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Republic of the Philippines ARE SIMILARLY AFFECTED, Petitioners,

SUPREME COURT vs.


Baguio City SECRETARY ANGELO REYES, in his capacity as Secretary of the
Department of Energy (DOE), JOSE L. ATIENZA, in his capacity
EN BANC as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural
Resources (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA, in his capacity
G.R. No. 180771 April 21, 2015 as DENR Regional Director-Region VII and as Chairperson of the
Taon Strait Protected Seascape Management Board, ALAN
RESIDENT MARINE MAMMALS OF THE PROTECTED ARRANGUEZ, in his capacity as Director - Environmental
SEASCAPE TAON STRAIT, e.g., TOOTHED WHALES, Management Bureau-Region VII, DOE Regional Director for
DOLPHINS, PORPOISES, AND OTHER CETACEAN SPECIES, Region VIII1 ANTONIO LABIOS, JAPAN PETROLEUM
Joined in and Represented herein by Human Beings Gloria Estenzo EXPLORATION CO., LTD. (JAPEX), as represented by its
Ramos and Rose-Liza Eisma-Osorio, In Their Capacity as Legal Philippine Agent, SUPPLY OILFIELD SERVICES,
Guardians of the Lesser Life-Forms and as Responsible Stewards of INC., Respondents.
God's Creations, Petitioners,
vs. CONCURRING OPINION
SECRETARY ANGELO REYES, in his capacity as Secretary of the
Department of Energy (DOE), SECRETARY JOSE L. ATIENZA, "Until one has loved an animal,
in his capacity as Secretary of the Department of Environment and a part of one 's soul remains unawakened."
Natural Resources (DENR), LEONARDO R. SIBBALUCA, DENR
Regional Director-Region VII and in his capacity as Chairperson of Anatole France
the Taon Strait Protected Seascape Management Board, Bureau of
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), DIRECTOR MALCOLM LEONEN, J.:
J. SARMIENTO, JR., BFAR Regional Director for Region VII
ANDRES M. BOJOS, JAPAN PETROLEUM EXPLORATION I concur in the result, with the following additional reasons.
CO., LTD. (JAPEX), as represented by its Philippine Agent,
SUPPLY OILFIELD SERVICES, INC. Respondents. I

x-----------------------x In G.R. No. 180771, petitioners Resident Marine Mammals allegedly


bring their case in their personal capacity, alleging that they stand to
G.R. No. 181527 benefit or be injured from the judgment on the issues. The human
petitioners implead themselves in a representative capacity "as legal
CENTRAL VISAYAS FISHERFOLK DEVELOPMENT CENTER guardians of the lesser life-forms and as responsible stewards of God's
(FIDEC), CERILO D. ENGARCIAL, RAMON YANONG, Creations."1 They use Oposa v. Factoran, Jr.2 as basis for their claim,
FRANCISCO LABID, in their personal capacity and as asserting their right to enforce international and domestic environmental
representatives of the SUBSISTENCE FISHERFOLKS OF THE laws enacted for their benefit under the concept of stipulation pour
MUNICIPALITIES OF ALOGUINSAN AND PINAMUNGAJAN, autrui.3 As the representatives of Resident Marine Mammals, the human
CEBU, AND THEIR FAMILIES, AND THE PRESENT AND petitioners assert that they have the obligation to build awareness among
FUTURE GENERATIONS OF FILIPINOS WHOSE RIGHTS the affected residents of Taon Strait as well as to protect the
environment, especially in light of the government's failure, as primary Instead, I agree that the human petitioners should only speak for
steward, to do its duty under the doctrine of public trust.4 themselves and already have legal standing to sue with respect to the
issue raised in their pleading. The rules on standing have already been
Resident Marine Mammals and the human petitioners also assert that liberalized to take into consideration the difficulties in the assertion of
through this case, this court will have the opportunity to lower the environmental rights. When standing becomes too liberal, this can be
threshold for locus standi as an exercise of "epistolary jurisdiction."5 the occasion for abuse.

The zeal of the human petitioners to pursue their desire to protect the II
environment and to continue to define environmental rights in the
context of actual cases is commendable. However, the space for legal Rule 3, Section 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, in part,
creativity usually required for advocacy of issues of the public interest provides:
is not so unlimited that it should be allowed to undermine the other
values protected by current substantive and procedural laws. Even rules SECTION 1. Who may be parties; plaintiff and defendant. - Only
of procedure as currently formulated set the balance between competing natural or juridical persons, or entities authorized by law may be parties
interests. We cannot abandon these rules when the necessity is not in a civil action.
clearly and convincingly presented.
The Rules provide that parties may only be natural or juridical persons
The human petitioners, in G.R. No. 180771, want us to create or entities that may be authorized by statute to be parties in a civil
substantive and procedural rights for animals through their allegation action.
that they can speak for them. Obviously, we are asked to accept the
premises that (a) they were chosen by the Resident Marine Mammals of Basic is the concept of natural and juridical persons in our Civil Code:
Taon Strait; (b) they were chosen by a representative group of all the
species of the Resident Marine Mammals; (c) they were able to ARTICLE 37. Juridical capacity, which is the fitness to be the subject of
communicate with them; and (d) they received clear consent from their legal relations, is inherent in every natural person and is lost only
animal principals that they would wish to use human legal institutions to through death. Capacity to act, which is the power to do acts with legal
pursue their interests. Alternatively, they ask us to acknowledge through effect, is acquired and may be lost.
judicial notice that the interests that they, the human petitioners, assert
are identical to what the Resident Marine Mammals would assert had Article 40 further defines natural persons in the following manner:
they been humans and the legal strategies that they invoked are the
strategies that they agree with. ARTICLE 40. Birth determines personality; but the conceived child
shall be considered born for all purposes that are favorable to it,
In the alternative, they want us to accept through judicial notice that provided it be born later with the conditions specified 'in the following
there is a relationship of guardianship between them and all the resident article.
mammals in the affected ecology.
Article 44, on the other hand, enumerates the concept of a juridical
Fundamental judicial doctrines that may significantly change person:
substantive and procedural law cannot be founded on feigned
representation. ARTICLE 44. The following are juridical persons:
(1) The State and its political subdivisions; administrator, or a party authorized by law or these Rules. An agent
acting in his own name and for the benefit of an undisclosed principal
(2) Other corporations, institutions and entities for public interest or may sue or be sued without joining the principal except when the
purpose, created by law; their personality begins as soon as they have contract involves things belonging to the principal.(3a)9
been constituted according to law;
The rule is two-pronged. First, it defines .a representative as a party who
(3) Corporations, partnerships and associations for private interest or is not bound to directly or actually benefit or suffer from the judgment,
purpose to which the law grants a juridical personality, separate and but instead brings a case in favor of an identified real party in
distinct from that of each shareholder, partner or member. interest.10 The representative is an outsider to the cause of action.
Second, the rule provides a list of who may be considered as
Petitioners in G.R. No. 180771 implicitly suggest that we amend, rather "representatives." It is not an exhaustive list, but the rule limits the
than simply construe, the provisions of the Rules of Court as well as coverage only to those authorized by law or the Rules of Court.11
substantive law to accommodate Resident Marine Mammals or animals.
This we cannot do. These requirements should apply even in cases involving the
environment, which means that for the Petition of the human petitioners
Rule 3, Section 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure further defines to prosper, they must show that (a) the Resident Marine Mammals are
real party in interest: real parties in interest; and (b) that the human petitioners are authorized
by law or the Rules to act in a representative capacity.
SEC. 2. Parties in interest.-A real party in interest is the party who
stands to be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit, or the party The Resident Marine Mammals are comprised of "toothed whales,
entitled to the avails of the suit. Unless otherwise authorized by law or dolphins, porpoises, and other cetacean species inhabiting Taon
these Rules, every action must be prosecuted or defended in the name of Strait."12 While relatively new in Philippine jurisdiction, the issue of
the real party in interest. (2a)6 whether animals have legal standing before courts has been the subject
of academic discourse in light of the emergence of animal and
A litigant who stands to benefit or sustain an injury from the judgment environmental rights.
of a case is a real party in interest.7 When a case is brought to the courts,
the real party in interest must show that another party's act or omission In the United States, anim4l rights advocates have managed to establish
has caused a direct injury, making his or her interest both material and a system which Hogan explains as the "guardianship model for
based on an enforceable legal right.8 nonhuman animals":13

