Sie sind auf Seite 1von 34

Modes of Acquiring Ownership to Public Lands b.

ordered said land, including its walls, be adjudicated and registered in


favor of the applicant upon presentation of an amended description,
Maximo Cortes vs. City of Manila showing the measurements of the property, including its walls but
REALTY; ACCRETION. — If estates bordering on rivers are exposed to excluding therefrom the rest of the land shown in Exhibit A.
floods and other evils produced by the destructive force of the waters, and
if by virtue of lawful provisions said estates are subject to incumbrances 4. Applicant filed motion to reopen case (having discovered very important
and various kinds of easements, it is proper that the risk or danger which proof; to this end he filed an affidavit stating that he had learned the
may prejudice the owners thereof should be compensated by the right of whereabouts of the original owner of the land, who was better informed
accretion acknowledged by article 84 of the Law of Waters of the 3d of with respect to its conditions and location). DENIED.
August, 1866, extended to the Philippines by the royal decree of April 8,
1873, and by article 366 of the Civil Code. Applicant excepted to the judgment and also moved for a new trial (the
decision of the court was contrary to law and to the weight of the
ACTS OF POSSESSION. — Acts of possession exercised by the owner over evidence). DENIED and Exception taken.
his estate or land bordering on the banks of rivers are always understood
legally to cover that portion added thereto by accretion, by the effect of ISSUE:
the current of the waters. WON the 33.40 sqm of the Meisic Creek can be registered by Petitioner
Cortes (YES)
SUMMARY:
1. Maximo Cortes filed a written application for the registration of a parcel HELD:
of land (1,172.21 sqm) owned by him, free of all encumbrances, situated The dominion of the applicant, Maximo Cortes, over the land or building lot
in Calle Aguilar, corner of Calle Cecilia in the district of Binondo, this city, acquired by him from Higinio Francisco y Prospero, according to the public
together with the buildings erected thereon, its boundaries being stated in deed executed before a notary on the 3rd of July, 1894, registered in the
the application. The land was acquired by the applicant by purchase from registry of property, is unquestionable and has been fully proven; and, in
Higinio Francisco y Prospero, according to a deed of sale dated July 3, view of the validity of his title, the city attorney had to limit his opposition
1894, recorded in the registry of property, no other person having any title to the registration simply to its effect upon the Meisic Creek. The court,
to or interest therein, and the property was assessed, for the purpose of upon previous declaration of general default, then ordered the adjudication
taxation of the last fiscal year, at $1,444, United States currency. The and registration of the title of the applicant, Cortes, to said building lot
buildings erected thereon were paid for by the applicant with his own upon submitting an amended description of the land.
money, and the application is accompanied by the deed of sale, plan, and
technical description of the land. It having been satisfactorily shown that the portion of land included in the
technical description presented by the applicant, situated between the lot
2. Motion to deny registration: to which said instrument refers and the bed of the Meisic Creek, has been
Examiner of titles - said building lot was attached by reason of certain gradually formed by alluvion, as the result of the current in the said
proceedings instituted against the applicant for reason and rebellion, yet, stream, it can not be denied that said portion of land with an area of 33.40
inasmuch as the land was acquired by him more than ten years previously, square meters, belongs by right accretion to the owner of the land referred
he could be considered the real owner thereof by prescription. to in the instrument of the 3rd of July, 1894, exhibited by the applicant.

Attorney for the city of Manila - both the plan and the technical description The Law of Waters, promulgated by royal decree of the 3d of August,
exhibited contained errors; 1866, and extended to these Islands by a royal decree dated April 8, 1873,
Errors: excess in the measurement affects the interests of the city (33.40 provides in article 84: The accretion resulting from the gradual deposit by
sqm of the Meisic Creek, one of public use and belonged to the city of or sedimentation from the waters belongs to the owners of land bordering
manila) if registration allowed. on streams, torrents, lakes, and rivers.

3. Judge’s Decision: DENY APPLICATION. Article 366 of the Civil Code: The accretions which banks of rivers may
a. sustained City of Manila’s opposition gradually received from the effects of the currents belong to the owners of
the estates bordering thereon.

1
LAND TITLES AND DEEDS; PUBLIC LAND ACT; CONFIRMATION OF
There is no evidence whatever to prove that the addition to the said IMPERFECT TITLE; DOCTRINE IN DIRECTOR OF LAND MANAGEMENT VS.
property was made artificially by the owner; therefore, the facts alleged CA, (G.R. NO. 94525, 205 SCRA 486 [1992]), NOT APPLICABLE TO CASE
and proven in the proceedings must stand. The increase or accretion which AT BAR. — In the Director of Land Management vs. Court of Appeals, the
in a latent, incessant, and spontaneous manner is received by the land period of possession of the applicant's predecessor-in-interest was tacked
from the effects of the current depositing, in the course of time, sediment to his own possession to comply with the required thirty year period
and alluvial matter along the shore, is undeniably the work of nature and possession requirement, the land involved therein was not forest land but
lawfully belongs to the owner of the property; and from the fact that all or alienable public land. On the other hand, in the case before us, the
almost the whole area of said increased portion is soft and unsettled, one property subject of private respondents' application was only declared
is naturally convinced that it was formed by alluvion, and that for such alienable in 1965. Prior to such date, the same was forest land incapable
reason it appertains to the owner of the land bordering thereon by virtue of private appropriation. It was not registrable and possession thereof, no
of the right of accretion recognized by the law. matter how lengthy, could not convert it into private property, (unless)
and until such lands were reclassified and considered disposable and
The reason therefore is quite evident because, if lands bordering on alienable. In summary, therefore, prior to its declaration as alienable land
streams are exposed to floods and other damage due to destructive force in 1965, any occupation or possession thereon cannot be considered in the
of the waters, and if by virtue of law they are subject to incumbrances and counting of the thirty year possession requirement. This is in accord with
various kinds of easements, it is only just that such risks or dangers as the ruling in Almeda vs. Court of Appeals, (G.R. No. 85322, 196 SCRA 476
may prejudice the owners thereof should in some way be compensated by [1991]), and because the rules on the confirmation of imperfect titles do
the right of accretion. not apply unless and until the land classified as forest land is released in
an official proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the
And, although the acts of possession exercised over the bordering land are disposable agricultural lands of the public domain.
always understood legally to cover that portion added to the property by
accretion, in this case shrubs have been planted there, which furnish FOREST LANDS OR FOREST RESERVES; NOT CAPABLE OF PRIVATE
additional proof that Maximo Cortes has exercised rights of ownership and APPROPRIATION; POSSESSION THEREOF, HOWEVER LONG, CANNOT
possession over the whole area of the property the registration of which he CONVERT THEM INTO PRIVATE PROPERTY. — Forest lands or forest
requests. reserves are not capable of private appropriation and possession thereof,
however long, cannot convert them into private property. Possession of
Disposition: For the reasons above set forth it is our opinion that the the land by private respondents, whether spanning decades or centuries,
judgment appealed from should be reversed, as we do hereby reverse the could never ripen into ownership. This Court is constrained to abide by the
same, and that the court below should direct that the land to which the latin maxim "(d)ura lex, sed lex."
appellant refers be recorded in the registry of property in accordance with
the law, including that portion of the same added by accretion up to the CASE: Before us is a Petition for Review on Certiorari of a CA Decision
water line of the Meisic River, without any special ruling as to costs. So affirming the RTC Judgment in LRC Cases Nos. TG-362 and TG-396.
ordered.
FACTS:
Republic vs. de Guzman 1. Conflicting applications for confirmation of imperfect title were filed by
Alienable and Disposable vs. Time of Application for Registration Norma Almanzor and private respondent Salvador De Guzman over parcels
of land located in Silang, Cavite. After trial on the merits, the lower court
Petitioner: Republic of the Philippines rendered judgment in favor of private respondent De Guzman.
Respondents: Damian Ermitao De Guzman, Deogracias Ermitao De
Guzman, Zenaida Ermitao De Guzman, Alicia Ermitao De Guzman, RTC:
Salvador Ermitao De Guzman, Dominga Ermitao, Natividad Encarnacion, a. Norma R. Almanzor Application - DENIED for lack of factual and legal
Melba E. Torres, Flora Manalo, Socorro Dela Rosa, Jose Ermitao, bases
Esmerando Ermitao, Tricom Development Corporation and Filomeno b. Salvador De Guzman Application - APPROVE
Ermitao

2
2. On appeal to the Court of Appeals, said judgment was affirmed and the
petition for registration of private respondents over the subject parcels of In the case before us, the property subject of private respondents'
land was approved. application was only declared alienable in 1965. Prior to such date, the
same was forest land incapable of private appropriation. It was not
3. Hence, this petition. The Trial Court erred, among others, in not registrable and possession thereof, no matter how lengthy, could not
declaring that the De Guzmans have not overthrown the presumption that convert it into private property, (unless) and until such lands were
the lands are portions of the public domain belonging to the Republic of reclassified and considered disposable and alienable.
the Philippines
In summary, therefore, prior to its declaration as alienable land in 1965,
ISSUE: any occupation or possession thereon cannot be considered in the counting
WON the parcel of land sought to be registered of the thirty year possession requirement. This is in accord with the ruling
in Almeda vs. Court of Appeals, (supra), and because the rules on the
HELD: confirmation of imperfect titles do not apply unless and until the land
We find merit in the instant Petition. classified as forest land is released in an official proclamation to that effect
so that it may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public
It is not disputed that the subject parcels of land were released as domain.
agricultural land only in 1965 while the petition for confirmation of
imperfect title was filed by private respondents only in 1991. 6 Thus the While we acknowledge the Court of Appeals' finding that private
period of occupancy of the subject parcels of land from 1965 until the time respondents and their predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of
the application was filed in 1991 was only 26 years, 4 years short of the the subject land for sixty 63 years at the time of the application of their
required 30 year period possession requirement under Sec. 14, P.D. 29 petition, our hands are tied by the applicable laws and jurisprudence in
and R.A. No. 6940. giving practical relief to them. The fact remains that from the time the
subject land was declared alienable until the time of their application,
The Court of Appeals' consideration of the period of possession prior to the private respondents' occupation thereof was only 26 years. We cannot
time the subject land was released as agricultural is in direct contravention consider their 37 years of possession prior to the release of the land as
of the pronouncement in Almeda vs. Court of Appeals, to wit — alienable because absent the fact of declassification prior to the possession
and cultivation in good faith by petitioner, the property occupied by him
"The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that the private respondents had not remained classified as forest or timberland, which he could not have
qualified for a grant under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act because acquired by prescription. Further, jurisprudence is replete with cases which
their possession of the land while it was still inalienable forest land, or reiterate that forest lands or forest reserves are not capable of
before it was declared alienable and disposable land of the public domain private appropriation and possession thereof, however long,
on January 13, 1968, could not ripen into private ownership, and should cannot convert them into private property. Possession of the land by
be excluded from the computation of the 30-year open and continuous private respondents, whether spanning decades or centuries, could never
possession in concept of owner required under Section 48(b) of Com. Act ripen into ownership. This Court is constrained to abide by the latin maxim
141. It accords with our ruling in Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals, "dura lex, sed lex."
Ibarra Bishar, et al., 178 SCRA 708, that:
Disposition: WHEREFORE, the instant Petition is GRANTED and CA Decision
'Unless and until the land classified as forest is released in an (February 26, 1998) and RTC Decision, in LRC Case No. TG-396 are both
official proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the REVERSED. Judgment is rendered dismissing LRC Case No. 396 for failure
disposable lands of the public domain, the rules on confirmation of of the applicants therein to comply with the 30 year occupancy and
imperfect title do not apply. possessory requirements of law for confirmation of imperfect title. No
pronouncement as to costs.
'Thus possession of forest lands, however long, cannot ripen into
private ownership. A parcel of forest land is within the exclusive Malabanan vs. Republic
jurisdiction of the Bureau of Forestry and beyond the power and Petitioners: Heirs of Mario Malabanan (Represented By Sally A. Malabanan)
jurisdiction of the cadastral court to register under the Torrens System. Respondent: Republic of the Philippines

3
CASE: For our consideration and resolution are the motions for Once this Decision becomes final and executory, the corresponding decree
reconsideration of the parties who both assail the decision (April 29, 2009) of registration shall forthwith issue.
upholding the CA ruling denying the application of the petitioners for the
registration of a parcel of land situated in Barangay Tibig, Silang, Cavite on 2. OSG’s appeal -> CA
the ground that they had not established by sufficient evidence their right Grounds:
to the registration in accordance with either Section 14 (1) or Section 14 a. Malabanan failed to prove that the property belonged to the A&D land of
(2) of Presidential Decree No. 1529 (Property Registration Decree). the public domain
b. RTC erred in finding that he had been in possession of the property in
SUMMARY: the manner and for the length of time required by law for confirmation of
1. The property subject of the application for registration is a parcel of land imperfect title.
situated in Barangay Tibig, Silang, Cavite (Lot 9864-A, Cad-452-D,
71,324-sqm). February 23, 2007: CA GRANTED APPEAL. REVERSED RTC DECISION.
MALABANAN’S APPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION DISMISSED.
Applicant Mario Malabanan (purchased property from Eduardo Velazco) Cited ruling in Republic v. Herbieto:
filed an application for land registration covering the property -> RTC - - CA declared that under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration
Tagaytay City, Cavite. Decree, any period of possession prior to the classification of the land as
Claims: A&D was inconsequential and should be excluded from the computation of
a. that the property formed part of the alienable and disposable land of the the period of possession.
public domain
b. that he and his predecessors-in-interest had been in open, continuous, CENRO-DENR certification stated that the property had been declared A&D
uninterrupted, public and adverse possession and occupation of the land only on March 15, 1982.
for more than 30 years Velazco's possession prior to March 15, 1982 could not be tacked for
=> thereby entitling him to the judicial confirmation of his title. purposes of computing Malabanan's period of possession.

