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Heirs of Pedro Lopez et. al. v Honesto C. de Castro, et. al. GR No. shall prevail.

shall prevail. The publication made with respect to the application of the
112905, February 3, 2000 respondents served as a constructive notice against the whole world thus
the court upheld the validity of their title and its indefeasibility against
“two applications of a parcel of land” collateral attack from the petitioners.

Facts: Granting that the petitioners did not have actual knowledge about the
respondent’s application to the land, they waited for 7 more years after
The petitioners filed an application for registration of parcel of land knowing that the property was already registered in the name of the
located in Tagaytay City with the CFI in Cavite. The Municipality of respondents to demand for the execution of judgment and cancellation of
Silang, Cavite files an opposition alleging that the land is its patrimonial the respondent’s title. Therefore the SC finds them guilty of latches.
property. The petitioners claim that the land is a part of the whole tract Petitioner’s petition was denied.
of land as their inheritance sought to be registered in Cavite but was
excluded from their application upon recommendation of the chief Note:
surveyor of the Land Reg. Office because the land is located in the
Province of Laguna. The motion to dismiss by the Municipality of Silang Jurisdiction issue:
was denied by the court due to lack of merit on ground that the
municipality has no personality to intervene because the lot was outside The governing law when the respondent sought registration of their land
its territorial limits. And even if it is a communal property of both was the Judiciary Act of 1948 providing permanent station of 2 district
municipalities, the incorporation of Cavite to the city of Tagaytay makes it judges in Cavite, thus the application was filed before the court in Cavite.
a property of the latter. Thus the right to action accrues to the This was later amended providing for the 4 judges to preside in the
municipality of Tagaytay. Upon deliberation, the Clerk of Court Province of Cavite, the cities of Cavite and Tagaytay. Following the rule
recommended to grant the application with its report disclosing that since on jurisdiction, the court of the place where the property is located
time immemorial, the De Los Reyes family owned and possessed the land should take cognizance over the registration of property therefore upon
and sold it to the father of the applicant, Pedro Lopez who later took over the creation of Tagaytay City branch of court, the application should have
the ownership and possession of the land. Upon his death, his heirs been transferred from Cavite to Tagaytay branch. Retaining the venue of
succeeded over the property and subsequently partitioned it. The court the application in Cavite however is in order since venue is merely
thus approved the application and ordered the registration of the land in procedural not jurisdictional and may be waived in lieu of convenience to
favor of the petitioner. the parties. The petitioner’s assailing the jurisdiction of the Cavite branch
rendering decision in favor of the respondent’s title over the property
While examining the records in the course of granting the registration to located in Tagaytay cannot be sustained by the court.
the petitioners, it was found out that the land was already registered in
favor of the respondents Honesto de Castro. Apparently, de Castro filed
the registration of land in the CFI of Cavite in its Branch IV in Tagaytay
City and a decision was promulgated to issue the decree of registration in
his favor. The said land was allegedly owned by Hermogenes Orte who
sold it to the father of the respondent by virtue of a deed of sale that
was destroyed during Japanese occupation. His father continued
possession and occupation of the land until his death and his wife and
children continued the possession thereof and finally registered it in their
name. 7 years later, the petitioner files a complaint for the execution of
the judgment rendered in their favor by the court and cancellation of title
of the respondents and order the respondents to vacate the property. In
their counterclaim, the respondents interpose the defense of latches,
prescription and estoppel against the petitioners and asserting the
indefeasibility of their title under the Torrens System.

Lower court: held that it could not enforce the judgment against the
respondents considering they were not made parties to the case. Nor can
it order the register of deeds of Tagaytay City to cancel the title of
respondents since it was not also made a party to the case thus the court
does not acquire jurisdiction over it. Further, the court held that the
action brought by the petitioners would be tantamount to the nature of
collaterally attacking the validity of the title of the respondents.

Court of appeals: Upon appeal to the CA, it re-affirms the lower court’s
decision with emphasis on the indefeasibility of the Torrens Title while
citing the Civil Code provisions on Article 1544 on sale of property to
different vendees where in case the land has been registered in the name
of two different persons, the earlier in date of registration shall prevail.

Issue:

Whether or not the petitioners can question the validity of the title of the
respondents over the property in dispute?

