enriquez appeared
and apparently made some objection to the granting of said motions. They presented no written
statement in which their specific objections appear. The nearest approach to a definite and
specific statement of their objections appears in the argument of their counsel at the close of
said several hearings, in which it appears that their objections to the correction of the original
plan and certificate and the issuance of a new certificate to the Masonic Temple Association of
Manila was based upon the ground that they claimed easements or servitudes in the land in the
question.
After hearing all of the parties, the Honorable Charles H. Smith, judge of the Court of Land
Registration, and his associates, the Honorable James A. Ostrand and the Honorable Norberto
Romualdez, auxiliary judges of said court, sitting in banc, on the 24th day of August, 1912, by a
unanimous decision, granted the motions of the city of Manila, of Maria del Consuelo Felisa
Roxas y Chuidian, and of the Masonic Temple Association of Manila.
On the 10th day of September, 1912, the attorneys for the objectors presented a motion for new
trial, basing it upon the ground that the conclusions of the lower court were manifestly contrary
to the proof. After a due consideration of said motion for a new trial and after hearing the
respective parties, the Court of Land Registration, sitting in banc, composed of Charles H.
Smith, James A. Ostrand, and Norberto Romualdez, denied said motion, and the case was
appealed to this court. In this court the respondents presented the following assignments of
error:
1. That the court below erred in holding that the proceedings of the Court of Land Registration
were valid in entering judgment in favor of the plaintiff and appellee, confirming the title to lot 4,
which is in controversy in this suit.
2. That the judgment of the lower court is contrary to law.
3. That the judgment of the court below is against the manifest weight of the evidence.
After a careful examination of the argument of the appellants in support of each of said
assignments of error, we are of the opinion that they may be discussed together.
In the argument of the appellants in support of their assignments of error, there is but little
argument against the decision of the court rendered on the 24th of August, 1912. Practically the
whole argument of the appellants is based upon the ground that the original certificate (No. 742,
issued July 21, 1906) is absolutely void, for the reason that "the appellants had no notice of the
pendency of the original action to confirm the title of said property." Appellants now admit that a
notice of the pendency of the original action was sent to attorneys Hartigan, Rohde & (Marple?)
Gutierrez. Appellants now allege that it affirmatively appears that neither this firm nor any of its
members represented the defendants and appellants in that action. The record shows, as we
have pointed out above, that the original petition showed that Hartigan, Rohde & Gutierrez were
the representatives of the heirs of Don Antonio Enriquez, and that notice was duly sent to them.
We have searched the record now in vain to find the slightest denial of the fact that they were
the representatives of said heirs, even though one of said attorneys represented them, or at
least some of them, in the present proceedings. So far as the record shows there is not even a
suggestion found in the various hearings and proceedings taken and had under the above
motions, that said attorneys were not the representation of the heirs of Don Antonio Enriquez at
the time of the original proceedings. Neither does the record show any attempt on their part to
deny the fact that they received the notices given in the original action. The appellants assert in
their argument that "personal notice was absolutely necessary in order to justify the court below
in rendering a decree in favor of the plaintiff and appellee, in the first instance" (the original
proceeding). The appellants, by that argument, attempt to show, not that the judgment of the
24th of August, 1912, was invalid, but that the original certificate (No. 742) was void, because
they had not been served with personal notice. This brings us to the question whether or not
personal notice to all of the persons interested in an action for the registration of real property
under the Torrens system, is an absolute prerequisite to the validity of said registration. It will be
remembered that we noted above that personal notice of the pendency of the original petition
had been given and that a publication of the same had been made in accordance with the
provisions of sections 31 and 32 of Act No. 496. After the expiration of the period during which
notice must be given, the original cause was set down for hearing. The record also shows that
the clerk of the Land Court made a certificate showing that that notice had been issued and
published in accordance with the law. Section 32 provides, in part, that said "certificate of the
clerk that he had served the notice as directed by the court, by publishing or mailing, shall be
filed in the case before the return day, and shall be conclusive proof of such service."
On the day set for the hearing of said original petition, no one appeared to oppose the granting
of the prayer which it contained. Section 35 of Act No. 496 provides: "If no person appears and
answer within the time allowed, the court may at once, upon motion of the applicant, no reason
to the contrary appearing, order a general default to be recorded and the
application ( petition) be taken for confessed. By the description in the notice. "To all whom it
may concern," all the world are made parties defendant and shall be concluded by the default
and order. The court shall not be bound by the report of the examiner of titles, but may require
other and further proof."
The provisions of section 35 seem to be directly contrary to the contention of the appellants. It
seems to directly contradict the requirements of personal notice as an absolute prerequisite to
the granting of a valid title under the Torrens system.
The same idea is further confirmed by the provisions of section 38 of said Act No. 496. Said
section 38 provides that: "Every decree of registration shall bind the land and quite the title
thereto, subject only to the exceptions stated in the following section. It shall be conclusive upon
and against all persons, including the Insular Government, and all the branches thereof,
whether mentioned by name in the application, notice or citations, or included in the general
description 'To all whom it may concern.'"
There is a further and very strong intimation in the law that personal notice is not absolutely a
prerequisite to the validity of title under the Torrens system. Section 32 (Act No. 496) provides
that: "The court shall, so far as it deems it possible, require proof of actual notice to all the
adjoining owners and to all persons who appear to have an interest in or claim to the land
included in the application." It will be noted also that the petitioner in registration cases is not by
law required to give any notice to any person. The law requires the clerk of the court to give the
notices. (Sections 31 and 32 of Act No. 496.) It is true that "the court may also cause other or
further notice of the application to be given in such a manner and to such persons as it may
deem proper." Thus it is seen that the applicant is by express provision of law relieved from any
obligation whatsoever to give motive to any person of the pendency of his application to have
his land registered under the Torrens system. That being true, upon what theory may the
applicant be subjected to harassment or delay or additional expense, because some person
claims that he did not receive actual personal notice? Section 101 and 102 (Act No. 496) seem
to contain a remedy for persons who have suffered damages for the failure on the part of court
officials to comply with the law. (Noble State Bank vs. Haskell, 219 U. S., 104.) His remedy is
not to have the registration and certificate annulled, unless he comes within the provisions of
section 38, and even then he is without a remedy against the applicant unless he can show,
within a period of one year after the decree of registration and the granting of the certificate, at
he has been "deprived of land or any estate or interest therein," by fraud, and not even then, if
an "innocent purchaser for the value has acquired and interest." In the present case five years
and a half had transpired and negotiations for the sale of the land to an innocent purchaser had
been terminated. There is not intimation that the petitioner is guilty of fraud, in the slightes
degree.
While the Torrens Land Law is a law of modern times, is has been adopted in many States and
its provisions have been attacked at almost every point. The requirements relating to notices
has been a fruitful source of litigation. The constitutionality of the law has been attacked many
times, because of the provision of said law relating to notices. This is not the first time that the
question has been presented to this court. The same question was presented to this court in the
case of Grey Alba vs. De la Cruz (17 Phil. Rep., 49). In that case the registered title was
attacked upon the ground that fraud existed, simply because personal notice had not been
given. The existence of fraud was predicated upon the failure of actual personal notice. In
passing upon that question, this court, speaking through Mr. Justice Trent, said (quoting from
the syllabus):
In original proceedings for the registration of land under Act No. 496, the appellee herein was
made a party- defendant by publication, but was not personally served with notice: Held, That
the decree of the Court of Land Registration is conclusive against his as well as all the world.
The proceedings for the registration of land, under Act No. 496, are in rem and not in personam.
A proceeding in rem, dealing with a tangible res, may be instituted and carried to judgment
without personal service upon the claimants within the state or notice by name to those outside
of it. Jurisdiction is secured by the power of the court over the res. Such a proceeding would be
impossible were this not so, for it would hardly do to make a distinction between the
constitutional rights of claimants who were known and those who were not known to the plaintiff,
when the proceeding is to bar all. (Tyler vs. Judges, 175 Mass., 71.)
In the present case there is not the slightest intimation that the original applicant (Maria del
Consuelo Felisa Roxas y Chuidan) was guilty of fraud. The record shows that she named all the
persons who might have an interest in the registration of her land, in her petition. The applicant
is not charged even with negligence. The record shows that she did all the law required her to
do.
In discussing the Torrens Land Law we must keep in mind that its primary purpose is the
registration of the title which the applicant or petitioner has and to relieve his land of unknown
liens or claims, just or unjust, against it. The Torrens system of land registration is a system for
the registration of title to land only, and not a system established for the acquisition of land. It is
not intended that lands may be acquired by said system of registration. It is intended only that
the title, which the petitioner has, shall be registered and thereby cleared of all liens and
burdens of whatsoever character, except those which shall be noted in the order of registration
and in the certificate issued.
If there exists known and just claims against the title of the applicant, he gains nothing in effect
by his registration, except in the simplicity of subsequent transfer of his title. The registration
either relieves the land of all known as well as unknown claims, absolutely, or it compels the
claimants to come into court and to make there a record, so that thereafter there may be no
uncertainly concerning either the character or the extent of such claims.
The requirement that personal notice shall be a prerequisite to the validity of registration would
absolutely prohibit the foreclosure of unknown claims, for the reason that personal notice could
never be given to "unknown claimants." The great difficulty in land titles arises from the
existence of possible unknown claimants. Known claimants can be dealt with. They furnish no
valid impediment, in fact, to the transfer of titles.
Courts have held that in actions in rem personal notice to owners of a res is not necessary to
give the courts jurisdiction to deal with and to dispose of the res. (Grey Alba vs. De la Cruz, 17
Phil. Rep., 49; Tyler vs. Judges, 175 Mass., 71; American Land Company vs. Zeis, 219 U.S.,
47.) This rule was first established in admiralty proceedings. It was established out of the very
necessities of the case. The owner of a ship, for instance, lived in London. His ship was found in
the most distant ports of the earth. Its operation necessarily required supplies, such as men,
coal, and food. The very nature of its business necessitated the making of contracts. The
continuance of its voyage depended upon its capacity to make contracts and to get credit. It
might also, perchance, cause damage to other craft, in like conditions. To be able to secure all
such necessities, to satisfy all possible obligations, to continue its voyage and its business on
the high seas, merchants and courts came to regard the "ship" as a person, with whom or with
which they were dealing, and not its real owner. Consequently there came into existence this
action in rem. For the purpose of carrying into effect the broader purposes of the Torrens land
law, it has been universally considered that the action should be considered as one in rem. Mr.
Justice Holmes, then of the Supreme Court of the State of Massachusetts, and now a member
of the Supreme Court of the United State, in the case of Tyler vs. Judges (175 Mass., 71), in
discussing this question, said:
Looked at either from the point of view of history or of the necessary requirements of justice, a
proceedingin rem, dealing with a tangible res, may be instituted and carried to judgment without
personal service upon claimants within the State or notice by name to those outside of it, and
not encounter any provision of either constitution (of the State of Massachusetts or the United
States). Jurisdiction is secured by the power of the court over the res. As we have said, such a
proceeding would be impossible were this not so, for it hardly would dot to make a distinction
between the constitutional rights of claimants who were known and those who were not known
to the plaintiff, when the proceeding is to bar all. (Pennoyer vs. Neff, 95 U.S., 714, 727; The
Mary, 9 Cranch 126, 144.)
There are many classes of cases where men may be deprived of their property and of their
rights, without personal notice of the proceedings in which that may occur. For instance, in
attachment cases, notice or service upon the defendant may be had by publication.
(Pennoyer vs. Neff, 95 U.S., 714, 727.) So also in divorce proceedings, as well as the rights of
claimants against estates of deceased persons, personal notice is not a prerequisite. Notice by
publication may be had. Also unknown claimants or owners may be brought into court without
personal notice in an action for the condemnation of private property for public use. There exists
a multitude of cases in which personal service is not necessary and service by publication is
sufficient.
The law, even before the Torrens Law, provided means by which title to land might be quited
"by notice by publication to all persons." (Hamilton vs. Brown, 101 U.S., 256, 274;
Huling vs. Kaw Valley, etc., Co., 130 U.S., 559, 564; Parker vs. Overman, 18 Howard (N.Y.)
137; American Land Company vs. Zeiss, 219 U.S., 47; Arndt vs.Griggs, 134 U.S., 316;
Perkins vs. Wakeman, 86 Cal., 580.)
Even before the Torrens Law was adopted, the states had the power and right to provide a
procedure for the adjudication of title to real estate. The state had control over real property
within its limits. The conditions of ownership of real estate in a state, whether the owner be a
stranger or a citizen, are subject to its rules, concerning the holding, transfer, liability to
obligations, private or public, and the models of establishing title thereto; and for the purpose of
determining these question, it (the state) may provide any reasonable rules or procedure.
(Clark vs. Smith, 13 Peters, 195; Barker vs. Harvey, 181 U.S., 481; Mitchell vs. Furman, 180
U.S., 402; Botiller vs. Domingues, 130 U.S., 238; Moore vs. Steinbach, 127 U.S., 70;
Arndt vs. Griggs, 134 U.S., 316; American Land Company vs. Zeiss, 219 U.S., 47.)
The state possesses not only the power to determine how title to real estate may be acquired
and proved, but it is also within its legislative competency to establish the method of procedure.
(American Land Co. vs. Zeiss, 219 U.S., 47; Bertrand vs. Taylor, 87 Ill., 235; Title, Document,
etc., Company vs. Kerrigan, 150 Cal., 208, 305; Perkinsvs. Wakeham, 86 Cal., 580.)
The estate, as sovereign over the lands situated within it, may provide for the adjudication of
title in a proceedingin rem, or in the nature of a proceeding in rem, which shall be binding upon
all persons known and unknown. (State vs. McGlynn, 20 Cal., 233; 81 Am. Dec., 118;
Perkins vs. Wakeham, 86 Cal., 580; 21 Am.t. Rep., 67; McLaughlin vs. McCrory, 55 Ark., 442;
29 Am. St. Rep., 56; People's National Bank vs. Cleveland, 117 Ga., 908; People vs. Simon,
176 Ill., 165; 68 Am. St. Rep., 175; Quarl vs. Abbett, 102 Ind., 233; 52 Am. Rep., 662;
Ruppin vs.McLaughlin, 122 Iowa, 343; Young vs. Upshur, 42 La. An., 362; 21 Am. St. Rep.,
381; Tyler vs. Judges, 175 Mass., 71; 51 L.R.A., 571; 57 L.R.A., 297; Rohrer vs. Ader, 124 Mo.,
24; Sandiford vs. Town of Hempstead, 90 N.Y. Supp., 76, 79, 97; Arndt vs. Griggs, 134 U.S.,
316.)
If the state can provide for substituted service for the purpose of quieting title to real estate
against an unknown resident, it may provide a reasonable method for securing substituted
services against residents. The power of the state to provide methods of quieting title should not
be limited to known persons. In order to make such a law valuable and effective to its fullest
extent, it is necessary that it be made to operate on all interest and persons known or unknown.
Mr. Justice Holmes, in the case of Tyler vs. Judges (175 Mass., 71) in discussing this question,
said: "If it (the procedure) does not satisfy the Constitution, a judicial proceeding to clear titles
against all the world hardly is possible, for the very meaning of such a proceeding is to get rid of
unknown as well as known claims indeed certainly against the unknown may be said to be its
chief end and unknown claims cannot be dealt with by personal service upon the claimant."
Mr. Chief Justice White of the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of the American
Land Company vs.Zeiss (219 U. S., 47) said: "To argue that the provisions of the statute are
repugnant to the due process clause (of the Constitution) because a case may be conceived
where rights in and to property would be adversely affected without notice being actually
conveyed by the proceedings is in effect to deny the power of the state to deal with the subject.
The criterion is not the possibility of conceivable injury, but the just and reasonable character of
the requirements, having reference to the subject with which the statute deals."
The court of appeals of the State of New York, in the case of In re Empire City Bank (18 N.Y.,
199, 215) in speaking of the right of the state to prescribe in suitable cases for substituted
service, said: "Various prudential regulations are made with respect to these remedies by it may
possibly happen, notwithstanding all these precautions, that a citizen who owes nothing, and
has done none of the acts mentioned in the statutes, may be deprived of his estate without any
actual knowledge of the process by which it has been taken from him. If we hold, as we must, in
order to sustain this legislation, that the Constitution does not positively require personal notice
in order to constitute a legal proceedings due process of law, it then belongs to the legislature to
determine in the particular instance whether the case calls for this kind of exceptional
legislation, and what manner of constructive notice shall be sufficient to reasonably apprise the
party proceeded against of the Legal steps which are taken against him. (American Land
Company vs. Zeiss, 219 U.S., 47; Title, Document, etc., Company vs. Kerrigan, 150 Cal., 289.)"
The only case cited by the appellants in support of their argument, is the case of the American
Land Company vs.Zeiss (219 U.S., 47). In view of the facts and the decisions of the different
courts which are cited in that case, it is difficult to understand how it is authority in support of the
contention of the appellants here. The facts in that case are as follows:
Zeiss, on the 22d of August, 1906, commenced an action in the superior court of the country
San Francisco, alleging in substance that on the 18th and 19th days of April, 1906, a material
part of the public records contained in the office of the county recorder of the city and county of
San Francisco was destroyed by fire; that on the 18th day of April, 1906, and at the time of the
filing of the complaint, he was the owner and in the actual and peaceable possession of the
parcels of land in controversy: that his estate, title, interest in and to said parcels of land, and
each of them, was that of owner in fee simple, absolute, free from all encumbrances, liens,
defect, claims or demands of any kind or nature whatsoever. Under these facts the plaintiff,
Zeiss, prayed that the be adjudged to be the owner of and entitled to the possession of said
parcels of land, and each of them, was that of owner in fee simple, absolute, free from all
encumbrance, liens, defects, claims or demands of any kind or nature whatsoever. Under these
facts the plaintiff, Zeiss, prated that he be adjudged to be the owner of and entitled to the
possession of said described parcels of land in fee simple, and that no one else had any estate,
rights, title, interest or claim in or to the same, or any part thereof, either legal or equitable,
present or future, vested or contingent.
Upon the presentation of the petition by Zeisss, a summons was issued and notice of the
pendency of the action was published in certain newspaper, as was required by law. Notice was
also posted upon the property, as required by the statute. No one having appeared and
opposed the granting of the petition of the complaint, or claimed any interest in or lien upon the
property described in the complaint, a default was ordered against all persons, and on the 19th
days of December, 1906, a decree was entered in favor of Zeiss, adjudging that he was the
owner in fee simple, absolute, and entitled to the possession of the land described in the
complaint and that no other person had any right title, interest, or estate in and to the same, or
any part thereof, either legal or equitable, present or future, vested or contingent.
Nothing else seems to have transpired after said decree was issued in favor of Zeiss, until the
26th day of May, 1908, or one year and five months after the entry of the decree of the superior
court, in the city and county of San Francisco. On that date (the 26th of May, 1908) an action
was brought in the United States Circuit Court for the Northern District of California, in which the
plaintiffs claimed title to the parcels of land, as owners in fee simple, absolute, which had
theretofore been decreed to Zeiss. The plaintiff alleged that the decree issued by the superior
court of the city and county of San Francisco was void and of no force and effect and was made
and maintained without due process of law, and that said superior court, in said action and
proceedings never had any jurisdiction over the persons holding the title during such
proceedings, and that said court did not have or obtain jurisdiction to divest the right, title,
interest or estate of plaintiff . The complaint alleged that "Zeiss had no right whatever in said
parcels of land, other than his rights of possession and occupation." The bill further alleged that
the plaintiffs had been at all times citizens and residents of California, not seeking to evade, but
ready to accept service of summons and easily reached for that purpose; that, notwithstanding
that fact, no service was made upon them nor did they in any way receive notice of the
pendency of the action (Zeiss vs. All persons claiming any interest in or lien upon the real
property herein described); nor did they gain any knowledge of existence of the decree until
more than a year after its entry. To the complaint the defendant, Zeiss, demurred.
Upon the issue thus presented, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth District certified the
question involved to the Supreme Court of the United States. The Supreme Court of the United
States, after a careful analysis of the facts and of the law, in a very lengthy and instructive
opinion (219 U. S., 47), decided each of the question submitted by the Circuit Court of Appeals
against the contention of the plaintiff and returned the cause to the court below.
The original action by Zeiss was brought to quiet the title to two parcels of land for the purpose
of registrating his title to the same under an act of the legislature of the State of California,
entitled "An act to provide for the establishment and quieting of title to real property in case of
loss or destruction of public records." Said law is known as the McEnerney Law. It was intended
by said act to provide a method whereby owners in possession of real estate, where records
had been destroyed to such an extent as to make it impossible to trace a record title, might
secure a degree in the court which would furnish public, authenticated evidence of title. The
special occasion for the law was the fact that practically all of the public records of title in
several counties in the State of California had recently theretofore been destroyed as the result
of an earthquake and fire. Said law provided that whenever the public records in the office of the
county recorded had been, or shall hereafter be lost or destroyed, in whole or in any material
part, by flood, fire, or earthquake, any person who claims an estate of inheritance or have title
in, and who had by himself or his tenants, or other persons holding under him, in actual and
peaceable possession any real property in said county, may bring and maintain an action in
rem, against all the world, in the superior court for the county in which said real property is
situate, to establish his title, and to determine all adverse claims thereto.
The law further provides that an action shall be commenced by the filing of a verified complaint,
in which he shall name the defendants as "all persons claiming any interest in or lien upon the
real property herein described, or any part thereof." He was required to give in his complaint a
particular description of the property. The law provided that upon the filing of the complaint, a
summons or notice was required to be issued, containing the names of the court and the
country in which the action was brought, the name of the plaintiff, and a particular description of
the property involved, which notice was directed to "all persons claiming any interest in or lien
upon the real property herein described, or any part thereof," as defendants.
The law further provided that said summons or notice should be published in a newspaper of
general circulation in the county where the action was brought, at least once a week for a period
of two months.
The law further provided that personal notice should be given to any person claiming an interest
in the property or a lien thereon adverse to the plaintiff.
The said law further provided that upon the publication and posting of the summons and its
service upon and mailing to the person, if any, upon whom it is herein directed to be specially
served, the court shall have full and complete jurisdiction over the plaintiff and said property and
of the person and every one claiming any estate, right, title, or interest in or to or lien upon said
property, or any part thereof, and shall be deemed to have obtained the possession and control
of said property, for the purpose of the action, and shall have full and complete jurisdiction to
render judgment therein, which is provided for in the law.
In the case of the American Land Company vs. Zeiss, cited and relied upon by the appellants,
the validity of said law was attacked and the legality of the title granted to Zeiss was impugned
for the reason that the law was unconstitutional and void, and because the plaintiff had not
received actual notice of the application to Zeiss to have his title quieted, under said law. The
Supreme Court of the United States (219 U.S., 47) held, as has been above indicated, that the
law was constitutional and that a compliance with the requirements of the notice provided for in
said law was sufficient to give the court jurisdiction over the res and to enter a valid decree.
There seems to be but little in the decision in the case of the American Land Company vs. Zeiss
to support the contention of the appellants.
Considering that the Legislature of the Philippine Islands had full power to adopt the procedure
provided for in Act No. 496, for the registration of the title of lands; and
Considering that the court in the original action followed strictly the procedure adopted by said
law; and
Considering that there is no claim of fraud, actual or constructive, upon the part of any of the
parties connected with said action, we are forced to the conclusion that the appellants here are
not now entitled to have that judgment or decree of registration and certificate amended or set
aside.
There remains another question, however, which the appellants have not discussed and which
we deem of importance. It is the question of the right of the Land Court to correct an error of
closure in a plan or of a statement contained in a certificate. A plan is prepared and is presented
with the petition for the registration of a parcel of land. No opponents appear. No opposition is
presented to the registration. All the steps in the procedure required by law have been taken.
The land is registered. It is then discovered for the first time that by reason of a wrong direction
given to one of the lines in the plan, said plan will not close that if a wall were built upon the
lines of the plan, one of the four corners of the wall would not meter. We believe that an error of
the character may be corrected by the court, provided that such correction does not include land
not included in the original petition. Upon the question whether the amended plan (p.252,
record) included more or different lands than were included in the original petition, we find the
following statements made by one of the judges who ordered said plan amended. The
statements is:
At this stage of the proceedings and on his particular point nothing further is incumbent upon the
court than to determine the property as it was adjudicated in this case.
Therein no new portion was either added or subtracted, and this court finds that such should be
the holding on this particular point.
We have a further statement made by one of the judges, the Honorable Charles H. Smith,
relating to the same question, in an answer presented by him to a petition for a writ of
prohibition, presented by some the appellants herein, to the Supreme Court. That petition for a
writ of prohibition involved practically the same question presented by the appellants here now.
Upon the question whether or not additional lands had been included in the new plan (p.252,
record), Judge Smith, in answering for himself and his associates (Ostrand and Romualdez)
said:
Respondents deny that a new dividing line between the premises in question (premises of the
plaintiff and appellant) was determined and established by an order of the court issued at the
conclusion of said proceedings, but, on the contrary, respondents charge the truth to be that the
dividing line between said properties was not changed but simply approved and so indicated
upon the record title. For instance, the line between said properties beginning on the south side
of the Escolta is exactly at the same point indicated in the original description and approved by
the court; in other words, the premises in question of the said Maria del Consuelo Felisa Roxas
y Chuidian have not been enlarged; the boundary lines thereof have not been changed; the real
descriptions of the properties have been left undisturbed; the adjoining land owned by the
petitioners is undiminished, except possibly as to alleged easements claimed to have been
created by the projection of some of the roots of the petitioners' building over the aforesaid
registered property of the said Roxas. That matter is settled clearly by the provisions of the last
paragraph of section 39 of Act No. 496."
We called attention above to the fact that the petitioner alleged that the line A-B of her property
ran S., 44 30' W., a distance of 31.08 meters, while the plan accompanying said petition (see
Exhibit A, page 35, ante) made said line to run S., 46 30' W., a distance of 31.08 meters An
examination of the certificate issued to the petitioner (see page 39, ante) also states that the line
A-B runs S., 46 30' W., for a distance of 31.08 meters. The record contains no application why
the original plan (see Exhibit A, page 35, ante) did not conform to the description of the land
given in the petition. That error, in our judgment, seems to have constituted the real difficulty
with the closure of the plan. Under said conditions we are of the opinion that the Land Court is
entirely justified in ordering the plan corrected for the purposes above indicated.
There is still another question involved in the case, which the appellants have not discussed,
and that is the right of Maria del Consuelo Felisa Roxas y Chuidian to have her original
certificate of registration corrected, for the purpose of showing that she was the owner of the
buildings located upon the parcel of land in question. It will be remembered that in her petition
presented January 12, 1906, she alleged that she was the owner of the parcel of land in
question, together with the buildings thereon. No opposition was presented. No objection was
made to the registration of the land as described in her petition. The record shows no reason
why the buildings should have been omitted in the certificate of registration. The omission must
have been an errors. on the part of the clerk. We find that Act No. 496 contains an express
provision for the correction of such errors. Section 112 provides that the registered owner may,
at any time, apply by petition to have corrected any "error, omission, or mistake made in
entering a certificate, or any memorandum thereon, or on any duplicate certificate." We think the
petition presented by Miss Roxas for the correction of such original certificate was entirely within
her right under the law. It might be claimed, and we believe that the proposition is sustained by
law, that the registration of a parcel of land, unless the record contains something to the
contrary, necessarily includes the buildings and edifices located thereon, even though they are
not mentioned. Without relying upon that proposition of law, however, and in view of the petition
of the plaintiff, it is hereby ordered that the original certificate be amended so as to include not
only the land described in the original petition, but the buildings located thereon as well.
With reference to the petition of the Masonic Temple Association of Manila, the record contains
no sufficient reasons for not granting the same.
Therefore, and in view of all of the foregoing, we are of the opinion that the judgment of the
court below should be and it is hereby affirmed, with costs.
Arellano, C.J., Torres, Carson, Trent, and Araullo, JJ., concur.
CAMILO F. BORROMEO, G.R. No. 159310
Petitioner,
Present:

PUNO, C.J., Chairperson,
- versus - CARPIO,
CORONA,
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, and
BRION, JJ.

ANTONIETTA O. DESCALLAR, Promulgated:
Respondent. February 24, 2009

x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x


D E C I S I O N

PUNO, C.J .:
What are the rights of an alien (and his successor-in-interest) who acquired real
properties in the country as against his former Filipina girlfriend in whose sole name the
properties were registered under the Torrens system?
The facts are as follows:
Wilhelm Jambrich, an Austrian, arrived in the Philippines in 1983 after he was assigned by his
employer, Simmering-Graz Panker A.G., an Austrian company, to work at a project
in Mindoro. In 1984, he transferred to Cebu and worked at the Naga II Project of the National
Power Corporation. There, he met respondent Antonietta Opalla-Descallar, a separated mother
of two boys who was working as a waitress at St. Moritz Hotel. Jambrich befriended respondent
and asked her to tutor him in English. In dire need of additional income to support her children,
respondent agreed. The tutorials were held in Antoniettas residence at a squatters area
in Gorordo Avenue.

Jambrich and respondent fell in love and decided to live together in a rented house in Hernan
Cortes, Mandaue City. Later, they transferred to their own house and lots at Agro-Macro
Subdivision, Cabancalan, Mandaue City. In the Contracts to Sell dated November 18,
1985
[1]
and March 10, 1986
[2]
covering the properties, Jambrich and respondent were referred
to as the buyers. A Deed of Absolute Sale dated November 16, 1987
[3]
was likewise issued in
their favor. However, when the Deed of Absolute Sale was presented for registration before the
Register of Deeds, registration was refused on the ground that Jambrich was an alien and could
not acquire alienable lands of the public domain. Consequently, Jambrichs name was erased
from the document. But it could be noted that his signature remained on the left hand margin of
page 1, beside respondents signature as buyer on page 3, and at the bottom of page 4 which is
the last page. Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) Nos. 24790, 24791 and 24792 over the
properties were issued in respondents name alone.
Jambrich also formally adopted respondents two sons in Sp. Proc. No. 39-MAN,
[4]
and per
Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City dated May 5, 1988.
[5]

However, the idyll lasted only until April 1991. By then, respondent found a new boyfriend while
Jambrich began to live with another woman in Danao City. Jambrich supported respondents
sons for only two months after the break up.
Jambrich met petitioner Camilo F. Borromeo sometime in 1986. Petitioner was engaged in the
real estate business. He also built and repaired speedboats as a hobby. In 1989, Jambrich
purchased an engine and some accessories for his boat from petitioner, for which he became
indebted to the latter for about P150,000.00. To pay for his debt, he sold his rights and interests
in the Agro-Macro properties to petitioner for P250,000, as evidenced by a Deed of Absolute
Sale/Assignment.
[6]
On July 26, 1991, when petitioner sought to register the deed of
assignment, he discovered that titles to the three lots have been transferred in the name of
respondent, and that the subject property has already been mortgaged.
On August 2, 1991, petitioner filed a complaint against respondent for recovery of real property
before the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City. Petitioner alleged that the Contracts to Sell
dated November 18, 1985 and March 10, 1986 and the Deed of Absolute Sale dated November
16, 1987 over the properties which identified both Jambrich and respondent as buyers do not
reflect the true agreement of the parties since respondent did not pay a single centavo of the
purchase price and was not in fact a buyer; that it was Jambrich alone who paid for the
properties using his exclusive funds; that Jambrich was the real and absolute owner of the
properties; and, that petitioner acquired absolute ownership by virtue of the Deed of Absolute
Sale/Assignment dated July 11, 1991 which Jambrich executed in his favor.
In her Answer, respondent belied the allegation that she did not pay a single centavo of the
purchase price. On the contrary, she claimed that she solely and exclusively used her own
personal funds to defray and pay for the purchase price of the subject lots in question, and that
Jambrich, being an alien, was prohibited to acquire or own real property in the Philippines.
At the trial, respondent presented evidence showing her alleged financial capacity to buy the
disputed property with money from a supposed copra business. Petitioner, in turn, presented
Jambrich as his witness and documentary evidence showing the substantial salaries which
Jambrich received while still employed by the Austrian company, Simmering-Graz Panker A.G.
In its decision, the court a quo found
Evidence on hand clearly show that at the time of the purchase and acquisition of [the]
properties under litigation that Wilhelm Jambrich was still working and earning much. This fact
of Jambrich earning much is not only supported by documentary evidence but also by the
admission made by the defendant Antoniet[t]a Opalla. So that, Jambrichs financial capacity
to acquire and purchase the properties . . . is not disputed.
[7]


x x x

On the other hand, evidence . . . clearly show that before defendant met Jambrich sometime in
the latter part of 1984, she was only working as a waitress at the St. Moritz Hotel with an income
of P1,000.00 a month and was . . . renting and living only in . . . [a] room at . . . [a] squatter area
at Gorordo Ave., Cebu City; that Jambrich took pity of her and the situation of her children that
he offered her a better life which she readily accepted. In fact, this miserable financial situation
of hers and her two children . . . are all stated and reflected in the Child Study Report dated April
20, 1983 (Exhs. G and G-1) which facts she supplied to the Social Worker who prepared the
same when she was personally interviewed by her in connection with the adoption of her two
children by Wilhelm Jambrich. So that, if such facts were not true because these are now
denied by her . . . and if it was also true that during this time she was already earning as much
as P8,000.00 to P9,000.00 as profit per month from her copra business, it would be highly
unbelievable and impossible for her to be living only in such a miserable condition since it is the
observation of this Court that she is not only an extravagant but also an expensive person and
not thrifty as she wanted to impress this Court in order to have a big saving as clearly shown by
her actuation when she was already cohabiting and living with Jambrich that according to her . .
. the allowance given . . . by him in the amount of $500.00 a month is not enough to maintain
the education and maintenance of her children.
[8]