To prove that the property was A&D land of the public domain, Malabanan 3. Due to Malabanan's intervening demise during the appeal in the CA, his
presented during trial a certification (June 11, 2001) issued by the heirs elevated the CA's decision of February 23, 2007 to this SC through a
Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) of the petition for review on certiorari.
DENR, which certifies that parcel of land (Lot No. 9864 Cad 452-D, Silang
Cadastre) as surveyed for Mr. Virgilio Velasco containing an area of Petitioners assert that
249,734 sqm. as shown and described on the Plan Ap-04-00952 is verified a. ruling in Republic v. Court of Appeals and Corazon Naguit remains the
to be within the Alienable or Disposable land per Land Classification Map controlling doctrine especially if the property involved is agricultural land.
No. 3013 established under Project No. 20-A and approved as such under - Naguit ruled that any possession of agricultural land prior to its
FAO 4-1656 on March 15, 1982. declaration as A&D could be counted in the reckoning of the period of
possession to perfect title under the Public Land Act (Commonwealth Act
After trial, RTC (December 3, 2002) GRANTED MALABANAN’S No. 141) and the Property Registration Decree.
APPLICATION FOR LAND REGISTRATION. - ruling in Herbieto, to the effect that the declaration of the land subject of
the application for registration as alienable and disposable should also date
WHEREFORE, this Court hereby approves this application for registration back to June 12, 1945 or earlier, was a mere obiter dictum considering
and thus places under the operation of Act 141, Act 496 and/or P.D. 1529, that the land registration proceedings therein were in fact found and
otherwise known as Property Registration Law, the lands described in Plan declared void ab initio for lack of publication of the notice of initial hearing.
Csd-04-0173123-D, Lot 9864-A and containing an area of 71,324 sqm, as
supported by its technical description now forming part of the record of b. ruling in Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc. to support their argument
this case, in addition to other proofs adduced in the name of MARIO that the property had been ipso jure converted into private property by
MALABANAN, who is of legal age, Filipino, widower, and with residence at reason of the open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession by
Munting Ilog, Silang, Cavite. their predecessors-in-interest of an alienable land of the public domain for

4
more than 30 years. According to them, what was essential was that the
property had been "converted" into private property through prescription HELD:
at the time of the application without regard to whether the property In reviewing the assailed decision, we consider to be imperative to discuss
sought to be registered was previously classified as agricultural land of the the different classifications of land in relation to the existing applicable
public domain. land registration laws of the Philippines.

SC DENIED PETITION FOR REVIEW ON CERTIORARI FILED BY HEIRS. Classifications of land according to ownership
Ground: Malabanan failed to establish by sufficient evidence possession Land, which is an immovable property, may be classified as either of public
and occupation of the property on his part and on the part of his dominion or of private ownership. Land is considered of public dominion if
predecessors-in interest since June 12, 1945, or earlier. it either: (a) is intended for public use; or (b) belongs to the State, without
being for public use, and is intended for some public service or for the
4. Heirs’ MR -> SC development of the national wealth. Land belonging to the State that is
a. submit that the mere classification of the land as A or D should be not of such character, or although of such character but no longer
deemed sufficient to convert it into patrimonial property of the State. intended for public use or for public service forms part of the patrimonial
- rulings in Spouses de Ocampo v. Arlos, Menguito v. Republic, and property of the State. Land that is other than part of the patrimonial
Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc., argue that: property of the State, provinces, cities and municipalities is of private
1. reclassification of the land as alienable or disposable opened it to ownership if it belongs to a private individual.
acquisitive prescription under the Civil Code;
2. Malabanan had purchased the property from Eduardo Velazco Pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine (Jura Regalia), all lands of the public
believing in good faith that Velazco and his predecessors-in- domain belong to the State. The State is the source of any asserted right
interest had been the real owners of the land with the right to to ownership of land, and is charged with the conservation of such
validly transmit title and ownership thereof; patrimony. All lands not appearing to be clearly under private ownership
3. consequently, the ten-year period prescribed by Article 1134 of the are presumed to belong to the State. Also, public lands remain part of the
Civil Code, in relation to Section 14 (2) of the Property Registration inalienable land of the public domain unless the State is shown to have
Decree, applied in their favor; reclassified or alienated them to private persons.
4. when Malabanan filed the application for registration on February
20, 1998, he had already been in possession of the land for almost Classifications of public lands according to alienability
16 years reckoned from 1982, the time when the land was Whether or not land of the public domain is alienable and disposable
declared alienable and disposable by the State. primarily rests on the classification of public lands made under the
Constitution.
5. Republic’s partial MR -> SC a. 1935 Constitution: agricultural, timber and mineral.
- to obtain a clarification with reference to the application of the rulings in b. Section 10, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution: agricultural,
Naguit and Herbieto. industrial or commercial, residential, resettlement, mineral, timber
- chiefly citing the dissents, Republic or forest, and grazing land (with the reservation that the law might
a. contends that the decision has enlarged, by implication, the provide other classifications).
interpretation of Section 14 (1) of the Property Registration Decree c. 1987 Constitution adopted 1935 Constitution’s classification:
through judicial legislation. agricultural, forest or timber, and mineral, but added national
b. reiterates its view that an applicant is entitled to registration only when parks.
the land subject of the application had been declared alienable and
disposable since June 12, 1945 or earlier. Agricultural lands may be further classified by law according to the uses to
which they may be devoted. The identification of lands according to their
ISSUE: legal classification is done exclusively by and through a positive act of the
WON the possession and occupation of an alienable and disposable public Executive Department.
land for the periods provided under the Civil Code do not automatically
convert said property into private property or release it from the public Based on the foregoing, the Constitution places a limit on the type of
domain (NO) public land that may be alienated. Under Section 2, Article XII of the 1987

5
Constitution, only agricultural lands of the public domain may be Section 48. The following-described citizens of the Philippines, occupying
alienated; all other natural resources may not be. lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest
therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply
A&D lands of the State fall into: to the CFI of the province where the land is located for confirmation of
(a) patrimonial lands of the State, or those classified as lands of private their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title thereafter, under the
ownership under Article 425 of the Civil Code, without limitation; Land Registration Act, to wit:
(b) lands of the public domain, or the public lands as provided by the xxx xxx xxx
Constitution, but with the limitation that the lands must only be (b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest
agricultural. have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and
occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, under a
Consequently, lands classified as forest or timber, mineral, or national bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, since June 12, 1945, or earlier,
parks are not susceptible of alienation or disposition unless they are immediately preceding the filing of the applications for confirmation of
reclassified as agricultural. A positive act of the Government is necessary title, except when prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be
to enable such reclassification, and the exclusive prerogative to classify conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a
public lands under existing laws is vested in the Executive Department, not Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the
in the courts. If, however, public land will be classified as neither provisions of this chapter. (Bold emphasis supplied)
agricultural, forest or timber, mineral or national park, or when public land
is no longer intended for public service or for the development of the Note that Section 48 (b) of the Public Land Act used the words "lands of
national wealth, thereby effectively removing the land from the ambit of the public domain" or "alienable and disposable lands of the public
public dominion, a declaration of such conversion must be made in the domain" to clearly signify that lands otherwise classified, i.e., mineral,
form of a law duly enacted by Congress or by a Presidential proclamation forest or timber, or national parks, and lands of patrimonial or private
in cases where the President is duly authorized by law to that effect. Thus, ownership, are outside the coverage of the Public Land Act. What the law
until the Executive Department exercises its prerogative to classify or does not include, it excludes. The use of the descriptive phrase "alienable
reclassify lands, or until Congress or the President declares that the State and disposable" further limits the coverage of Section 48 (b) to only the
no longer intends the land to be used for public service or for the agricultural lands of the public domain as set forth in Article XII, Section 2
development of national wealth, the Regalian Doctrine is applicable. of the 1987 Constitution. Bearing in mind such limitations under the Public
Land Act, the applicant must satisfy the following requirements in order for
Disposition of alienable public lands his application to come under Section 14 (1) of the Property Registration
Section 11 of the Public Land Act (CA No. 141) provides the manner by Decree, to wit:
which alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, i.e., agricultural
lands, can be disposed of. 1. The applicant, by himself or through his predecessor-in-interest, has
been in possession and occupation of the property subject of the
Section 11. Public lands suitable for agricultural purposes can be disposed application;
of only as follows, and not otherwise: 2. The possession and occupation must be open, continuous, exclusive,
(1) For homestead settlement; and notorious; (OCEN)
(2) By sale; 3. The possession and occupation must be under a bona fide claim of
(3) By lease; and acquisition of ownership;
(4) By confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles: 4. The possession and occupation must have taken place since June 12,
(a) By judicial legalization; or 1945, or earlier; and
(b) By administrative legalization (free patent). 5. The property subject of the application must be an agricultural land of
the public domain.
The core of the controversy herein lies in the proper interpretation of
Section 11 (4), in relation to Section 48 (b) of the Public Land Act, which Taking into consideration that the Executive Department is vested with the
expressly requires possession by a Filipino citizen of the land since June authority to classify lands of the public domain, Section 48 (b) of the
12, 1945, or earlier, viz.: Public Land Act, in relation to Section 14 (1) of the Property Registration
Decree, presupposes that the land subject of the application for

6
registration must have been already classified as agricultural land of the To be clear, then, the requirement that the land should have been
public domain in order for the provision to apply. Thus, absent proof that classified as alienable and disposable agricultural land at the time
the land is already classified as agricultural land of the public domain, the of the application for registration is necessary only to dispute the
Regalian Doctrine applies, and overcomes the presumption that the land is presumption that the land is inalienable.
alienable and disposable as laid down in Section 48 (b) of the Public Land
Act. However, emphasis is placed on the requirement that the The declaration that land is alienable and disposable also serves to
classification required by Section 48 (b) of the Public Land Act is determine the point at which prescription may run against the State. The
classification or reclassification of a public land as agricultural. imperfect or incomplete title being confirmed under Section 48 (b) of the
Public Land Act is title that is acquired by reason of the applicant's
The dissent stresses that the classification or reclassification of the land as possession and occupation of the alienable and disposable agricultural land
alienable and disposable agricultural land should likewise have been made of the public domain. Where all the necessary requirements for a
on June 12, 1945 or earlier, because any possession of the land prior to grant by the Government are complied with through actual
such classification or reclassification produced no legal effects. It observes physical, open, continuous, exclusive and public possession of an
that the fixed date of June 12, 1945 could not be minimized or glossed alienable and disposable land of the public domain, the possessor
over by mere judicial interpretation or by judicial social policy concerns, is deemed to have acquired by operation of law not only a right to
and insisted that the full legislative intent be respected. a grant, but a grant by the Government, because it is not necessary
We find, however, that the choice of June 12, 1945 as the reckoning that a certificate of title be issued in order that such a grant be
point of the requisite possession and occupation was the sole sanctioned by the courts.
prerogative of Congress, the determination of which should best be
left to the wisdom of the lawmakers. Except that said date qualified If one follows the dissent, the clear objective of the Public Land Act to
the period of possession and occupation, no other legislative intent adjudicate and quiet titles to unregistered lands in favor of qualified
appears to be associated with the fixing of the date of June 12, 1945. Filipino citizens by reason of their occupation and cultivation thereof for
Accordingly, the Court should interpret only the plain and literal meaning the number of years prescribed by law will be defeated. Indeed, we should
of the law as written by the legislators. always bear in mind that such objective still prevails, as a fairly recent
legislative development bears out, when Congress enacted legislation
Moreover, an examination of Section 48 (b) of the Public Land Act (Republic Act No. 10023) in order to liberalize stringent requirements and
indicates that Congress prescribed no requirement that the land procedures in the adjudication of alienable public land to qualified
subject of the registration should have been classified as applicants, particularly residential lands, subject to area limitations.
agricultural since June 12, 1945, or earlier. As such, the applicant's
imperfect or incomplete title is derived only from possession and On the other hand, if a public land is classified as no longer intended for
occupation since June 12, 1945, or earlier. This means that the public use or for the development of national wealth by declaration of
character of the property subject of the application as alienable Congress or the President, thereby converting such land into patrimonial
and disposable agricultural land of the public domain determines or private land of the State, the applicable provision concerning disposition
its eligibility for land registration, not the ownership or title over and registration is no longer Section 48 (b) of the Public Land Act but the
it. Alienable public land held by a possessor, either personally or through Civil Code, in conjunction with Section 14 (2) of the Property Registration
his predecessors-in-interest, openly, continuously and exclusively during Decree. As such, prescription can now run against the State.
the prescribed statutory period is converted to private property by the To sum up, we now observe the following rules relative to the disposition
mere lapse or completion of the period. In fact, by virtue of this doctrine, of public land or lands of the public domain, namely:
corporations may now acquire lands of the public domain for as long as the
lands were already converted to private ownership, by operation of law, as (1) As a general rule and pursuant to the Regalian Doctrine, all lands of
a result of satisfying the requisite period of possession prescribed by the the public domain belong to the State and are inalienable. Lands that are
Public Land Act. It is for this reason that the property subject of the not clearly under private ownership are also presumed to belong to the
application of Malabanan need not be classified as alienable and disposable State and, therefore, may not be alienated or disposed;
agricultural land of the public domain for the entire duration of the
requisite period of possession. (2) The following are excepted from the general rule, to wit:

7
(a) Agricultural lands of the public domain are rendered alienable and Respondents: Court of Appeals and Director of Lands
disposable through any of the exclusive modes enumerated under Section
11 of the Public Land Act. If the mode is judicial confirmation of imperfect LAND TITLES AND DEEDS; PUBLIC LANDS; REQUISITES IN THE
title under Section 48 (b) of the Public Land Act, the agricultural land ACQUISITION THEREOF. — Open, exclusive and undisputed possession of
subject of the application needs only to be classified as alienable and alienable public land for the period prescribed by law creates the legal
disposable as of the time of the application, provided the applicant's fiction whereby the land, upon completion of the requisite period ipso jure
possession and occupation of the land dated back to June 12, 1945, or and without the need of judicial or other sanction, ceases to be public land
earlier. Thereby, a conclusive presumption that the applicant has and becomes private property. Such open, continuous, exclusive and
performed all the conditions essential to a government grant arises, 36 notorious occupation of the disputed properties for more than 30 years
and the applicant becomes the owner of the land by virtue of an imperfect must, however, be conclusively established.
or incomplete title. By legal fiction, the land has already ceased to be part
of the public domain and has become private property. NOT COMPLIED WITH IN CASE AT BAR. — In this case, petitioner’s claim
that its predecessor-in-interest had open, exclusive and undisputed
(b) Lands of the public domain subsequently classified or declared as no possession of Lot 684 for more than thirty years is anchored on certain
longer intended for public use or for the development of national wealth documentary and testimonial evidence. Its documentary evidence consist
are removed from the sphere of public dominion and are considered of tax declaration No. 923 wherein it appears that in 1974, Silverio Perez
converted into patrimonial lands or lands of private ownership that may be declared as his own for taxation purposes, a certain riceland with an area
alienated or disposed through any of the modes of acquiring ownership of 1.5657 hectares located in Sta. Anastacia, Sto. Tomas, Batangas, and a
under the Civil Code. If the mode of acquisition is prescription, whether certification of the Office of the Treasurer of Sto. Tomas to the effect that
ordinary or extraordinary, proof that the land has been already converted in 1977, Silverio Perez paid realty taxes for the land subject of tax
to private ownership prior to the requisite acquisitive prescriptive period is declaration no. 923. Tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive
a condition sine qua non in observance of the law (Article 1113, Civil Code) evidence of ownership or right of possession over a piece of land. They are
that property of the State not patrimonial in character shall not be the merely indicia of a claim of ownership. Tax declarations only become
object of prescription. strong evidence of ownership of land acquired by prescription, a mode of
acquisition of ownership relied upon by petitioner in this case, when
To reiterate, then, the petitioners failed to present sufficient evidence to accompanied by proof of actual possession. Such proof of actual
establish that they and their predecessors-in-interest had been in possession was sought to be provided by the testimony of vendor Silverio
possession of the land since June 12, 1945. Without satisfying the Perez that he had been in possession of the property since 1933 until he
requisite character and period of possession — possession and occupation sold it to SMC in 1975; that the property was given to him by his parents
that is open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious since June 12, 1945, or when he got married; that no document evidenced that transfer; that it
earlier — the land cannot be considered ipso jure converted to private had been in the possession of his parents since 1925; that he had declared
property even upon the subsequent declaration of it as alienable and the property in his name for taxation purposes, that he had paid taxes
disposable. Prescription never began to run against the State, such that therefor, and that he was in peaceful, continuous and exclusive possession
the land has remained ineligible for registration under Section 14 (1) of of the property until its sale to SMC. Petitioner did not present other
the Property Registration Decree. Likewise, the land continues to be witnesses to corroborate Perez’ testimony. Its other witness, Antonio M. de
ineligible for land registration under Section 14 (2) of the Property las Alas, Jr., a lawyer of the petitioner, simply testified that he handled the
Registration Decree unless Congress enacts a law or the President issues a negotiations for the purchase of the property; that SMC was authorized to
proclamation declaring the land as no longer intended for public service or own and acquire property as shown by its articles of incorporation and by-
for the development of the national wealth. laws; that since its acquisition in 1975, the property had been used as a
hatchery farm of SMC; that SMC’s possession in the concept of an owner
Disposition: WHEREFORE, the Court DENIES the petitioners' Motion for had been continuous, adverse and against the whole world, and that the
Reconsideration and the respondent's Partial Motion for Reconsideration land was declared for taxation purposes still in the name of Silverio Perez.
for their lack of merit.
CASE:
San Miguel Corporation vs. Court of Appeals
Petitioner: San Miguel Corporation

8
In this petition for review on certiorari, San Miguel Corporation seeks the ISSUE: WON the evidence presented by the petitioner is sufficient to
reversal of the CA Decision denying its application for registration of a warrant a ruling that SMC and/or its predecessor-in-interest has a
parcel of land in view of its failure to show entitlement thereto. registrable right over Lot 684.

FACTS: HELD:
1. December 23, 1975, petitioner SMC purchased from Silverio Perez Lot Open, exclusive and undisputed possession of alienable public land
684 (14,531 sqm) located in Sta. Anastacia, Sto. Tomas, Batangas, in for the period prescribed by law creates the legal fiction whereby
consideration of the sum of P133,084.80. the land, upon completion of the requisite period ipso jure and
without the need of judicial or other sanction, ceases to be public
February 21, 1977: claiming ownership in fee simple of the land, SMC filed land and becomes private property.Such open, continuous,
before the then CFI Batangas an application for its registration under the exclusive and notorious occupation of the disputed properties for
Land Registration Act. more than 30 years must, however, be conclusively established.
This quantum of proof is necessary to avoid the erroneous
The SolGen opposed the application for registration. validation of actually fictitious claims of possession over the
Contentions: property in dispute.
a. SMC's claim of ownership in fee simple on the basis of a Spanish title or
grant could no longer be availed of by the applicant as the six-month In this case, petitioner's claim that its predecessor-in-interest had open,
period from February 16, 1976 prescribed by Presidential Decree No. 892 exclusive and undisputed possession of Lot 684 for more than 30 years is
had elapsed anchored on certain documentary and testimonial evidence. Its
b. parcel of land in question is part of the public domain, and that SMC, documentary evidence consist of tax declaration No. 923 wherein it
being a private corporation, is disqualified under Section 11, Article XIV of appears that in 1974, Silverio Perez declared as his own for taxation
the Constitution from holding alienable lands of the public domain. purposes, a certain riceland with an area of 1.5657 hectares located in
Sta. Anastacia, Sto. Tomas, Batangas, and a certification of the Office of
At the initial and only hearing held on October 12, 1977, the Court, upon the Treasurer of Sto. Tomas to the effect that in 1977, Silverio Perez paid
motion of SMC and there being no opposition to the application except that realty taxes for the land subject of tax declaration no. 923. 7
of the Republic of the Philippines, issued an order of general default. SMC
was allowed to mark documentary evidence to establish jurisdictional facts Tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of
and to present additional evidence before the Clerk of Court who was ownership or right of possession over a piece of land. They are
appointed Commissioner for that purpose. merely indicia of a claim of ownership. Tax declarations only
become strong evidence of ownership of land acquired by
December 12, 1977: CFI (Judge Eduardo C. Abaya), rendered a decision prescription, a mode of acquisition of ownership relied upon by
granting the application for registration and adjudicating the property in petitioner in this case, when accompanied by proof of actual
favor of SMC. possession.

2. SolGen’s Appeal -> CA. REVERSED CFI DECISION and declared the Such proof of actual possession was sought to be provided by the
parcel of land involved as public land. testimony of vendor Silverio Perez that he had been in possession of the
property since 1933 until he sold it to SMC in 1975; that the property was
3. Hence, the instant petition. given to him by his parents when he got married; that no document
SMC alleged "grave errors" of the CA for this Court's resolution: evidenced that transfer; that it had been in the possession of his parents
a. the CA's failure to hold that "prescription is a mode of acquiring title or since 1925; that he had declared the property in his name for taxation
ownership of land and that the title thus acquired is registrable" purposes, that he had paid taxes therefor, and that he was in peaceful,
b. the CA's disregard of SMC's evidence "not on the basis of controverting continuous and exclusive possession of the property until its sale to SMC.
evidence but on the basis of unfounded suppositions and conjectures,"
c. the CAs' reversal of the factual findings of the trial court which had the Petitioner did not present other witnesses to corroborate Perez' testimony.
opportunity of observing the demeanor and sincerity of the witnesses. Its other witness, Antonio M. de las Alas, Jr., a lawyer of the petitioner,
simply testified that he handled the negotiations for the purchase of the

9
property; that SMC was authorized to own and acquire property as shown until the same came into the possession of Mariano Infiel and Acer
by its articles of incorporation and by-laws; that since its acquisition in Infiel;
1975, the property had been used as a hatchery farm of SMC; that SMC's 6. Acme’s possession is continuous, adverse and public from 1962 to
possession in the concept of an owner had been continuous, adverse and the present and tackling the possession of the Infiels who were
against the whole world, and that the land was declared for taxation granted from whom the applicant bought said land on October 29,
purposes still in the name of Silverio Perez. 12 1962, hence the possession is already considered from time
immemorial;
We hold that there is paucity of evidence of actual, notorious and exclusive 7. That the land sought to be registered is a private land (RA No.
possession of the property on the part of vendor Silverio Perez so as to 3872 - granting absolute ownership to members of the non-
attach to it the character of an express grant from the government. Christian Tribes on land occupied by them or their ancestral lands,
Indeed, as correctly held by the CA, Silverio Perez's testimony, being whether with the alienable or disposable public land or within the
uncorroborated, is simply self-serving and hence, undeserving of any public domain)
weight. llcd 8. Acme has introduced more than P45,000,000 worth of
improvements
Disposition: WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby 9. That the ownership and possession of the land sought to be
AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner. registered by the applicant was duly recognized by the government
when the Municipal Officials of Maconacon, Isabela, have
Director of Lands vs. IAC and Acme Plywood and Veneer Co. Inc. negotiated for the donation of the townsite from Acme Plywood &
Petitioner: Director of Lands Veneer Co., Inc., and the negotiation came to reality when the
Respondents: Intermediate Appellate Court and Acme Plywood and Veneer Board of Directors of the Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., had
Co. Inc. Etc. donated a part of the land bought by the Company from the Infiels
for the townsite of Maconacon, Isabela (Exh. 'N') on November 15,
CASE: The Director of Lands has brought this appeal by certiorari from an 1979, and which donation was accepted by the Municipal
IAC Judgment affirming CFI Decision which ordered registration in favor of Government of Maconacon, Isabela (Exh. 'N-1'), during their
Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc. of 5 parcels of land (481,390 sqm) special session on November 22, 1979."
acquired by it from Mariano and Acer Infiel, members of the Dumagat
tribe. 2. The Director of Lands takes no issue with any of these findings except
as to the applicability of the 1935 Constitution to the matter at hand.
FACTS: Concerning this, he asserts that, the registration proceedings have been
1. The registration proceedings were for confirmation of title under Section commenced only on July 17, 1981, or long after the 1973 Constitution had
48 of Commonwealth Act No. 141 (The Public Land Act), as amended; and gone into effect, the latter is the correctly applicable law; and since section
the appealed judgment sums up the findings of the trial court in said 11 of its Article XIV prohibits private corporations or associations from
proceedings in this wise: holding alienable lands of the public domain, except by lease not to exceed
1,000 hectares (a prohibition not found in the 1935 Constitution which was
1. Acme is a duly organized and SEC registered (December 23, 1959) in force in 1962 when Acme purchased the lands in question from the
corporation with Mr. Rodolfo Nazario as representative; Infiels), it was reversible error to decree registration in favor of Acme.
2. Acme (Nazario) can acquire real properties pursuant to the
provisions of the Articles of Incorporation; Section 48, paragraphs (b) and (c), of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as
3. That the land subject of the Land Registration proceeding was amended, reads:
ancestrally acquired by Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., on
October 29, 1962, from Mariano Infiel and Acer Infiel, both "SEC. 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines, occupying
members of the Dumagat tribe and as such are cultural minorities; lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest
4. That the 1935 Philippine Constitution is applicable; therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply
5. Infiels’ possession dates back before the Philippines was to the CFI of the province where the land is located for confirmation of
discovered by Magellan as the ancestors of the Infiels have their claims, and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor, under the
possessed and occupied the land from generation to generation Land Registration Act, to wit:

10
xxx xxx xxx Since section 11 of Article XIV does not distinguish, we should not make
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest any distinction or qualification. The prohibition applies to alienable
have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and public lands as to which a Torrens title may be secured under
occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide section 48(b). The proceeding under section 48(b) `presupposes
claim of acquisition or ownership, for at least thirty years immediately that the land is public.
preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title except when
prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed The present Chief Justice entered a vigorous dissent, tracing the line of
to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and cases beginning with Cariño in 1909 thru Susi in 1925 down to Herico in
shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of the chapter. 1980, which developed, affirmed and reaffirmed the doctrine that open,
exclusive and undisputed possession of alienable public land for
(c) Members of the National Cultural minorities who by themselves or the period prescribed by law creates the legal fiction whereby the
through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, land, upon completion of the requisite period ipso jure and without
exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of lands of the public the need of judicial or other sanction, ceases to be public land and
domain suitable to agriculture, whether disposable or not, under a bona becomes private property. That said dissent expressed what is the
fide claim of ownership for at least 30 years shall be entitled to the rights better — and, indeed, the correct, view — becomes evident from a
granted in subsection (b) hereof." consideration of some of the principal rulings cited therein.