Ruling:

The court held that a land registration is an in rem proceeding which


involves a constructive notice against all persons including the state
which is effective through the publication of the application for land
registration. The court held that when more than one certificate of title is
issued over the land, the person holding the prior certificate of title is
entitled to a better right against the person who relies on the subsequent
certificate. This rule refers to the date of the certificate of title and not on
the date of filing the application for registration of title. In land
registration proceedings, all interested parties are obliged to take care of
their interests and to zealously pursue their objective of registration on
account of the rule that whoever first acquires title to a piece of land
Facts: This does not mean however that the aggrieved party is without a
remedy at law. If the property has not yet passed to an innocent
1) Application for registration of the same parcel of land filed 12 years purchaser for value, an action for reconveyance is still available. The
apart in different branches of the CFI; a certificate was issued in one decree becomes incontrovertible and can no longer be reviewed after one
case while the other was still pending. (1) year from the date of the decree so that the only remedy of the
landowner whose property has been wrongfully or erroneously registered
2) In 1956, Predo Lopez, et al. filed an application for registration of a in another’s name is to bring an ordinary action in court for
parcel of land in Tagaytay City, to which the Municipality of Silang, Cavite reconveyance, which is an action in personam and is always available as
opposed; a portion of the land being leased by the municipality to private long as the property has not passed to an innocent third party for value.
persons had been its patrimonial property since 1930. If the property has passed into the hands of an innocent purchaser for
value, the remedy is an action for damages.
3) Applicant claimed that part of the land was their inheritance, but was
excluded in the application for registration since it is located in Laguna; Venue and jurisdiction are entirely distinct matters. Jurisdiction may not
same with the part of the land in Tagaytay which was excluded from the be conferred by consent or waiver upon a court which otherwise would
proceedings in the CFI of Laguna. have no jurisdiction over the subject-matter of an action; but the venue
of an action as fixed by statute may be changed by the consent of the
4) Lower court denied the motion to dismiss since the oppositor parties…
municipality had no personality to intervene.
Venue is procedural, not jurisdictional, and hence may be waived.
5) Meanwhile, the Land Registration Commission discovered that part of
the land had been decreed in favor of private respondent de Castro, the
land being initially owned by one Hermogenes Orte who sold the land to
the father of de Castro in 1932. However the deed of sale was destroyed
during the Japanese occupation.

6) Heirs of Pedro Lopez filed a complaint for execution of judgment and


cancellation of land titles of the defendants, claiming that they had been
unduly deprived ownership and possession of the land due to wrongful
registration by means of fraud and misrepresentation.

Issue:

Were the heirs of Pedro Lopez deprived of their ownership and


possession of the contested land?

Ruling:

No. The petitioners failed to exercise the due diligence required of them
as applicants for land registration. In the same way that publication of
their application for registration was supposed to have rendered private
respondents on constructive notice of such application, the publication of
notice in the land registration proceedings initiated by private
respondents had the same effect of notice upon petitioners. Petitioners
were thus presumed to have been notified of the land registration
proceedings filed by private respondents, thereby providing them with
the opportunity to file an opposition thereto.

Petitioners neglected for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time


to do that which, by exercising due diligence, they could or should have
done earlier. They neglected or omitted to assert a right within a
reasonable time, warranting the presumption that they either had
abandoned or declined to assert it. In short, they were guilty of laches.

NB:

A proceeding in rem, such as land registration proceedings, requires


constructive seizure of the land as against all persons, including the
state, who have rights to or interests in the property.

Constructive seizure of the land for registration is effected through


publication of the application for registration and service of notice to
affected parties.

In land registration proceeding, all interested parties are obliged to take


care of their interests and to zealously pursue their objective of
registration on account of the rule that whoever first acquires title to a
piece of land shall prevail. The rule refers to the date of the certificate of
title and not to the date of filing of the application for registration of title.

The doctrine of stale demands or laches is based on grounds of policy


which requires, for the peace of society, the discouragement of stale
claims and is principally a question of the inequality or unfairness of
permitting a right or claim to be enforced or asserted.

An applicant for registration has but a one-year period from the issuance
of the decree of registration in favor of another applicant, within which to
question the validity of the certificate of title issued pursuant to such
decree. Once the one-year period has elapsed, the title to the land
becomes indefeasible.