This being the case, it is highly improbable and impossible that she could acquire the
properties under litigation or could contribute any amount for their acquisition which
according to her is worth more thanP700,000.00 when while she was working as [a] waitress
at St. Moritz Hotel earning P1,000.00 a month as salary and tips of more or less P2,000.00
she could not even provide [for] the daily needs of her family so much so that it is safe to
conclude that she was really in financial distress when she met and accepted the offer of
Jambrich to come and live with him because that was a big financial opportunity for her
and her children who were already abandoned by her husband.
[9]


x x x
The only probable and possible reason why her name appeared and was included in [the
contracts to sell dated November 18, 1985 and March 10, 1986 and finally, the deed of absolute
sale dated November 16, 1987] as buyer is because as observed by the Court, she being a
scheming and exploitive woman, she has taken advantage of the goodness of Jambrich who at
that time was still bewitched by her beauty, sweetness, and good attitude shown by her to him
since he could still very well provide for everything she needs, he being earning (sic) much yet
at that time. In fact, as observed by this Court, the acquisition of these properties under
litigation was at the time when their relationship was still going smoothly and
harmoniously.
[10]
[Emphasis supplied.]

The dispositive portion of the Decision states:

WHEREFORE, . . . Decision is hereby rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the
defendant Antoniet[t]a Opalla by:

1) Declaring plaintiff as the owner in fee simple over the residential house of strong materials
and three parcels of land designated as Lot Nos. 1, 3 and 5 which are covered by TCT Nos.
24790, 24791 and 24792 issued by the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City;

2) Declaring as null and void TCT Nos. 24790, 24791 and 24792 issued in the name of
defendant Antoniet[t]a Descallar by the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City;

3) Ordering the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City to cancel TCT Nos. 24790, 24791 and
24792 in the name of defendant Antoniet[t]a Descallar and to issue new ones in the name of
plaintiff Camilo F. Borromeo;

4) Declaring the contracts now marked as Exhibits I, K and L as avoided insofar as they
appear to convey rights and interests over the properties in question to the defendant
Antoniet[t]a Descallar;

5) Ordering the defendant to pay plaintiff attorneys fees in the amount of P25,000.00 and
litigation expenses in the amount of P10,000.00; and,

6) To pay the costs.
[11]

Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeals. In a Decision dated April 10, 2002,
[12]
the
appellate court reversed the decision of the trial court. In ruling for the respondent, the Court of
Appeals held:
We disagree with the lower courts conclusion. The circumstances involved in the case cited by
the lower court and similar cases decided on by the Supreme Court which upheld the validity of
the title of the subsequent Filipino purchasers are absent in the case at bar. It should be noted
that in said cases, the title to the subject property has been issued in the name of the alien
transferee (Godinez et al., vs. Fong Pak Luen et al., 120 SCRA 223 citing Krivenko vs. Register
of Deeds of Manila, 79 Phils. 461; United Church Board for World Ministries vs. Sebastian, 159
SCRA 446, citing the case of Sarsosa Vda. De Barsobia vs. Cuenco, 113 SCRA 547; Tejido vs.
Zamacoma, 138 SCRA 78). In the case at bar, the title of the subject property is not in the
name of Jambrich but in the name of defendant-appellant. Thus, Jambrich could not have
transferred a property he has no title thereto.
[13]

Petitioners motion for reconsideration was denied.
Hence, this petition for review.
Petitioner assigns the following errors:
I. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN
DISREGARDING RESPONDENTS JUDICIAL ADMISSION AND OTHER OVERWHELMING
EVIDENCE ESTABLISHING JAMBRICHS PARTICIPATION, INTEREST AND OWNERSHIP
OF THE PROPERTIES IN QUESTION AS FOUND BY THE HONORABLE TRIAL COURT.

II. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN HOLDING
THAT JAMBRICH HAS NO TITLE TO THE PROPERTIES IN QUESTION AND MAY NOT
THEREFORE TRANSFER AND ASSIGN ANY RIGHTS AND INTERESTS IN FAVOR OF
PETITIONER.

III. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN REVERSING
THE WELL-REASONED DECISION OF THE TRIAL COURT AND IN IMPOSING DOUBLE
COSTS AGAINST HEREIN PETITIONER (THEN, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE).
[14]

First, who purchased the subject properties?
The evidence clearly shows, as pointed out by the trial court, who between respondent and
Jambrich possesses the financial capacity to acquire the properties in dispute. At the time of
the acquisition of the properties in 1985 to 1986, Jambrich was gainfully employed at
Simmering-Graz Panker A.G., an Austrian company. He was earning an estimated monthly
salary of P50,000.00. Then, Jambrich was assigned to Syria for almost one year where his
monthly salary was approximately P90,000.00.
On the other hand, respondent was employed as a waitress from 1984 to 1985 with a monthly
salary of not more than P1,000.00. In 1986, when the parcels of land were acquired, she was
unemployed, as admitted by her during the pre-trial conference. Her allegations of income from
a copra business were unsubstantiated. The supposed copra business was actually the
business of her mother and their family, with ten siblings. She has no license to sell copra, and
had not filed any income tax return. All the motorized bancas of her mother were lost to fire,
and the last one left standing was already scrap. Further, the Child Study Report
[15]
submitted
by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) in the adoption proceedings of
respondents two sons by Jambrich disclosed that:
Antonietta tried all types of job to support the children until she was accepted as a waitress at
St. Moritz Restaurant in 1984. At first she had no problem with money because most of the
customers of St. Moritz are (sic) foreigners and they gave good tips but towards the end of 1984
there were no more foreigners coming because of the situation in the Philippines at that time.
Her financial problem started then. She was even renting a small room in a squatters area
in Gorordo Ave., Cebu City. It was during her time of great financial distress that she met
Wilhelm Jambrich who later offered her a decent place for herself and her children.
[16]


The DSWD Home Study Report
[17]
further disclosed that:
[Jambrich] was then at the Restaurant of St. Moritz when he saw Antonietta Descallar, one of
the waitresses of the said Restaurants. He made friends with the girl and asked her to tutor him
in [the] English language. Antonietta accepted the offer because she was in need of additional
income to support [her] 2 young children who were abandoned by their father. Their session
was agreed to be scheduled every afternoon at the residence of Antonietta in the squatters area
in Gorordo Avenue, Cebu City. The Austrian was observing the situation of the family
particularly the children who were malnourished. After a few months sessions, Mr. Jambrich
offered to transfer the family into a decent place. He told Antonietta that the place is not good for
the children. Antonietta who was miserable and financially distressed at that time accepted the
offer for the sake of the children.
[18]

Further, the following additional pieces of evidence point to Jambrich as the source of fund used
to purchase the three parcels of land, and to construct the house thereon:
(1) Respondent Descallar herself affirmed under oath, during her re-direct examination and
during the proceedings for the adoption of her minor children, that Jambrich was the owner of
the properties in question, but that his name was deleted in the Deed of Absolute Sale because
of legal constraints. Nonetheless, his signature remained in the deed of sale, where he signed
as buyer.
(2) The money used to pay the subject parcels of land in installments was in postdated
checks issued by Jambrich. Respondent has never opened any account with any
bank. Receipts of the installment payments were also in the name of Jambrich and respondent.
(3) In 1986-1987, respondent lived in Syria with Jambrich and her two children for ten
months, where she was completely under the support of Jambrich.
(4) Jambrich executed a Last Will and Testament, where he, as owner, bequeathed the
subject properties to respondent.
Thus, Jambrich has all authority to transfer all his rights, interests and participation over the
subject properties to petitioner by virtue of the Deed of Assignment he executed on July 11,
1991.
Well-settled is the rule that this Court is not a trier of facts. The findings of fact of the trial court
are accorded great weight and respect, if not finality by this Court, subject to a number of
exceptions. In the instant case, we find no reason to disturb the factual findings of the trial
court. Even the appellate court did not controvert the factual findings of the trial court. They
differed only in their conclusions of law.
Further, the fact that the disputed properties were acquired during the couples cohabitation also
does not help respondent. The rule that co-ownership applies to a man and a woman living
exclusively with each other as husband and wife without the benefit of marriage, but are
otherwise capacitated to marry each other, does not apply.
[19]
In the instant case, respondent
was still legally married to another when she and Jambrich lived together. In such an
adulterous relationship, no co-ownership exists between the parties. It is necessary for each of
the partners to prove his or her actual contribution to the acquisition of property in order to be
able to lay claim to any portion of it. Presumptions of co-ownership and equal contribution do
not apply.
[20]

Second, we dispose of the issue of registration of the properties in the name of respondent
alone. Having found that the true buyer of the disputed house and lots was the Austrian
Wilhelm Jambrich, what now is the effect of registration of the properties in the name of
respondent?
It is settled that registration is not a mode of acquiring ownership.
[21]
It is only a means of
confirming the fact of its existence with notice to the world at large.
[22]
Certificates of title are not
a source of right. The mere possession of a title does not make one the true owner of the
property. Thus, the mere fact that respondent has the titles of the disputed properties in her
name does not necessarily, conclusively and absolutely make her the owner. The rule on
indefeasibility of title likewise does not apply to respondent. A certificate of title implies that the
title is quiet,
[23]
and that it is perfect, absolute and indefeasible.
[24]
However, there are well-
defined exceptions to this rule, as when the transferee is not a holder in good faith and did not
acquire the subject properties for a valuable consideration.
[25]
This is the situation in the instant
case. Respondent did not contribute a single centavo in the acquisition of the properties. She
had no income of her own at that time, nor did she have any savings. She and her two sons
were then fully supported by Jambrich.
Respondent argued that aliens are prohibited from acquiring private land. This is embodied in
Section 7, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution,
[26]
which is basically a reproduction of Section 5,
Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution,
[27]
and Section 14, Article XIV of the 1973
Constitution.
[28]
The capacity to acquire private land is dependent on the capacity to acquire or
hold lands of the public domain. Private land may be transferred only to individuals or entities
qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain. Only Filipino citizens or corporations at
least 60% of the capital of which is owned by Filipinos are qualified to acquire or hold lands of
the public domain. Thus, as the rule now stands, the fundamental law explicitly prohibits non-
Filipinos from acquiring or holding title to private lands, except only by way of legal succession
or if the acquisition was made by a former natural-born citizen.
[29]

Therefore, in the instant case, the transfer of land from Agro-Macro Development Corporation to
Jambrich, who is an Austrian, would have been declared invalid if challenged, had not Jambrich
conveyed the properties to petitioner who is a Filipino citizen. In United Church Board for
World Ministries v. Sebastian,
[30]
the Court reiterated the consistent ruling in a number of
cases
[31]
that if land is invalidly transferred to an alien who subsequently becomes a Filipino
citizen or transfers it to a Filipino, the flaw in the original transaction is considered cured and the
title of the transferee is rendered valid. Applying United Church Board for World Ministries,
the trial court ruled in favor of petitioner, viz.:
[W]hile the acquisition and the purchase of (sic) Wilhelm Jambrich of the properties under
litigation [were] void ab initio since [they were] contrary to the Constitution of the Philippines, he
being a foreigner, yet, the acquisition of these properties by plaintiff who is a Filipino citizen from
him, has cured the flaw in the original transaction and the title of the transferee is valid.

The trial court upheld the sale by Jambrich in favor of petitioner and ordered the cancellation of
the TCTs in the name of respondent. It declared petitioner as owner in fee simple of the
residential house of strong materials and three parcels of land designated as Lot Nos. 1, 3 and
5, and ordered the Register of Deeds of Mandaue City to issue new certificates of title in his
name. The trial court likewise ordered respondent to pay petitioner P25,000 as attorneys fees
and P10,000 as litigation expenses, as well as the costs of suit.
We affirm the Regional Trial Court.
The rationale behind the Courts ruling in United Church Board for World Ministries, as
reiterated in subsequent cases,
[32]
is this since the ban on aliens is intended to preserve the
nations land for future generations of Filipinos, that aim is achieved by making lawful the
acquisition of real estate by aliens who became Filipino citizens by naturalization or those
transfers made by aliens to Filipino citizens. As the property in dispute is already in the hands
of a qualified person, a Filipino citizen, there would be no more public policy to be protected.
The objective of the constitutional provision to keep our lands in Filipino hands has been
achieved.
IN VIEW WHEREOF, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court of Appeals in C.A.
G.R. CV No. 42929 dated April 10, 2002 and its Resolution dated July 8, 2003 are REVERSED
and SET ASIDE. The Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City in Civil Case No.
MAN-1148 is REINSTATED.
SO ORDERED.
REYNALDO RODRIGUEZ G.R. No. 135817
and NANCY A. RODRIGUEZ,
Petitioners, Present:

PANGANIBAN, C.J., Chairperson,
- versus - YNARES-SANTIAGO,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CALLEJO, SR., and
CHICO-NAZARIO, JJ.
CONCORDIA ONG LIM,
EURESTES LIM AND
ELMER LIM, Promulgated:
Respondents.
November 30, 2006
x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

D E C I S I O N


CALLEJO, SR., J .:


Before the Court is a petition for review on certiorari filed by the spouses Reynaldo and
Nancy Rodriguez seeking the reversal of the Decision
[1]
dated July 18, 1995 of the Court of
Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 27440. The assailed decision affirmed that of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) of Lucena City, Branch 58, declaring, inter alia, Transfer Certificate Title (TCT) No.
T-128607 in the names of petitioners Reynaldo and Nancy Rodriguez null and void and
directing them to vacate the lots subject of litigation. Likewise sought to be reversed is the
appellate courts Resolution dated October 5, 1998 denying petitioners motion for
reconsideration.

As culled from the respective decisions of the RTC of Lucena City, Branch 58 (court a
quo) and the appellate court, the factual and procedural antecedents are as follows:

Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. filed with the court a quo a complaint for cancellation of certificate
of title and injunction against the spouses Rodriguez. In his complaint, Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr.
alleged that his mother, Dominga Goyma,
[2]
was the owner of two parcels of land (subject
lots). The first parcel,
[3]
containing an area of 28,051 square meters, more or less, is situated in
the Sitio of Tulay-Buhangin, Barrio Ilayang
Palo, Municipality of Pagbilao, Province of Quezon. The second parcel,
[4]
containing an area of
260,590 sq m, more or less, is situated in the Sitio of Tulay-Buhangin, Barrio of Laguimanoc,
Municipality of Atimonan (now Padre Burgos), Province of Quezon. The subject lots were
registered in the name of Dominga Goyma on February 6, 1948 under TCT No. T-2857.

Dominga Goyma died on July 19, 1971 and was survived by her only son, Pablo Goyma
Lim, Jr., a spurious son acknowledged and recognized by her.

The complaint also alleged that during her lifetime, Dominga Goyma exclusively
possessed the subject lots and upon her death, Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. succeeded to all her
rights of ownership and possession. However, the spouses Rodriguez, despite their knowledge
that Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr., was now the owner and possessor of the subject lots, allegedly
unlawfully and fraudulently made it appear that they had purchased the subject lots from
persons who were not the owners thereof.