The Petition for Review does not dispute — indeed, in view of the quoted The main theme was given birth, so to speak, in Cariño, involving the
findings of the trial court which were cited and affirmed by the Decree/Regulations of June 25, 1880 for adjustment of royal lands
Intermediate Appellate Court, it can no longer controvert before this Court wrongfully occupied by private individuals in the Philippine Islands. It was
— the fact that Mariano and Acer Infiel, from whom Acme purchased the ruled that:
lands in question on October 29, 1962, are members of the national
cultural minorities who had, by themselves and through their progenitors, "It is true that the language of articles 4 and 5 5 attributes title to those
possessed and occupied those lands since time immemorial, or for more `who may prove' possession for the necessary time and we do not
than the required 30-year period and were, by reason thereof, entitled to overlook the argument that this means may prove in registration
exercise the right granted in Section 48 of the Public Land Act to have proceedings. It may be that an English conveyancer would have
their title judicially confirmed. Nor is there any pretension that Acme, as recommended an application under the foregoing decree, but certainly it
the successor-in-interest of the Infiels, is disqualified to acquire and was not calculated to convey to the mind of an Igorot chief the notion that
register ownership of said lands under any provisions of the 1973 ancient family possessions were in danger, if he had read every word of it.
Constitution other than Section 11 of its Article XIV already referred to. The words 'may prove' (acrediten), as well or better, in view of the other
provisions, might be taken to mean when called upon to do so in any
ISSUE: WON the title that the Infiels had transferred to Acme in 1962 litigation. There are indications that registration was expected from all, but
could be confirmed in favor of the latter (Acme) in proceedings instituted none sufficient to show that, for want of it, ownership actually gained
by it in 1981 when the 1973 Constitution was already in effect, having in would be lost. The effect of the proof, wherever made, was not to confer
mind the prohibition therein against private corporations holding lands of title, but simply to establish it, as already conferred by the decree, if not
the public domain except in lease not exceeding 1,000 hectares by earlier law. . . ."

HELD: That ruling assumed a more doctrinal character because expressed in


The question turns upon a determination of the character of the lands at more categorical language, in Susi:
the time of institution of the registration proceedings in 1981. If they were
then still part of the public domain, it must be answered in the negative. ". . . In favor of Valentin Susi, there is, moreover, the presumption juris et
If, on the other hand, they were then already private lands, the de jure established in paragraph (b) of section 45 of Act No. 2874,
constitutional prohibition against their acquisition by private corporations amending Act No. 926, that all the necessary requirements for a grant by
or associations obviously does not apply. the Government were complied with, for he has been in actual and
physical possession, personally and through his predecessors, of an
agricultural land of the public domain openly, continuously, exclusively and

11
publicly since July 26, 1984, with a right to a certificate of title to said land If it is accepted — as it must be — that the land was already private land
under the provisions of Chapter VIII of said Act. So that when Angela to which the Infiels had a legally sufficient and transferable title on
Razon applied for the grant in her favor, Valentin Susi had already October 29, 1962 when Acme acquired it from said owners, it must also be
acquired by operation of law not only a right to a grant, but a grant of the conceded that Acme had a perfect right to make such acquisition, there
Government, for it is not necessary that a certificate of title should be being nothing in the 1935 Constitution then in force (or, for that matter, in
issued in order that said grant may be sanctioned by the courts, an the 1973 Constitution which came into effect later) prohibiting
application therefor is sufficient, under the provisions of section 47 of Act corporations from acquiring and owning private lands.
No. 2874. If by a legal fiction, Valentin Susi had acquired the land in
question by a grant of the State, it had already ceased to be of the public Even on the proposition that the land remained technically "public" land,
domain and had become private property, at least by presumption, of despite immemorial possession of the Infiels and their ancestors, until title
Valentin Susi, beyond the control of the Director of Lands. Consequently, in their favor was actually confirmed in appropriate proceedings under the
in selling the land in question of Angela Razon, the Director of Lands Public Land Act, there can be no serious question of Acme's right to
disposed of a land over which he had no longer any title or control, and acquire the land at the time it did, there also being nothing in the 1935
the sale thus made was void and of no effect, and Angela Razon did not Constitution that might be construed to prohibit corporations from
thereby acquire any right. 6 purchasing or acquiring interests in public land to which the vendor had
already acquired that type of so-called "incomplete" or "imperfect" title.
Succeeding cases, of which only some need be mentioned, like Lacaste vs. The only limitation then extant was that corporations could not acquire,
Director of Lands, 7 Mesina vs. Vda. de Sonza, 8 Manarpac vs. hold or lease public agricultural lands in excess of 1,024 hectares. The
Cabanatuan, 9 Miguel vs. Court of Appeals 10 and Herico vs. Dar, supra, purely accidental circumstance that confirmation proceedings were brought
by invoking and affirming the Susi doctrine have firmly rooted it in under the aegis of the 1973 Constitution which forbids corporations from
jurisprudence. owning lands of the public domain cannot defeat a right already vested
before that law came into effect, or invalidate transactions then perfectly
Herico, in particular, appears to be squarely affirmative: 11 valid and proper, This Court has already held, in analogous circumstances,
that the Constitution cannot impair vested rights.
". . . Secondly, under the provisions of Republic Act No. 1942, which the
respondent Court held to be inapplicable to the petitioner's case, with the That vested right has to be respected. It could not be abrogated by the
latter's proven occupation and cultivation for more than 30 years since new Constitution. Section 2, Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution allows
1914, by himself and by his predecessors-in-interest, title over the land private corporations to purchase public agricultural lands not exceeding
has vested on petitioner so as to segregate the land from the mass of one thousand and twenty-four hectares. Petitioner' prohibition action is
public land. Thereafter, it is no longer disposable under the Public Land Act barred by the doctrine of vested rights in constitutional law.
as by free patent. . . .
In the instant case, it is incontestable that prior to the effectivity of the
xxx xxx xxx 1973 Constitution the right of the corporation to purchase the land in
question had become fixed and established and was no longer open to
As interpreted in several cases, when the conditions as specified in doubt or controversy.
the foregoing provision are complied with, the possessor is
deemed to have acquired, by operation of law, a right to a grant, a Its compliance with the requirements of the Public Land Law for the
government grant, without the necessity of a certificate of title issuance of a patent had the effect of segregating the said land from the
being issued. The land, therefore, ceases to be of the public public domain. The corporation's right to obtain a patent for the land is
domain and beyond the authority of the Director of Lands to protected by law. It cannot be deprived of that right without due process.
dispose of. The application for confirmation is mere formality, the
lack of which does not affect the legal sufficiency of the title as The fact, therefore, that the confirmation proceedings were instituted by
would be evidenced by the patent and the Torrens title to be issued Acme in its own name must be regarded as simply another accidental
upon the strength of said patent." circumstance, productive of a defect hardly more than procedural and in
nowise affecting the substance and merits of the right of ownership sought
to be confirmed in said proceedings, there being no doubt of Acme's

12
entitlement to the land. As it is unquestionable that in the light of the Petitioners; Susana Menguito, Ermilita Menguito-Manalili, Helen Marta
undisputed facts, the Infiels, under either the 1935 or the 1973 Menguito-Luna, Renato Menguito, Bersamin Menguito, Froilan Menguito,
Constitution, could have had title in themselves confirmed and registered, and Generoso Menguito
only a rigid subservience to the letter of the law would deny the same Respondent: Republic of the Philippines
benefit to their lawful successor-in-interest by valid conveyance which
violates no constitutional mandate. LAND TITLES AND DEEDS; PUBLIC LAND LAW; PUBLIC LAND; REQUISITE
FOR REGISTRATION. — Unless a piece of public land is shown to have
The Court, in the light of the foregoing, is of the view, and so holds, that been classified as alienable and disposable, it remains part of the
the majority ruling in Meralco must be reconsidered and no longer deemed inalienable public domain. Even assuming that such land has been
to be binding precedent. The correct rule, as enunciated in the line of classified as alienable, title thereto can be registered only upon
cases already referred to, is that alienable public land held by a presentation of incontrovertible proof of adverse, notorious and open
possessor, personally or through his predecessors-in-interest, possession in the concept of owner for a period of thirty years. Hence, as
openly, continuously and exclusively for the prescribed statutory observed by the appellate court, petitioners were duty-bound to prove two
period (30 years under The Public Land Act, as amended) is legal requirements: (1) the land applied for was alienable and disposable;
converted to private property by the mere lapse or completion of and (2) the applicants and their predecessors-in-interest had occupied and
said period, ipso jure. Following that rule and on the basis of the possessed the land openly, continuously, exclusively, and adversely since
undisputed facts, the land subject of this appeal was already private June 12,1945.
property at the time it was acquired from the Infiels by Acme. Acme
thereby acquired a registrable title, there being at the time no prohibition APPLICANT FOR ORIGINAL REGISTRATION MUST OVERCOME
against said corporation's holding or owning private land. PRESUMPTION THAT LAND SOUGHT TO BE REGISTERED FORMS PART OF
PUBLIC DOMAIN. — For the original registration of title, the applicant
The ends of justice would best be served, therefore, by considering the (petitioners in this case) must overcome the presumption that the land
applications for confirmation as amended to conform to the evidence, i.e. sought to be registered forms part of the public domain. Unless public land
as filed in the names of the original persons who as natural persons are is shown to have been reclassified or alienated to a private person by the
duly qualified to apply for formal confirmation of the title that they had State, it remains part of the inalienable public domain. Indeed, "occupation
acquired by conclusive presumption and mandate of the Public Land Act thereof in the concept of owner, no matter how long, cannot ripen into
and who thereafter duly sold to the herein corporations (both admittedly ownership and be registered as a title." To overcome such presumption,
Filipino corporations duly qualified to hold and own private lands) and incontrovertible evidence must be shown by the applicant. Absent such
granting the applications for confirmation of title to the private lands so evidence, the land sought to be registered remains inalienable.
acquired and sold or exchanged."
EFFECT OF SURVEYOR-GEODETIC ENGINEER'S NOTATION THAT SURVEY
There is also nothing to prevent Acme from reconveying the lands to the WAS INSIDE ALIENABLE AND DISPOSABLE LAND. — In the present case,
Infiels and the latter from themselves applying for confirmation of title petitioners cite a surveyor-geodetic engineer's notation in Exhibit "E"
and, after issuance of the certificate/s of title in their names, deeding the indicating that the survey was inside alienable and disposable land. Such
lands back to Acme. But this would be merely indulging in empty notation does not constitute a positive government act validly changing
charades, whereas the same result is more efficaciously and speedily the classification of the land in question. Verily, a mere surveyor has no
obtained, with no prejudice to anyone, by a liberal application of the rule authority to reclassify lands of the public domain. By relying solely on the
on amendment to conform to the evidence suggested in the dissent in said surveyor's assertion, petitioners have not sufficiently proven that the
Meralco. land in question has been declared alienable.

Disposition: WHEREFORE, there being no reversible error in the appealed OPEN CONTINUOUS POSSESSION FOR AT LEAST 30 YEARS, REQUIRED;
judgment of the Intermediate Appellate Court, the same is hereby CASE AT BAR. — Even assuming arguendo that petitioners have been able
affirmed, without costs in this instance. to prove that the land is alienable, their Petition for confirmation of their
Susana Meguito, et al. vs. Republic of the Philippines imperfect titles and registration thereof under the law will still be denied.
The reason is that they have failed to establish possession of the lots in

13
question — openly, continuously, exclusively and adversely — in the adverse, notorious and open possession in the concept of owner for a
concept of owner for at least 30 years, since June 12, 1945. period of thirty years.

ABSENCE OF PROOF TO SUBSTANTIATE CLAIM OF PAYMENT OF REAL FACTS:


ESTATE TAXES IN CASE AT BAR NEGATES POSSESSION. — Petitioners 1. November 10, 1987: in the RTC at Pasig, Metro Manila an Application
presented evidence that they had been paying real estate taxes since for Registration of Title was filed by the following successors-in-interest of
1974. Their predecessors-in-interest, they claimed, have also been paying the deceased spouses Cirilo Menguito and Juana Manalo-Menguito,
taxes on the land for several years before them, and Cirilo Menguito had namely: Susana Menguito, Emelita Menguito-Manalili, Helen Marta
declared the land for tax purposes in 1943. However, they did not present Menguito-Luna, Renato Menguito, Bersamin Menguito, Froilan Menguito
any documents or any other satisfactory proof to substantiate this claim. And Generoso Menguito.
General statements, which are mere conclusions of law and not proofs of
possession, are unavailing and cannot suffice. - apply to have the land hereinafter described brought under the operation
of the Land Registration Act as amended by the Property Registration
Synopsis: Decree No. 1529 and to have their title thereto registered and confirmed
Petitioners applied for registration of their imperfect title over a parcel of - apply to declare:
land located at Usuan, Taguig, Metro Manila comprising of 2,112 square a. applicants are the owners in fee simple of 11 parcels of land
meters. Petitioners claimed that their predecessor-in-interest possessed situated in the Barrio of Ususan, Municipality of Taguig, Metro
the land even before the Second World War, that they possessed the lot in Manila, and are bounded and described as shown on plan Swo-13-
1968 and that the land has been declared for taxation purposes in 1943. 000227 (lot Nos. 6045-A, 6045-B, 6045-C, 6045-D, 6045-E, 6045-
Petitioners presented Survey Plan No. SWO-13-000227 which contained a F, 6045-G, 6045-H, 6045-I, 6045-J and 6045-K) and
notation that the survey plan is inside the alienable and disposable land. corresponding technical descriptions, ...;
They, however, failed to submit any other evidence to support their claim. b. said parcels of land are assessed for taxation for the current year
The decision of the trial court was reversed on appeal. The Court of at P5,910.00 as per Tax Declaration No. B-11-01351 of the land
Appeals found that petitioners failed to prove that the land applied for was record of Taguig, Metro Manila;
alienable and disposable and that petitioners or their predecessors had c. to the best of applicants' knowledge and belief, there is no
been in possession of it since June 12, 1945. mortgage or encumbrance of any kind whatsoever affecting the
said land nor any other persons having any estate or interest
It was held that for registration of imperfect titles to lands of the public therein, legal or equitable, in possession, remainder, reversion or
domain the applicant must prove that the land applied for was alienable expectancy;
and disposable and that his possession thereof for a minimum of 30 years d. applicants acquired the said parcels of land by inheritance;
must be open, continuous, exclusive and adverse. An applicant who e. said parcels of land are occupied by the applicants and their
miserably failed to comply therewith is not entitled to registration. predecessors-in-interest have been in actual, open, peaceful,
continuous, and adverse possession, in the concept of owners, of
CASE: Before us is a Petition for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of said parcels of land for more than 30 years;
Court assailing the CA Decision (September 30, 1997) and Resolution June h. should the Land Registration Act invoked be not applicable in the
23, 1998. The CA Decision reversed and set aside the RTC Decision which instant case, the applicants hereby apply for the benefit of Chapter
granted the petitioners’ application for registration. VIII of Commonwealth Act No. 141 as amended

