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JENELITA BILON-BANAWA,

Claimant-Protestant,
RED CLAIM NO. __________
CENRO CLAIM No. 2011-050515-02
-versus-
Lot No. 2968, Pls 858-D
Area: 25, 216 sq. m.
F.P.A. NO. 050515-146
Gaba, Rapu-Rapu, Albay
ROGERIO BILON,
Applicant-Respondent.
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ORDER
This case refers to the Protest of Jenelita Bilon-Banawa (protestant) against the
Free Patent Application No. 050515-146 of Rogerio Bilon (respondent).

The facts may be summarized as follows:

On July 8, 2010, respondent filed an application for free patent with the
Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO), Legazpi City. It
covers Lot No. 2968, Pls 858-D containing an area of Twenty-five Thousand Two
Hundred Sixteen (25, 216) square meters, located in Gaba, Rapu- Rapu, Albay.

In his application, respondent declared Ignacio Bilon as his predecessor-in-


interest. He acquired the applied lot on October 22, 2009 by virtue of the Extrajudicial
Settlement of Estate and Sale executed by the heirs of Ignacio Bilon in his favor.

On January 20, 2011, protestant filed her protest against respondents


application. She alleged that she is the owner of the one-half (1/2) portion of the
applied lot by virtue of a Deed of Donation executed by her mother Crispina Bilon in
her favor.

On January 21, 2011, PENR Officer Rodolfo Matusalem (Matusalem for brevity)
issued an Order of Investigation directing LMO II Joel Bueno (Bueno) to conduct a
formal investigation in accordance with Section 7, Land Office Circular No. 68 and to
submit the corresponding report.

During the investigation, the parties through their respective counsel, agreed
to dispense with the hearing of the case. Instead, parties shall submit their respective
Position Papers together with the Affidavits of their witnesses and other documentary
evidence.

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Thereafter, both parties simultaneously submitted their respective Position
Paper.

Protestant claimed in substance, that: The original claimant of Lot 2968 which
consists of thirty-seven thousand eight hundred fifty-seven (37,857) square meters
were the deceased spouses Romualdo and Melecia Bilon (Spouses Bilon). Spouses
Bilon had seven (7) children, namely: Primitiva, Crispina (protestants mother), Nicolas,
Bartolome, Gloria, Francisco (respondents father) and Ignacio (survey claimant), all-surnamed
Bilon. Respondents predecessor-in-interest, Ignacio Bilon, was in bad faith when he
caused the survey and declared the applied lot solely under his name considering that
he was not the lone heir of Spouses Bilon. As such, the heirs of Ignacio Bilon have no
right to adjudicate the property to respondent.

Protestant further stated that: On September 29, 1980, the heirs of Spouses
Bilon executed an Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate and Waiver and Cession of Right.
It adjudicated the one half () portion of the applied lot to the children of Primitiva
Bilon and the other half to protestants mother, Crispina Bilon. This fact was confirmed
by none other than respondents father, Francisco Bilon. On April 21, 2006, Crispina
Bilon donated her property (1/2 portion) to protestant. Thereafter, the latter took
possession of the lot and paid the taxes due thereon.

To support her allegation, protestant submitted the machine copy of the


following documents, viz:

1. Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate and Waiver and Cession of


Rights dated September 29, 1980 executed by the heirs of
Spouses Bilon;
2. Confirmation of ownership and quit claim and waiver of right
executed by Francisco Bilon;
3. Declaration of Real Property under the name of Ignacio Bilon;
4. Real Property Tax Receipt;
5. Affidavit of Adverse possession of respondent;
6. Affidavit of Rolando Atezado;
7. Affidavit of Romeo Legaspi;
8. Affidavit of Angeles Bueza Bilon. Sr.;
9. Deed of Donation dated April 21, 2006 in favor of protestant;
and
10. Affidavit executed by the protestant

On the other hand, respondent alleged in substance, that: The property of


Spouses Bilon was Lot No. 2967 and not the applied lot. Lot No. 2967 is located in the
western part of the applied lot and now covered by OCT No. VH-9728. This lot was
donated propter nuptias to respondents father, Francisco Bilon. Thus, the claim of

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protestant to the portion of the applied lot is questionable and the documents she
relied upon i.e., Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate and Waiver and Cession of Rights
dated September 29, 1980 and Deed of Donation dated April 21, 2006, produces no
effect. The documents were executed in bad faith considering that the Heirs of
Spouses Bilon have absurd right of ownership over the applied lot. Assuming that the
Heirs of Spouses Bilon have a right over the applied lot, they are guilty of estoppel by
laches having failed to act seasonably to validate their rights.