The spouses Rodriguez allegedly caused the cancellation of TCT No. T-2857 despite the fact
that the owners duplicate copy thereof was in the possession of Pablo Goyma Lim,
Jr. OnFebruary 10, 1975, TCT No. T-128605 was issued in the name of Frisco
[5]
Gudani,
estranged husband of Dominga Goyma. This title was cancelled by TCT No. T-128606 issued
in the name of Eduardo Victa also on February 10, 1975. The latter certificate of title, in turn,
was cancelled by TCT No. T-128607 issued in the name of the spouses Rodriguez also
on February 10, 1975.

Since May 1975, the spouses Rodriguez allegedly tried to enter and occupy the subject lots by
force and intimidation. Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. thus prayed in his complaint that the spouses
Rodriguez be permanently enjoined from entering and occupying the subject lots; TCT No.
128607 be declared null and void and TCT No. T-2857 in the name of Dominga
Goyma be reinstated; and the spouses Rodriguez be ordered to pay Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr.
damages, attorneys fees and the costs of suit.

In their Answer, the spouses Rodriguez denied the material allegations in the complaint. They
alleged that Dominga Goyma was not the mother of Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. They averred that
the subject lots were the conjugal property of Frisco Gudani and his wife Dominga
Goyma. When the latter died, Frisco Gudani was her sole surviving heir.

According to the spouses Rodriguez, Frisco Gudani and Dominga Goyma, as husband and
wife, jointly exercised acts of ownership and possession over the subject lots. When Dominga
Goyma passed away, Frisco Gudani executed an instrument of extra-judicial settlement of the
estate of the deceased. By virtue of the said document, Dominga Goymas share in the subject
lots was adjudicated in favor of Frisco Gudani as her sole surviving heir. The extra-judicial
settlement allegedly complied with the requirements of publication under the Rules of Court.

Thereafter, Frisco Gudani allegedly sold the subject lots to Eduardo Victa who, in turn, sold the
same to the spouses Rodriguez. The latter claimed that they were purchasers in good faith and
for value. Further, they denied that they had tried to enter the subject lots by means of force
and intimidation. On the contrary, the spouses Rodriguez claimed that they have been in
possession of the subject lots by themselves and their predecessors-in-interest.

At the pre-trial, the parties stipulated on the following facts:

1. that plaintiff Pablo Goyma [Lim], Jr., the plaintiff in this case, is the same person
mentioned in the birth certificate as Pablo Go Yma, xerox copy of which was submitted during
the previous preliminary hearing, marked as Exhibit A;

2. that Pablito Goyma Lim mentioned in the Individual Income Tax Returns of the
deceased Dominga Goyma, xerox copies of which were submitted during the previous
preliminary hearing and marked as Exhibits B, C and D and in the Statement of Assets and
Liabilities of the deceased Dominga Goyma marked as Exhibit E, refers to the plaintiff Pablo
Goyma Lim, Jr.;

3. that according to plaintiff Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr., he is an illegitimate child other than
natural of the deceased Dominga Goyma;

4. that the deceased Dominga Goyma died on July 19, 1971 and that at the time of her
death, she was then the registered owner of the two parcels of land mentioned in paragraph 2 of
the complaint covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-2857; that under the aforesaid
Transfer Certificate of Title, said lands are registered in the name of Dominga Goyma, wife of
Frisco Gudani;

5. that at the time of the death of Dominga Goyma, plaintiff Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr., was
then more than thirty-five (35) years of age;

6. that previous to the instant case, there has been no judicial inquiry as to the maternity or
filiation of plaintiff Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr.

x x x x
[6]



Efforts of the parties to enter into an amicable settlement of the case fell
through. Consequently, trial on the merits ensued. In the meantime, in the course of the trial,
Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. died on September 8, 1988. He was duly substituted by his surviving
spouse, Concordia Ong Lim, and children Eurestes and Elmer Lim.

During trial, both parties adduced their respective evidence. Among those presented to support
the allegations of Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. were the following: Deed of Absolute Sale dated
December 13, 1945 (Exhibit I) covering four parcels of land, including the subject lots,
purchased by Dominga Goyma from Marciano and Marina Rodriguez; Marital Consent dated
March 19, 1932 (Exhibit K) executed by Frisco Gudani and Dominga Goyma; TCT No. T-2857
(Exhibit A) covering the subject lots issued in the name of Dominga Goyma;
Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr.sCertificate of Birth (Exhibit B) indicating that his mother was Dominga
Goyma; Statement of Assets, Income and Liabilities for 1958 (Exhibit C) of Dominga Goyma
indicating Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. as her son; Income Tax Returns for calendar years 1953 up to
1955 (Exhibit D to F) of Dominga Goyma, where she invariably claimed personal exemption
as head of the family and stated therein that she was separated from her husband and
claimed an exemption for her son Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr.; and Real Property Tax Receipts from
1955, 1957 up to 1975 (Exhibits H, H-1 up to H-22) covering the subject property paid
by Pablito Goyma Lim, Jr.

For their part, the spouses Rodriguez presented the following documentary evidence: Deed of
Absolute Sale dated February 3, 1975 (Exhibit I) covering the subject lots showing that the
spouses Rodriguez acquired them from Eduardo Victa; TCT No. T-128607 (Exhibit II) covering
the subject lots issued in the name of the spouses Rodriguez on February 10, 1975; TCT No. T-
128606 (Exhibit V) covering the subject lots issued in the name of Eduardo Victa on February
10, 1975; TCT No. T-128605 (Exhibit IV) covering the subject lots issued in the name
of FriscoGudani on February 10, 1975; and TCT No. T-2857 (Exhibit III) covering the subject
lots in the name of Dominga Goyma.

Also admitted in evidence by the court a quo was the deposition of Frisco Gudani taken
on October 22, 1977. The court a quo summarized the contents of his deposition as follows:

x x x From the deposition, it appears that Prisco M. Gudani, a 77 year-old laborer resident
of Barrio Binahaan, Pagbilao, Quezon, was married to Dominga Goyma on March 22,
1922. They lived together for eleven (11) months and they were separated when Prisco Gudani
left the conjugal dwelling one night without the knowledge of Dominga Goyma, never returning
to the conjugal dwelling since then. He knows that Dominga Goyma is now dead. He knows too
that Pablo Goyma Lim is the son of the late Dominga Goyma. His statement in
his Affidavit, dated June 25, 1976 (Exhibit C-Deposition) that Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. is not the
son of Dominga Goyma is not correct. He said that it was Atty. Alejandro B. Aguilan who
prepared said affidavit and told him to sign it otherwise what property he will receive will be
forfeited in favor of the government. He does not know anything about the two parcels of land
subject of this case. On the affidavit, dated March 15, 1973 (Exhibit D-Deposition)
adjudicating unto himself the property stated therein, including the two parcels of land subject of
this case, he explained that said affidavit was prepared by Atty. Alejandro B. Aguilan, who must
have known about the properties left by Dominga Goyma and made him understand that he is
inheriting the three (3) parcels of land left by Dominga Goyma, the truth being that he had never
set foot on these properties and he does not know anything about these properties. When he
arrived, the prepared affidavit was read to him and he was told to sign. Atty. Aguilan explained
to him that if he will not sign the document, the properties will go to the government and,
because he did not want these properties to go to the government, he signed the affidavit in
order to get the properties. Had it been explained to him that these properties will not be
forfeited in favor of the government, he will not sign the affidavit. The first time Atty. Aguilan told
him about the properties of Dominga Goyma was about two years after her death. Atty. Aguilan
went to him in his residence in Pagbilao, Quezon and told him that if he will not agree to get the
property of Dominga Goyma, those properties will go to the government. Atty. Aguilan told him
that because he had not contributed anything in the acquisition of said properties, his share is
one-fourth. On March 15, 1973, Atty. Aguilan made him sign a prepared petition for the
issuance of a second owners duplicate copy of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-2857 (Exhibit
E-Deposition). On the same date, he was also made to sign an Affidavit of Loss prepared by
Atty. Aguilan (Exhibit E-1, Deposition). He had not at any time been in possession of the
owners copy of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-2857. He signed both the foregoing
documents on the explanation of Atty. Aguilan that he will use them in order to look for the
title. He does not know Eduardo Victa and had never met him personally. When shown the
DEED OF CONDITIONAL SALE OF REAL PROPERTY, dated September 10, 1974 (Exhibit
F-Deposition), he admitted he sold the property. Said document was prepared by Atty. Aguilan
who told him that the P20,000.00 constitute his one-fourth share of the properties of Dominga
Goyma, but Atty. Aguilan told him to receive only P10,000.00 because the P10,000.00 will be
used to cover the expenses of litigation. Of theP10,000.00 left, P5,000.00 was given to him and
the other P5,000.00 was taken by Atty. Aguilan, as they are share and share alike in
the P10,000.00. He explained that when he signed the deed of sale, he was made to
understand that he was selling only the one-fourth share of the property that he owns and the
price for the one-fourth share is P20,000.00. On the document entitled DEED OF ABSOLUTE
SALE OF REAL PROPERTY, dated January 17, 1975 (Exhibit G-Deposition) he claims not to
have received the P60,000.00. Atty. Aguilan, who prepared the document, told him to sign it
and he (Atty. Aguilan) will deliver the money later. Atty. Aguilan did not mention
the P60,000.00, but only P20,000.00. It was only Atty. Aguilan who was present when he
signed the document. He met defendant Reynaldo Rodriguez once when he went to the office
of Atty. Magadia and Atty. Uy at the Baas Building, Rizal Avenue, Manila, in the company of
Atty. Aguilan. He was invited to a restaurant and told by Reynaldo Rodriguez that he purchased
the properties for a very low price and he would give Gudani an additional amount
of P1,500.00 upon the termination of the case that may be filed by Pablo Goyma Lim, that is
why he was holding the P10,000.00 to be spent for the expected litigation. After eating,
Reynaldo Rodriguez gave himP50.00 for him to buy betel leaves. He said that Atty. Alejandro
B. Aguilan is a lawyer in Pagbilao, Quezon, who persuaded him to agree to recover his share
from the properties of Domingo Goyma. x x x
[7]


Based on the evidence presented by both parties, the court a quo rendered judgment in
favor of Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. and against the spouses Rodriguez. In support of its
conclusions, the court a quo made the following factual findings:

Dominga Goyma married Frisco Gudani on March 22, 1922. However, after living together for
only eleven (11) months, Frisco Gudani left the conjugal abode and never returned. They never
had any children. On March 19, 1932, Frisco Gudani and Dominga Goyma executed a public
instrument denominated as MARITAL CONSENT,
[8]
the contents of which are quoted below in
full:

MARITAL CONSENT

KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:

That I, Prisco Gudani, Filipino, of legal age, married and a resident of Pagbilao,
Tayabas, declares:

That I am the husband of Dominga Go Imco Ima, Filipina, of legal age, and also a
resident of Pagbilao, Tayabas, for whom I make this marital consent.
That since the year 1924, for certain reasons which are delicate to state or mention
herein, my wife and I have been living separately.

It was agreed by and between us from the time we separated that each could then live
the life of a single person as if we did not take each other as husband and wife, and that each
could then make his or her own living without the intervention and responsibility of the other.

Under this state of life that we have, living separately, and upon request that I grant her
a marital consent, by these presents I do hereby give and grant unto my wife, Dominga Go Imco
Ima, full power and authority and consent to do and perform any and every act and thing
whatsoever requisite, necessary or proper to be done in whatever she may undertake to do in
which under the law in force and in these Island my presence and personal intervention is
necessary, as fully to all intents and purposes as I might or could do if present and intervening
in person, and specially the following acts:

To buy or sell, hire, lease or mortgage, lands or buildings, and other forms of real
property, upon such terms and conditions, and under such covenants as my wife may deem
proper;

To purchase and sell, hire or pledge, goods, wares, merchandise, chattels, choses in
action, and other forms of personal property that are or may come into her possession as owner
or otherwise;

To borrow or lend moneys, with or without security, upon such terms and conditions as
she may approve; and to transact any and all business, operations and affairs with any
institution as may be deemed proper and convenient by her;

To make, sign, execute and deliver contracts, documents, agreements, deeds and other
writings of whatsoever nature, kind and description, with any and all persons, concerns, and
entities, upon terms and conditions acceptable to her;

To prosecute and defend any and all suits, actions and other proceedings in the courts,
tribunals, departments and offices of the Government of the Philippine Islands, and to terminate
compromise, settle and adjust the same.

I do hereby renounce any and all rights, title, interest and participation, rights of actions,
if any I have, in connection with the properties, real or personal, that my wife might have
acquired by purchase, exchange, or otherwise, from any person from the time we were
separated, in 1924, and to all that she may acquire in the future.

In consideration of all that is provided above in this marital consent, and in consideration
of the renunciation made by my husband, I, Dominga Go Imco Ima, hereby agree also to
renounce any and all rights, title, interest and participation, and also any right of action, that I
may have in connection with any property, real or personal, acquired or which may be acquired
by my husband since we were separated in 1924, and that any debts or obligations incurred or
which may be incurred by me since we were separated in 1924, and in the future pursuant to
this marital consent, are my sole debts and obligations in which my husband can have no
responsibility.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, we together have hereunto signed our names below as signs
of our conformity with the things mentioned above, at Pagbilao, Tayabas, P.I., on this 19
th
day of
March, 1932.

(SGD) PRISCO M. GUDANI
PRISCO GUDANI
Husband

(SGD) DOMINGA GO YMCO YMA
DOMINGA GO IMCO IMA
Wife

SIGNED IN THE PRESENCE OF:

(SGD) SEVERINO F. MARTINEZ

(SGD) Illegible

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
PHILIPPINE ISLANDS

Municipality of Pagbilao)
Province of Tayabas ) S.S.

Before me, a Notary Public in and for the Province of Tayabas, Philippine Islands,
personally appeared Prisco Gudani, exhibiting to me his cedula personal No. G-4219255 issued
at Pagbilao, Tayabas, and dated December 15, 1931 AND Dominga Go Ymco Ima, without a
personal cedula by reason of her sex, personally known to me and known to me to be the same
persons who executed the foregoing instrument, and they acknowledge to me that they
executed the same freely and voluntarily for the uses and purposes therein stated.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed my notarial seal at
Pagbilao, Tayabas, on this 19
th
day of March 1932.

(SGD) MARIANO P. DULDULAO
NOTARY PUBLIC
My Commission will expire on
December 31, 1933

Doc. No. 15
Book No. 11
Page No. 5
Series of 1932.

After Frisco Gudani had left the conjugal abode, Dominga Goyma and Pablo Lim cohabited with
each other as common law husband and wife. They had a son, Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. who was
born on March 28, 1935.

On December 13, 1945, as evidenced by a Deed of Absolute Sale (Exhibit I), Dominga Goyma
purchased from the spouses Marciano and Marina Rodriguez four (4) parcels of land, including
the subject lots. As a result of the said sale, the certificate of title (TCT No. 11473) covering the
said lots were canceled and, in lieu, thereof TCT No. T-2857 was issued in favor of Dominga
Goyma, wife of Frisco Gudani, by the Register of Deeds of the Province of Quezon.

The subject lots were purchased by Dominga Goyma from her personal funds when she and
Frisco Gudani were already separated and after they had executed the instrument denominated
as Marital Consent dated March 19, 1932. He did not contribute anything in the purchase of the
subject lots nor did he know about their existence.

The owners duplicate copy of TCT No. T-2857 was in Dominga Goymas custody and during
her lifetime, she took possession of the subject lots and instituted therein as tenants Dominador
Torres, Loreto Estopace and Simeon Estopace. Before she passed away on July 19, 1971,
Dominga Goyma gave TCT No. T-2857 to her son, Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr., who immediately took
possession of the subject lots.

Two (2) years after Dominga Goymas death, Atty. Alejandro D. Aguilan went to see Frisco
Gudani in Pagbilao, Quezon, and informed the latter about the properties, including the subject
lots, left by the deceased. Atty. Aguilan falsely made Frisco Gudani to believe that if he would
not acquire the properties for himself, the same would be forfeited in favor of the
government. Frisco Gudani was then persuaded by Atty. Aguilan to affix his signature on the
following documents: (a) an Affidavit dated March 15, 1973 adjudicating to himself the
properties mentioned therein, including the subject lots; (b) a Petition dated March 15, 1973 filed
with the Court of First Instance of Quezon for the issuance of a second owners duplicate copy
of TCT No. T-2857; (c) an Affidavit of Loss dated March 15, 1973 for the loss of the owners
duplicate copy of TCT No. T-2857; and (d) an Affidavit dated June 27, 1976 stating that Pablo
Goyma Lim, Jr. was not the son of Dominga Goyma.