The RTC Decision which was reversed by the CA granted petitioners' 2. Acting on the foregoing application, the lower court issued a 'Notice of
application for registration. Initial Hearing' addressed to: the SolGen, Director of LMB, Secretaries of
DPWH and DAR, Director of the BFD, and owners of the adjacent
Doctrine: Unless a piece of public land is shown to have been classified as properties as mentioned in the application, informing them that the
alienable and disposable, it remains part of the inalienable public domain. application is scheduled for initial hearing on April 25, 1989. The
Even assuming that such land has been classified as alienable, title thereto addressees were then ordered 'to present such claims as you may have to
can be registered only upon presentation of incontrovertible proof of said lands or any portion thereof, and to submit evidence in support of
such claims and unless you appear at said court at the time and place

14
aforesaid, your default will be recorded and the title to the lands will be the applicants (December 12, 1985), description of the land and the
adjudicated and determined in accordance with law and the evidence apportionment thereof among the applicants, Tax Declarations, Tax
before the Court, and thereafter, you will forever be barred from Receipts, Kasulatan ng Pagkakaloob (May 7, 1969, executed by Cirilo
contesting said application or any decree entered thereon' (Exhibit 'A'). Menguito in favor of Pedro Menguito), and Deed of Partition (November 7,
1990 executed by the applicants).
Said notice of initial hearing was published in the April 5, 1989 issue of
Abante,a daily tabloid. September 12, 1990: oppositor Republic filed its Manifestation and
Opposition to applicants' formal offer of evidence.
3. Earlier, or on March 30, 1989: Republic of the Philippines, through the
SolGen, filed its Opposition to the application for registration contending: 5. May 15, 1991: RTC affirmed the order of general default against the
- that neither the applicant nor his predecessors-in-interest have been in whole world. CONFIRMED REGISTERABLE TITLE OF APPLICANTS
open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of
the land in question since June 12, 1945 or prior thereto (Sec. 48 [b], C.A. Oppositor Republic’s (SolGen) MR -> RTC. DENIED FOR LACK OF MERIT.
141, as amended by P.D. 1073). Ruling of the Court of Appeals.
- that muniments of title and tax payment receipts of applicant, if any,
attached to or alleged in the application, do not constitute competent and Oppositor Republic’s (SolGen) Appeal -> CA. GRANTED. REVERSED RTC
sufficient evidence of a bona fide acquisition of the lands applied for or his DECISION.
open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation - agreed with respondent that the RTC failed to consider the legal
thereof in the concept of owner, since June 12, 1945, or prior thereto. Said requirements for registration of imperfect titles; namely: (1) the land is
muniments - not appear to be genuine; indicate pretended possession of alienable and disposable; and (2) the applicants and their predecessors-in-
applicant to be of recent vintage. interest have occupied and possessed the land openly, continuously,
- that claim of ownership in fee simple on the basis of Spanish title or exclusively, and adversely since June 12, 1945. It was not convinced that
grant can no longer be availed of by the applicant who has failed to file an the land in question had been classified as alienable or disposable and that
appropriate application for registration within the period of 6 months from petitioners or their predecessors-in-interest had been in possession of it
February 16, 1976 as required by Presidential Decree No. 892. From the since June 12, 1945.
records, it appears that the instant application was filed on July 31, 1990.
- that the parcel applied is part of the public domain belonging to the Hence, this Petition.
Republic of the Philippines not subject to private appropriation.' (Amended
Record on Appeal, pp. 5-6). ISSUE:
WON CA erred in reversing the RTC’s findings of fact and in rejecting
SolGen’s prayer: petitioners' application for the registration of their respective titles (NO)
a. denial of the application for registration
b. declaration of the properties subject thereof as part of the public HELD:
domain belonging to the Republic of the Philippines. Registration of Petitioner’s Title
Section 48 of Commonwealth Act (CA) No. 141, as amended, provides for
At scheduled initial hearing (April 25, 1989): Jose Tangco, Jr. appeared the registration of imperfect titles to lands of the public domain in this
and registered a verbal opposition to the application. wise:

On motion of counsel for the applicants, the court issued an Order of "SECTION 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines, occupying
General Default against the whole world, except as against the oppositors lands of public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest
Republic of the Philippines and Jose Tangco, Jr.,who was directed to file his thereon, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may
written opposition but never did. Thereafter, trial on the merits ensued. apply to the CFI of the province where the land is located for confirmation
4. June 13, 1990: applicants filed their 'Formal Offer of Evidence,' of their claims, and the issuance of a certificate of title therefor, under the
submitting therewith the following documentary exhibits: Plan Swo-13- Land Registration Act, to wit:
000227, technical descriptions of Lot Nos. 6045-A to 6045-J, inclusive, xxx xxx xxx
Engineer's Certificate, Extra-judicial Settlement and Partition executed by

15
(b) those who by themselves or through their predecessor in-interest have
been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and In the present case, petitioners cite a surveyor-geodetic engineer's
occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide notation in Exhibit "E" indicating that the survey was inside alienable and
claim of acquisition or ownership, for at least thirty years immediately disposable land. Such notation does not constitute a positive
preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title except when government act validly changing the classification of the land in
prevented by war or force majeure. They shall be conclusively presumed question. Verily, a mere surveyor has no authority to reclassify
to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and lands of the public domain. By relying solely on the said surveyor's
shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this assertion, petitioners have not sufficiently proven that the land in question
Chapter." has been declared alienable.

Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1073 clarified paragraph "b" of the said Period of Possession
provision by specifically declaring that it applied only to alienable and Even assuming arguendo that petitioners have been able to prove that the
disposable lands of the public domain. land is alienable, their Petition for confirmation of their imperfect titles and
registration thereof under the law will still be denied. The reason is that
Hence, as observed by the appellate court, petitioners were duty- they have failed to establish possession of the lots in question — openly,
bound to prove two legal requirements: (1) the land applied for continuously, exclusively and adversely — in the concept of owner for at
was alienable and disposable; and (2) the applicants and their least 30 years, since June 12, 1945.
predecessors-in-interest had occupied and possessed the land
openly, continuously, exclusively, and adversely since June 12, Petitioners do not claim that they are the original possessors of the lots in
1945. question, which had allegedly belonged to Cirilo Menguito before he
donated it to his son Pedro. When Pedro died in 1978, these lots allegedly
The records show that petitioners failed to establish these 2 requisites. passed down to petitioners.

Classification of the Land Although petitioners can trace their possession of the land from as far back
To prove that the land in question formed part of the A&D lands of the as 1968 only, they would tack it to that of their predecessors, who had
public domain, petitioners relied on the printed words which read: "This supposedly been in possession thereof even before the Second World War.
survey plan is inside Alienable and Disposable Land Area, Project No. 27-B There is not enough convincing proof, however, to support such claim.
as per L.C. Map No. 2623, certified by the Bureau of Forestry on January
3, 1968," appearing on Exhibit "E" (Survey Plan No. Swo-13-000227). Petitioners presented evidence that they had been paying real estate taxes
since 1974. Their predecessors-in-interest, they claimed, have also been
This proof is not sufficient. Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, paying taxes on the land for several years before them, and Cirilo
provides: "All lands of the public domain,waters, minerals, coal, Menguito had declared the land for tax purposes in 1943. However, they
petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, did not present any documents or any other satisfactory proof to
forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are substantiate this claim. General statements, which are mere
owned by the State....." (Italics supplied.) conclusions of law and not proofs of possession, are unavailing and
cannot suffice.
For the original registration of title, the applicant (petitioners in this case)
must overcome the presumption that the land sought to be registered Cirilo's 6 children were not presented as witnesses by petitioners during
forms part of the public domain. Unless public land is shown to have been the hearing of their application for registration of the lots in question. In
reclassified or alienated to a private person by the State, it remains part of fact, of the six children, only Pilar Menguito was personally informed of
the inalienable public domain. Indeed, "occupation thereof in the petitioners' application. Still, she was not presented as a witness.
concept of owner, no matter how long, cannot ripen into ownership
and be registered as a title." To overcome such presumption, There can be no question that Cirilo's children were the best witnesses,
incontrovertible evidence must be shown by the applicant. Absent because they could have substantiated petitioners' claim that indeed the
such evidence, the land sought to be registered remains lots in question had been donated to Pedro Menguito. Moreover, they may
inalienable. even have in their possession documents that can adequately support their

16
supposed claim. Instead, petitioners presented only Raymunda Bautista, was claimed that the respondent's predecessors-in-interest had been in
the alleged tenant of Cirilo Menguito, who had tilled the land before open, notorious, continuous and exclusive possession of the subject
petitioners built their houses thereon. Neither Cirilo's children nor the property since June 12, 1945.
documents that they might have had in their possession were presented.
After hearing the same on the merits, the RTC (August 27, 2004)
Furthermore, serious doubts are cast on petitioners' claim that their GRANTED RESPONDENT’S APPLICATION
predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and - applying the provisions of P.D. 1529
adverse possession and occupation of the land. Because they are of recent - LRA is ordered to issue a decree in the name of the applicant East
vintage, the tax declarations, tax receipts, and the Municipal Treasurer's Silverlane Realty Development Corporation
certifications of tax payments presented in evidence are incompetent and - Based on the decree, the RD - Misamis Oriental is directed to issue an
insufficient to prove petitioners' and their predecessors-in-interest's OCT
possession of the lots in question.
2. July 31, 2008: Republic’s appeal -> CA. DENIED FOR LACK OF MERIT.
Because the factual findings of the trial and the appellate courts were AFFIRMED RTC DECISION (August 27, 2004).
contrary to each other, we waded into the records, but found no reason to - It is a settled rule that an application for land registration must conform
modify the assailed CA Decision. Much as we want to conform to the to 3 requisites: (1) the land is alienable public land; (2) the applicant's
State's policy of encouraging and promoting the distribution of alienable open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation
public lands to spur economic growth and remain true to the ideal of social thereof must be since June 12, 1945, or earlier; and (3) it is a bona fide
justice, our hands are tied by the law's stringent safeguards against claim of ownership.
registering imperfect titles. In this case, we agree with the CA that - In the case at bench, petitioner-appellee has met all the requirements.
petitioners have not presented sufficient proof of their compliance with the Anent the 1st requirement, both the report and certification issued by the
legal requirements for registration of imperfect titles. DENR shows that the subject land was within the alienable and disposable
zone classified under BF Project No. 8 Blk. I, L.C. Map No. 585 and was
Disposition: WHEREFORE, the Petition is DENIED and the assailed Decision released and certified as such on December 31, 1925.
AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners. - Indubitably, both the DENR certification and report constitute a positive
government act, an administrative action, validly classifying the land in
Republic of the Philippines vs. East Silverland Realty Development question. It is a settled rule that the classification or re-classification of
Corporation public lands into alienable or disposable, mineral or forest land is now a
Petitioner: Republic of the Philippines prerogative of the Executive Department of the government. Accordingly,
Respondent: East Silverland Realty Development Corporation the certification enjoys a presumption of regularity in the absence of
contradictory evidence. As it is, the said certification remains uncontested
CASE: SC is urged to review and set aside the CA Decision (July 31, 2008) and even oppositor-appellant Republic itself did not present any evidence
and Resolution (February 20, 2009) in CA-G.R. CV No. 00143. The CA to refute the contents of the said certification. Thus, the alienable and
Decision affirmed the RTC Decision (August 27, 2004) dismissing the disposable character of the subject land certified as such as early as
appeal for lack of merit. The CA Resolution denied the petitioner's MR December 31, 1925 has been clearly established by the evidence of the
(August 29, 2008). petitioner-appellee.
- Anent the 3rd requirements, the applicant is required to prove his open,
FACTS: continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the
1. The respondent East Silverland filed with the RTC an application for land subject land under a bona fide claim of ownership either since time
registration for a parcel of land (Lot 9039 of Cagayan Cadastre, situated in immemorial or since June 12, 1945.
El Salvador, Misamis Oriental, 9,794 sqm). The respondent purchased the
portion of the subject property consisting of 4,708 square meters (Area A) In the case at bench, ESRDC tacked its possession and occupation over the
from Francisca Oco pursuant to a Deed of Absolute Sale (November 27, subject land to that of its predecessors-in-interest. Copies of the tax
1990) and the remaining portion consisting of 5,086 square meters (Area declarations and real property historical ownership pertaining thereto were
B) from Rosario U. Tan Lim, Nemesia Tan and Mariano U. Tan pursuant to presented in court. A perusal of the records shows that in 1948, a portion
a Deed of Partial Partition with Deed of Absolute Sale (April 11, 1991). It of the subject land was declared under the name of Agapito Claudel.

17
Subsequently, in 1957 until 1991 the same was declared under the name ESRDC have been in possession over the subject land in the concept of an
of Francisca Oco. Thereafter, the same was declared under the name of owner tacking its possession to that its predecessors-in-interest for 47
ESRDC. A certification was likewise issued by the Provincial Assessor of years already. Thus, ESRDC was able to prove sufficiently that it has been
Misamis Oriental that previous tax declarations pertaining to the said in possession of the subject property for more than 30 years, which
portion under the name of Agapita Claudel could no longer be located as possession is characterized as open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious
the files were deemed lost or destroyed before World War II. in the concept of an owner.