Representatives as parties, on the other hand, are parties acting in Despite Animal Lovers, there exists a well-established system by which
representation of the real party in interest, as defined in Rule 3, Section nonhuman animals may obtain judicial review to enforce their statutory
3 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure: rights and protections: guardianships. With court approval, animal
advocacy organizations may bring suit on behalf of nonhuman animals
SEC. 3. Representatives as parties. - Where the action is allowed to be in the same way court-appointed guardians bring suit on behalf of
prosecuted or defended by a representative or someone acting in a mentally-challenged humans who possess an enforceable right but lack
fiduciary capacity, the beneficiary shall be included in the title of the the ability to enforce it themselves.
case and shall be deemed to be the real party in interest. A representative
may be a trustee of an express rust, a guardian, an executor or
In the controversial but pivotal Should Trees Have Standing?-Toward compared to an interest in the proper administration of justice. To
Legal Rights for Natural Objects, Christopher D. Stone asserts that the adequately protect the statutory rights of nonhuman animals, the legal
environment should possess the right to seek judicial redress even system must recognize those statutory rights independent of humans and
though it is incapable of representing itself. While asserting the rights of provide a viable means of enforcement. Moreover, the idea of a
guardianship for speechless plaintiffs is not new and has been urged on
speechless entities such as the environment or nonhuman animals behalf of the natural environment. 'Such a model is even more
certainly poses legitimate challenges - such as identifying the proper compelling as applied to nonhuman animals, because they are sentient
spokesman -the American legal system is already well-equipped with a beings with the ability to feel pain and exercise rational thought. Thus,
reliable mechanism by which nonhumans may obtain standing via a animals are qualitatively different from other legally protected
judicially established guardianship. Stone notes that other speechless - nonhumans and therefore have interests deserving direct legal
and nonhuman - entities such as corporations, states, estates, and protection.
municipalities have standing to bring suit on their own behalf. There is
little reason to fear abuses under this regime as procedures for removal Furthermore, the difficulty of enforcing the statutory rights of
and substitution, avoiding conflicts of interest, and termination of a nonhuman animals threatens the integrity of the federal statutes
guardianship are well established. designed to protect them, essentially rendering them meaningless.
Sensing that laws protecting nonhuman animals would be difficult to
In fact, the opinion in Animal Lovers suggests that such an arrangement enforce, Congress provided for citizen suit provisions: the most well-
is indeed possible. The court indicated that AL VA might have obtained known example is found in the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Such
standing in its own right if it had an established history of dedication to provisions are evidence of legislative intent to encourage civic
the cause of the humane treatment of animals. It noted that the Fund for participation on behalf of nonhuman animals. Our law of standing
Animals had standing and indicated that another more well-known should reflect this intent and its implication that humans are suitable
advocacy organization might have had standing as well. The court representatives of the natural environment, which includes nonhuman
further concluded that an organization's standing is more than a animals.14 (Emphasis supplied, citation omitted)
derivative of its history, but history is a relevant consideration where
organizations are not well-established prior to commencing legal action. When a court allows guardianship as a basis of representation, animals
ALVA was not the proper plaintiff because it could not identify previous are considered as similarly situated as individuals who have enforceable
activities demonstrating its recognized activism for and commitment to rights but, for a legitimate reason (e.g., cognitive disability), are unable
the dispute independent of its desire to pursue legal action. The court's to bring suit for themselves. They are also similar to entities that by
analysis suggests that a qualified organization with a demonstrated their very nature are incapable of speaking for themselves (e.g.,
commitment to a cause could indeed bring suit on behalf of the corporations, states, and others).
speechless in the form of a court-sanctioned guardianship.
In our jurisdiction, persons and entities are recognized both in law and
This Comment advocates a shift in contemporary standing doctrine to the Rules of Court as having standing to sue and, therefore, may be
empower non-profit organizations with an established history of properly represented as real parties in interest. The same cannot be said
dedication to the cause and relevant expertise to serve as official about animals.
guardians ad !item on behalf of nonhuman animals interests. The
American legal system has numerous mechanisms for representing the Animals play an important role in households, communities, and the
rights and interests of nonhumans; any challenges inherent in extending environment. While we, as humans, may feel the need to nurture and
these pre-existing mechanisms to nonhuman animals are minimal protect them, we cannot go as far as saying we represent their best
interests and can, therefore, speak for them before the courts. As speechless in the form of a court-sanctioned guardianship.18 (Emphasis
humans, we cannot be so arrogant as to argue that we know the supplied, citation omitted)
suffering of animals and that we know what remedy they need in the
face of an injury. What may be argued as being parallel to this concept of guardianship is
the principle of human stewardship over the environment in a citizen
Even in Hogan's discussion, she points out that in a case before the suit under the Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases. A citizen
United States District Court for the Central District of California, suit allows any Filipino to act as a representative of a party who has
Animal Lovers Volunteer Ass'n v. Weinberger, 15 the court held that an enforceable rights under environmental laws before Philippine courts,
emotional response to what humans perceive to be an injury inflicted on and is defined in Section 5: .
an animal is not within the "zone-of-interest" protected by law. 16Such
sympathy cannot stand independent of or as a substitute for an actual SEC. 5. Citizen suit. - Any Filipino citizen in representation of others,
injury suffered by the claimant.17 The ability to represent animals was including minors or generations yet unborn, may file an action to
further limited in that case by the need to prove "genuine dedication" to enforce rights or obligations under environmental laws. Upon the filing
asserting and protecting animal rights: of a citizen suit, the court shall issue an order which shall contain a brief
description of the cause of action and the reliefs prayed for, requiring all
What ultimately proved fatal to ALVA 's claim, however, was the court's interested parties to manifest their interest to intervene in the case within
assertion that standing doctrine further required ALVA to differentiate its fifteen (15) days from notice thereof. The plaintiff may publish the order
genuine dedication to the humane treatment of animals from the general once in a newspaper of a general circulation in the Philippines or furnish
disdain for animal cruelty shared by the public at large. In doing so, the all affected barangays copies of said order.
court found ALVA 's asserted organizational injury to be abstract and
thus relegated ALVA to the ranks of the "concerned bystander. " There is no valid reason in law or the practical requirements of this case
to implead and feign representation on behalf of animals. To have done
.... so betrays a very anthropocentric view of environmental advocacy.
There is no way that we, humans, can claim to speak for animals let
In fact, the opinion in Animal Lovers suggests that such an arrangement alone present that they would wish to use our court system, which is
is indeed possible. The court indicated that ALVA might have obtained designed to ensure that humans seriously carry their responsibility
standing in its own right if it had an established history of dedication to including ensuring a viable ecology for themselves, which of course
the cause of the humane treatment of animals. It noted that the Fund for includes compassion for all living things.
Animals had standing and indicated that another more well-known
advocacy organization might have had standing as well. The court Our rules on standing are sufficient and need not be further relaxed.
further concluded that an organization's standing is more than a
derivative of its history, but history is a relevant consideration where In Arigo v. Swift,19 I posed the possibility of further reviewing the broad
organizations are not well-established prior to commencing legal action. interpretation we have given to the rule on standing. While
ALVA was not the proper plaintiff because it could not identify previous representatives are not required to establish direct injury on their part,
activities demonstrating its recognized activism for and commitment to they should only be allowed to represent after complying with the
the dispute independent of its desire to pursue legal action. The court's following: [I]t is imperative for them to indicate with certainty the
analysis suggests that a qualified organization with a demonstrated injured parties on whose behalf they bring the suit. Furthermore, the
commitment to a cause could indeed bring suit on behalf of the interest of those they represent must be based upon concrete legal rights.
It is not sufficient to draw out a perceived interest from a general, A person cannot invoke the court's jurisdiction if he or she has no right
nebulous idea of a potential "injury."20 or interest to protect. He or she who invokes the court's jurisdiction
must be the "owner of the right sought to be enforced." In other words,
I reiterate my position in Arigo v. Swift and in Paje v. he or she must have a cause of action. An action may be dismissed on
Casio21 regarding this rule alongside the appreciation of legal standing the ground of lack of cause of action if the person who instituted it is
in Oposa v. Factoran22 for environmental cases. In Arigo, I opined that not the real party in interest.24 The term "interest" under the Rules of
procedural liberality, especially in cases brought by representatives, Court must refer to a material interest that is not merely a curiosity
should be used with great caution: about or an "interest in the question involved." The interest must be
present and substantial. It is not a mere expectancy or a future,
Perhaps it is time to revisit the ruling in Oposa v. Factoran. contingent interest.

That case was significant in that, at that time, there was need to call A person who is not a real party in interest may institute an action if he
attention to environmental concerns in light of emerging international or she is suing as representative of a .real party in interest. When an
legal principles. While "intergenerational responsibility" is a noble action is prosecuted or defended by a representative, that representative
principle, it should not be used to obtain judgments that would preclude is not and does not become the real party in interest. The person
future generations from making their own assessment based on their represented is deemed the real party in interest. The representative
actual concerns. The present generation must restrain itself from remains to be a third party to the action instituted on behalf of another.
assuming that it can speak best for those who will exist at a different
time, under a different set of circumstances. In essence, the unbridled ....
resort to representative suit will inevitably result in preventing future
generations from protecting their own rights and pursuing their own To sue under this rule, two elements must be present: "(a) the suit is
interests and decisions. It reduces the autonomy of our children and our brought on behalf of an identified party whose right has been violated,
children 's children. Even before they are born, we again restricted their resulting in some form of damage, and (b) the representative authorized
ability to make their own arguments. by law or the Rules of Court to represent the victim."

It is my opinion that, at best, the use of the Oposa doctrine in The Rules of Procedure for Environmental Cases allows filing of a
environmental cases should be allowed only when a) there is a clear citizen's suit. A citizen's suit under this rule allows any Filipino citizen
legal basis for the representative suit; b) there are actual concerns based to file an action for the enforcement of environmental law on behalf of
squarely upon an existing legal right; c) there is no possibility of any minors or generations yet unborn. It is essentially a representative suit
countervailing interests existing within the population represented or that allows persons who are not real parties in interest to institute
those that are yet to be born; and d) there is an absolute necessity for actions on behalf of the real party in interest.
such standing because there is a threat of catastrophe so imminent that
an immediate protective measure is necessary. Better still, in the light of The expansion of what constitutes "real party in interest" to include
its costs and risks, we abandon the precedent all together.23 (Emphasis in minors and generations yet unborn is a recognition of this court's ruling
the original) in Oposa v. Factoran. This court recognized the capacity of minors
(represented by their parents) to file a class suit on behalf of succeeding
Similarly, in Paje: generations based on the concept of intergenerational responsibility to
ensure the future generation's access to and enjoyment of [the] country's
natural resources.
To allow citizen's suits to enforce environmental rights of others, Marine Mammals and the human petitioners have no legal standing to
including future generations, is dangerous for three reasons: file any kind of petition.

First, they run the risk of foreclosing arguments of others who are However, I agree that petitioners in G.R. No. 181527, namely, Central
unable to take part in the suit, putting into. question its Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center,. Engarcial, Yanong, and Labid,
representativeness. Second, varying interests may potentially result in have standing both as real parties in interest and as representatives of
arguments that are bordering on political issues, the resolutions of which subsistence fisherfolks of the Municipalities of Aloguinsan and
do not fall upon this court. Third, automatically allowing a class or Pinamungahan, Cebu, and their families, and the present and future
citizen's suit on behalf of minors and generations yet unborn may result generations of Filipinos whose rights are similarly affected. The
in the oversimplification of what may be a complex issue, especially in activities undertaken under Service Contract 46 (SC-46) directly
light of the impossibility of determining future generation's true affected their source of livelihood, primarily felt through the significant
interests on the matter. reduction of their fish harvest.27 The actual, direct, and material damage
they suffered, which has potential long-term effects transcending
In citizen's suits, persons who may have no interest in the case may file generations, is a proper subject of a legal suit.
suits for others. Uninterested persons will argue for the persons they
represent, and the court will decide based on their evidence and III
arguments. Any decision by the court will be binding upon the
beneficiaries, which in this case are the minors and the future In our jurisdiction, there is neither reason nor any legal basis for the
generations. The court's decision will be res judicata upon them and concept of implied petitioners, most especially when the implied
conclusive upon the issues presented.25 petitioner was a sitting President of the Republic of the Philippines. In
G.R. No. 180771, apart from adjudicating unto themselves the status of
The danger in invoking Oposa v. Factoran to justify all kinds of "legal guardians" of whales, dolphins, porpoises, and other cetacean
environmental claims lies in its potential to diminish the value of species, human petitioners also impleaded Former President Gloria
legitimate environmental rights. Extending the application of "real party Macapagal-Arroyo as "unwilling co-petitioner" for "her express
in interest" to the Resident Marine Mammals, or animals in general, declaration and undertaking in the ASEAN Charter to protect Taon
through a judicial pronouncement will potentially result in allowing Strait."28
petitions based on mere concern rather than an actual enforcement of a
right. It is impossible for animals to tell humans what their concerns are. No person may implead any other person as a co-plaintiff or co-
At best, humans can only surmise the extent of injury inflicted, if there petitioner without his or her consent. In our jurisdiction, only when
be any. Petitions invoking a right and seeking legal redress before this there is a party that should have been a necessary party but was
court cannot be a product of guesswork, and representatives have the unwilling to join would there be an allegation as to why that party has
responsibility to ensure that they bring "reasonably cogent, rational, been omitted. In Rule 3, Section 9 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure:
scientific, well-founded arguments"26 on behalf of those they represent.
SEC. 9. Non-joinder of necessary parties to be pleaded. -Whenever in
Creative approaches to fundamental problems should be welcome. any pleading in which a claim is asserted a necessary party is not joined,
However, they should be considered carefully so that no unintended or the pleader shall set forth his name, if known, and shall state why he is
unwarranted consequences should follow. I concur with the approach of omitted. Should the court find the reason for the omission
Madame Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro in her brilliant ponencia unmeritorious, it may order the inclusion of the omitted necessary party
as it carefully narrows down the doctrine in terms of standing. Resident if jurisdiction over his person may be obtained.
The failure to comply with the order for his inclusion, without Presidential Decree No. 1234,31 which declared Taon Strait as a
justifiable cause, shall be deemed a waiver of the claim against such protected seascape. It is unconstitutional because it violates the fourth
party. paragraph of Article XII, Section 2 of the Constitution.