After the subject lots were adjudicated in favor of Frisco Gudani and the second owners
duplicate copy of TCT No. T-2857 was obtained, Atty. Aguilan likewise made the former sign the
Deed of Conditional Sale of Property dated September 10, 1974 covering the subject lots in
favor of Eduardo Victa. The two parties to the instrument never met each other and it was only
Atty. Aguilan who was present when Frisco Gudani signed the same. The notary public before
whom they supposedly acknowledged the same was not present.

For the said purported sale, Frisco Gudani received P5,000.00 only because, according to Atty.
Aguilan, he did not contribute anything to the acquisition of the subject lots. Thereafter, Frisco
Gudani was made to sign by Atty. Aguilan a Deed of Absolute Sale dated January 17,
1975 transferring the subject lots to Eduardo Victa.

For a time, the subject lots continued to be covered by TCT No. T-2857 in the name of Dominga
Goyma. On February 3, 1975, as evidenced by the Deed of Absolute Sale (Exhibit I), Eduardo
Victa sold the subject lots to the spouses Rodriguez. Aside from the said instrument, the
following documents were given to the spouses Rodriguez: (a) the second duplicate owners
copy of TCT No. T-2857; (b) Affidavit dated March 15, 1973 of Frisco Gudani adjudicating to
himself the properties of Dominga Goyma, including the subject lots; and (c) Deed of
Absolute Sale of Real Property dated January 17, 1975 executed by Frisco Gudani in favor of
Eduardo Victa.

All these documents were presented by a certain Atty. Magadia to the Register of Deeds of
the Province of Quezon on February 10, 1975. On the basis of these documents, TCT No. T-
2857 was canceled and, in lieu thereof, TCT No. T-128605 was issued in the name of Frisco
Gudani on February 10, 1975. Thereafter, TCT No. T-128605 was cancelled and, in lieu
thereof, TCT No. T-128606 was issued by the same Register of Deeds in the name of Eduardo
Victa also on February 10, 1975. Finally, TCT No. T-128606 was canceled and, in lieu thereof,
TCT No. T-128607 was issued by the same Register of Deeds in the name of the spouses
Rodriguez also on February 10, 1975.

Based on its factual findings, the court a quo concluded that the evidence showed that the
transactions involving the subject lots, particularly the transfers thereof from the deceased
Dominga Goyma to Frisco Gudani and from him to Eduardo Victa were fraudulent and made
through the machinations of Atty. Aguilan. The latter, according to the court a quo, took
advantage of his legal training in making Frisco Gudani, a simple- minded laborer, an
unsuspecting and nave tool in a grand scheme to dispossess plaintiff Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. of
the property rightfully his by inheritance from his mother, the deceased Dominga Goyma.
[9]


Given the fraudulent character of the transactions, the court a quo held that the spouses
Rodriguez could not avail of the protective mantle of the law protecting purchasers for value in
good faith. The spouses Rodriguez were declared to be purchasers in bad faith because they
had prior knowledge of the claim of Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. over the subject lots and even
anticipated his filing of the case against them.

The court a quo also stated that even granting arguendo that fraud attendant to the transactions
were not sufficient to vitiate consent as to nullify the transactions, still the transactions entered
into by Frisco Gudani relative to the subject lots were void for want of authority to sell them.

The court a quo explained that since Dominga Goyma died on July 19, 1971 without a will, legal
or intestate succession takes place following
paragraph (1) of Article 960
[10]
of the Civil Code. Under the law on intestacy, particularly Article
998
[11]
thereof, the widower or widow who survives with illegitimate children shall be entitled to
one-half of the inheritance and the illegitimate children to the other half.

However, in Frisco Gudanis case, he did not contribute any amount in the purchase of the
subject lots. Moreover, these were acquired by Dominga Goyma after her de facto separation
from Frisco Gudani. The estate left by the deceased, including the subject lots, should have
first been partitioned in an appropriate estate proceeding to determine those entitled
thereto. Without the said proceeding or prior thereto, Frisco Gudani could not lay valid claim, if
he had any, over the subject lots as sole heir and he could not have been the owner thereof
who could legally transfer ownership by means of sale.

The decretal portion of the Decision dated May 17, 1990 of the court a quo reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the
substituted plaintiffs, CONCORDIA ONG LIM, EURESTES LIM and ELMER LIM and against
the defendants, the spouses REYNALDO RODRIGUEZ and NANCY A. RODRIGUEZ, as
follows:

a) Declaring as null and void all transactions relative to the properties in question submitted
to the Register of Deeds for the Province of Quezon on February 10, 1975;

b) Declaring Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-128607 in the name of defendants as null and
void and ordering the reinstatement of Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-2857 in the name of
DOMINGA GOYMA, of age, the wife of Frisco Gudani, plaintiffs predecessor-in-interest;

c) Ordering the defendants to immediately vacate the premises of the properties subject of
this litigation;

d) Ordering the defendants to pay to the plaintiffs the amount of P24,000.00 as attorneys
fees; and

e) Ordering the defendants to pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.
[12]


Aggrieved, the spouses Rodriguez filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals which rendered the
assailed Decision dated July 18, 1995 affirming in toto the decision of the court a quo. The
appellate court substantially affirmed the factual findings and conclusion of the court a quo. It
stressed that Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. was the son of the decedent Dominga Goyma as evidenced
by a voluntary acknowledgment made in his record of birth (Exhibit C) and in the other
documentary evidence presented during trial. His right to succession was transmitted when
Dominga Goyma passed away on July 19, 1971 following Article 777
[13]
of the Civil Code. On
the other hand, Frisco Gudani could not dispose of the subject lots before partition of the estate
of Dominga Goyma and without authority given by Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr.

On the matter of whether the spouses Rodriguez purchased the subject lots in good faith and
for value, the appellate court ruled in the negative, as record was replete with evidence
disproving their claim of good faith. Rejecting the argument proffered by the spouses
Rodriguez, the appellate court held that Frisco Gudani and Eduardo Victa were not
indispensable parties because they were not in possession of the subject lots and their interests
therein were inferior and irrelevant to, and could not affect, the right of Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. to
a designated portion of the subject lots by inheritance from his mother Dominga Goyma.

The decretal portion of the appellate courts decision reads:
PREMISES CONSIDERED, the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
[14]



The spouses Rodriguez filed a motion for reconsideration which the appellate court denied in
the assailed Resolution dated October 5, 1998.

Forthwith, the spouses Rodriguez (petitioners) filed the present petition for review
on certiorari and in support thereof allege the following:

I
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT
RESPONDENTS PREDECESSOR-IN-INTEREST, PABLO GO IMA LIM, WAS A CO-OWNER
OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTIES AND ENTITLED TO ONE-HALF OF THE SUBJECT
PARCELS OF LAND DESPITE THE FACT THAT SAID PABLO GO IMA LIM WAS NOT
RECOGNIZED BY HER [SIC] PARENTS AS AN ILLEGITIMATE CHILD AND THE ALLEGED
DOCUMENTS PROVING HIS VOLUNTARY ACKNOWLEDGMENT DO NOT SUFFICE TO
PROVE HIS FILIATION TO HIS PARENTS.

II
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE
VENDEE OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTIES, PRISCO GUDANI, COULD NOT VALIDLY
DISPOSE OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTIES BEFORE PARTITION AND WITHOUT THE
LEGAL AUTHORITY GIVEN BY THE ILLEGITIMATE CHILD, PABLO GO IMA LIM.

III
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN NOT HOLDING THAT
PETITIONERS WERE PURCHASERS OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTIES IN GOOD FAITH
AND FOR VALUE.

IV
THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS SERIOUSLY ERRED IN HOLDING THAT THE
VENDEES OF THE SUBJECT PROPERTIES, PRISCO GUDANI AND EDUARDO VICTA, NOT
BEING INDISPENSABLE PARTIES, THEY WERE PROPERLY NOT IMPLEADED AS
DEFENDANTS IN THE COMPLAINT.
[15]



The petition is bereft of merit.


Petitioners assail the filiation of Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. stating that he was not duly
acknowledged or recognized by either of his parents. This contention is erroneous. It is
axiomatic that factual findings of the trial
court, especially when affirmed by the appellate court, are conclusive and binding on the
Court.
[16]
In this case, the court a quo and the appellate court are in agreement that, based on
the evidence presented, Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. was the illegitimate and acknowledged son of
Dominga Goyma.

The Court has laid down the manner of establishing the filiation of children, whether legitimate
or illegitimate, as follows:

The filiation of illegitimate children, like legitimate children, is established by (1) the record
of birth appearing in the civil register or a final judgment; or (2) an admission of legitimate
filiation in a public document or a private handwritten instrument and signed by the parent
concerned. In the absence thereof, filiation shall be proved by (1) the open and continuous
possession of the status of a legitimate child; or (2) any other means allowed by the Rules of
Court and special laws. The due recognition of an illegitimate child in a record of birth, a will, a
statement before a court of record, or in, any authentic writing is, in itself, a consummated act of
acknowledgment of the child, and no further action is required. In fact, any authentic writing is
treated not just a ground for compulsory recognition; it is in itself a voluntary recognition that
does not require a separate action for judicial approval.
[17]



Various documentary evidence were proffered by Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. to prove that he
was the illegitimate and acknowledged son of Dominga Goyma. Among them were his
certificate of birth (Exhibit B) indicating that his mother was Dominga Goyma; statement of
assets, income and liabilities for 1958 (Exhibit C) of Dominga Goyma indicating him as her son
and; income tax returns for calendar years 1953 up to 1955 (Exhibits D to F)) of Dominga
Goyma where she invariably claimed personal exemption as head of the family and stated
therein that she was separated from her husband and claimed an exemption for her son,
Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. These pieces of documentary evidence, whose authenticity were not
refuted by petitioners, were properly considered by the court a quo and the appellate court to
establish that Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. was acknowledged by Dominga Goyma to be her
illegitimate son.

The court a quo, as affirmed by the appellate court, likewise correctly nullified TCT No. T-
128607 in the name of petitioners. In fact, all the transactions relative to TCT No. T-2857, i.e.,
affidavit of Frisco Gudani adjudicating to himself the subject lots and their purported sale by him
to Eduardo Victa and by the latter to petitioners, were declared null and void by the court a
quo on the ground that, as established by evidence, these were all made through the fraudulent
machinations of Atty. Aguilan.

It should be recalled that Atty. Aguilan made Frisco Gudani affix his signature on, among other
documents, a Petition dated March 15, 1973 filed with the Court of First Instance of
theProvince of Quezon for the issuance of a second owners duplicate copy of TCT No. T-2857
and an Affidavit of Loss dated March 15, 1973 for the loss of the owners duplicate copy of TCT
No.T-2857. Obviously, these documents contained falsehoods because TCT No. T-2857 was
never lost and, in fact, had been in the possession of Dominga Goyma during her lifetime and,
when she passed away on July 19, 1971, in the possession of Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr.

It has been consistently ruled that when the owners duplicate certificate of title has not been
lost, but is in fact in the possession of another person, then the reconstituted certificate is void,
because the court that rendered the decision had no jurisdiction. Reconstitution can validly be
made only in case of loss of the original certificate.
[18]
In such a case, the decision authorizing
the issuance of a new owners duplicate certificate of title may be attacked any time.
[19]


Applying this rule, it is apparent that the second owners duplicate copy of TCT No. T-2857
issued upon the petition of Frisco Gudani was void. Further, the certificates of title (TCT No. T-
128605 in the name of Frisco Gudani, TCT No. T-128606 in the name of Eduardo Victa and
TCT No. T-128607 in the names of petitioners) that were subsequently issued covering the
subject lots may be nullified because they all emanated from a void document, i.e., the second
owners duplicate copy of TCT No. T-2857 that was procured by Frisco Gudani, or more
particularly by Atty. Aguilan, in behalf of Frisco Gudani, through fraud. Transfer certificates of
title may be annulled if issued based on void documents.
[20]


Petitioners cannot raise the defense of indefeasibility of a Torrens title with respect to TCT
No. T-168607 because the principle of indefeasibility of a Torrens title does not apply where
fraud attended the issuance of the title. The Torrens title does not furnish a shield for
fraud.
[21]
They cannot deny any knowledge of the fraud that attended the transactions involving
the subject lots, including their acquisition thereof. Stated differently, petitioners cannot claim
that they were purchasers in good faith and for value because the transactions involving the
subject lots were so replete with badges of fraud and irregularities that should have put them on
guard about the defects in the respective titles of Frisco Gudani and Eduardo Victa.

To recall, TCT No. T-2857 was cancelled and, in lieu thereof, TCT No. T-128605 was issued in
the name of Frisco Gudani, on February 10, 1975. The latter was thereafter cancelled by TCT
No. T-128606 issued in the name of Eduardo Victa also on February 10, 1975. The latter
certificate of title, in turn, was cancelled by TCT No. T-128607 issued in the name of the
spouses Rodriguez also on February 10, 1975. These highly irregular transfers of
ownership, i.e., cancellation and/or issuance of certificates of title, involving the subject lots all
transpiring on the same date eloquently betray the fraud that attended the transactions,
including petitioners acquisition thereof. It is certainly unlikely that petitioners had no
knowledge of these fraudulent transactions.

Petitioners claim of being purchasers in good faith and for value was debunked by the court a
quo, thus:

Defendant spouses, under the premises, cannot avail of the protective mantle of law
protecting a purchaser for value and in good faith, as they are not purchasers for value and
neither have they acted in good faith. Defendants cannot successfully put up a picture of
innocence as to the fraud that characterized the transactions relative to their ultimate acquisition
of the properties subject of this litigation. Defendant Reynaldo Rodriguez was well aware that
on his acquisition of the properties, Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. will file suit against him that is why he
retained P10,000.00 of the purchase price, which amount is intended to be used in the expected
litigation. In fact, defendant Reynaldo Rodriguez admitted to Frisco Gudani that he purchased
the properties at a very low price because of which he promised to give Frisco Gudani an
additional amount of P1,500.00 upon the termination of the case.
[22]



On this point, the appellate court succinctly stated that as to the contention that appellants
(referring to petitioners) purchased the properties in good faith and for value, the record is
replete with evidence negating such contention and the issue had been thoroughly discussed in
the appealed decision which would render any further discussion a superfluity.
[23]


Contrary to the petitioners contention, Eduardo Victa and Frisco Gudani are not indispensable
parties. The complaint filed by Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. was for the cancellation of TCT No. T-
128607 in the name of petitioners and to enjoin them from entering the subject lots. The
following discussion on who is or is not an indispensable party is apropos:

An indispensable party is one whose interest will be affected by the courts action in the
litigation, and without whom no final determination of the case can be had. The partys interest
in the subject matter of the suit and in the relief sought are so inextricably intertwined with the
other parties that his legal presence as a party to the proceeding is an absolute necessity. In
his absence there cannot be a resolution of the dispute of the parties before the court which is
effective, complete, or equitable.

Conversely, a party is not indispensable to the suit if his interest in the controversy or
subject matter is distinct and divisible from the interest of the other parties and will not
necessarily be prejudiced by a judgment which does complete justice to the parties in court. He
is not indispensable if his presence would merely permit complete relief between him and those
already parties to the action or will simply avoid multiple litigation.
[24]


A final determination could be had in the complaint for cancellation of TCT No. T-128607 and
injunction even without Eduardo Victa and Frisco Gudani. Only the petitioners are
indispensable parties therein and their insistence that Eduardo Victa and Frisco Gudani should
likewise be impleaded deserves scant consideration.

Having established that petitioners TCT No. T-128607 emanated from a void document, i.e. the
second owners duplicate copy of TCT No. T-2857 procured by Frisco Gudani and/or Atty.
Aguilan through fraud and when Domingas owners duplicate certificate of title had not been
lost, and that petitioners were not purchasers in good faith and for value, the Court concludes
that the nullification of petitioners TCT No. T-128607 is warranted under the
circumstances. The appellate court therefore committed no reversible error in affirming the
decision of the court a quo which, among others, declared as null and void TCT No. T-128607 in
the name of petitioners and, instead, reinstated TCT No. T-2857 in the name of Dominga
Goyma, mother of Pablo Goyma Lim, Jr. (now substituted by his spouse and children)
respondents Concordia Ong Lim, Eurestes and Elmer Lim.