On the other hand, the remaining portion of the said land was previously The petitioner assails the foregoing, alleging that the respondent failed to
declared in 1948 under the name of Jacinto Tan Lay Cho. Subsequently, in prove that its predecessors-in-interest possessed the subject property in
1969 until 1990, the same was declared under the name of Jacinto Tan. the manner and for the length of time required under Section 48 (b) of
Thereafter, the same was declared under the name of ESRDC. A Commonwealth Act No. 141, otherwise known as the "Public Land Act"
certification was likewise issued by the Provincial Assessor that the files of (PLA), and Section 14 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, otherwise known as
previous tax declarations under the name of Jacinto Tan Lay Cho were the "Property Registration Decree" (P.D. No. 1529). According to the
deemed lost or destroyed again before World War II. petitioner, the respondent did not present a credible and competent
witness to testify on the specific acts of ownership performed by its
In 1991 or upon ESRDC's acquisition of the subject property, the latter predecessors-in-interest on the subject property. The respondent's sole
took possession thereto. Albeit it has presently leased the said land to Asia witness, Vicente Oco, can hardly be considered a credible and competent
Brewery, Inc., where the latter built its brewery plant, nonetheless, ESRDC witness as he is the respondent's liaison officer and he is not related in any
has its branch office located at the plant compound of Asia Brewery, Inc. way to the respondent's predecessors-in-interest. That coconut trees were
planted on the subject property only shows casual or occasional cultivation
Corollarily, oppositor-appellant's contentions that the court a quo erred in and does not qualify as possession under a claim of ownership.
considering the tax declarations as evidence of ESRDC's possession of the
subject land as the latter's predecessors-in-interest declared the same ISSUE:
sporadically, is untenable.
WON respondent has proven itself entitled to the benefits of the PLA and
It is a settled rule that albeit tax declarations and realty tax payment of P.D. No. 1529 on confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles
property are not conclusive evidence of ownership, nevertheless, they are
good indicia of the possession in the concept of owner for no one in his HELD:
right mind would be paying taxes for a property that is not in his actual or NO. This Court's review of the records of this case reveals that the
at least constructive possession. They constitute at least proof that the evidence submitted by the respondent fell short of proving that it has
holder has a claim of title over the property. The voluntary declaration of a acquired an imperfect title over the subject property under Section 48 (b)
piece of property for taxation purposes manifests not only one's sincere of the PLA. The respondent cannot register the subject property in its
and honest desire to obtain title to the property and announces his name on the basis of either Section 14 (1) or Section 14 (2) of P.D. No.
adverse claim against the State and all other interested parties, but also 1529. It was not established by the required quantum of evidence that the
the intention to contribute needed revenues to the Government. Such an respondent and its predecessors-in-interest had been in open, continuous,
act strengthens one's bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership. exclusive and notorious possession of the subject property for the
prescribed statutory period.
Finally, it bears stressing that the pieces of evidence submitted by
petitioner-appellee are incontrovertible. Not one, not even oppositor- The PLA governs the classification and disposition of lands of the public
appellant Republic, presented any countervailing evidence to contradict the domain. Under Section 11 thereof, one of the modes of disposing public
claims of the petitioners that they are in possession of the subject property lands suitable for agricultural purposes is by "confirmation of imperfect or
and their possession of the same is open, continuous and exclusive in the incomplete titles". On the other hand, Section 48 provides the grant to the
concept of an owner for over 30 years. qualified possessor of an alienable and disposable public land. Thus:

Verily, from 1948 when the subject land was declared for taxation SEC. 48. The following-described citizens of the Philippines, occupying
purposes until ESRDC filed an application for land registration in 1995, lands of the public domain or claiming to own any such lands or an interest

18
therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply period of 30 years. It was only with the enactment of P.D. No. 1073 on
to the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for January 25, 1977 that it was required that possession and occupation
confirmation of their claims and the issuance of a certificate of title should commence on June 12, 1945.
therefor, under the Land Registration Act, to wit:
P.D. No. 1529, which was enacted on June 11, 1978, codified all the laws
(a) Those who prior to the transfer of sovereignty from Spain to the United relative to the registration of property. Section 14 thereof partially
States have applied for the purchase, composition or other form of grant provides:
of lands of the public domain under the laws and royal decrees then in
force and have instituted and prosecuted the proceedings in connection Section 14. Who may apply. — The following persons may file in the
therewith, but have with or without default upon their part, or for any proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land,
other cause, not received title therefor, if such applicants or grantees and whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives:
their heirs have occupied and cultivated said lands continuously since the
filing of their applications. (1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest
have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a
have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier.
occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide
claim of acquisition or ownership, for at least thirty years immediately (2) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription
preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title except when under the provision of existing laws.
prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed
to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and (3) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands or abandoned
shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter. river beds by right of accession or accretion under the existing laws.

(c) Members of the national cultural minorities who by themselves or (4) Those who have acquired ownership of land in any other manner
through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, provided for by law.
exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of lands of the public
domain suitable to agriculture, whether disposable or not, under a bona Section 14 (1) and Section 14 (2) are clearly different. Section 14 (1)
fide claim of ownership for at least 30 years shall be entitled to the rights covers "alienable and disposable land" while Section 14 (2) covers "private
granted in sub-section (b) hereof. property". As this Court categorically stated in Heirs of Malabanan v.
Republic of the Philippines, the distinction between the two provisions lies
Presidential Decree No. 1073 (P.D. No. 1073), which was issued on with the inapplicability of prescription to alienable and disposable lands.
January 25, 1977, deleted subsection (a) and amended subsection (b) as Specifically:
follows:
At the same time, Section 14 (2) puts into operation the entire regime of
SECTION 4. The provisions of Section 48 (b) and Section 48 (c), Chapter prescription under the Civil Code,a fact which does not hold true with
VIII of the Public Land Act are hereby amended in the sense that these respect to Section 14 (1).
provisions shall apply only to alienable and disposable lands of the public
domain which have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious Property is either part of the public domain or privately owned. Under
possession and occupation by the applicant thru himself or thru his Article 420 of the Civil Code,the following properties are of public
predecessor-in-interest under a bona fide claim of ownership since June dominion:
12, 1945.
(a) Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents,
Notably, the first PLA, or Act No. 926, required a possession and ports and bridges constructed by the State, banks, shores, roadsteads and
occupation for a period of 10 years prior to the effectivity of Act No. 2096 others of similar character;
on July 26, 1904 or on July 26, 1894. This was adopted in the PLA until it
was amended by RA No. 1942 on June 22, 1957, which provided for a

19
(b) Those which belong to the State, without being for public use, and are established. Furthermore, the period of possession preceding the
intended for some public service or for the development of the national classification of the property as patrimonial cannot be considered
wealth. in determining the completion of the prescriptive period.

All other properties of the State, which is not of the character mentioned in To prove that its predecessors-in-interest were in possession of the subject
Article 420 is patrimonial property, hence, susceptible to acquisitive property on or prior to June 12, 1945 or had completed the prescriptive
prescription. period of 30 years, the respondent submitted the following tax
declarations:
In Heirs of Malabanan, this Court ruled that possession and occupation of
an alienable and disposable public land for the periods provided under the a) Agapita Claudel - 1948;
Civil Code do not automatically convert said property into private property b) Francisca Oco - 1957, 1963, 1969, 1973, 1974, 1980, 1987, 1989 and
or release it from the public domain. There must be an express declaration 1991;
that the property is no longer intended for public service or development c) Respondent's name (East Silverland) - 1991, 1992 and 1994;
of national wealth. Without such express declaration, the property, even if d) Jacinto Tan Lay Cho - 1948 and 1952;
classified as alienable or disposable, remains property of the State, and e) Jacinto Tan - 1969, 1973, 1974, 1980, 1989 and 1990; and
thus, may not be acquired by prescription. f) Respondent's name (East Silverland) - 1991, 1992 and 1994.

Nonetheless, Article 422 of the Civil Code states that "[p]roperty of public Pursuant to Agapita Claudel's 1948 Tax Declaration, there were 19 coconut
dominion, when no longer intended for public use or for public service, and 10 banana trees planted on Area A. The coconut trees were
shall form part of the patrimonial property of the State." It is this provision supposedly four years old, hence, the reasonable presumption that she
that controls how public dominion property may be converted into had been in possession even before June 12, 1945.
patrimonial property susceptible to acquisition by prescription. After all,
Article 420 (2) makes clear that those property "which belong to the State, The respondent also offered the testimony of one Vicente Oco.
without being for public use, and are intended for some public service or
for the development of the national wealth" are public dominion property. A reading of the CA's July 31, 2008 Decision shows that it affirmed the
For as long as the property belongs to the State, although already grant of the respondent's application given its supposed compliance with
classified as alienable or disposable, it remains property of the public Section 14 (2) of P.D. No. 1529. It ruled that based on the evidence
dominion if when it is "intended for some public service or for the submitted, the respondent is not qualified to register the subject property
development of the national wealth". in its name under Section 14 (1) as the possession and occupation of its
predecessors-in-interest commenced after June 12, 1945. Nonetheless, as
Accordingly, there must be an express declaration by the State that the the CA ruled, the respondent acquired title to the subject property by
public dominion property is no longer intended for public service or the prescription as its predecessors-in-interest had possessed the subject
development of the national wealth or that the property has been property for more than thirty (30) years. Citing Buenaventura v. Republic
converted into patrimonial. Without such express declaration, the of the Philippines, 19 the CA held that even if possession commenced after
property, even if classified as alienable or disposable, remains property of June 12, 1945, registration is still possible under Section 14 (2) and
the public dominion, pursuant to Article 420(2), and thus incapable of possession in the concept of an owner effectively converts an alienable and
acquisition by prescription. It is only when such alienable and disposable disposable public land into private property.
lands are expressly declared by the State to be no longer intended for
public service or for the development of the national wealth that the period This Court, however, disagrees on the conclusion arrived at by the CA. On
of acquisitive prescription can begin to run. Such declaration shall be in the the premise that the application for registration, which was filed in 1995, is
form of a law duly enacted by Congress or a Presidential Proclamation in based on Section 14 (2), it was not proven that the respondent and its
cases where the President is duly authorized by law. predecessors-in-interest had been in possession of the subject property in
the manner prescribed by law and for the period necessary before
In other words, for one to invoke the provisions of Section 14 (2) acquisitive prescription may apply.
and set up acquisitive prescription against the State, it is
primordial that the status of the property as patrimonial be first

20
While the subject land was supposedly declared alienable and disposable owner, public, peaceful, uninterrupted and adverse. Possession is open
on December 31, 1925 per the April 18, 1997 Certification and July 1, when it is patent, visible, apparent, notorious and not clandestine. It is
1997 Report of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office continuous when uninterrupted, unbroken and not intermittent or
(CENRO), the DAR converted the same from agricultural to industrial only occasional; exclusive when the adverse possessor can show exclusive
on October 16, 1990. Also, it was only in 2000 that the Municipality of El dominion over the land and an appropriation of it to his own use and
Salvador passed a Zoning Ordinance, including the subject property in the benefit; and notorious when it is so conspicuous that it is generally known
industrial zone. Therefore, it was only in 1990 that the subject property and talked of by the public or the people in the neighborhood. The party
had been declared patrimonial and it is only then that the prescriptive who asserts ownership by adverse possession must prove the presence of
period began to run. The respondent cannot benefit from the alleged the essential elements of acquisitive prescription.
possession of its predecessors-in-interest because prior to the
withdrawal of the subject property from the public domain, it may This Court is not satisfied with the evidence presented by the respondent
not be acquired by prescription. to prove compliance with the possession required either under Section 14
(1) or Section 14 (2).
On the premise that the application of the respondent is predicated on
Section 14 (1), the same would likewise not prosper. As shown by the tax 1st: the 12 Tax Declarations (Area A) and the 11 Tax Declarations (Area
declarations of the respondent's predecessors-in-interest, the earliest that B) for a claimed possession of more than 46 years (1948-1994) do not
the respondent can trace back the possession of its predecessors-in- qualify as competent evidence of actual possession and occupation. As this
interest is in 1948. That there were 4-year old coconut trees in Area A as Court ruled in Wee v. Republic of the Philippines:
stated in Agapita Claudel's 1948 Tax Declaration cannot be considered a
"well-nigh controvertible evidence" that she was in possession prior to It bears stressing that petitioner presented only five tax declarations (for
June 12, 1945 without any evidence that she planted and cultivated them. the years 1957, 1961, 1967, 1980 and 1985) for a claimed possession and
In the case of Jacinto Tan Lay Cho, the earliest tax declaration in his name occupation of more than 45 years (1945-1993). This type of intermittent
is dated 1948 and there is no evidence that he occupied and possessed and sporadic assertion of alleged ownership does not prove open,
Area B on or prior to June 12, 1945. Furthermore, the testimony of the continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation. In any
respondent's lone witness that the respondent's predecessors-in-interest event, in the absence of other competent evidence, tax
were already in possession of the subject property as of June 12, 1945 declarations do not conclusively establish either possession or
lacks probative value for being hearsay. declarant's right to registration of title.