The non-inclusion of a necessary party does not prevent the court from V
proceeding in the action, and the judgment rendered therein shall be
without prejudice to the rights of such necessary party.29 Petitioner Central Visayas Fisherfolk Development Center asserts that
SC-46 violated Article XII, Section 2, paragraph 1 of the .1987
A party who should have been a plaintiff or petitioner but whose Constitution because Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., Ltd. (JAPEX) is
consent cannot be obtained should be impleaded as a defendant in the 100% Japanese-owned.32 It further asserts that SC-46 cannot be validly
nature of an unwilling co-plaintiff under Rule 3, Section 10 of the 1997 classified as a technical and financial assistance agreement executed
Rules of Civil Procedure: under Article XII, Section 2, paragraph 4 of the 1987
Constitution.33 Public respondents counter that SC-46 does not fall
SEC. 10. Unwilling co-plaintiff. - If the consent of any party who under the coverage of paragraph 1, but is a validly executed contract
should be joined as plaintiff can not be obtained, he may be made a under paragraph 4.34 Public respondents further aver that SC-46 neither
defendant and the reason therefor shall be stated in the complaint.30 granted exclusive fishing rights to JAPEX nor violated Central Visayas
Fisherfolk Development Center's right to preferential use of communal
The reason for this rule is plain: Indispensable party plaintiffs who marine and fishing resources.35
should be part of the action but who do not consent should be put within
the jurisdiction of the court through summons or other court processes. VI
Petitioners. should not take it upon themselves to simply imp lead any
party who does not consent as a petitioner. This places the unwilling co- Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987 Constitution states:
petitioner at the risk of being denied due process.
Section 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal,
Besides, Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cannot be a party petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy,
to this suit. As a co-equal constitutional department, we cannot assume fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural
that the President needs to enforce policy directions by suing his or her resources are owned by the State. With the exception. of agricultural
alter-egos. The procedural situation caused by petitioners may have lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration,
gained public attention, but its legal absurdity borders on the development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full
contemptuous. The Former President's name should be stricken out of control and supervision of the State. The State may directly undertake
the title of this case. such activities, or it may enter into co-production, joint venture, or
production-sharing agreements with Filipino citizens, or corporations or
IV associations at least sixty per centum of whose capital is owned by such
citizens. Such agreements may be for a period not exceeding twenty-
I also concur with the conclusion that SC-46 is both. illegal and five years, renewable for not more than twenty-five years, and under
unconstitutional. such terms and conditions as may be provided by law. In cases of water
rights for irrigation, water supply fisheries, or industrial uses other than
SC-46 is illegal because it violates Republic Act No. 7586 or the the development of water power, beneficial use may be the measure and
National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992, and limit of the grant.
The State shall protect the nation's marine wealth in its archipelagic limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations or association at
waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic zone, and reserve its use least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens.
and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens. The Batasang Pambansa, in the national interest, may allow such
citizens, corporations, or associations to enter into service contracts for
The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural financial, technical, management, or other forms of assistance with any
resources by Filipino citizens, as well as cooperative fish farming, with foreign person or entity for the exploitation, development, exploitation,
priority to subsistence fishermen and fish-workers in rivers, lakes, bays, or utilization of any of the natural resources. Existing valid and binding
and lagoons. service contracts for financial, the technical, management, or other
forms of assistance are hereby recognized as such. (Emphasis supplied)
The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned
corporations involving either technical or financial assistance for large- 1935 CONSTITUTION
scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum,
and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions ARTICLE XIII
provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth CONSERVATION AND UTILIZATION OF NATURAL RESOURCES
and general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State shall
promote the development and use of local scientific and technical SECTION 1. All agricultural timber, and mineral. lands of the public
resources. domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all
forces of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines
The President shall notify the Congress of every contract entered into in belong to the State, and their disposition, exploitation, development, or
accordance with this provision, within thirty days from its execution. utilization shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to
(Emphasis supplied) corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of
which is owned by such citizens, subject to any existing right, grant,
I agree that fully foreign-owned corporations may participate in the lease, or concession at the time of the inauguration of the Government
exploration, development, and use of natural resources, but only through established under this Constitution. Natural resources, with the
either financial agreements or technical ones. This is the clear import of exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated, and no
the words "either financial or technical assistance agreements." This is license, concession, or lease for the exploitation, development, or
also utilization of any of the natural resources shall be granted for a period
exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for another twenty-five years,
the clear result if we compare the 1987 constitutional provision with the except as to water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or
versions in the 1973 and 1935 Constitution: industrial uses other than the development of water power, in which
cases beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the grant.
1973 CONSTITUTION
The clear text of the Constitution in light of its history prevails over any
ARTICLE XIV attempt to infer interpretation from the Constitutional Commission
THE NATIONAL ECONOMY AND THE PATRIMONY OF THE deliberations. The constitutional texts are the product of a full sovereign
NATION act: deliberations in a constituent assembly and ratification. Reliance on
recorded discussion of Constitutional Commissions, on the other hand,
SEC. 9. The disposition, exploration, development, of exploitation, or may result in dependence on incomplete authorship; Besides, it opens
utilization of any of the natural resources of the Philippines shall be judicial review to further subjectivity from those who spoke during the
Constitutional Commission deliberations who may not have predicted VII
how their words will be used. It is safer that we use the words already in
the Constitution. The Constitution was their product. Its words were The general law referred to as a possible basis for SC-46's validity is
read by those who ratified it. The Constitution is what society relies Presidential Decree No. 87 or the Oil Exploration and Development Act
upon even at present. of 1972.1wphi1 It is my opinion that this law is unconstitutional in that
it allows service contracts, contrary to Article XII, Section 2 of the 1987
SC-46 is neither a financial assistance nor a technical assistance Constitution:
agreement.
The President may enter into agreements with foreign-owned
Even supposing for the sake of argument that it is, it could not be corporations involving either technical or financial assistance for large-
declared valid in light of the standards set forth in La Bugal-B'laan scale exploration, development, and utilization of minerals, petroleum,
Tribal Association, Inc. v. Ramos:36 and other mineral oils according to the general terms and conditions
provided by law, based on real contributions to the economic growth
Such service contracts may be entered into only with respect to and general welfare of the country. In such agreements, the State shall
minerals, petroleum and other mineral oils. The grant thereof is subject promote the development and use of local scientific and technical
to several safeguards, among which are these requirements: resources. (Emphasis supplied)

(1) The service contract shall be crafted m accordance with a general The deletion of service contracts from the enumeration of the kind of
law that will set standard or uniform terms, conditions and agreements the President may enter into with foreign-owned
requirements, presumably to attain a certain uniformity in provisions corporations for exploration and utilization of resources means that
and avoid the possible insertion of terms disadvantageous to the country. service contracts are no longer allowed by the Constitution. Pursuant to
Article XVIII, Section 3 of the 1987 Constitution,38 this inconsistency
(2) The President shall be the signatory for the government because, renders the law invalid and ineffective.
supposedly before an agreement is presented to the President for
signature, it will have been vetted several times over at different levels SC-46 suffers from the lack of a special law allowing its activities. The
to ensure that it conforms to law and can withstand public scrutiny. Main Opinion emphasizes an important point, which is that SC-46 did
not merely involve exploratory activities, but also provided the rights
(3) Within thirty days of the executed agreement, the President shall and obligations of the parties should it be discovered that there is oil in
report it to Congress to give that branch of government an opportunity commercial quantities in the area. The Taon Strait being a protected
to look over the agreement and interpose timely objections, if seascape under Presidential Decree No. 123439 requires that the
any.37(Emphasis in the original, citation omitted) exploitation and utilization of energy resources from that area are
explicitly covered by a law passed by Congress specifically for that
Based on the standards pronounced in La Bugal, SC-46' S validity must purpose, pursuant to Section 14 of Republic Act No. 7586 or the
be tested against three important points: (a) whether SC-46 was crafted National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992:
in accordance with a general law that provides standards, terms, and
conditions; (b) whether SC-46 was signed by the President for and on SEC. 14. Survey for Energy R6'sources. - Consistent with the policies
behalf of the government; and (c) whether it was reported by the declared in Section 2, hereof, protected areas, except strict nature
President to Congress within 30 days of execution. reserves and natural parks, may be subjected to exploration only for the
purpose of gathering information on energy resources and only if such
activity is carried out with the least damage to surrounding areas. It was obvious from their discussions that they were not about to ban
Surveys shall be conducted only in accordance with a program approved or eradicate service contracts.
by the DENR, and the result of such surveys shall be made available to
the public and submitted to the President for recommendation to Instead, they were plainly crafting provisions to. put in place
Congress. Any exploitation and utilization of energy resources found safeguards that would eliminate or m minimize the abuses prevalent
within NIP AS areas shall be allowed only through a law passed by during the marital law regime.42 (Emphasis in the original)
Congress.40 (Emphasis supplied)
Public respondents failed to show that. Former President Gloria
No law was passed by Congress specifically providing the standards, Macapagal-Arroyo was involved in the signing or execution of SC-46.
terms, and conditions of an oil exploration, extraction, and/or utilization The failure to comply with this constitutional requirement renders SC-
for Taon Strait and, therefore, no such activities could have been 46 null and void.
validly undertaken under SC-46. The National Integrated Protected
Areas System Act of 1992 is clear that exploitation and utilization of IX
energy resources in a protected seascape such as Taon Strait shall only
be allowed through a specific law. Public respondents also failed to show that Congress was subsequently
informed of the execution and existence of SC-46. The reporting
VIII requirement is an equally important requisite to the validity of any
service contract involving the exploration, development, and utilization
Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was not the signatory to of Philippine petroleum. Public respondents' failure to report to
SC-46, contrary to the requirement set by paragraph 4 of Article XII, Congress about SC-46 effectively took away any opportunity for the
Section 2 for service contracts involving the exploration of petroleum. legislative branch to scrutinize its terms and conditions.
SC-46 was entered into by then Department of Energy Secretary Vicente
S. Perez, Jr., on behalf of the government. I agree with the Main In sum, SC-46 was executed and implemented absent all the
Opinion that in cases where the Constitution or law requires the requirements provided under paragraph 4 of Article XII, Section 2. It is,
President to act personally on the matter, the duty cannot be delegated to therefore, null and void.
another public official.41 La Bugal highlights the importance of the
President's involvement, being one of the constitutional safeguards X
against abuse and corruption, as not mere formality:
I am of the view that SC-46, aside from not having complied with the
At this point, we sum up the matters established, based on a careful 1987 Constitution, is also null and void for being violative of
reading of the ConCom deliberations, as follows: environmental laws protecting Taon Strait. In particular, SC-46 was
implemented despite falling short of the requirements of the National
In their deliberations on what was to become paragraph 4, the framers Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992.
used the term service contracts in referring to agreements x x x
involving either technical or financial assistance. They spoke of As a protected seascape under Presidential Decree No. 1234,43 Taon
service contracts as the concept was understood in the 1973 Strait is covered by the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act
Constitution. of 1992. This law declares as a matter of policy:
SEC. 2. Declaration of Policy. Cognizant of the profound impact of The same provision further requires that an Environmental Compliance
man's activities on all components of the natural environment Certificate be secured under the Philippine Environmental Impact
particularly the effect of increasing population, resource exploitation Assessment System before arty project is implemented:
and industrial advancement and recognizing the critical importance of
protecting and maintaining the natural biological and physical No actual implementation of such activities shall be allowed without the
diversities of the environment notably on areas with biologically unique required Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) under the
features to sustain human life and development, as well as plant and Philippine Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) system. In instances
animal life, it is hereby declared the policy of the State to secure for the where such activities are allowed to be undertaken, the proponent shall
Filipino people of present and future generations the perpetual existence plan and carry them out in such manner as will minimize any adverse
of all native plants and animals through the establishment of a effects and take preventive and remedial action when appropriate. The
comprehensive system of integrated protected areas within the proponent shall be liable for any damage due to lack of caution or
classification of national park as provided for in the Constitution. indiscretion.46 (Emphasis supplied)