The Court finds it unnecessary, at this point, to determine the successional rights, if any, of
Frisco Gudani to the properties left by Dominga Goyma. Such matter is better threshed out in
the proper special proceedings for the settlement of the intestate estate of Dominga Goyma. As
held by this Court, matters which involve settlement and distribution of the estate of the
decedent fall within the exclusive province of the probate court in the exercise of its limited
jurisdiction.
[25]



WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The Decision dated July 18, 1995 and Resolution
dated October 5, 1998 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 27440 are AFFIRMED in
toto.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 149679 May 30, 2003
HEIRS OF CLEMENTE ERMAC, namely: IRENEA E. SENO, LIBRADA E. MALINAO, INES E.
MIOZA, SOLEDAD E. CENIZA, RODULFO ERMAC and AMELITA E.
BASUBAS, petitioners,
vs.
HEIRS OF VICENTE ERMAC, namely: BENJAMIN, VIRGINIA, PRECIOSA, DANILO, as
HEIRS OF URBANO ADOLFO; BERNARDINO, CLIMACO, CESAR, ELSA, FLORAME and
FE, all surnamed ERMAC, as HEIRS OF CLIMACO ERMAC, ESTELITA ERMAC,
ESTANESLAO DIONSON, VICENTE DIONSON, EUFEMIA LIGARAY, EMIGDIO BUSTILLO
and LIZA PARAJELE, LUISA DEL CASTILLO,* respondents.
PANGANIBAN, J .:
Ownership should not be confused with a certificate of title. Registering land under the Torrens
System does not create or vest title, because registration is not a mode of acquiring ownership.
A certificate of title is merely an evidence of ownership or title over the particular property
described therein.
The Case
Before us is a Petition for Review
1
under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to set aside the
February 16, 2001 Decision
2
and the August 6, 2001 Resolution
3
of the Court of Appeals
4
(CA)
in CA-GR CV No. 59564. The dispositive part of the Decision reads:
"WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant appeal is hereby DISMISSED, and the
assailed [D]ecision of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaue City is hereby AFFIRMED."
5

The assailed Resolution denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration.
The Facts
The factual antecedents of the case are summarized by the CA as follows:
"In their Complaint, [respondents] claim that they are the owners of the various parcels of real
property that form part of Lot No. 666, (plan II-5121 Amd.2) situated in Mandaue City, Cebu,
which lot allegedly belonged originally to Claudio Ermac. Upon the latters death, the said Lot
No. 666 was inherited and partitioned by his children, namely, Esteban, Pedro and Balbina.
Siblings Pedro and Balbina requested their brother Esteban to have their title over the property
registered. Esteban, however, was unable to do so, and the task of registration fell to his son,
Clemente. Clemente applied for registration of the title, but did so in his own name, and did not
include his fathers brother and sister, nor his cousins. Despite having registered the lot in his
name, Clemente did not disturb or claim ownership over those portions occupied by his uncle,
aunt and cousins even up to the time of his death. Among the occupants of Lot No. 666 are the
[respondents] in this case. [Respondents]-heirs of Vicente Ermac claim ownership over the
portions of Lot No. 666 now occupied by them by right of succession as direct descendants of
the original owner, Claudio Ermac. [Respondents] Luisa Del Castillo and Estaneslao Dionson
allegedly derived their title by purchase from the children of Claudio Ermac. [Respondent]
Vicente Dionson, on the other hand, bought his land from the heirs of Pedro Ermac, while
[Respondents] Emigdio Bustillo and Liza Parajele derived their ownership from the Heirs of
Balbina Ermac-Dabon. [respondents] ownership and possession had been peaceful and
undisturbed, until recently when the [petitioners]-heirs of Clemente Ermac filed an action for
ejectment against them. The filing of the said ejectment caused a cloud of doubt upon the
[respondents] ownership over their respective parcels of land, prompting them to file this action
for quieting of title.
"[Petitioners], on the other hand, denied the material allegations of the [respondents], and
claimed that the [respondents] have no cause of action against them. It is essentially claimed
that it was Clemente Ermac and not his grandfather Claudio Ermac who is the original claimant
of dominion over Lot No. 666. During his lifetime, Clemente Ermac was in actual, peaceful,
adverse and continuous possession in the concept of an owner of the entire Lot No. 666. With
the help of his children, he cultivated the said lot, and planted corn, peanuts, cassava and fruit
products. Clemente also effected the registration of the subject lot in his name. Upon
Clementes death, [petitioners] inherited Lot No. 666, and they constructed their residential
houses thereon. [Petitioners] claim that [respondents] recent occupation of some portions of Lot
No. 666 was only tolerated by Clemente Ermac and the [petitioners]. [Petitioners] in fact had
never surrendered ownership or possession of the property to the [respondents]. [Petitoners]
also set up the defense of prescription and laches.
x x x x x x x x x
"After trial, the lower [court] rendered its [D]ecision, finding that the original owner of the lot in
question was Claudio Ermac, and therefore, the property was inherited upon his death by his
children Esteban, Balbina and Pedro. All the heirs of Claudio Ermac, therefore, should share in
the ownership over Lot No. 666, by right of succession. The ruling [was] supported by the
admissions of Irene[a] Seno, witness for the [petitioners] and daughter of Clemente Ermac,
establishing facts which show that [petitioners] and their predecessor Clemente did not own the
entire property, but that the other heirs of Claudio Ermac are entitled to two-thirds (2/3) of the
lot. Since the entire lot is now registered in the name of Clemente Ermac, the shares belonging
to the other heirs of Claudio Ermac, some of which have already been purchased by some of
the [respondents], are being held in trust by the [petitioners] in favor of their actual occupants."
6

Ruling of the Court of Appeals
The CA held that the factual finding of the Regional Trial Court (RTC)
7
should not be disturbed
on appeal. The latter found that Lot No. 666 was originally owned by Claudio Ermac and, after
his death, was inherited by his children -- Esteban, Balbina and Pedro. It ruled that respondents
were able to prove consistently and corroboratively that they -- as well as their predecessors-in-
interests -- had been in open, continuous and undisturbed possession and occupation thereof in
the concept of owners.
According to the appellate court, "[t]he fact that [petitioners] have in their possession certificates
of title which apparently bear out that it [was] Clemente Ermac alone who claimed the entire
property described therein [has] no discrediting effect upon plaintiffs claim, it appearing that
such titles were acquired in derogation of the existing valid and adverse interests of the plaintiffs
whose title by succession were effectively disregarded."
8

Hence, this Petition.
9

The Issues
In their Memorandum,
10
petitioners raise the following issues for our consideration:
"I. The validity of the Writ of Preliminary Injunction dated February 5, 1996 issued by the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 28, directing the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Branch 2, to cease
and desist from conducting further proceedings in Civil Case No. 2401[;]
"II. Whether or not O.C.T. No. RO-752 issued in the names of [Spouses] Clemente Ermac [and]
Anunciacion Suyco is indefeasible and incontrovertible under the Torrens System[;]
"III. Whether or not the alleged tax declarations and tax receipts are sufficient to defeat the title
over the property in the names of petitioners predecessors-in-interest [Spouses] Clemente
Ermac and Anunciacion Suyco[;]
"[IV]. Whether or not laches ha[s] set in on the claims by the respondents on portions of Lot No.
666[.]"
11

The Courts Ruling
The Petition is unmeritorious.
First Issue:
Preliminary Injunction
Petitioners assail the validity of the Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued by the RTC to restrain
the ejectment proceedings they had filed earlier.
This question is not only late, but also moot. If petitioners truly believed that the issuance of the
Writ was tainted with grave abuse of discretion, they should have challenged it by a special civil
action for certiorari within the reglementary period. Any ruling by the Court at this point would be
moot and academic, as the resolution of the issue would not involve the merits of the case,
which this appeal -- as it is now -- touches upon.
Second Issue:
Indefeasibility and Incontrovertibility of Title
Petitioners posit that pursuant to Section 32 of PD 1529 (the Property Registration Decree), the
certificate of title issued in favor of their predecessor-in-interest, Clemente Ermac, became
incontrovertible after the lapse of one year from its issuance. Hence, it can no longer be
challengedence, it can no longer be challenged.
We clarify. While it is true that Section 32
12
of PD 1529 provides that the decree of registration
becomes incontrovertible after a year, it does not altogether deprive an aggrieved party of a
remedy
13
in law.
14
The acceptability of the Torrens System would be impaired, if it is utilized to
perpetuate fraud against the real owners.
15

Furthermore, ownership is not the same as a certificate of title. Registering a piece of land
under the Torrens System does not create or vest title, because registration is not a mode of
acquiring ownership.
16
A certificate of title is merely an evidence of ownership or title over the
particular property described therein.
17
Its issuance in favor of a particular person does not
foreclose the possibility that the real property may be co-owned with persons not named in the
certificate, or that it may be held in trust for another person by the registered owner.
18

Third Issue:
Ownership of the Disputed Lot
Petitioners claim that the CA erred in relying on the hearsay and unsubstantiated testimony of
respondents, as well as on tax declarations and realty tax receipts, in order to support its ruling
that the land was owned by Claudio Ermac.
We are not persuaded. The credence given to the testimony of the witnesses for respondents is
a factual issue already passed upon and resolved by the trial and the appellate courts. It is a
hornbook doctrine that only questions of law are entertained in appeals by certiorari under Rule
45 of the Rules of Court. The trial courts findings of fact, which the CA affirmed, are generally
conclusive and binding upon this Court.
19

Moreover, while tax declarations and realty tax receipts do not conclusively prove ownership,
they may constitute strong evidence of ownership when accompanied by possession for a
period sufficient for prescription.
20
Considering that respondents have been in possession of the
property for a long period of time, there is legal basis for their use of tax declarations and realty
tax receipts as additional evidence to support their claim of ownership.
Fourth Issue:
Prescription and Laches
Petitioners assert that the ownership claimed by respondents is barred by prescription and
laches, because it took the latter 57 years to bring the present action. We disagree.
When a party uses fraud or concealment to obtain a certificate of title to property, a constructive
trust is created in favor of the defrauded party.
21
Since Claudio Ermac has already been
established in the present case as the original owner of the land, the registration in the name of
Clemente Ermac meant that the latter held the land in trust for all the heirs of the former. Since
respondents were in actual possession of the property, the action to enforce the trust, and
recover the property, and thereby quiet title thereto, does not prescribe.
22

Because laches is an equitable doctrine, its application is controlled by equitable
considerations.
23
It cannot be used to defeat justice or to perpetuate fraud and injustice.
24
Its
application should not prevent the rightful owners of a property to recover what has been
fraudulently registered in the name of another.
WHEREFORE, the Petition is hereby DENIED and the assailed Decision AFFIRMED. Costs
against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. 119682 January 21, 1999
FRANCISCO BAGUIO, petitioner,
vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, RICARDO T. MICHAEL, in his capacity as Heir-
Successor of WILLIAM MICHAEL, SR., and as President of MICHAEL SLIPWAYS, INC.,
and COURT OF APPEALS, respondent.

MENDOZA, J .:
This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals
1
affirming the decision of the
Regional Trial Court, Branch 28, of Mandaue City, nullifying Free Patent No. 7757 and Original
Certificate of Title No. 0-15457 issued in the name of petitioner Francisco Baguio.
The patent and certificate of title cover a parcel of land, consisting of 5,870 sq. m., in Catarman,
Liloan, Cebu. Known as Lot 1426, Case 2, Pls. 823, the land was declared by the government
public land in 1963.
The evidence shows that, on August 2, 1963, private respondent Ricardo Michael's
predecessor-in-interest, William Michael, filed with the Bureau of Lands an application for
foreshore lease of the land. The application was recommended for approval by the land
investigator who also recommended that the applicant be granted a provisional permit to occupy
the land for one year from October 4, 1963 to October 3, 1964.
On October 8, 1963, by virtue of a permit granted to him by the Bureau of Lands, William
Michael made some reclamation on the land, built a fence around the premises, and
constructed a bridge over a portion which was under water. Upon the expiration of the permit on
October 4, 1964, the Highways District Engineer recommended to the Director of Lands that the
land be leased to Michael. On the other hand, the land investigator recommended granting
Michael the authority to survey the foreshore land in view of the completion of the reclamation
made by him on the premises. On February 25, 1968, Michael filed a miscellaneous sales
application covering the reclaimed foreshore land.
On November 9, 1976, petitioner Baguio applied to the Bureau of Lands for a free patent
covering the same land. In his application, petitioner stated that the land was agricultural land
and not claimed or occupied by any other person and that he had been in actual and continuous
possession and cultivation of the same. On the basis of these representations, a free patent
was issued to him and, on January 10, 1978. Original Certificate of Title No. 0-15457 was
issued in his name by the Register of Deeds of Cebu.
On April 6, 1978, petitioner demanded payment of rentals from William Michael for the use of
the land occupied by Michael Slipways Inc.. On August 4, 1981, petitioner filed an opposition to
Michael's miscellaneous sales application covering the land on the ground that he was the
registered owner thereof.
William Michael in turn protested the issuance by the Bureau of Lands of a free patent to
petitioner. He claimed that he had been in actual possession of the land since 1963 and that he
had introduced substantial improvements thereon.
On February 16, 1989, upon the recommendation of the Land Management Bureau of the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the government, represented by the
Director of Lands, filed a petition for cancellation of title and/or reversion of land against
petitioner Baguio and the Register of Deeds of Cebu. The case case was filed in the Regional
Trial Court of Mandaue City which granted private respondent Ricardo Michael leave to
intervene as heir and successor-in-interest of William Michael and as president of Michael
Slipways, Inc.
On July 20, 1992, the trial court rendered a decision canceling the free patent and the certificate
of title of petitioner Baguio, ordering the reversion of the land to the public domain, and
declaring private respondent Michael the true and lawful occupant of the land. The trial court
ruled that the false statements made by petitioner Baguio in his application for free patent had
the effect of ipso facto canceling the free patent and the title of petitioner.
Petitioner appealed to the Court of Appeals which, on February 28, 1995, affirmed the decision
of the trial court. Hence, this petition for review.
Petitioner contends that .
1. The public respondent erred in not declaring that respondent Republic of the
Philippines action was already barred by prescription.
2. Granting arguendo that respondent's action was not barred by prescription,
nonetheless, the Regional Trial Court, erred in finding that petitioner "acted in
bad faith and procured the issuance of the Free Patent (VII-I)-7757 and the
Original Certificate of Title No. 0-15457 through fraud and misrepresentation.
3. Granting arguendo that respondent Republic's action should prosper,
nonetheless, the Regional Trial Court erred in "(d)eclaring intervenor (private
respondent herein) as the true and lawful possessor and occupant of the land
subject of the intervention.
4. The Regional Trial court erred in finding that the land in question is a foreshore
land.
We find these contentions to be without merit.
First. It is true that, once a patent is registered and the corresponding certificate of title is issued,
the land covered by them ceases to be part of the public domain and becomes private property,
and the Torrens Title issued pursuant to the patent becomes indefeasible upon the expiration of
one year from the date of issuance of such patent.
2
However, as held in Director of Lands v. De
Luna,
3
even after the lapse of one year, the State may still bring an action under 101
4
of
Commonwealth Act No. 141 for the reversion to the public domain of land which has been
fraudulently granted to private individuals.
5
Such action is not barred by prescription, and this is
settled law.
6

Indeed, the indefeasibility of a certificate of title cannot be invoked by one who procured the title
by means of fraud.
7
Public policy demands that one who obtains title to public land through
fraud should not be allowed to benefit therefrom.
8