Respondent likewise stated that: The documents he submitted as proof of


ownership of the applied lot are valid and regular as it is legally tenable under the
Public Land Law. He tacked his possession and ownership from the cadastral/survey
claimant of the applied lot, Ignacio Bilon. The latter declared the lot under his name
for taxation purposes. Respondent acquired the lot through an Extra-Judicial
Settlement of Estate and Sale executed by the heirs of Ignacio Bilon. He has paid the
publication of said settlement and the legal notice was already published in a local
newspaper. There is no record that indeed respondents father, Francisco Bilon, had
filed an adverse claim against the cadastral right of Ignacio Bilon. The alleged protest
of Francisco Bilon, even if registered would produce no merit as he was not a claimant
thereto.

To support his allegation, respondent submitted the machine copy of the


following documents, to wit:

1. Order dated October 6, 2010 rejecting the application of


Ronaldo Bilon;
2. Affidavit of respondent;
3. Lot Data Computation;
4. Cadastral Map of Barangay Gaba, Rapu-Rapu, Albay;
5. Extra-judicial Settlement of Estate and Sale executed by the
Heirs of Ignacio Bilon;
6. Official Receipt No. 3469;
7. Tax Declaration of Real Property under the name of Ignacio
Bilon;
8. Tax Receipts; and
9. OCT No. VH-9728.

In his November 8, 2011 Investigation Report, LMO II Bueno recommended


the dismissal of respondents application and that the portion of the applied lot be
awarded to protestant. Bueno stated that protestant had the oldest title as compared
to respondent.

PENR Officer Matusalem concurred with the said recommendation.

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In land claims and conflict cases, the principal issue to be resolved is who
between the parties has the preferential right to apply on the contested land.

After careful scrutiny of the records and evidence presented by the parties, this
Office rules for the respondent.

Under Public Land Act (Commonwealth Act No. 141) as amended and further
amended by Republic Act No. 9176, particularly Section 44, Chapter VII, it set forth
the qualifications of a public land patentee to wit:
1. A natural born Filipino citizen;
2. Not an owner of more than twelve (12) hectares;
3. For at least thirty (30) years, has continuously occupied and cultivated
either by himself or through his predecessor-in-interest the public
agricultural land; and
4. Has paid the real estate taxes thereon while the same has not been occupied
by any person.

In the extant case, respondent undeniably has complied with all the above-
mentioned qualifications. He has been in possession of the lot for almost seventy (70)
years tacked to his predecessor-in-interest Ignacio Bilon. The latter declared the lot in
his name as early as 1962 as per Tax Declaration No. 5597 issued by the province of
Albay. That sometime in 1960 when a survey was made, Ignacio was in actual
possession and occupation of the applied lot. As a matter of fact, he was listed in the
Lot Data dated October 19, 1966 as the survey claimant of the applied lot. Then, upon
his death, he was survived by his heirs Aladin and Geraldine who eventually sold the
subject lot to respondent as evidenced by a Deed of Extra-Judicial Settlement of Estate
and Sale dated October 22, 2009. Since that date, respondent took possession of the
lot and continuously cultivated and made improvements thereon.

Likewise, respondent through his predecessor-in-interest Ignacio Bilon,


religiously paid the corresponding realty taxes from 1991 up to 2010 until it was later
on sold and conveyed in his favor.

Furthermore, actual possession coupled with payment of realty taxes


establishes bona fide intent to have the subject lot registered in their favor. This
principle is best explained in the case of Spouses Gabriel and Maria Llanes vs. Republic
of the Philippines G.R. No. 177947, November 27, 2008 where the Court ruled:

xxx such an act strengthens one s bona fide claim


of acquisition of ownership. Tax declarations are
good indicia of possession in the concept of an
owner, for no one in his right mind would be

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paying taxes for a property that is not in his actual
or constructive possession.

As such, respondents application coupled with payment of corresponding realty


tax clearly establishes earnest effort and good faith where preferential right over the
subject lot can be best considered.

On the other hand, protestant failed to establish her source of ownership over
the applied lot. She failed to prove that Spouses Bilon is indeed the original claimant
of the said lot. No documentary evidence was submitted by the protestant except for
the Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate and Waiver and Cession of Rights allegedly
executed on September 29, 1980 by the heirs of Spouses Bilon and the Deed of
Donation executed between her and her mother (Crispina). In fact, in the Order
approving the application and issuance of patent, it was indicated that respondents
predecessor-in-interest, Ignacio Bilon occupied and cultivated said lot since 1960.
Ignacio also paid the realty taxes from the time he took possession of the lot and each
payment was supported by corresponding realty tax receipt(s). On a sad note, it was
only on March 7, 2005 when protestant paid her realty taxes covering the year 2000-
2005 as evidenced by Official Receipt No. 0711979.