It is hereby recognized that these areas, although distinct in features, In projects involving the exploration or utilization of energy resources,
possess common ecological values that may be incorporated into a the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 additionally
holistic plan representative of our natural heritage; that effective requires that a program be approved by the Department of Environment
administration of these areas is possible only through cooperation and Natural Resources, which shall be publicly accessible. The program
among national government, local and concerned private organizations; shall also be submitted to the President, who in turn will recommend the
that the use and enjoyment of these protected areas must be consistent program to Congress. Furthermore, Congress must enact a law
with the principles of biological diversity and sustainable development. specifically allowing the exploitation of energy resources found within a
protected area such as Taon Strait:
To this end, there is hereby established a National Integrated Protected
Areas System (NIPAS), which shall encompass outstanding remarkable SEC. 14. Survey for Energy Resources. - Consistent with the policies
areas and biologically important public lands that are habitats of rare declared in Section 2, hereof, protected areas, except strict nature
and endangered species of plants and animals, biogeographic zones and reserves and natural parks, may be subjected to exploration only for the
related ecosystems, whether terrestrial, wetland or marine, all of which purpose of gathering information on energy resources and only if such
shall be designated as "protected areas."44 (Emphasis supplied) activity is carried out with the least damage to surrounding areas.
Surveys shall be conducted only in accordance with a program approved
Pursuant to this law, any proposed activity in Taon Strait must undergo by the DENR, and the result of such surveys shall be made available to
an Environmental Impact Assessment: the public and submitted to the President for recommendation to
Congress. Any exploitation and utilization of energy resources found
SEC. 12. Environmental Impact Assessment. - Proposals for activities within NIPAS areas shall be allowed only through a taw passed by
which are outside the scope of the management plan for protected areas Congress.47 (Emphasis supplied)
shall be subject to an environmental impact assessment as required by
law before they are adopted, and the results thereof shall be taken into Public respondents argue that SC-46 complied with the procedural
consideration in the decision-making process.45 (Emphasis supplied) requirements of obtaining an Environmental Compliance
48
Certificate. At any rate, they assert that the activities covered by SC-46
fell under Section 14 of the National Integrated Protected Areas System
Act of 1992, which they interpret to be an exception to Section 12. They
argue that the Environmental Compliance Certificate is not a strict ACCORDINGLY, I vote:
requirement for the validity of SC-46 since (a) the Taon Strait is not a
nature' reserve or natural park; (b) the exploration was merely for (a) to DISMISS G.R. No. 180771 for lack of standing and STRIKE
gathering information; and ( c) measures were in place to ensure that the OUT the name of Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo from the
exploration caused the least possible damage to the area.49 title of this case;

Section 14 is not an exception to Section 12, but instead provides (b) to GRANT G.R. No. 181527; and
additional requirements for cases involving Philippine energy resources.
The National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992 was (c) to DECLARE SERVICE CONTRACT 46 NULL AND VOID for
enacted to recognize the importance of protecting the environment in violating the 1987 Constitution, Republic Act No. 7586, and
light of resource exploitation, among others.50 Systems are put in place Presidential Decree No. 1234.
to secure for Filipinos local resources under the most favorable
conditions. With the status of Taon Strait as a protected seascape, the MARVIC M.V.F. LEONEN
institution of additional legal safeguards is even more significant. Associate Justice

Public respondents did not validly obtain an Environmental Compliance


Certificate for SC-46. Based on the records, JAPEX commissioned an
environmental impact evaluation only in the second subphase of its
project, with the Environmental Management .Bureau of Region

VII granting the project an Environmental Compliance Certificate on


March 6, 2007.51

Despite its scale, the seismic surveys from May 9 to 18, 2005 were
conducted without any environmental assessment contrary to Section 12
of the National Integrated Protected Areas System Act of 1992.

XI

Finally, we honor every living creature when we take care of our


environment. As sentient species, we do not lack in the wisdom or
sensitivity to realize that we only borrow the resources that we use to Republic of the Philippines
survive and to thrive. We are not incapable of mitigating the greed that SUPREME COURT
is slowly causing the demise of our planet. Thus, there is no need for us Manila
to feign representation of any other species or some imagined unborn
generation in filing any action in our courts of law to claim any of our EN BANC
fundamental rights to a healthful ecology. In this way and with candor
and courage, we fully shoulder the responsibility deserving of the grace G.R. No. L-48321 August 31, 1946
and power endowed on our species.
OH CHO, applicant-appellee, purchase or by grant below to the public domain. An exception to the
vs. rule would be any land that should have been in the possession of an
THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, oppositor-appellant. occupant and of his predecessors in interest since time immemorial, for
such possession would justify the presumption that the land had never
Office of the Solicitor General Roman Ozaeta and Assistant Solicitor been part of the public domain or that it had been a private property
General Rafael Amparo for appellant. even before the Spanish conquest. (Cario vs.Insular Government, 212
Vicente Constantino for appellee. U.S., 449; 53 Law. Ed., 594.) The applicant does not come under the
Ferrier, Gomez and Sotelo and J. T. Chuidian as amici curiae. exception, for the earliest possession of the lot by his first predecessors
in interest begun in 1880.
PADILLA, J.:
As the applicant failed to show title to the lot, the next question is
This is an appeal from a judgment decreeing the registration of a whether he is entitled to decree or registration of the lot, because he is
residential lot located in the municipality of Guinayangan, Province of alien disqualified from acquiring lands of the public domain (sections
Tayabas in the name of the applicant. 48, 49, C.A. No. 141).

The opposition of the Director of Lands is based on the applicant's lack As the applicant failed to show the title to the lot, and has invoked the
of title to the lot, and on his disqualification, as alien, from acquiring provisions of the Public Land Act, it seems unnecessary to make
lands of the public domain. pronouncement in this case on the nature or classifications of the sought
to be registered.
The applicant, who is an alien, and his predecessors in interest have
been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the lot It may be argued that under the provisions of the Public Land Act the
from 1880 to filing of the application for registration on January 17, applicant immediate predecessor in interest would have been entitled to
1940. a decree of registration of the lot had they applied for its registration;
and that he having purchased or acquired it, the right of his immediate
The Solicitor General reiterates the second objection of the opponent predecessor in interest to a decree of registration must be deemed also to
and adds that the lower court, committed an error in not declaring null have been acquired by him. The benefits provided in the Public Land
and void the sale of the lot to the applicant. Act for applicant's immediate predecessors in interest should comply
with the condition precedent for the grant of such benefits. The
The applicant invokes the Land Registration Act (Act No. 496), or condition precedent is to apply for the registration of the land of which
should it not be applicable to the case, then he would apply for the they had been in possession at least since July 26, 1894. This the
benefits of the Public Land Act (C.A. No. 141). applicant's immediate predecessors in interest failed to do. They did not
have any vested right in the lot amounting to the title which was
The applicant failed to show that he has title to the lot that may be transmissible to the applicant. The only right, if it may thus be called, is
confirmed under the Land Registration Act. He failed to show that he or their possession of the lot which, tacked to that of their predecessors in
any of his predecessors in interest had acquired the lot from the interest, may be availed of by a qualified person to apply for its
Government, either by purchase or by grant, under the laws, orders and registration but not by a person as the applicant who is disqualified.
decrease promulgated by the Spanish Government in the Philippines, or
by possessory information under the Mortgaged Law (section 19, Act It is urged that the sale of the lot to the applicant should have been
496). All lands that were not acquired from the Government, either by declared null and void. In a suit between vendor and vendee for the
annulment of the sale, such pronouncement would be necessary, if the Republic of the Philippines
court were of the opinion that it is void. It is not necessary in this case SUPREME COURT
where the vendors do not even object to the application filed by the Manila
vendee.
THIRD DIVISION
Accordingly, judgment is reversed and the application for registration
dismissed, without costs. G.R. No. 112567 February 7, 2000

Moran, C.J., Feria, Pablo, Hilado and Bengzon, JJ., concur. THE DIRECTOR, LANDS MANAGEMENT BUREAU, petitioner,
vs.
COURT OF APPEALS and AQUILINO L. CARIO, respondents.

PURISIMA, J.:

At bar is a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules


of Court, seeking to set aside the Decision of the Court of Appeals,
dated November 11, 1993, in CA-G.R. No. 29218, which affirmed the
Decision, dated February 5, 1990, of Branch XXIV, Regional Trial
Court of Laguna, in LRC No. B-467, ordering the registration of Lot
No. 6 in the name of the private respondent.

The facts that matter are as follows:

On May 15, 1975, the private respondent, Aquilino Cario, filed with
the then Branch I, Court of First Instance of Laguna, a petition 1 for
registration of Lot No. 6, a sugar land with an area of forty-three
thousand six hundred fourteen (43,614) square meters, more or less,
forming part of a bigger tract of land surveyed as Psu-108952 and
situated in Barrio Sala, Cabuyao, Laguna.