Second. Petitioner contends that the trial court erred in finding that he was guilty of fraud in
procuring the issuance of the free patent and the corresponding certificate of title. He insists that
what he stated in his application for free patent (that the subject land is agricultural land not
claimed or occupied by persons other than himself and that he had been in actual and
continuous possession and cultivation of the same) were all true. He also assails the finding of
the trial court that the subject land is foreshore land.
Petitioner puts in issue the findings of fact of the trial court. But the only errors which are
reviewable by this Court in a petition for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of
Appeals are those allegedly committed by the latter court and not those of the trial court.
Petitioner's assignment of errors is thus misplaced, and for this reason, the petition should be
dismissed. Furthermore, only questions of law may be raised in a petition for review oncertiorari.
In the absence of any showing of lack of basis for the conclusions made by the Court of
Appeals, this Court wiill not disturb the factual findings of the appellate court.
9
In this case,
petitioner has not shown that the decision of the Court of Appeals is not supported by
substantial evidence so as to justify this Court in departing from the general rule which regards
the findings of the appellate court as final.
At any rate, we have decided to consider the issues raised insofar as they are pertinent to the
appellate court's decision in order to put them to rest once and for all.
In his free patent application, petitioner declared under oath that the land in question was an
agricultural land not claimed or occupied by any other person; that he had continuously
possessed and occupied it; and that he had introduced improvements thereon. These
declarations constitute fraud and misrepresentation. The government has proven that, contrary
to these allegations, as early as September 2, 1963, i.e., thirteen (13) years before the alleged
entry of petitoner on the land, private respondent's predecessor-in-interest, William Michaell,
had already filed a foreshore lease application over the same; that on February 25, 1968.
William Michael filed a miscellaneous sales application over the land; that since 1963 up to the
present, private respondent has been continuously in possession of the land on which he has
been operating a drydocking service under the style of Michael Slipways, Inc.; and that private
respondent Ricardo Michael had made improvements thereon consisting of the reclamation of a
portion of the land, the construction of the fence thereon, and the construction of a bridge over a
portion under water. In addition, it has been duly established that the land in question is
foreshore land, not agrcultural. The fact that the land is being used by private respondent
Ricardo Michael in his drydocking operations is evidence that the land is foreshore land.
Moreover, there would have been no need to reclaim a portion of the land if it had not been
under seawater.
Petitioner is guilty of making false statements in his application for a free patent thus justifying
the annulment of his title. Sec. 91 of C.A. No. 141 (Public Land Act) provides:
The statements made in the application shall be considered as essential conditions and parts of
any concession, title, or permit issued on the basis of such application, and any false statement
therein or omission of facts altering, changing or modifying the consideration of the facts set
forth in such statements, and any subsequent modification, alteration, or change of the material
facts set forth in the application shall ipso facto produce the cancellation of the concession, title
or permit granted. It shall be the duty of the Director of Lands, from time to time and whenever
he may deem it advisable; to make the necessary investigations for the purpose of ascertaining
whether the material facts set out in the application are true, or whether they continue to exist
and are maintained and preserved in good faith, and for the purpose of such investigation, the
Director of Lands is hereby empowered to issue subpuenas and subpoenas duces tecum and, if
necessary, to obtain compulsory process from the courts. In every investigation made in
accordance with this section, the existence of bad faith, fraud, concealment, or fraudulent and
illegal modification of essential facts shall be presumed if the grantee or possessor of the land
shall refuse or fail to obey a subpoena or subpoena duces tecumlawfully issued by the Director
of Land or his authorized delegates or agents, or shall refuse or fail to give direct and specific
answers to pertinent questions, and on the basis of such presumption, an order of cancellation
may issue without further proceedings.
As already stated, the indefeasibility of a title does not attach to titles secured by fraud and
misrepresentation. The registration of a patent under the Torrens System merely confirms the
registrant's title. It does not vest title where there is none because registration under this system
is not a mode of acquiring ownership.
10

Third. Petitioner assails the trial court's finding, as affirmed by the appellate court, that private
respondent Michael is the true and lawfull possessor of the subject land. He argues that private
respondent, being a mere heir and successor-in-interest of William Michael and not the person
who filed the foreshore lease and the miscellaneous sales applications, has no right to the land
in dispute.
Suffice it to state that it was clearly proven that William Michael had already been in possession
of the land under a provisional permit to occupy the same in 1963. Petitioner applied for a free
patent only in 1976, thirteen (13) years later. In addition, William Michael had filed a sales
application covering the land in 1968, i.e., eight (8) years before petitioner filed his free patent
application. The trial court and the Court of Appeals, therefore, correctly held William Michael
and private respondent Ricardo Michael to be the true and rightful possessors of the land in
question. The fact that private respondent Michael is merely the successor of the original
foreshore lease and sales applicant, William Michael, does not make him any less entitled to the
possession of the land. Sec. 105 of the Public Land Act provides that, in case of his death, the
original applicant shall be succeeded in his rights and obligations by his legal heirs with respect
to the land applied for or leased.
11

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED.1wphi1.nt
HEIRS OF JULIAN TIRO,
Petitioners,




- versus -




PHILIPPINE ESTATES
CORPORATION,
Respondents.
G.R. No. 170528

Present:

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,
Chairperson,
AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,
CHICO-NAZARIO,
NACHURA, and
REYES, JJ.

Promulgated:

August 26, 2008
x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x


D E C I S I O N


CHICO-NAZARIO, J.:


This is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, assailing
the Decision
[1]
dated 1 July 2005, rendered by the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 78582,
which affirmed the Decision
[2]
dated 16 April 2002 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch
54, Lapu-Lapu City, in Civil Case No. 4824-L dismissing petitioners complaint and declaring the
respondent as the owner of the disputed property.

Petitioners Guillerma Tiro, Dominga Tiro Nunez and Maximo Tiro filed before the RTC a
Complaint for Quieting of Title against respondent Philippine Estates Corporation, a corporation
duly organized and existing under the laws of the Philippines. The complaint was docketed as
Civil Case No. 4824-L. Petitioners alleged that they are the children of the late Julian Tiro and
the authorized representatives of the Heirs of the late Pedro Tiro. Both decedents were
purportedly, during their lifetime, the lawful absolute and registered owners of the disputed land
as evidenced by Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. RO-1121.
[3]
The disputed property is
herein described as follows:

A parcel of land (Lot 2914 of the Cadastral Survey of Opon, L.R.C. Record No. 1003) situated in
the Barrio of Marigondon, Municipality of Opon, Province of Cebu, Island of Mactan x x x;
containing an area of EIGHT THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED TWENTY (8,120) SQUARE
METERS.
[4]



Petitioners averred that they and their predecessors-in-interest had been in actual possession of
the disputed land since time immemorial until they were prevented from entering the same by
persons claiming to be the new owners sometime in 1995. After examining the records found in
the Office of the Register of Deeds of Lapu-Lapu City, they discovered that OCT No. RO-1121
had already been cancelled as early as 1969 and that the subject property, after several other
transfers, was presently registered in the name of respondent under Transfer Certificate of Title
(TCT) No. 35672.
[5]


The records in the Office of the Register of Deeds showed each transfer involving the disputed
land. Petitioners learned that OCT No. RO-1121, registered in the names of Julian and
PedroTiro, was cancelled on 10 September 1969. In its place, TCT No. 2848 was issued in
favor of Spouses Julio Baba and Olimpia Mesa. The registration of the disputed property in
favor of the Spouses Baba was supported by two documents: (1) an Extrajudicial Declaration of
Heir and Confirmation of Sale
[6]
dated 20 August 1969, executed by Maxima Ochea (Ochea),
claiming to be the only surviving heir of Julian and Pedro Tiro, wherein she confirmed and
ratified an alleged sale of the subject land made before World War II by Julian and Pedro Tiro in
favor of Spouses BibianoAmores and Isabel Digno; and (2) another document entitled Deed of
Confirmation,
[7]
also dated 20 August 1969, executed by the Spouses Amores, wherein they
verified that they subsequently transferred the disputed property to the Spouses Baba sometime
in 1947.

On 20 June 1979, TCT No. 2848 was cancelled to give way to the issuance of TCT No. 9415 in
the name of Spouses Ronaldo Velayo and Leonor Manuel, after the Spouses Baba sold the
disputed property to them.
[8]
Subsequently, the same property was sold by the
Spouses Velayo to Pacific Rehouse Corporation, as a consequence of which TCT No. 9415
was cancelled and TCT No. 30186 was issued in the name of the latter on 16 February
1995.
[9]
Finally, on 25 October 1996, following the sale of the disputed land to respondent, TCT
No. 30186 was cancelled and TCT No. 35672 was issued in its name.
[10]


Petitioners averred that Ochea, who executed the document Extrajudicial Declaration of Heir
and Confirmation of Sale, which resulted in the cancellation of OCT No. RO-1121 in the name
of Julian and Pedro Tiro, was not in any way related to Julian and Pedro Tiro. It was the
petitioners contention that since Ochea was not an heir of the original registered owners, she
had no right to cause the transfer of the disputed property and, thus, her transfer and all
subsequent transfers of said property, including that made to respondent, were
invalid.
[11]
Instead of presenting documents to evidence their relationship to the decedents
Julian and Pedro Tiro, petitioners offered the testimonies of petitioners Maximo Tiro
[12]
and his
son-in-law Joveniano Diasana.
[13]
Finally, the petitioners prayed that all the transactions
emanating from the Extrajudicial Declaration of Heirs and Confirmation of Sale, executed by
Maxima Ochea, be declared void, including the transfer made in favor of the respondent; that
the title which was issued in the name of respondent be cancelled; and that the property be
restored and registered in the name of the petitioners.
[14]


In its Answer dated 10 February 1998, respondent claimed that its predecessor-in-interest
Pacific Rehouse Corporation acquired the subject land from the Spouses Velayo, the registered
owners of the property who were also in possession of the same at the time of the sale. There
was nothing in the title or any circumstances during the sale that would indicate any defect in
the Spouses Velayos title to the property. Respondent pointed out that 27 years had elapsed
since the cancellation of OCT No. RO-1121 before petitioners asserted their rights over the
disputed land. Moreover, petitioners predecessors-in-interest Julian and Pedro Tiro did not
question the cancellation of their title to the property during their lifetimes. Hence, respondent
argued that petitioners action for quieting of title was barred by laches and prescription.
[15]


To support its allegations, respondent presented TCT No. 2914 in the name of the
Spouses Velayo as proof that they were the registered owners of the disputed property at the
time they sold it to Pacific Rehouse Corporation.
[16]
Additionally, respondent presented a
Decision
[17]
dated 28 June 1994 in Civil Case No. R-1202, entitled Spouses Velayo v.
Spouses Tiro, rendered by the Municipal Trial Court (MTC) of Lapu-Lapu City to further prove
that the Spouses Velayo were also in possession of the disputed property at the time of its sale
to Pacific Rehouse Corporation. Civil Case No. R-1202 was a case for Forcible Entry with Writ
of Preliminary Mandatory Injunction, and in its Decision dated 28 June 1994, the MTC declared
the Spouses Velayo the rightful possessors of the subject property and ordered
petitioner Maximo Tiro and his co-defendant spouse to vacate the portion of the property which
they forcibly entered on 7 May 1994. Respondent likewise presented the Deed of Sale
[18]
dated
4 October 1994 executed by the Spouses Velayo in favor of Pacific Rehouse Corporation; the
Deed of Transfer
[19]
dated 23 October 1996 executed by Pacific Rehouse Corporation in favor of
respondent; and various tax declarations issued in the names of the Spouses Baba,
Spouses Velayo, Pacific Rehouse Corporation, and respondent during the years that each of
them claimed ownership over the disputed property.
[20]


On 16 April 2002, the RTC issued a Decision
[21]
in Civil Case No. 4824-L dismissing petitioners
Complaint. The trial court noted that petitioners claims of filiation to Julian and Pedro Tirowere
not supported by documents. The testimonies of petitioners witnesses were also inconsistent
as to the location of the disputed land, as well as the number of Pedro Tiros children. The RTC
stressed that even assuming that petitioners were heirs of the late Julian and Pedro Tiro, and
Maxima Ochea was in no way related to them, petitioners claims had already prescribed,
considering that the Complaint was filed more than ten years since the registration of the
disputed property in the name of the Spouses Baba in 1969. Petitioners allegation that they
were in continuous possession of the subject property until 1995 was also belied by the
Decision dated 28 June 1994 of the MTC in Civil Case No. R-1202, ordering petitioners to
vacate the disputed property, which they forcibly entered, and to restore possession to the
Spouses Velayo. Lastly, the RTC ruled that respondent was an innocent purchaser for value
who relied on the correctness of the certificate of title in the name of the vendor.

Petitioners filed a Notice of Appeal on 2 May 2002 questioning the 16 April 2002 Decision of the
RTC. The petitioners filed with the Court of Appeals an appeal docketed as CA-G.R. CV No.
78582, questioning the decision rendered by the trial court.

However, instead of filing an Appellants Brief as required by the Court of Appeals, petitioners
filed before the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 78582 a Motion to Grant New Trial
Pursuant to Section 1, Rule 53,
[22]
on 8 January 2004. They attached as annexes to their
motion the following documents to prove that Julian Tiro was their father: (1) Certificates of
Baptism of Pastor Tiro and Dominga Tiro;
[23]
(2) marriage contract of Dominga Tiro;
[24]
(3)
Certificate of Marriage of Guillerma Tiro;
[25]
(4) Certification of Marriage of Pastor Tiro;
[26]
and (5)
Certificate of Baptism of Victoria Tiro.
[27]
In a Resolution
[28]
dated 5 August 2004, the appellate
court denied the motion.

In its Decision dated 1 July 2005, the Court of Appeals likewise denied the petitioners appeal in
CA-G.R. CV No. 78582 and affirmed the RTC Decision dated 16 April 2002 in Civil Case No.
4824-L. The appellate court found that petitioners failed to prove that they were the heirs of
Julian and Pedro Tiro. It also took into account the fact that during their lifetime, Julian and
Pedro Tironever questioned the transactions which affected their land. The Court of Appeals
gave significant weight to the respondents statements that it had acquired the subject property
from the registered owners, supported by the registered titles that were presented in
court. Thus, the Court of Appeals held that even assuming that the first few transfers turned out
to be fraudulent, the transfer to respondent, a purchaser in good faith, may be the root of a valid
title.
[29]


Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration dated 25 July 2005,
[30]
which the Court of Appeals
denied in a Resolution dated 28 October 2005.
[31]


Hence, the present Petition, in which petitioners make the following assignment of errors:

I

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE
ACT OF THE REGISTER (sic) OF DEEDS OF REGISTERING A CLEARLY VOID AND
UNREGISTRABLE DOCUMENT CONFERS NO VALID TITLE ON THE PRESENTOR AND HIS
SUCCESSORS-IN-INTEREST.

II

THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN NOT APPLYING THE DOCTRINE IN
SPOUSES SANTIAGO, ET AL. VS. COURT OF APPEALS, ET AL., G.R. [NO.]
103959, AUGUST 21, 1997 WHEREBY IT IS HELD [THAT] THE TORRENS SYSTEM DOES
NOT CREATE OR VEST TITLE. IT ONLY CONFIRMS AND RECORDS TITLE ALREADY
EXISTING AND VESTED. IT DOES NOT PROTECT A USURPER FROM THE TRUE OWNER
NOR CAN IT BE A SHIELD IN THE COMMISSION OF FRAUD. WHERE ONE DOES NOT
HAVE ANY RIGHTFUL CLAIM OVER A REAL PROPERTY, THETORRENS SYSTEM OF
REGISTRATION CONFIRM[S] OR RECORD[S] NOTHING.
[32]



This Petition lacks merit.

Petitioners main contention is, since Ochea was not even related to either Julian or Pedro Tiro,
the Declaration of Heir and Confirmation of Sale which she executed could not have resulted
in the cancellation of OCT No. RO-1121 in the names of Julian and Pedro Tiro. They further
argue that since the initial transfer of the disputed land was fraudulent, therefore, all the
subsequent transfers, including that made to respondent, were all invalid.

Petitioners arguments are unfounded.