It is explicit under Section 14 (1) that the possession and The phrase "adverse, continuous, open, public, and in concept of owner,"
occupation required to acquire an imperfect title over an alienable by which the respondent describes its possession and that of its
and disposable public land must be "open, continuous, exclusive predecessors-in-interest is a conclusion of law. The burden of proof is on
and notorious" in character. In Republic of the Philippines v. Alconaba, the respondent to prove by clear, positive and convincing evidence that
this Court explained that the intent behind the use of "possession" in the alleged possession of its predecessors-in-interest was of the nature
conjunction with "occupation" is to emphasize the need for actual and duration required by law. It is therefore inconsequential if the
and not just constructive or fictional possession. petitioner failed to present evidence that would controvert the allegations
of the respondent. A person who seeks the registration of title to a piece of
On the other hand, Section 14 (2) is silent as to the required nature of land on the basis of possession by himself and his predecessors-in-interest
possession and occupation, thus, requiring a reference to the relevant must prove his claim by clear and convincing evidence, i.e., he must prove
provisions of the Civil Code on prescription. And under Article 1118 his title and should not rely on the absence or weakness of the evidence of
thereof, possession for purposes of prescription must be "in the the oppositors.
concept of an owner, public, peaceful and uninterrupted". In Heirs
of Marcelina Arzadon-Crisologo v. Rañon, this Court expounded on the The respondent's claim of ownership will not prosper on the basis of the
nature of possession required for purposes of prescription: tax declarations alone. In Cequeña v. Bolante, this Court ruled that it is
only when these tax declarations are coupled with proof of actual
It is concerned with lapse of time in the manner and under conditions laid possession of the property that they may become the basis of a claim of
down by law, namely, that the possession should be in the concept of an

21
ownership. In the absence of actual public and adverse possession, the Heirs of Malabanan cited above was reiterated and applied in Republic of
declaration of the land for tax purposes does not prove ownership. the Philippines v. Rizalvo:

2nd: that the 19 coconut trees supposedly found on Area A were 4 years On this basis, respondent would have been eligible for application for
old at the time Agapita Claudel filed a Tax Declaration in 1948 will not registration because his claim of ownership and possession over the
suffice as evidence that her possession commenced prior to June 12, 1945, subject property even exceeds 30 years. However, it is jurisprudentially
in the absence of evidence that she planted and cultivated them. clear that the 30-year period of prescription for purposes of acquiring
Alternatively, assuming that Agapita Claudel planted and maintained these ownership and registration of public land under Section 14 (2) of P.D. No.
trees, such can only be considered "casual cultivation" considering the size 1529 only begins from the moment the State expressly declares that the
of Area A. On the other hand, that Jacinto Tan Lay Cho possessed Area B public dominion property is no longer intended for public service or the
in the concept of an owner on or prior to June 12, 1945 cannot be development of the national wealth or that the property has been
assumed from his 1948 Tax Declaration. converted into patrimonial. 37

3rd: that plants were on the subject property without any evidence that it Disposition: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is
was the respondent's predecessors-in-interest who planted them and that GRANTED. The CA Decision (July 31, 2008) and Resolution (February 20,
actual cultivation or harvesting was made does not constitute "well-nigh 2009) in CA-G.R. CV No. 00143 are REVERSED and SET ASIDE and the
incontrovertible evidence" of actual possession and occupation. As this respondent's application for registration of title over Lot 9039 of Cagayan
Court ruled in Wee: Cadastre is hereby DENIED for lack of merit.

We are, therefore, constrained to conclude that the mere existence of an Tan, et al. vs. Republic of the Philippines
unspecified number of coffee plants, sans any evidence as to who planted Petitioners: Jean Tan, Roseller C. Anacito, Carlo Loilo Espineda and Daisy
them, when they were planted, whether cultivation or harvesting was Aliado Manaois, Represented in this act by their Attorney-in-Fact, Ma.
made or what other acts of occupation and ownership were undertaken, is Wilhelmina E. Tobias
not sufficient to demonstrate petitioner's right to the registration of title in Respondent: Republic of the Philippines
her favor.
CASE: This is a petition for review (Rule 45) of the CA Decision (July 6,
4th: Vicente Oco's testimony deserves scant consideration and will not 2009) and Resolution (August 12, 2010) in CA-G.R. CV No. 88995.
supplement the inherent inadequacy of the tax declarations. Apart from
being self-serving, it is undoubtedly hearsay. Vicente Oco lacks personal FACTS:
knowledge as to when the predecessors-in-interest of the respondent 1. June 14, 2001: petitioners filed an application for land registration
started to occupy the subject property and admitted that his testimony covering a parcel of land (Lot 9972, Cad-459-D of Indang Cadastre,
was based on what he allegedly gathered from the respondent's situated in Barangay Bancod, Indang, Cavite and with an area of 6,920
predecessors-in-interest and the owners of adjoining lot. Moreover, sqm) -> RTC - Naic, Cavite. Alleged:
Vicente Oco did not testify as to what specific acts of dominion or a. that they acquired the subject property from Gregonio Gatdula pursuant
ownership were performed by the respondent's predecessors-in-interest to a Deed of Absolute Sale (April 25, 1996)
and if indeed they did. He merely made a general claim that they came B. they and their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous
into possession before World War II, which is a mere conclusion of law and and exclusive possession of the subject property in the concept of an
not factual proof of possession, and therefore unavailing and cannot owner for more than 30 years.
suffice. Evidence of this nature should have been received with suspicion,
if not dismissed as tenuous and unreliable. After trial and hearing, the RTC (July 29, 2006) GRANTED PETITIONER’S
APPLICATION.
5th: that the respondent's application was filed after only 4 years from the
time the subject property may be considered patrimonial by reason of the 2. Republic’s Appeal -> CA. GRANTED. RTC DECISION SET REVERSED AND
DAR's October 26, 1990 Order shows lack of possession whether for SET ASIDE.
ordinary or extraordinary prescriptive period. The principle enunciated in

22
Ground: petitioners failed to prove that they and their predecessors-in- qualified to register their incomplete title over an alienable and disposable
interest have been in possession of the subject property for the requisite public land under the Torrens system. Particularly:
period of 30 years.
- records show that the appellees' possession over the subject property Section 14 .Who may apply. — The following persons may file in the
can be reckoned only from 21 June 1983, the date when according to proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land,
evidence, the subject property became alienable and disposable. From said whether personally or through their authorized representatives:
date up to the filing of the application for registration of title over the (1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest
subject property on 14 June 2001, only 18 years had lapsed. Thus, have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and
appellees' possession of the subject property fell short of the requirement occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a
of open, continuous and exclusive possession of at least 30 years. bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier.
- no adequate evidence which would show that appellees and their (2) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription
predecessors-in-interest exercised acts of dominion over the subject land under the provision of existing laws.
as to indicate possession in the concept of owner. Except for the (3) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands or abandoned
Certification, showing payment of tax due on tax declaration for the year river beds by right of accession or accretion under the existing laws.
2003, there are no other evidence showing that all the taxes due (4) Those who have acquired ownership of land in any other manner
corresponding to the rest of the tax declarations were in fact paid by provided for by law.
appellees or their predecessors-in-interest.
As this Court clarified in Heirs of Malabanan v. Republic of the Philippines,
3. Petitioners’ MR -> CA. DENIED (August 12, 2010 Resolution) and Republic of the Philippines v. East Silverlane Realty Development
Corporation, Section 14 (1) covers "alienable and disposable lands" while
Hence, petitioners’ petition for review (Rule 45). Section 14 (2) covers "private property". Thus, for one's possession
- alleging that the evidence they presented prove that they and their and occupation of an alienable and disposable public land to give
predecessors-in-interest have been in possession and occupation of the rise to an imperfect title, the same should have commenced on
subject property for more than 30 years. June 12, 1945 or earlier. On the other, for one to claim that his
- claim that the following sufficed to demonstrate that they acquired title possession and occupation of private property has ripened to
over the subject property by prescription: imperfect title, the same should have been for the prescriptive
period provided under the Civil Code. Without need for an extensive
extrapolation, the private property contemplated in Section 14 (2) is
ISSUE: patrimonial property as defined in Article 421 in relation to Articles 420
WON petitioners have proven themselves qualified to the benefits under and 422 of the Civil Code.
the relevant laws on the confirmation of imperfect or incomplete titles
Going further, it was explained in Heirs of Malabanan and East Silverlane,
HELD: that possession and occupation of an alienable and disposable public land
NO. for the periods provided under the Civil Code will not convert it to
patrimonial or private property. There must be an express declaration that
Commonwealth Act No. 141, otherwise known as the "Public Land Act" the property is no longer intended for public service or the development of
governs the classification and disposition of lands forming part of the national wealth. In the absence thereof, the property remains to be
public domain. Section 11 thereof provides that one of the modes of alienable and disposable and may not be acquired by prescription under
disposing public lands suitable for agricultural purposes is by "confirmation Section 14 (2) of P.D. No. 1529. Thus:
of imperfect or incomplete titles". Section 48 thereof enumerates those
who are considered to have acquired an imperfect or incomplete title over In Heirs of Malabanan, this Court ruled that possession and occupation of
an alienable and disposable public land. an alienable and disposable public land for the periods provided under the
Civil Code do not automatically convert said property into private property
Presidential Decree No. 1529 (P.D. No. 1529), otherwise known as the or release it from the public domain. There must be an express declaration
"Property Registration Decree", is a codification of all the laws relative to that the property is no longer intended for public service or development
the registration of property and Section 14 thereof specifies those who are of national wealth. Without such express declaration, the property, even if

23
classified as alienable or disposable, remains property of the State, and Unfortunately, this Court finds the evidence presented by the petitioners to
thus, may not be acquired by prescription. be wanting. The petitioners failed to demonstrate that they and their
predecessors-in-interest possessed the property in the requisite manner,
Nonetheless, Article 422 of the Civil Code states that "[p]roperty of public which this Court explained as follows:
dominion, when no longer intended for public use or for public service,
shall form part of the patrimonial property of the State." It is this provision It is concerned with lapse of time in the manner and under conditions laid
that controls how public dominion property may be converted into down by law, namely, that the possession should be in the concept of an
patrimonial property susceptible to acquisition by prescription. After all, owner, public, peaceful, uninterrupted and adverse. Possession is open
Article 420 (2) makes clear that those property "which belong to the State, when it is patent, visible, apparent, notorious and not clandestine. It is
without being for public use, and are intended for some public service or continuous when uninterrupted, unbroken and not intermittent or
for the development of the national wealth" are public dominion property. occasional; exclusive when the adverse possessor can show exclusive
For as long as the property belongs to the State, although already dominion over the land and an appropriation of it to his own use and
classified as alienable or disposable, it remains property of the benefit; and notorious when it is so conspicuous that it is generally known
public dominion if when it is "intended for some public service or and talked of by the public or the people in the neighborhood. The party
for the development of the national wealth". who asserts ownership by adverse possession must prove the presence of
the essential elements of acquisitive prescription.
Accordingly, there must be an express declaration by the State
that the public dominion property is no longer intended for public Tax declarations per se do not qualify as competent evidence of actual
service or the development of the national wealth or that the possession for purposes of prescription. More so, if the payment of the
property has been converted into patrimonial. Without such taxes due on the property is episodic, irregular and random such as in this
express declaration, the property, even if classified as alienable or case. Indeed, how can the petitioners' claim of possession for the entire
disposable, remains property of the public dominion, pursuant to prescriptive period be ascribed any ounce of credibility when taxes were
Article 420(2), and thus incapable of acquisition by prescription. It paid only on 11 occasions within the 40-year period from 1961 to 2001?
is only when such alienable and disposable lands are expressly
declared by the State to be no longer intended for public service or Wee v. Republic of the Philippines: It bears stressing that petitioner
for the development of the national wealth that the period of presented only 5 tax declarations (for the years 1957, 1961, 1967, 1980
acquisitive prescription can begin to run. Such declaration shall be and 1985) for a claimed possession and occupation of more than 45 years
in the form of a law duly enacted by Congress or a Presidential (1945-1993). This type of intermittent and sporadic assertion of alleged
Proclamation in cases where the President is duly authorized by ownership does not prove open, continuous, exclusive and notorious
law. possession and occupation. In any event, in the absence of other
competent evidence, tax declarations do not conclusively establish either
In other words, for one to invoke the provisions of Section 14(2) and set possession or declarant's right to registration of title.
up acquisitive prescription against the State, it is primordial that the status
of the property as patrimonial be first established. Furthermore, the period East Silverlane case: it was emphasized that adverse, continuous, open,
of possession preceding the classification of the property as patrimonial public possession in the concept of an owner is a conclusion of law and the
cannot be considered in determining the completion of the prescriptive burden to prove it by clear, positive and convincing evidence is on the
period. applicant. A claim of ownership will not proper on the basis of tax
declarations if unaccompanied by proof of actual possession.
The petitioners' application is obviously anchored on Section 14 (2) of P.D.
No. 1529 as they do not claim to have possessed, by themselves or their While there was an attempt to supplement the tax declaration by
predecessors-in-interest, the subject property since June 12, 1945 or testimonial evidence, the same is futile and frivolous. The testimonies of
earlier. That it was thru prescription that they had acquired an imperfect Margarito Pena and Ma. Wilhelmina Tobias do not merit consideration and
title over the subject property is the foundation upon which the petitioners do not make up for the inherent inadequacy of the 11 tax declarations
rest their application. submitted by the petitioners. Such witnesses did not state what specific
acts of ownership or dominion were performed by the petitioners and
predecessors-in-interest and simply made that general assertion that the