Private respondent declared that subject land was originally owned by


his mother, Teresa Lauchangco, who died on February 15, 1911, 2 and
later administered by him in behalf of his five brothers and sisters, after
the death of their father in 1934.3

In 1949, private respondent and his brother, Severino Cario, became


co-owners of Lot No. 6 by virtue of an extra-judicial partition of the
land embraced in Plan Psu-108952, among the heirs of Teresa
Lauchangco. On July 26, 1963, through another deed of extrajudicial
settlement, sole ownership of Lot No. 6 was adjudicated to the private WHEREFORE, the Count hereby orders and declares the registration
respondent.4 and confirmation of title to one (1) parcel of land identified as Lot 6,
plan Psu-108952, identical to Cadastral Lot No. 3015, Cad. 455-D,
Pertinent report of the Land Investigator of the Bureau of Lands (now Cabuyao Cadastre, situated in the barrio of Sala, municipality of
Bureau of Lands Management), disclosed: Cabuyao, province of Laguna, containing an area of FORTY THREE
THOUSAND SIX HUNDRED FOURTEEN (43,614) Square Meters,
xxx xxx xxx more or less, in favor of applicant AQUILINO L. CARINO, married to
Francisca Alomia, of legal age, Filipino, with residence and postal
1. That the land subject for registration thru judicial confirmation of address at Bian, Laguna.
imperfect title is situated in the barrio of Sala, municipality of Cabuyao,
province of Laguna as described on plan Psu-108952 and is identical to After this decision shall have become final, let an order for the issuance
Lot No. 3015, Cad. 455-0, Cabuyao Cadastre; and that the same is of decree of registration be issued.
agricultural in nature and the improvements found thereon are
sugarcane, bamboo clumps, chico and mango trees and one house of the SO ORDERED.6
tenant made of light materials;
From the aforesaid decision, petitioner (as oppositor) went to the Court
2. That the land subject for registration is outside any civil or military of Appeals, which, on November 11, 1993, affirmed the decision
reservation, riverbed, park and watershed reservation and that same land appealed from.
is free from claim and conflict;
Undaunted, petitioner found his way to this Court via the present
3. That said land is neither inside the relocation site earmarked for Petition; theorizing that:
Metro Manila squatters nor any pasture lease; it is not covered by any
existing public land application and no patent or title has been issued I
therefor;
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT
4. That the herein petitioner has been in continuous, open and exclusive PRIVATE RESPONDENT HAS NOT SUBMITTED PROOF OF HIS
possession of the land who acquired the same thru inheritance from his FEE SIMPLE TITLE OR PROOF OF POSSESSION IN THE
deceased mother, Teresa Lauchangco as mentioned on the Extra-judicial MANNER AND FOR THE LENGTH OF TIME REQUIRED BY THE
partition dated July 26, 1963 which applicant requested that said LAW TO JUSTIFY CONFIRMATION OF AN IMPERFECT TITLE.
instrument will be presented on the hearing of this case; and that said
land is also declared for taxation purposes under Tax Declaration No. II
6359 in the name of the petitioner;
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THAT
5
xxx xxx xxx PRIVATE RESPONDENT HAS NOT OVERTHROWN THE
PRESUMPTION THAT THE LAND IS A PORTION OF THE PUBLIC
With the private respondent as lone witness for his petition, and the DOMAIN BELONGING TO THE REPUBLIC OF THE
Director of Lands as the only oppositor, the proceedings below ended. PHILIPPINES.7
On February 5, 1990, on the basis of the evidence on record, the trial
court granted private respondent's petition, disposing thus: The Petition is impressed with merit.
The petition for land registration8 at bar is under the Land Registration claim of acquisition or ownership, for at least thirty years immediately
Act.9 Pursuant to said Act, he who alleges in his petition or application, preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title except
ownership in fee simple, must present muniments of title since the when prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be conclusively
Spanish times, such as a titulo real or royal grant, a concession especial presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a
or special grant, a composicion con al estado or adjustment title, or Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the
a titulo de compra or title through purchase; and "informacion provisions of this chapter. (Emphasis supplied)
possessoria" or "possessory information title", which would become a
"titulo gratuito" or a gratuitous title.10 Possession of public lands, however long, never confers title upon the
possessor, unless the occupant can prove possession or occupation of
In the case under consideration, the private respondents (petitioner the same under claim of ownership for the required period to constitute
below) has not produced a single muniment of title substantiate his a grant from the State.13
claim of ownership.11 The Court has therefore no other recourse, but to
dismiss private respondent's petition for the registration of subject land Notwithstanding absence of opposition from the government, the
under Act 496. petitioner in land registration cases is not relieved of the burden of
proving the imperfect right or title sought to be confirmed. In Director
Anyway, even if considered as petition for confirmation of imperfect of Lands vs. Agustin,14 this Court stressed that:
title under the Public land Act (CA No. 141), as amended, private
respondent's petition would meet the same fate. For insufficiency of . . . The petitioner is not necessarily entitled to have the land registered
evidence, its denial is inevitable. The evidence adduced by the private under the Torrens system simply because no one appears to oppose his
respondent is not enough to prove his possession of subject lot in title and to oppose the registration of his land. He must show, even
concept of owner, in the manner and for the number of years required by though there is no opposition, to the satisfaction of the court, that he is
law for the confirmation of imperfect title. the absolute owner, in fee simple. Courts are not justified in registering
property under the Torrens system, simply because there is no
Sec. 48(b) of Commonwealth Act No. 141,12 as amended R.A. No. 1942 opposition offered. Courts may, even in the absence of any opposition,
and R.A. No. 3872, the law prevailing at the time the Petition of private deny the registration of the land under the Torrens system, upon the
respondent was filed on May 15, 1975, provides: ground that the facts presented did not show that petitioner is the owner,
in fee simple, of the land which he is attempting to have registered.15
Sec. 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines, occupying
lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an There is thus an imperative necessity of the most rigorous scrutiny
interest therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, before imperfect titles over public agricultural lands may be granted
may apply to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land judicial
is located for confirmation of their claim and the issuance of title recognition.16
therefor, under the Land Registration Act, to wit:
The underlying principle is that all lands that were not acquired from the
xxx xxx xxx government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the state as part of
the public domain. As enunciated in Republic vs. Lee:17
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest
have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and . . . Both under the 1935 and the present Constitutions, the conservation
occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide no less than the utilization of the natural resources is ordained. There
would be a failure to abide by its command if the judiciary does not brother, Severino Cario. The same was followed by Tax Declaration
scrutinize with care applications to private ownership of real estate. To No. 1921 issued in 1969 declaring an assessed value of Five Thousand
be granted, they must be grounded in well-nigh incontrovertible Two Hundred Thirty-three (P5,233.00) Pesos and Tax Declaration No.
evidence. Where, as in this case, no such proof would be forthcoming, 6359 issued in 1974 in the name of private respondent, declaring an
there is no justification for viewing such claim with favor. It is a basic assessment of Twenty-One Thousand Seven Hundred Seventy
assumption of our polity that lands of whatever classification belong to (P21,770.00) Pesos.21
the state. Unless alienated in accordance with law, it retains its right
over the same as dominus. . . .18 It bears stressing that the Exhibit "E" referred to in the decision below
as the tax declaration for subject land under the names of the parents of
In order that a petition for registration of land may prosper and the herein private respondent does not appear to have any sustainable basis.
petitioners may savor the benefit resulting from the issuance of Said Exhibit "E" shows that it is Tax Declaration 1921 for Lot No. 6 in
certificate of title for the land petitioned for, the burden is upon him the name of private respondent and not in the name of his parents.22
(petitioner) to show that he and/or his predecessor-in-interest has been
in open, continuous, exclusive, and adverse possession and occupation The rule that findings of fact by the trial court and the Court of Appeals
of the land sought for registration, for at least (30) thirty years are binding upon this Court is not without exceptions. Where, as in this
immediately preceding the filing of the petition for confirmation of case, pertinent records belie the findings by the lower courts that subject
title.19 land was declared for taxation purposes in the name of private
respondent's predecessor-in-interest, such findings have to be
In the case under consideration, private respondent can only trace his disregarded by this Court. In Republic vs. Court of Appeals,23 the Court
own possession of subject parcel of land to the year 1949, when the ratiocinated thus:
same was adjudicated to him by virtue of an extra-judicial settlement
and partition. Assuming that such a partition was truly effected, the This case represents an instance where the findings of the lower court
private respondent has possessed the property thus partitioned for only overlooked certain facts of substance and value that if considered would
twenty-six (26) years as of 1975, when he filed his petition for the affect the result of the case (People v. Royeras, 130 SCRA 259) and
registration thereof. To bridge the gap, he proceeded to tack his when it appears that the appellate court based its judgment on a
possession to what he theorized upon as possession of the same land by misapprehension of facts (Carolina Industries, Inc. v. CMS Stock
his parents. However, other than his unilateral assertion, private Brokerage, Inc., et al., 97 SCRA 734; Moran, Jr. v. Court of Appeals,
respondent has not introduced sufficient evidence to substantiate his 133 SCRA 88; Director of Lands v. Funtillar, et al., G.R. No. 68533,
allegation that his late mother possessed the land in question even prior May 3, 1986). This case therefore is an exception to the general rule that
to 1911.1wphi1.nt the findings of facts of the Court of Appeals are final and conclusive and
cannot be reviewed on appeal to this Court.'
Basic is the rule that the petitioner in a land registration case must prove
the facts and circumstances evidencing his alleged ownership of the and
land applied for. General statements, which are mere conclusions of law
and not factual proof of possession are unavailing and cannot suffice.20 . . . in the interest of substantial justice this Court is not prevented from
considering such a pivotal factual matter that had been overlooked by
From the relevant documentary evidence, it can be gleaned that the the Courts below. The Supreme Court is clothed with ample authority to
earliest tax declaration covering Lot No. 6 was Tax Declaration No. review palpable errors not assigned as such if it finds that their
3214 issued in 1949 under the names of the private respondent and his consideration is necessary in arriving at a just decision.24
Verily, the Court of Appeals just adopted entirely the findings of the trial burden, private respondent failed to discharge to the satisfaction of the
court. Had it examined the original records of the case, the said court Court. The bare assertion that the spouses Urbano Diaz and Bernarda
could have verified that the land involved was never declared for Vinluan had been in possession of the property for more than twenty
taxation purposes by the parents of the respondent. Tax receipts and tax (20) years found in private respondent's declaration is hardly the "well-
declarations are not incontrovertible evidence of ownership. They are nigh incontrovertible" evidence required in cases of this nature. Private
mere indicia of claim of ownership.25 In Director of Lands respondent should have presented specific facts that would have shown
vs. Santiago.26 the nature of such possession. . . .30

. . . if it is true that the original owner and possessor, Generosa Santiago, In Director of Lands vs. Datu,31 the application for confirmation of
had been in possession since 1925, why were the subject lands declared imperfect title was likewise denied on the basis of the following
for taxation purposes for the first time only in 1968, and in the names of disquisition, to wit:
Garcia and Obdin? For although tax receipts and declarations of
ownership for taxation purposes are not incontrovertible evidence of We hold that applicants' nebulous evidence does not support their claim
ownership, they constitute at least proof that the holder had a claim of of open, continuous, exclusive and notorious occupation of Lot No.
title over the property.27 2027-B en concepto de dueo. Although they claimed that they have
possessed the land since 1950, they declared it for tax purposes only in
As stressed by the Solicitor General, the contention of private 1972. It is not clear whether at the time they filed their application in
respondent that his mother had been in possession of subject land even 1973, the lot was still cogon land or already cultivated land.
prior to 1911 is self-serving, hearsay, and inadmissible in evidence. The
phrase "adverse, continuous, open, public, and in concept of owner", by They did not present as witness their predecessor, Peaflor, to testify on
which characteristics private respondent describes his possession and his alleged possession of the land. They alleged in their application that
that of his parents, are mere conclusions of law requiring evidentiary they had tenants on the land. Not a single tenant was presented as
support and substantiation. The burden of proof is on the private witness to prove that the applicants had possessed the land as owners.
respondent, as applicant, to prove by clear, positive and convincing
evidence that the alleged possession of his parents was of the nature and xxx xxx xxx
duration required by law. His bare allegations without more, do not
amount to preponderant evidence that would shift the burden of proof to On the basis of applicants' insubstantial evidence, it cannot justifiably
the oppositor.28 be concluded that they have an imperfect title that should be confirmed
or that they had performed all the conditions essential to a Government
In a case,29 this Court set aside the decisions of the trial court and the grant of a portion of the public domain.32
Court of Appeals for the registration of a parcel of land in the name of
the applicant, pursuant to Section 48 (b) of the Public Land Law; Neither can private respondent seek refuge under P.D. No.
holding as follows: 1073,33 amending Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act No. 141 under
which law a certificate of title may issue to any occupant of a public
Based on the foregoing, it is incumbent upon private respondent to land, who is a Filipino citizen, upon proof of open, continuous
prove that the alleged twenty year or more possession of the spouses exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation since June 12, 1945,
Urbano Diaz and Bernarda Vinluan which supposedly formed part of or earlier. Failing to prove that his predecessors-in-interest occupied
the thirty (30) year period prior to the filing of the application, was subject land under the conditions laid down by law, the private
open, continuous, exclusive, notorious and in concept of owners. This
respondent could only establish his possession since 1949, four years Republic of the Philippines
later than June 12, 1945, as set by law. SUPREME COURT
Manila
The Court cannot apply here the juris et de jure presumption that the lot
being claimed by the private respondent ceased to be a public land and SECOND DIVISION
has become private property.34 To reiterate, under the Regalian doctrine
all lands belong to the State. 35 Unless alienated in accordance with law, G.R. No. 171631 November 15, 2010
it retains its basic rights over the same as dominus.36
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner,
Private respondent having failed to come forward with muniments of vs.
title to reinforce his petition for registration under the Land Registration AVELINO R. DELA PAZ, ARSENIO R. DELA PAZ, JOSE R.
Act (Act 496), and to present convincing and positive proof of his open, DELA PAZ, and GLICERIO R. DELA PAZ, represented by JOSE
continuous, exclusive and notorious occupation of Lot No. 6 en R. DELA PAZ, Respondents.
concepto de dueo for at least 30 years immediately preceding the filing
of his petition,37 the Court is of the opinion, and so finds, that subject DECISION
Lot No. 6 surveyed under Psu-108952, forms part of the public domain
not registrable in the name of private respondent. PERALTA, J.:

WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED; the Decision of the Court of Before this Court is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of
Appeals, dated November 11, 1993, in CA-G.R. No. 29218 affirming the Rules of Court seeking to set aside the Decision 1 of the Court of
the Decision, dated February 5, 1990, of Branch XXIV, Regional Trial Appeals (CA), dated February 15, 2006, in CA-G.R. CV No. 84206,
Court of Laguna in LRC No. 8-467, is SET ASIDE; and Lot No. 6, which affirmed the Decision2 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Pasig
covered by and more particularly described in Psu-108952, is hereby City, Branch 167, in LRC Case No. N-11514, granting respondents
declared a public land, under the administrative supervision and power application for registration and confirmation of title over a parcel of
of disposition of the Bureau of Lands Management. No pronouncement land located in Barangay Ibayo, Napindan, Taguig, Metro Manila.
as to costs.1wphi1.nt
The factual milieu of this case is as follows:
SO ORDERED.
On November 13, 2003, respondents Avelino R. dela Paz, Arsenio R.
Melo, Vitug, Panganiban and Gonzaga-Reyes, JJ., concur. dela Paz, Jose R. dela Paz, and Glicerio R. dela Paz, represented by Jose
R. dela Paz (Jose), filed with the RTC of Pasig City an application for
registration of land3 under Presidential Decree No. 1529 (PD 1529)
otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree. The application
covered a parcel of land with an area of 25,825 square meters, situated
at Ibayo, Napindan, Taguig, Metro Manila, described under survey Plan
Ccn-00-000084, (Conversion Consolidated plan of Lot Nos. 3212 and
3234, MCADM 590-D, Taguig Cadastral Mapping). Together with their
application for registration, respondents submitted the following
documents: (1) Special power of attorney showing that the respondents
authorized Jose dela Paz to file the application; (2) Conversion their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive
Consolidated plan of Lot Nos. 3212 and 3234, MCADM 590-D, Taguig and notorious possession and occupation of the land in question for a
Cadastral Mapping (Ccn-00-000084) with the annotation that the survey period of not less than thirty (30) years; (2) that the muniments of title,
is inside L.C. Map No. 2623 Proj. No. 27-B classified as and/or the tax declarations and tax payments receipts of applicants, if
alienable/disposable by the Bureau of Forest Development, Quezon City any, attached to or alleged in the application, do not constitute
on January 03, 1968; (3) Technical Descriptions of Ccn-00-000084; (4) competent and sufficient evidence of bona fide acquisition of the land
Geodetic Engineer's Certificate; (5) Tax Declaration No. FL-018-01466; applied for; and (3) that the parcel of land applied for is a portion of
(6) Salaysay ng Pagkakaloob dated June 18, 1987; (7) Sinumpaang public domain belonging to the Republic not subject to private
Pahayag sa Paglilipat sa Sarili ng mga Pagaari ng Namatay dated March appropriation. Except for the Republic, there was no other oppositor to
10, 1979; (8) Certification that the subject lots are not covered by any the application.
land patent or any public land appilcation; and (9) Certification by the
Office of the Treasurer, Municipality of Taguig, Metro Manila, that the On May 5, 2004, the trial court issued an Order of General
tax on the real property for the year 2003 has been paid. Default6 against the whole world except as against the Republic.
Thereafter, respondents presented their evidence in support of their
Respondents alleged that they acquired the subject property, which is an application.
agricultural land, by virtue of Salaysay ng Pagkakaloob4 dated June 18,
1987, executed by their parents Zosimo dela Paz and Ester dela Paz In its Decision dated November 17, 2004, the RTC granted respondents'
(Zosimo and Ester), who earlier acquired the said property from their application for registration of the subject property. The dispositive
deceased parent Alejandro dela Paz (Alejandro) by virtue of portion of the decision states:
a "Sinumpaang Pahayag sa Paglilipat sa Sarili ng mga Pag-aari ng
Namatay5 dated March 10, 1979. In their application, respondents WHEREFORE, affirming the order of general default hereto entered,
claimed that they are co-owners of the subject parcel of land and they judgment is hereby rendered AFFIRMING and CONFIRMING the title
have been in continuous, uninterrupted, open, public, adverse of AVELINO R. DELA PAZ, Arsenio R. dela Paz, Jose R. dela Paz and
possession of the same, in the concept of owner since they acquired it in Glicerio R. dela Paz, all married and residents of and with postal
1987. Respondents further averred that by way of tacking of possession, address at No. 65 Ibayo, Napindan, Taguig, Metro Manila, over a parcel
they, through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, public, of land described and bounded under Plan Ccn-00-000084
adverse, continuous, and uninterrupted possession of the same, in the (consolidation of Lots No. 3212 and 3234, Mcadm-590-D, Taguig,
concept of an owner even before June 12, 1945, or for a period of more Cadastral Mapping, containing Twenty-Five Thousand Eight Hundred
than fifty (50) years since the filing of the application of registration Twenty-Five (25,825) Square Meters, more or less, situated at Barangay
with the trial court. They maintained that the subject property is Ibayo, Napindan, Taguig, Metro Manila, under the operation of P.D.
classified as alienable and disposable land of the public domain. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree.