Conversely, protestants contention that the heirs of Ignacio Bilon have no right
to adjudicate the property to respondent holds no water. It must be drawn from the
records that upon the death of Ignacio Bilon in 1977, he was survived by his daughter,
Salvacion Bilon. Hence, his share is transferred to Salvacion, his only compulsory heir.
When Salvacion got married to Domingo Guianan (Spouses Guianan), they were
blessed with two children namely, Aladin and Geraldine Guianan, as evidenced by birth
certificates submitted by respondents. Consequently, when the spouses died, their
property rights automatically pass to their children, Aladin and Geraldine.

Art. 774 of the New Civil Code provides:

Succession is a mode of acquisition by virtue of which


the property, rights and obligations to the extent of the value of
the inheritance, of a person are transmitted through his death to
another or others either by his will or by operation of law. (n)

As the law speaks, it is of no doubt that heirs of Ignacio Bilon, have all the
rights to inherit and convey the property according to their desire.

Furthermore, protestants argument that Ignacio Bilon was in bad faith when
he caused the survey and declared the applied lot solely in his name must fail. Records
of the case showed that protestant through her predecessors has not demonstrated
any adverse claim over the applied lot. Moreover, there is no record of the alleged

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protest filed by Francisco Bilon against the property claim of Ignacio Bilon. Assuming
arguendo that said protest exist and was registered, still it would produce no merit as
he was not a claimant thereto. In fact, under Confirmation of Ownership and Quit
Claim and Waiver of Right dated November 8, 1980, Francisco Bilon waived his right
to the property in favor of his sister Crispina and the heirs of Primitiva Bilon. In
addition, it must be noted that it took fifteen (15) years before the heirs of Spouses
Bilon, executed the Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate and Waiver and Cession of
Rights. Hence, this only means that there were neglect on their part or they were not
interested to assert rightful claim over the applied lot.

Additionally, under Rule 74 Section 1 of the Rules of Court, the fact of the
extrajudicial settlement or administration shall be published once a week for three (3)
consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation and must be registered with
the Register of Deeds. However, there is no evidence submitted that such deed was
published and registered. In the case of Joseph Cua vs. Gloria Vargas et.al., G.R. No.
156536, October 31, 2006, the Court has pronounced that:

The procedure outlined in Section 1 of Rule 74 is an ex


parte proceeding. The rule plainly states, however, that
persons who do not participate or had no notice of an
extrajudicial settlement will not be bound therebyxxx.

In this connection, following Rule 74, the extrajudicial settlement do not bind
the heirs of Ignacio Bilon. Thus, the partition/waiver of rights made without their
knowledge and consent is invalid insofar as they are concerned.

Finally, based from the records of the case, even if we tack in the period of
possession of herein protestant, to her predecessor-in-interest, Crispina Bilon, from
1980 up to 2011, her totaled years of possession would only be thirty-one (31) years
which is far beyond the possession of the respondent that is seventy (70) years. This
clearly proves that respondent has prior possession as compared to herein protestant.

In the decided case of spouses Teofilo and Simeona Rayos, and George Rayos,
petitioners, vs. Donato Reyes, et al., respondents. G.R. No. 150913, February 20,
2003, the principle of preferential right was applied and best explained as:

Preferential right in the acquisition of public


land is based on the principle of prior tempore
potior jure which means, he who is first in time
is preferred in right. This priority refers either to
the filing of application or in the occupation of the
land. The rule means that the first person to apply
for the land shall have the better right.

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Therefore, we recognized that the respondent was able to establish his prior
possession and occupation over the subject lot tacked from his predecessor- in-
interest Ignacio Bilon which was far ahead from that of the protestant.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the opposition of claimant-protestant is


hereby DISMISSED for lack of merit. The Free Patent Application of Rogerio Bilon
docketed as F.P.A. No. 050515-146 involving Lot No. 2968, Pls-858-D containing an
area of Twenty-Five Thousand, Two Hundred Sixteen (25,216) square meters located
at Gaba, Rapu-rapu, Albay, shall be given due course.

SO ORDERED.

Legazpi City, Philippines,

GILBERT C. GONZALES
Regional Director
APR/RCS/RATS/JJB/mags*

Copy Furnished:

ARD for Technical Services


DENR V, Legazpi City

OIC, PENR Officer


Legazpi City

Rogerio Bilon
Gaba, Rapu-Rapu, Albay

Jenelita Bilon Banawa


244 Espeleta Street, Buli, Muntinlupa City

Atty. Julian C. Cargullo


Zigo Avenue, Tabaco City

Atty. Diosdado Kallos


Sto. Cristo, Tabaco City

Lands: Decision-Banawa vs. Bilon (jjb)

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