Insofar as a person who has fraudulently obtained property is concerned, the consequently
fraudulent registration of the property in the name of such person would not be sufficient to vest
in him or her title to the property. Certificates of title merely confirm or record title already
existing and vested. The indefeasibility of the torrens title should not be used as a means to
perpetrate fraud against the rightful owner of real property. Good faith must concur with
registration because, otherwise, registration would be an exercise in futility.
[33]
However, where
good faith is established, as in the case of an innocent purchaser for value, a forged document
may become the root of a valid title.
[34]


A person is considered in law as an innocent purchaser for value when he buys the property of
another, without notice that some other person has a right or an interest in such property, and
pays a full price for the same at the time of such purchase, or before he has notice of the claims
or interest of some other person in the property. A person dealing with registered land may
safely rely on the correctness of the certificate of title of the vendor/transferor, and the law will in
no way oblige him to go behind the certificate to determine the condition of the property. The
courts cannot disregard the rights of innocent third persons, for that would impair or erode public
confidence in the torrens system of land registration. Thus, a title procured by fraud or
misrepresentation can still be the source of a completely legal and valid title if the same is in the
hands of an innocent purchaser for value.
[35]


In the present case, respondent was clearly an innocent purchaser for value. It purchased the
disputed property from Pacific Rehouse Corporation, along with other parcels of land for a
valuable consideration, i.e., shares of common stock of respondent with a value
of P148,100,400.00. Pacific Rehouse Corporation, in turn, purchased the property from
Spouses Velayo, also for valuable consideration in the amount of P1,461,600.00. The
certificates of title of Pacific Rehouse Corporation and the Spouses Velayo were clean and
appeared valid on their face, and there was nothing therein which should have put the
respondent on its guard of some defect in the previous registered owners title to the disputed
property. In addition to their certificate of title, the SpousesVelayo even presented to
Pacific Rehouse Corporation a copy of the MTC Decision dated 28 June 1994 in Civil Case
No. R-1202 ordering petitioners to vacate the disputed property, which they forcibly entered,
and to restore possession thereof to the Spouses Velayo. The said Decision supported the
Spouses Velayos claim of title to the disputed property.

In Spouses Chu, Sr. v. Benelda Estate Development Corporation,
[36]
this Court pronounced that
it is crucial that a complaint for annulment of title must allege that the purchaser was aware of
the defect in the title, so that the cause of action against him or her will be sufficient. Failure to
do so, as in the case at bar, is fatal for the reason that the court cannot render a valid judgment
against the purchaser who is presumed to be in good faith in acquiring said property. Failure to
prove, much less impute, bad faith to said purchaser who has acquired a title in his or her favor
would make it impossible for the court to render a valid judgment thereon, due to the
indefeasibility and conclusiveness of his or her title.

In this case, petitioners directed all allegations of bad faith solely at Ochea. The property in
question had already been the subject of five succeeding transfers to persons who were not
accused of having purchased the same in bad faith. Petitioners attempt, therefore, to have
respondents certificate of title to the disputed property annulled, must fail.

In Veloso v. Court of Appeals,
[37]
this Court enunciated that a title issued to an innocent
purchaser and for value cannot be revoked on the basis that the deed of sale was falsified, if he
had no knowledge of the fraud committed. The Court also provided the person prejudiced with
the following recourse:

Even granting for the sake of argument, that the petitioners signature was falsified and
consequently, the power of attorney and the deed of sale were null and void, such fact would
not revoke the title subsequently issued in favor of private respondent Aglaloma. In Tenio-
Obsequio v. Court of Appeals, it was held, viz:

The right of an innocent purchaser for value must be respected and protected, even if the seller
obtained his title through fraud. The remedy of the person prejudiced is to bring an action
for damages against those who caused or employed the fraud, and if the latter are
insolvent, an action against the Treasurer of the Philippines may be filed for recovery of
damages against the Assurance Fund. (Emphasis supplied.)


Petitioners cite Sps. Santiago v. Court of Appeals.
[38]
In Santiago, the plaintiff and the
defendants were the parties to the void contract of sale of the disputed property. The contract
was considered simulated for lack of consideration and given the fact that defendants failed to
take possession of the subject property. For this reason, the Court did not hesitate to cancel the
certificates of title in the defendants names, since they were found not to be the rightful owners
of the property. More importantly, the defendants were not innocent purchasers for value, since
they were privy to the nullity of the contract of sale covering the property. Santiago is clearly
inapplicable to the present case. Respondent herein who paid adequate consideration for the
disputed land, took possession of the same, and is already the fifth transferee following the
allegedly fraudulent initial transfer of the land, cannot be placed in the same position as a
vendor who was a party to a simulated sale of a real property.

IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the instant Petition is DENIED. The assailed Decision of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 78582, promulgated on 1 July 2005, isAFFIRMED. Costs
against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.
G.R. No. L-46935 December 21, 1987
SPOUSES GREGORIO DE GUZMAN, JR. and CORAZON QUINTO petitioners,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS and RAYMUNDA RINGOR QUIRIMIT, respondents.

FERNAN, J .:
This is a petition for review of the decision * of the Court of Appeals dated March 3, 1977 in CA-
G.R. No. 52746-R entitled "Spouses Gregorio de Guzman, Jr. and Corazon Quinto, Plaintiffs-
Appellees, versus Raymunda Ringor Quirmit, Defendant-Appellant," declaring herein private
respondent Raymunda Ringor Quirmit owner of the land subject of litigation.
Deogracias Queriza was the original owner of a parcel of unregistered residential land
containing an area of 745 square meters, more or less, situated at San Fabian, Pangasinan. On
July 20, 1957, he executed a Deed of Pacto de Retro sale over said land in favor of his niece,
private respondent Quirmit for the sum of P 500.00, with the express stipulation that the "vendor
a retro may exercise the right of repurchase within 5 years from the execution of these presents
and upon failure to take advantage of the right herein granted him, then this contract shall
acquire the character of absolute, irrevocable and consummated sale. 1 Private respondent did
not register the Deed of Pacto de Retro Sale, but took possession of the land by building her
house on a portion thereof.
It appears that subsequently, Deogracias Queriza mortgaged the same parcel of land to the
Manaoag Rural Bank, from which it was allegedly redeemed on his behalf by his nephew Miguel
Queriza on November 4, 1963. Supposedly for this reason, on April 26, 1967, Deogracias
Queriza, without having exercised his right to repurchase under the Pacto de Retro Sale,
executed over said parcel of land and two others, a Deed of "Rimunitary [sic] Inter-vivos
Donation
2
in favor of Miguel Queriza, who thereafter declared the land in his name for taxation
purposes and registered the Deed of Donation on August 8, 1967 in the Register of Deeds of
Pangasinan.
On December 8, 1970, Miguel Queriza sold the land to petitioners spouses Gregorio de
Guzman, Jr. and Corazon Quinto. The Deed of Sale was registered on December 9, 1970 and
the tax declaration placed under their names.
In January, 1971, petitioners sent private respondent written notice to vacate the land in
question, and upon refusal by the latter to do so, instituted on February 7, 1971, Civil Case No.
D-2662 for Quieting of Title and Recovery of Possession before the then Court of First Instance
of Pangasinan, Fourth Branch.
After trial, the court rendered judgment on January 19, 1973, declaring petitioners owners of the
land in question and ordering private respondent to vacate the premises, to pay petitioners the
total sum of P1,000.00 for damages and attorney's fees and to pay the cost of suit. It ruled that
the Pacto de Retro Sale was only a mortgage and that the Deed of Donation in favor of Miguel
Queriza was valid.
On Appeal by private respondent, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision of the trial court.
Applying Article 1544 of the New Civil Code, the appellate court held that private respondent
had a preferential right to the land as against petitioners who were purchasers in bad faith. It
also found the transaction between Deogracias Queriza and private respondent to be what it
purported to be a pacto de retro sale and not an equitable mortgage.
Petitioners moved for a reconsideration of the appellate court's decision and upon denial
thereof, took the present recourse.
Petitioners contend that the appellate court erred in: [a] resolving the case under Article 1544 of
the New Civil Code when such provision was never cited nor invoked by private respondent in
the court a quo [b] not holding that the pacto de retro sale was an equitable mortgage in
accordance with Article 1602 of the said Code; [c] not applying the rule that as between two
innocent parties, he who was negligent should bear the loss; and, [d] in denying their motion for
reconsideration.
Petitioners theorize that since the trial court did not cite Article 1544 of the New Civil Code in its
decision, the appellate court is precluded from applying the same, for in so doing it, in effect,
entertained an issue not raised in the lower court and allowed private respondent to change her
theory on appeal.
This theory is both right and wrong. Right because the appellate court erred in applying Article
1544 of the New Civil Code relating to double sales to this case which involves an earlier pacto
de retro sale of an unregistered land and the subsequent donation thereof by the vendor a retro.
And wrong because although the appellate court applied the wrong provision of law, it did not in
so doing entertain an issue not raised in the lower court nor allow private respondent to change
her theory on appeal. Precisely, the issue involved in an action for quieting of title and recovery
of possession is who, between the parties, has a better right to the property in dispute, and this
is the very issue resolved by the appellate court in the decision under consideration. Thus, it is
incorrect to say that this issue was never raised in the trial court.
As to the alleged change of theory on appeal by private respondent, an examination of the
answer filed by private respondent in the trial court reveals that she interposed two defenses: [a]
the supposed invalidity of the Deed of Donation in favor of Miguel Queriza by reason of fraud,
undue influence or mental incapacity of the donor at the time of the donation; and, [b]
knowledge of petitioners of the pacto de retro sale in her favor prior to their purchase of the land
in question from Miguel Queriza.
3
This being the case, it is equally inaccurate to say that she
shifted her theory from "senility of donor Deogracias Queriza to the bad faith of the vendees
spouses Gregorio de Guzman, Jr. and Corazon Quinto ... to avail of Article 1544 of the New
Civil Code.
4

Petitioners further attribute error to the appellate court in not sustaining the lower court's finding
that the pacto de retro sale was an equitable mortgage. After a thorough review of the records,
We are as equally convinced as the appellate court that the transactions between Deogracias
Queriza and private respondent was a pacto de retro sale. The consideration of P500.00 paid
by private respondent in 1957 was not unusually inadequate, considering that the land had an
assessed value of only P380.00 at the time of Miguel Queriza's sale thereof to petitioners in
1971.
5
Also, the finding of the trial court, allegedly on the admission of private respondent
herself that it was the vendor a retro who appropriated the fruits of the land after the sale is
contrary to the evidence on record because in her testimony, private respondent declared that it
was she who enjoyed the products of said land.
6
Moreover, private respondent explained why
she did not consolidate her ownership over the land in question, thus:
RE-DIRECT BY
ATTY. BELEN:
Q Mrs. Quirmit, will you please tell the Court why you did not consolidate your ownership on the
land in question after Deogracias failed to redeem the property?
A Because Deogracias told me not to worry because he has no child to question me.
x x x x x x x x x
Q You testified you did not consolidate your ownership over the land in question because your
uncle told you there is nothing to worry about because he has no children to challenge, is that
correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q What year did he tell you that?
A All the time he told me that.
Q That was after the lapse of 5 years from the date of the execution of the pacto de retro, is that
correct?
A All the time he told me and he said, 'Never mind nobody will trouble you. "I have no heirs to
inherit.
RE-CROSS EXAMINATION
BY ATTY. ANCHETA:
Q He use to say that even after 1965, is that correct?
A Yes, sir.
That is all.
7

Ordinarily, such explanation would sound lame and flimsy. Considering however the close blood
relationship between Deogracias Queriza and private respondent as well as the degree of trust
and confidence traditionally accorded by Filipinos to their relatives, particularly in this case
where private respondent had reason to rely on the words of Deogracias Queriza, the latter
being a Notary Public, We find such explanation satisfactory.
Ironically, the rule relied upon by petitioners that as between two innocent parties, he who was
negligent should bear the loss, cannot apply to this case for the simple reason that it is
petitioners themselves who cannot be considered innocent purchasers. As found by the
appellate court:
In the instant case, it can hardly be said that plaintiffs-appellees [herein petitioners] were acting
in good faith when they caused their Deed of Sale to be registered with the Registry of Deeds.
In the first place, when the sale was consummated in favor of appellee, appellant was actually
residing in a house standing right on the land in question, and appellees were living not far from
appellant. In the second place, even before appellees bought the land, appellant had already
confronted them and informed them that the land had already been sold to her. [t.s.n., p. 8, July
7, 1972] Appellees were thus forewarned; the least they could do was to inquire from their
vendor Miguel Queriza and from the other relatives of the original owner, Deogracias Queriza,
by what right or title appellant had her house on the lot she was occupying. But it seems that
appellees did not bother to do this and merely relied upon the Deed of Donation made in favor
of Miguel Queriza. Had appellees exercised due diligence in inquiring into the right or title of the
appellant who was residing in the property they would doubtless have found out that appellant
was occupying it by virtue of the Pacto de Retro Sale of July 20, 1957, which apparently had
become an absolute sale on July 20, 1962 by express provision thereof and the apparent failure
of Deogracias Queriza to redeem the property.
Although it may be true, as testified by appellee Gregorio de Guzman that he noticed that there
was a house standing on the property, and that when he went there nobody was in the house,
and that he decided to buy the property because of the advice of the Notary Public that its title
was clean, We are of the considered opinion that this was not sufficient to make appellees
purchasers in good faith. If de Guzman went once to the house and found nobody there, he
could have gone back at least once more, and if still there was no one he could have inquired
from the neighbors if any one resided therein. Besides, it is not disputed that appellees
live near the property in question and surely they could not fail to notice whether the house was
tenanted or not. The information of the Notary Public could hardly be relied upon, considering
that the property is unregistered and therefore, there was really no certificate of title to speak of
which the notary is alleged to have attested to the "cleanness" of.
The failure of appellees to take the ordinary precautions which a prudent man would have taken
under the circumstances, specially in buying a piece of land in the actual visible and
publicpossession of another person, other than the vendor, constitutes gross negligence
amounting to bad faith.
In this connection, it has been held that where, as in this case, the land sold is in the possession
of a person other than the vendor, the purchaser is required to go beyond the certificate of title
and mae [sic) inquiries concerning the rights of the actual possessor. Failure to do so would
make him a purchaser in bad faith. [Incala vs. Mendoza, CA-G.R. No. 13677-R, November 9,
1965; De Jesus vs. Revilla, CA-G. R. No. 13562-R, October 5, 1965; Martelino vs. Manikan CA-
G.R. No. 32792-R, June 22, 1956].
xxx xxx xxx
"One who purchases real property which is in the actual possession of another should, at least
make some inquiry concerning the right of those in possession. The actual possession by other
than the vendor should at least put the purchaser upon inquiry. He can scarely, in the absence
of such inquiry, be regarded as a bona fide purchaser as against such possessors. [Conspecto
vs. Fruto, 31 Phil. 144] "
xxx xxx xxx
Appellant has been and continues to be in actual possession of the property, and her deed of
pacto de retro sale dates back to 1957 while the deed of sale in favor of appellees was
executed in 1970; and there is no showing that appellant's possession and her pacto de retro
sale were done in bad faith.
8

While the appellate court misapplied Article 1544 of the Civil Code in this case, its ultimate
conclusion that private respondent should be declared owner of the land in question is correct.
As stated earlier, the transaction between Deogracias Queriza and private respondent was a
true pacto de retro sale. The essence of a pacto de retro sale is that title and ownership of the
property sold are immediately vested in the vendee a retro, subject to the resolutory condition of
repurchase by the vendor a retro within the stipulated period. Failure thus of the vendor a retro
to perform said resolutory condition vests upon the vendee by operation of law absolute title and
ownership over the property sold
9
and failure of the vendee a retro to consolidate his title under
Article 1607 of the Civil Code does not impair such title or ownership for the method prescribed
thereunder is merely for the purpose of registering the consolidated title. 10 In the case at bar,
absolute ownership of the land in question was vested on private respondent in 1962 upon
failure of Deogracias Queriza to repurchase said land. Thus, in 1967 when he allegedly donated
the same to Miguel Queriza, he was no longer the owner thereof. Settled is the rule that a donor
cannot lawfully convey what is not his property. 11 There being no title to the property which
Deogracias Queriza could convey to Miguel Queriza, it necessarily follows that no title to the
property could be conveyed by the latter to petitioners. The registration of the deeds under
which they claimed to have acquired ownership of the land in dispute was a useless ceremony.
Registration does not vest title. It is not a mode of acquiring ownership but is merely evidence of
such title over a particular property. It does not give the holder any better title than what he
actually has. Besides, petitioners' registration of their deed of sale was done in bad faith. The
effect is that it is as if no registration was made at all in so far as private respondent is
concerned. Conversely, actual knowledge of petitioners of the sale to private respondent
amounted to registration thereof. 12
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby DENIED. The decision of the Court of Appeals
under review declaring private respondent Raymunda Ringor Quirmit owner of the land in
dispute is affirmed, with costs against petitioners.
SO ORDERED.