The case was set for initial hearing on April 30, 2004. On said date, After the decision shall have been become final and executory and,
respondents presented documentary evidence to prove compliance with upon payment of all taxes and other charges due on the land, the order
the jurisdictional requirements of the law. for the issuance of a decree of registration shall be accordingly
undertaken.
Petitioner Republic of the Philippines (Republic), through the Office of
the Solicitor General (OSG), opposed the application for registration on SO ORDERED.7
the following grounds, among others: (1) that neither the applicants nor
Aggrieved by the Decision, petitioner filed a Notice of Appeal. 8 The owner. Respondents also failed to establish that the subject property is
CA, in its Decision dated February 15, 2006, dismissed the appeal and within the alienable and disposable portion of the public domain. The
affirmed the decision of the RTC. The CA ruled that respondents were subject property remained to be owned by the State under the Regalian
able to show that they have been in continuous, open, exclusive and Doctrine.
notorious possession of the subject property through themselves and
their predecessors-in-interest. The CA found that respondents acquired In their Memorandum, respondents alleged that they were able to
the subject land from their predecessors-in-interest, who have been in present evidence of specific acts of ownership showing open, notorious,
actual, continuous, uninterrupted, public and adverse possession in the continuous and adverse possession and occupation in the concept of an
concept of an owner since time immemorial. The CA, likewise, held owner of the subject land. To prove their continuous and uninterrupted
that respondents were able to present sufficient evidence to establish possession of the subject land, they presented several tax declarations,
that the subject property is part of the alienable and disposable lands of dated 1949, 1966, 1974, 1979, 1980, 1985, 1991, 1994 and 2000, issued
the public domain. Hence, the instant petition raising the following in the name of their predecessors-in-interest. In addition, respondents
grounds: presented a tax clearance issued by the Treasurer's Office of the City of
Taguig to show that they are up to date in their payment of real property
I taxes. Respondents maintain that the annotations appearing on the
survey plan of the subject land serves as sufficient proof that the land is
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE TRIAL within the alienable and disposable portion of the public domain.
COURT'S ORDER GRANTING RESPONDENTS' APPLICATION Finally, respondents assert that the issues raised by the petitioner are
FOR REGISTRATION OF THE SUBJECT LOT CONSIDERING questions of fact which the Court should not consider in a petition for
THAT THE EVIDENCE ON RECORD FAILED TO ESTABLISH review under Rule 45.
THAT RESPONDENTS HAVE BEEN IN OPEN, CONTINUOUS,
EXCLUSIVE AND NOTORIOUS POSSESSION OF THE SUBJECT The petition is meritorious.
LOT IN THE CONCEPT OF AN OWNER.
In petitions for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Revised Rules
II of Court, this Court is limited to reviewing only errors of law, not of
fact, unless the factual findings complained of are devoid of support by
THE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN ORDERING THE the evidence on record, or the assailed judgment is based on a
REGISTRATION OF THE SUBJECT LOT IN RESPONDENTS' misapprehension of facts.10 It is not the function of this Court to analyze
NAME CONSIDERING THAT NO EVIDENCE WAS FORMALLY or weigh evidence all over again, unless there is a showing that the
OFFERED TO PROVE THAT THE SAME IS WITHIN THE findings of the lower court are totally devoid of support or are glaringly
ALIENABLE AND DISPOSABLE AREA OF THE PUBLIC erroneous as to constitute palpable error or grave abuse of discretion.11
DOMAIN.9
In the present case, the records do not support the findings made by the
In its Memorandum, petitioner claims that the CA's findings that CA that the subject land is part of the alienable and disposable portion
respondents and their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, of the public domain.
uninterrupted, public, and adverse possession in the concept of owners,
for more than fifty years or even before June 12, 1945, was Section 14 (1) of PD 1529, otherwise known as the Property
unsubstantiated. Respondents failed to show actual or constructive Registration Decree provides:
possession and occupation over the subject land in the concept of an
SEC. 14. Who may apply. - The following persons may file in the This survey is inside L.C. Map No. 2623 Proj. No. 27-B clasified as
proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to alienable/disposable by the Bureau of Forest Development, Quezon City
land, whether personally or through their duly authorized on Jan. 03, 1968.
representatives:
Respondents' reliance on the afore-mentioned annotation is misplaced.
(1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest
have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and In Republic v. Sarmiento,17 the Court ruled that the notation of the
occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under surveyor-geodetic engineer on the blue print copy of the conversion and
a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier. subdivision plan approved by the Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR) Center, that "this survey is inside the
From the foregoing, respondents need to prove that (1) the land forms alienable and disposable area, Project No. 27-B. L.C. Map No. 2623,
part of the alienable and disposable land of the public domain; and (2) certified on January 3, 1968 by the Bureau of Forestry," is insufficient
they, by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest, have been and does not constitute incontrovertible evidence to overcome the
in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation presumption that the land remains part of the inalienable public domain.
of the subject land under a bona fide claim of ownership from June 12,
1945 or earlier.12 These the respondents must prove by no less than Further, in Republic v. Tri-plus Corporation,18 the Court held that:
clear, positive and convincing evidence.13
In the present case, the only evidence to prove the character of the
Under the Regalian doctrine, which is embodied in our Constitution, all subject lands as required by law is the notation appearing in the
lands of the public domain belong to the State, which is the source of Advance Plan stating in effect that the said properties are alienable and
any asserted right to any ownership of land. All lands not appearing to disposable. However, this is hardly the kind of proof required by law. To
be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable,
Accordingly, public lands not shown to have been reclassified or an applicant must establish the existence of a positive act of the
released as alienable agricultural land, or alienated to a private person government, such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order,
by the State, remain part of the inalienable public domain.14 The burden an administrative action, investigation reports of Bureau of Lands
of proof in overcoming the presumption of State ownership of the lands investigators, and a legislative act or statute. The applicant may also
of the public domain is on the person applying for registration (or secure a certification from the Government that the lands applied for are
claiming ownership), who must prove that the land subject of the alienable and disposable. In the case at bar, while the Advance Plan
application is alienable or disposable. To overcome this presumption, bearing the notation was certified by the Lands Management Services of
incontrovertible evidence must be established that the land subject of the DENR, the certification refers only to the technical correctness of
the application (or claim) is alienable or disposable.15 the survey plotted in the said plan and has nothing to do whatsoever
with the nature and character of the property surveyed. Respondents
To support its contention that the land subject of the application for failed to submit a certification from the proper government agency to
registration is alienable, respondents presented survey Plan Ccn-00- prove that the lands subject for registration are indeed alienable and
00008416 (Conversion Consolidated plan of Lot Nos. 3212 & 3234, disposable.
MCADM 590-D, Taguig Cadastral Mapping) prepared by Geodetic
Engineer Arnaldo C. Torres with the following annotation: Furthermore, in Republic of the Philippines v. Rosila Roche,19 the Court
held that the applicant bears the burden of proving the status of the land.
In this connection, the Court has held that he must present a certificate
of land classification status issued by the Community Environment and Jose and Amado's testimonies consist merely of general statements with
Natural Resources Office (CENRO), or the Provincial Environment and no specific details as to when respondents' predecessors-in-interest
Natural Resources Office (PENRO) of the DENR. He must also prove began actual occupancy of the land subject of this case. While Jose
that the DENR Secretary had approved the land classification and testified that the subject land was previously owned by their parents
released the land as alienable and disposable, and that it is within the Zosimo and Ester, who earlier inherited the property from their parent
approved area per verification through survey by the CENRO or Alejandro, no clear evidence was presented to show Alejandro's mode
PENRO. Further, the applicant must present a copy of the original of acquisition of ownership and that he had been in possession of the
classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as true same on or before June 12, 1945, the period of possession required by
copy by the legal custodian of the official records. These facts must be law. It is a rule that general statements that are mere conclusions of law
established by the applicant to prove that the land is alienable and and not factual proof of possession are unavailing and cannot
disposable. suffice.25 An applicant in a land registration case cannot just harp on
mere conclusions of law to embellish the application but must impress
Clearly, the surveyor's annotation presented by respondents is not the thereto the facts and circumstances evidencing the alleged ownership
kind of proof required by law to prove that the subject land falls within and possession of the land.26
the alienable and disposable zone. Respondents failed to submit a
certification from the proper government agency to establish that the Respondents earliest evidence can be traced back to a tax declaration
subject land are part of the alienable and disposable portion of the issued in the name of their predecessors-in-interest only in the year
public domain. In the absence of incontrovertible evidence to prove that 1949. At best, respondents can only prove possession since said date.
the subject property is already classified as alienable and disposable, we What is required is open, exclusive, continuous and notorious
must consider the same as still inalienable public domain.20 possession by respondents and their predecessors-in-interest, under a
bona fide claim of ownership, since June 12, 1945 or
Anent respondents possession and occupation of the subject property, a earlier.27 Respondents failed to explain why, despite their claim that their
reading of the records failed to show that the respondents by themselves predecessors-in interest have possessed the subject properties in the
or through their predecessors-in-interest possessed and occupied the concept of an owner even before June 12, 1945, it was only in 1949 that
subject land since June 12, 1945 or earlier.1avvphil their predecessors-in-interest started to declare the same for purposes of
taxation. Well settled is the rule that tax declarations and receipts are not
The evidence submitted by respondents to prove their possession and conclusive evidence of ownership or of the right to possess land when
occupation over the subject property consists of the testimonies of Jose not supported by any other evidence. The fact that the disputed property
and Amado Geronimo (Amado), the tenant of the adjacent lot. However, may have been declared for taxation purposes in the names of the
their testimonies failed to establish respondents predecessors-in- applicants for registration or of their predecessors-in-interest does not
interest' possession and occupation of subject property since June 12, necessarily prove ownership. They are merely indicia of a claim of
1945 or earlier. Jose, who was born on March 19, 1939, 21 testified that ownership.28
since he attained the age of reason he already knew that the land subject
of this case belonged to them.22 Amado testified that he was a tenant of The foregoing pieces of evidence, taken together, failed to paint a clear
the land adjacent to the subject property since 1950, 23 and on about the picture that respondents by themselves or through their predecessors-in-
same year, he knew that the respondents were occupying the subject interest have been in open, exclusive, continuous and notorious
land.24 possession and occupation of the subject land, under a bona fide claim
of ownership since June 12, 1945 or earlier.
Evidently, since respondents failed to prove that (1) the subject property
was classified as part of the disposable and alienable land of the public
domain; and (2) they and their predecessors-in-interest have been in
open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation
thereof under a bonafide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945 or
earlier, their application for confirmation and registration of the subject
property under PD 1529 should be denied.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The Decision of the Court


of Appeals dated February 15, 2006, in CA-G.R. CV No. 84206,
affirming the Decision of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch
167, in LRC Case No. N-11514, is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The
application for registration and confirmation of title filed by respondents
Avelino R. dela Paz, Arsenio R. dela Paz, Jose R. dela Paz, and Glicerio
R. dela Paz, as represented by Jose R. dela Paz, over a parcel of land,
with a total area of twenty-five thousand eight hundred twenty-five Republic of the Philippines
(25,825) square meters situated at Barangay Ibayo, Napindan, Taguig, SUPREME COURT
Metro Manila, is DENIED. Manila

SO ORDERED. FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. L-43938 April 15, 1988

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES (DIRECTOR OF FOREST


DEVELOPMENT), petitioner,
vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS (THIRD DIVISION) and JOSE Y.
DE LA ROSA, respondents.

G.R. No. L-44081 April 15, 1988

BENGUET CONSOLIDATED, INC., petitioner,


vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, JOSE Y. DE LA ROSA, VICTORIA,
BENJAMIN and EDUARDO, all surnamed DE LA ROSA,
represented by their father JOSE Y. DE LA ROSA, respondents.

G.R. No. L-44092 April 15, 1988


ATOK-BIG WEDGE MINING COMPANY, petitioner, father. 5 Balbalio presented her tax declaration in 1956 and the realty tax
vs. receipts from that year to 1964, 6 Alberto his tax declaration in 1961 and
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, JOSE Y. DE LA ROSA, VICTORlA, the realty tax receipts from that year to 1964. 7
BENJAMIN and EDUARDO, all surnamed DE LA ROSA,
represented by their father, JOSE Y. DE LA ROSA, respondents. Benguet opposed on the ground that the June Bug mineral claim
covering Lots 1-5 was sold to it on September 22, 1934, by the
successors-in-interest of James Kelly, who located the claim in
September 1909 and recorded it on October 14, 1909. From the date of
CRUZ, J.: its purchase, Benguet had been in actual, continuous and exclusive
possession of the land in concept of owner, as evidenced by its
The Regalian doctrine reserves to the State all natural wealth that may construction of adits, its affidavits of annual assessment, its geological
be found in the bowels of the earth even if the land where the discovery mappings, geological samplings and trench side cuts, and its payment of
is made be private. 1 In the cases at bar, which have been consolidated taxes on the land. 8
because they pose a common issue, this doctrine was not correctly
applied. For its part, Atok alleged that a portion of Lots 1-5 and all of Lots 6-9
were covered by the Emma and Fredia mineral claims located by
These cases arose from the application for registration of a parcel of Harrison and Reynolds on December 25, 1930, and recorded on January
land filed on February 11, 1965, by Jose de la Rosa on his own behalf 2, 1931, in the office of the mining recorder of Baguio. These claims
and on behalf of his three children, Victoria, Benjamin and Eduardo. were purchased from these locators on November 2, 1931, by Atok,
The land, situated in Tuding, Itogon, Benguet Province, was divided which has since then been in open, continuous and exclusive possession
into 9 lots and covered by plan Psu-225009. According to the of the said lots as evidenced by its annual assessment work on the
application, Lots 1-5 were sold to Jose de la Rosa and Lots 6-9 to his claims, such as the boring of tunnels, and its payment of annual taxes
children by Mamaya Balbalio and Jaime Alberto, respectively, in 1964. 2 thereon. 9

