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Navy Officers’ Village Association, Inc. v.

Republic of the Philippines


G.R. No. 177168
August 3, 2015

Facts: A Transfer Certificate Title (TCT) issued in Navy Officers’ Village Association, Inc (NOVAI)’s name
covers a land situated inside the former Fort Andres Bonifacio Military Reservation in Taguig. This property
was previously a part of a larger parcel of land which TCT’s under the name of the Republic of the
Philippines.
The then President Garcia issued a Proclamation No. 423 which reserves for military purposes
certain parcels of the public domain situated in Pasig, Taguig, Paranaque, Rizal and Pasay City.
Thereafter, then President Macapagal issued Proclamation No. 461 which excluded Fort McKinley a certain
portion of land situated in the provinces abovementioned and declared them as AFP Officers’ Village to be
disposed of under the provisions of certain laws. However, this area was subsequently reserved for
veterans’ rehabilitation, medicare and training center sites.
The property was the subject of deed of sale between the Republic and NOVAI to which the TCT
was registered in favour of the latter. The Republic then sought to cancel NOVAI’s title on the ground that
the property was still part of the military reservation thus inalienable land of the public domain and cannot
be the subject of sale. The RTC ruled that the property was alienable and disposable in character. The
Court of Appeals reversed RTC’s decision.

Issue: Whether or not the property covered by TCT issued under the name of NOVAI is inalienable land of
public domain and cannot be the subject of sale.

Held: Yes, the property remains a part of the public domain that could not have been validly disposed of in
NOVAI’s favor. NOVAI failed to discharge its burden of proving that the property was not intended for public
or quasi-public use or purpose.
The classification and disposition of lands of the public domain are governed by Commonwealth Act (C.A.)
No. 141 or the Public Land Act, the country's primary law on the matter.
Under Section 6 of C.A. No. 141, the President of the Republic of the Philippines, upon the
recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, may, from time to time, classify
lands of the public domain into alienable or disposable, timber and mineral lands, and transfer these lands
from one class to another for purposes of their administration and disposition.
In a limited sense, parcels of land classified as reservations for public or quasi-public uses under
Section 9 (d) of C.A. No. 141 are still non-alienable and non-disposable, even though they are, by the
general classification under Section 6, alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. By specific
declaration under Section 88, in relation with Section 8, these lands classified as reservations are non-
alienable and non-disposable.
As provided in Article 420 of Civil Code, “property of the public dominion as those which are
intended for public use or, while not intended for public use, belong to the State and are intended for some
public service”. In this case, the property was classified as military reservation thus, remained to be
property of the public dominion until withdrawn from the public use for which they have been reserved, by
act of Congress or by proclamation of the President. Since there was no positive act from the government,
the property had to retain its inalienable and non-disposable character. It cannot therefore, be subject of
sale otherwise, the sale is void for being contrary to law.