The application was separately opposed by Benguet Consolidated, Inc. The location of the mineral claims was made in accordance with Section
as to Lots 1-5, Atok Big Wedge Corporation, as to Portions of Lots 1-5 21 of the Philippine Bill of 1902 which provided that:
and all of Lots 6-9, and by the Republic of the Philippines, through the
Bureau of Forestry Development, as to lots 1-9. 3 SEC. 21. All valuable mineral deposits in public lands in the philippine
Islands both surveyed and unsurveyed are hereby declared to be free and
In support of the application, both Balbalio and Alberto testified that open to exploration, occupation and purchase and the land in which they
they had acquired the subject land by virtue of prescription Balbalio are found to occupation and purchase by the citizens of the United
claimed to have received Lots 1-5 from her father shortly after the States, or of said islands.
Liberation. She testified she was born in the land, which was possessed
by her parents under claim of ownership. 4 Alberto said he received Lots The Bureau of Forestry Development also interposed its objection,
6-9 in 1961 from his mother, Bella Alberto, who declared that the land arguing that the land sought to be registered was covered by the Central
was planted by Jaime and his predecessors-in-interest to bananas, Cordillera Forest Reserve under Proclamation No. 217 dated February
avocado, nangka and camote, and was enclosed with a barbed-wire 16, 1929. Moreover, by reason of its nature, it was not subject to
fence. She was corroborated by Felix Marcos, 67 years old at the time, alienation under the Constitutions of 1935 and 1973. 10
who recalled the earlier possession of the land by Alberto's
The trial court * denied the application, holding that the applicants had Lots 1 to 5 and all of Lots 6 to 9 are within the Emma and Fredia
failed to prove their claim of possession and ownership of the land mineral claims of Atok Big Wedge Mining Company.
sought to be registered. 11 The applicants appealed to the respondent
court, * which reversed the trial court and recognized the claims of the The June Bug mineral claim of Benguet and the Fredia and Emma
applicant, but subject to the rights of Benguet and Atok respecting their mineral claims of Atok having been perfected prior to the approval of
mining claims. 12 In other words, the Court of Appeals affirmed the the Constitution of the Philippines of 1935, they were removed from the
surface rights of the de la Rosas over the land while at the same time public domain and had become private properties of Benguet and Atok.
reserving the sub-surface rights of Benguet and Atok by virtue of their
mining claims. It is not disputed that the location of the mining claim under
consideration was perfected prior to November 15, 1935, when the
Both Benguet and Atok have appealed to this Court, invoking their Government of the Commonwealth was inaugurated; and according to
superior right of ownership. The Republic has filed its own petition for the laws existing at that time, as construed and applied by this court
review and reiterates its argument that neither the private respondents in McDaniel v. Apacible and Cuisia (42 Phil. 749), a valid location of a
nor the two mining companies have any valid claim to the land because mining claim segregated the area from the public domain. Said the court
it is not alienable and registerable. in that case: The moment the locator discovered a valuable mineral
deposit on the lands located, and perfected his location in accordance
It is true that the subject property was considered forest land and with law, the power of the United States Government to deprive him of
included in the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve, but this did not impair the exclusive right to the possession and enjoyment of the located claim
the rights already vested in Benguet and Atok at that time. The Court of was gone, the lands had become mineral lands and they were exempted
Appeals correctly declared that: from lands that could be granted to any other person. The reservations
of public lands cannot be made so as to include prior mineral perfected
There is no question that the 9 lots applied for are within the June Bug locations; and, of course, if a valid mining location is made upon public
mineral claims of Benguet and the "Fredia and Emma" mineral claims lands afterwards included in a reservation, such inclusion or reservation
of Atok. The June Bug mineral claim of plaintiff Benguet was one of the does not affect the validity of the former location. By such location and
16 mining claims of James E. Kelly, American and mining locator. He perfection, the land located is segregated from the public domain even
filed his declaration of the location of the June Bug mineral and the as against the Government. (Union Oil Co. v. Smith, 249 U.S. 337; Van
same was recorded in the Mining Recorder's Office on October 14, Mess v. Roonet, 160 Cal. 131; 27 Cyc. 546).
1909. All of the Kelly claims ha subsequently been acquired by Benguet
Consolidated, Inc. Benguet's evidence is that it had made improvements "The legal effect of a valid location of a mining claim is not only to
on the June Bug mineral claim consisting of mine tunnels prior to 1935. segregate the area from the public domain, but to grant to the locator the
It had submitted the required affidavit of annual assessment. After beneficial ownership of the claim and the right to a patent therefor upon
World War II, Benguet introduced improvements on mineral claim June compliance with the terms and conditions prescribed by law. Where
Bug, and also conducted geological mappings, geological sampling and there is a valid location of a mining claim, the area becomes segregated
trench side cuts. In 1948, Benguet redeclared the "June Bug" for from the public domain and the property of the locator." (St. Louis
taxation and had religiously paid the taxes. Mining & Milling Co. v. Montana Mining Co., 171 U.S. 650; 655; 43
Law ed., 320, 322.) "When a location of a mining claim is perfected it
The Emma and Fredia claims were two of the several claims of Harrison has the effect of a grant by the United States of the right of present and
registered in 1931, and which Atok representatives acquired. Portions of exclusive possession, with the right to the exclusive enjoyment of all the
surface ground as well as of all the minerals within the lines of the
claim, except as limited by the extralateral right of adjoining locators; lease for the exploitation, development or utilization of any of the
and this is the locator's right before as well as after the issuance of the natural resources shall be granted for a period exceeding 25 years,
patent. While a lode locator acquires a vested property right by virtue of except as to water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or
his location made in compliance with the mining laws, the fee remains industrial uses other than the development of water power, in which
in the government until patent issues."(18 R.C.L. 1152) (Gold Creek case beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the grant.
Mining Corporation v. Hon. Eulogio Rodriguez, Sec. of Agriculture and
Commerce, and Quirico Abadilla, Director of the Bureau of Mines, 66 Implementing this provision, Act No. 4268, approved on November 8,
Phil. 259, 265-266) 1935, declared:

It is of no importance whether Benguet and Atok had secured a patent Any provision of existing laws, executive order, proclamation to the
for as held in the Gold Creek Mining Corp. Case, for all physical contrary notwithstanding, all locations of mining claim made prior to
purposes of ownership, the owner is not required to secure a patent as February 8, 1935 within lands set apart as forest reserve under Sec.
long as he complies with the provisions of the mining laws; his 1826 of the Revised Administrative Code which would be valid and
possessory right, for all practical purposes of ownership, is as good as subsisting location except to the existence of said reserve are hereby
though secured by patent. declared to be valid and subsisting locations as of the date of their
respective locations.
We agree likewise with the oppositors that having complied with all the
requirements of the mining laws, the claims were removed from the The perfection of the mining claim converted the property to mineral
public domain, and not even the government of the Philippines can take land and under the laws then in force removed it from the public
away this right from them. The reason is obvious. Having become the domain. 14 By such act, the locators acquired exclusive rights over the
private properties of the oppositors, they cannot be deprived thereof land, against even the government, without need of any further act such
without due process of law. 13 as the purchase of the land or the obtention of a patent over it. 15 As the
land had become the private property of the locators, they had the right
Such rights were not affected either by the stricture in the to transfer the same, as they did, to Benguet and Atok.
Commonwealth Constitution against the alienation of all lands of the
public domain except those agricultural in nature for this was made It is true, as the Court of Appeals observed, that such private property
subject to existing rights. Thus, in its Article XIII, Section 1, it was was subject to the "vicissitudes of ownership," or even to forfeiture by
categorically provided that: non-user or abandonment or, as the private respondents aver, by
acquisitive prescription. However, the method invoked by the de la
SEC. 1. All agricultural, timber and mineral lands of the public domain, Rosas is not available in the case at bar, for two reasons.
waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other mineral oils, all forces of
potential energy and other natural resources of the Philipppines belong First, the trial court found that the evidence of open, continuous, adverse
to the State, and their disposition, exploitation, development, or and exclusive possession submitted by the applicants was insufficient to
utilization shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines or to support their claim of ownership. They themselves had acquired the
corporations or associations at least 60% of the capital of which is land only in 1964 and applied for its registration in 1965, relying on the
owned by such citizens, subject to any existing right, grant, lease or earlier alleged possession of their predecessors-in-interest. 16 The trial
concession at the time of the inauguration of the government established judge, who had the opportunity to consider the evidence first-hand and
under this Constitution. Natural resources with the exception of public observe the demeanor of the witnesses and test their credibility was not
agricultural lands, shall not be alienated, and no license, concession, or
convinced. We defer to his judgment in the absence of a showing that it being undertaken thereon, or underneath, it did not cease to be so and
was reached with grave abuse of discretion or without sufficient basis. 17 become agricultural, even if only partly so, because it was enclosed with
a fence and was cultivated by those who were unlawfully occupying the
Second, even if it be assumed that the predecessors-in-interest of the de surface.
la Rosas had really been in possession of the subject property, their
possession was not in the concept of owner of the mining claim but of What must have misled the respondent court is Commonwealth Act No.
the property as agricultural land, which it was not. The property was 137, providing as follows:
mineral land, and they were claiming it as agricultural land. They were
not disputing the lights of the mining locators nor were they seeking to Sec. 3. All mineral lands of the public domain and minerals belong to
oust them as such and to replace them in the mining of the land. In fact, the State, and their disposition, exploitation, development or utilization,
Balbalio testified that she was aware of the diggings being undertaken shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations, or
"down below" 18 but she did not mind, much less protest, the same associations, at least 60% of the capital of which is owned by such
although she claimed to be the owner of the said land. citizens, subject to any existing right, grant, lease or concession at the
time of the inauguration of government established under the
The Court of Appeals justified this by saying there is "no conflict of Constitution.
interest" between the owners of the surface rights and the owners of the
sub-surface rights. This is rather doctrine, for it is a well-known SEC. 4. The ownership of, and the right to the use of land for
principle that the owner of piece of land has rights not only to its surface agricultural, industrial, commercial, residential, or for any purpose other
but also to everything underneath and the airspace above it up to a than mining does not include the ownership of, nor the right to extract
reasonable height. 19 Under the aforesaid ruling, the land is classified as or utilize, the minerals which may be found on or under the surface.
mineral underneath and agricultural on the surface, subject to separate
claims of title. This is also difficult to understand, especially in its SEC. 5. The ownership of, and the right to extract and utilize, the
practical application. minerals included within all areas for which public agricultural land
patents are granted are excluded and excepted from all such patents.
Under the theory of the respondent court, the surface owner will be
planting on the land while the mining locator will be boring tunnels SEC. 6. The ownership of, and the right to extract and utilize, the
underneath. The farmer cannot dig a well because he may interfere with minerals included within all areas for which Torrens titles are granted
the operations below and the miner cannot blast a tunnel lest he destroy are excluded and excepted from all such titles.
the crops above. How deep can the farmer, and how high can the miner,
go without encroaching on each other's rights? Where is the dividing This is an application of the Regalian doctrine which, as its name
line between the surface and the sub-surface rights? implies, is intended for the benefit of the State, not of private persons.
The rule simply reserves to the State all minerals that may be found in
The Court feels that the rights over the land are indivisible and that the public and even private land devoted to "agricultural, industrial,
land itself cannot be half agricultural and half mineral. The commercial, residential or (for) any purpose other than mining." Thus, if
classification must be categorical; the land must be either completely a person is the owner of agricultural land in which minerals are
mineral or completely agricultural. In the instant case, as already discovered, his ownership of such land does not give him the right to
observed, the land which was originally classified as forest land ceased extract or utilize the said minerals without the permission of the State to
to be so and became mineral and completely mineral once the which such minerals belong.
mining claims were perfected. 20 As long as mining operations were
The flaw in the reasoning of the respondent court is in supposing that
the rights over the land could be used for both mining and non-mining
purposes simultaneously. The correct interpretation is that once minerals
are discovered in the land, whatever the use to which it is being devoted
at the time, such use may be discontinued by the State to enable it to
extract the minerals therein in the exercise of its sovereign prerogative.
The land is thus converted to mineral land and may not be used by any
private party, including the registered owner thereof, for any other
purpose that will impede the mining operations to be undertaken
therein, For the loss sustained by such owner, he is of course entitled to
just compensation under the Mining Laws or in appropriate
expropriation proceedings. 21

Our holding is that Benguet and Atok have exclusive rights to the
property in question by virtue of their respective mining claims which
they validly acquired before the Constitution of 1935 prohibited the
alienation of all lands of the public domain except agricultural lands,
subject to vested rights existing at the time of its adoption. The land was
not and could not have been transferred to the private respondents by
virtue of acquisitive prescription, nor could its use be shared
simultaneously by them and the mining companies for agricultural and
mineral purposes.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the respondent court dated April 30,


1976, is SET ASIDE and that of the trial court dated March 11, 1969, is
REINSTATED, without any pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.

Teehankee, C.J., Narvasa, Gancayco and Grio-Aquino, JJ., concur.