24
latter possessed and occupied the subject property for more than 30 of the river is indispensable. This excludes from Art. 457 of the New Civil
years, which, by all means, is a mere conclusion of law. The RTC should Code all deposits caused by human intervention. Alluvion must be the
have tackled evidence of such nature with a disposition to incredulity, if exclusive work of nature. In the instant case, there is no evidence
not with an outright rejection. whatsoever to prove that the addition to the said property was made
gradually through the effects of the current of the Meycauayan and Bocaue
Furthermore, the petitioners' application was filed after 1 year from the rivers. We agree with the observation of the Solicitor General that it is
time the subject property may be considered patrimonial. DARCO preposterous to believe that almost four (4) hectares of land came into
Conversion Order No. 040210005-(340)-99, Series of 2000, was issued by being because of the effects of the Meycauayan and Bocaue Rivers. There
the DAR only on July 13, 2000, which means that the counting of the 30- is evidence that the alleged alluvial deposits were artificial and man-made
year prescriptive period for purposes of acquiring ownership of a public and not the exclusive result of the current of the Meycauayan and Bocaue
land under Section 14 (2) can only start from such date. Before the rivers. The alleged alluvial deposits came into being not because of the
property was declared patrimonial by virtue of such conversion sole effect of the current of the rivers but as result of the transfer of the
order, it cannot be acquired by prescription. This is clear from the dike towards the river and encroaching upon it. The land sought to be
pronouncements of this Court in Heirs of Malabanan quoted above and in registered is not even dry land cast imperceptibly and gradually by the
Republic of the Philippines v. Rizalvo, which states: river's current on the fishpond adjoining it. It is under two meters of
water. The private respondents' own evidence shows that the water in the
On this basis, respondent would have been eligible for application for fishpond is two meters deep on the side of the pilapil facing the fishpond
registration because his claim of ownership and possession over the and only one meter deep on the side of the pilapil facing river.
subject property even 30 years. However, it is jurisprudentially clear that
the 30-year period of prescription for purposes of acquiring LAW GIVES RIPARIAN OWNER THE RIGHT TO ANY LAND OR ALLUVION;
ownership and registration of public land under Section 14 (2) of RATIONALE. — The reason behind the law giving the riparian owner the
P.D. No. 1529 only begins from the moment the State expressly right to any land or alluvion deposited by a river is to compensate him for
declares that the public dominion property is no longer intended the danger of loss that he suffers because of the location of his land. If
for public service or the development of the national wealth or that estates bordering on rivers are exposed to floods and other evils produced
the property has been converted into patrimonial. by the destructive force of the waters and if by virtue of lawful provisions,
said estates are subject to incumbrances and various kinds of easements,
Disposition: WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant petition is it is proper that the risk or danger which may prejudice the owner thereof
DENIED for lack of merit. The CA Decision (July 6, 2009) and Resolution should be compensated by the right of accretion (Cortes vs. City of Manila,
(August 12, 2010) are AFFIRMED. 10 Phil. 567). Hence, the riparian owner does not acquire the additions to
his land caused by special works expressly intended or designed to bring
about accretion. When the private respondents transferred their dikes
Republic vs. C.A. and Tancinco, et al. towards the river beds, the dikes were meant for reclamation purposes
Petitioners: Republic of the Philippines (Director of Lands) and not protect their property from the destructive force of the waters of
Respondents: The Hon. Court of Appeals, Benjamin Tancinco, Azucena the river.
Tancinco Reyes, Marina Tancinco Imperial and Mario C. Tancinco
CASE: This is a petition for certiorari to set aside the Respondent CA (now
CIVIL LAW; OWNERSHIP; RIGHT OF ACCESSION; REQUISITES OF IAC) Decision affirming the CFI Decision which found that Lots 1 and 2 of
ACCRETION. — The above-quoted article requires the concurrence of three Plan Psu-131892 are accretion to the land covered by TCT No. 89709 and
requisites before an accretion covered by this particular provision is said to ordered their registration in the names of the private respondents.
have taken place. They are (1) that the deposit be gradual and
imperceptible; (2) that it be made through the effects of the current of the FACTS:
water, and (3) that the land where accretion takes place is adjacent to the 1. Respondents Benjamin Tancinco, Azucena Tancinco Reyes, Maria
banks of rivers. Tancinco Imperial and Mario C. Tancinco are registered owners of a parcel
of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-89709 situated at
ALLUVION MUST BE THE EXCLUSIVE WORK OF NATURE; CASE AT BAR. — Barrio Ubihan, Meycauayan, Bulacan bordering on the Meycauayan and
The requirement that the deposit should be due to the effect of the current Bocaue rivers.

25
June 24, 1973: private respondents filed an application for the registration Article 457 of the New Civil Code provides:
of 3 lots adjacent to their fishpond property. "To the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers belong the accretion
which they gradually receive from the effects of the current of the waters."
Plan Psu-131892. Situated om Barrio of Ubihan, Municipality of
Meycauayan, Province of Bulacan. The above-quoted article requires the concurrence of 3 requisites
Lot 1- 33,937 sqm, by Meycauayan and Bocaue River before an accretion covered by this particular provision is said to
Lot 2 - 5,453, by Meycauayan River have taken place. They are (1) that the deposit be gradual and
Lot 3 - 1,985 sqm, by Meycauayan River imperceptible; (2) that it be made through the effects of the
current of the water; and (3) that the land where accretion takes
2. April 5, 1974: Assistant Provincial Fiscal Amando C. Vicente, (Bureau of place is adjacent to the banks of rivers.
Lands) filed a written opposition to the application for registration.
The requirement that the deposit should be due to the effect of the
March 6, 1975: private respondents filed a partial withdrawal of the current of the river is indispensable. This excludes from Art. 457 of
application for registration with respect to Lot 3 of Plan Psu-131892 in line the New Civil Code all deposits caused by human intervention.
with the recommendation of the Commissioner appointed by the Court. Alluvion must be the exclusive work of nature. In the instant case,
there is no evidence whatsoever to prove that the addition to the said
March 7, 1975: Lot 3 was ordered withdrawn from the application and trial property was made gradually through the effects of the current of the
proceeded only with respect to Lots 1 and 2 covered by Plan Psu-131892. Meycauayan and Bocaue rivers. We agree with the observation of the
Solicitor General that it is preposterous to believe that almost 4 hectares
June 26, 1976: CFI GRANTED APPLICATION. of land came into being because of the effects of the Meycauayan and
Ground: finding that the lands in question are accretions to the private Bocaue rivers. The lone witness of the private respondents who happens to
respondents' fishponds covered by TCT No. 89709. be their overseer and whose husband was first cousin of their father
noticed the four hectare accretion to the twelve hectare fishpond only in
August 19, 1982: petitioner Republic’s appeal -> CA. AFFIRMED IN TOTO 1939. The respondents claim that at this point in time, accretion had
CFI DECISION appealed to the respondent Court of Appeals. already taken place. If so, their witness was incompetent to testify to a
gradual and imperceptible increase to their land in the years before 1939.
Hence, this petition for certiorari. However, the witness testified that in that year, she observed an increase
in the area of the original fishpond which is now the land in question. If
Petitioner Republic: there is no accretion to speak of under Article 457 of she was telling the truth, the accretion was sudden. However, there is
the New Civil Code because what actually happened is that the private evidence that the alleged alluvial deposits were artificial and man-made
respondents simply transferred their dikes further down the river bed of and not the exclusive result of the current of the Meycauayan and Bocaue
the Meycauayan River, and thus, if there is any accretion to speak of, it is rivers. The alleged alluvial deposits came into being not because of the
man-made and artificial and not the result of the gradual and sole effect of the current of the rivers but as a result of the transfer of the
imperceptible sedimentation by the waters of the river. dike towards the river and encroaching upon it. The land sought to be
registered is not even dry land cast imperceptibly and gradually by the
Private Respondents: establishes the fact of accretion without human river's current on the fishpond adjoining it. It is under 2 meters of water.
intervention because the transfer of the dike occurred after the accretion The private respondents' own evidence shows that the water in the
was complete. fishpond is two meters deep on the side of the pilapil facing the fishpond
and only one meter deep on the side of the pilapil facing the river.
ISSUE:
WON there was accretion to the rivate respondents' fishponds covered by The reason behind the law giving the riparian owner the right to
TCT No. 89709 any land or alluvion deposited by a river is to compensate him for
the danger of loss that he suffers because of the location of his
HELD: land. If estates bordering on rivers are exposed to floods and other
NO. We agree with the petitioner. evils produced by the destructive force of the waters and if by

26
virtue of lawful provisions, said estates are subject to State as property of public dominion, not to the riparian owner, unless a
incumbrances and various kinds of easements, it is proper that the law vests the ownership in some other person.
risk or danger which may prejudice the owners thereof should be
compensated by the right of accretion. Hence, the riparian owner does FACTS:
not acquire the additions to his land caused by special works expressly 1. Alleging continuous and adverse possession of more than 10 years,
intended or designed to bring about accretion. When the private respondent Arcadio Ivan A. Santos III applied on March 7, 1997 for the
respondents transferred their dikes towards the river bed, the dikes were registration of Lot 4998-B in the RTC - Parañaque City. The property,
meant for reclamation purposes and not to protect their property from the which had an area of 1,045 sqm., more or less, was located in Barangay
destructive force of the waters of the river. San Dionisio, Parañaque City, and was bounded in the Northeast by Lot
4079 belonging to respondent Arcadio C. Santos, Jr., in the Southeast by
We agree with the submission of the Solicitor General that the testimony the Parañaque River, in the Southwest by an abandoned road, and in the
of the private respondents' lone witness to the effect that as early as 1939 Northwest by Lot 4998-A also owned by Arcadio Ivan.
there already existed such alleged alluvial deposits, deserves no merit. It
should be noted that the lots in question were not included in the survey of 2. May 21, 1998: Arcadio Ivan amended his application for land
their adjacent property conducted on May 10, 1940 and in the Cadastral registration to include Arcadio, Jr. as his co-applicant because of the
Survey of the entire Municipality of Meycauayan conducted between the latter's co-ownership of the property. He alleged that the property had
years 1958 to 1960. The alleged accretion was declared for taxation been formed through accretion and had been in their joint open, notorious,
purposes only in 1972 or 33 years after it had supposedly permanently public, continuous and adverse possession for more than 30 years.
formed. The only valid conclusion therefore is that the said areas could not
have been there in 1939. They existed only after the private respondents The City of Parañaque opposed the application for land registration, stating
transferred their dikes towards the bed of the Meycauayan river in 1951. that it needed the property for its flood control program; that the property
What private respondents claim as accretion is really an encroachment of a was within the legal easement of 20 meters from the river bank; and that
portion of the Meycauayan river by reclamation. assuming that the property was not covered by the legal easement, title to
the property could not be registered in favor of the applicants for the
The lower court cannot validly order the registration of Lots 1 & 2 in the reason that the property was an orchard that had dried up and had not
names of the private respondents. These lots were portions of the bed of resulted from accretion.
the Meycauayan river and are therefore classified as property of the public
domain under Article 420 paragraph 1 and Article 502, paragraph 1 of the May 10, 2000: RTC GRANTED APPLICATION FOR LAND REGISTRATION.
Civil Code of the Philippines. They are not open to registration under the Declaring Arcadio Santos III and Arcadion Santos Jr as the true and
Land Registration Act. The adjudication of the lands in question as private absolute owners of the 1045 sqm. of land.
property in the names of the private respondents is null and void.
3. Republic’s appeal (thru OSG) -> CA. DENIED. RTC DECISION
Disposition: WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The decision AFFIRMED.
appealed from is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. The private
respondents are ordered to move back the dikes of their fishponds to their Republic’s MR -> CA. DENIED.
original location and return the disputed property to the river to which it
belongs. Hence, this appeal (Republic’s).

Republic vs. Santos III and Santos, Jr. ISSUE:


Petitioner: Republic of the Philippines WON Article 457 of the Civil Code was applicable herein (NO)
Respondents: Arcadio Ivan A. Santos III, and Arcadio C. Santos, Jr. WON respondents could claim the property by virtue of acquisitive
prescription pursuant to Section 14 (1) of Presidential Decree No. 1529
Doctrine: By law, accretion — the gradual and imperceptible deposit made (Property Registration Decree) (NO)
through the effects of the current of the water — belongs to the owner of
the land adjacent to the banks of rivers where it forms. The drying up of HELD:
the river is not accretion. Hence, the dried-up river bed belongs to the WON Article 457 of the Civil Code was applicable herein (NO)

27
The CA grossly erred in applying Article 457 of the Civil Code to current. Also, it seems to be highly improbable that the large volume of
respondents' benefit soil that ultimately comprised the dry land with an area of 1,045 sqm. had
been deposited in a gradual and imperceptible manner by the current of
Article 457 of the Civil Code provides that "(t)o the owners of lands the river in the span of about 20 to 30 years — the span of time
adjoining the banks of rivers belong the accretion which they gradually intervening between 1920, when Lot 4 was registered in the name of their
receive from the effects of the currents of the waters." deceased parent (at which time Lot 4998-B was not yet in existence) and
the early 1950s (which respondents' witness Rufino Allanigue alleged to be
In ruling for respondents: the time when he knew them to have occupied Lot 4988-B). The only
RTC: applicants are owners of the land which was previously a part of the plausible explanation for the substantial increment was that Lot 4988-B
Parañaque River which became an orchard after it dried up and further was the dried-up bed of the Parañaque River. Confirming this explanation
considering that Lot 4 which adjoins the same property is owned by was Arcadio, Jr.'s own testimony to the effect that the property was
applicant, Arcadio C. Santos, Jr., after it was obtained by him through previously a part of the Parañaque River that had dried up and become an
inheritance from his mother, Concepcion Cruz, now deceased. orchard.

CA: same with RTC. The RTC and the CA grossly erred in treating the dried-up river bed as an
Republic’s Appeal: application by RTC and CA of Article 457 of the Civil accretion that became respondents' property pursuant to Article 457 of the
Code was erroneous in the face of the fact that respondents' evidence did Civil Code. That land was definitely not an accretion. The process of
not establish accretion, but instead the drying up of the Parañaque River. drying up of a river to form dry land involved the recession of the
The Republic's submission is correct. water level from the river banks, and the dried-up land did not
equate to accretion, which was the gradual and imperceptible
Respondents as the applicants for land registration carried the deposition of soil on the river banks through the effects of the
burden of proof to establish the merits of their application by a current. In accretion, the water level did not recede and was more
preponderance of evidence, by which is meant such evidence that or less maintained. Hence, respondents as the riparian owners had no
is of greater weight, or more convincing than that offered in legal right to claim ownership of Lot 4998-B. Considering that the clear
opposition to it. They would be held entitled to claim the property as and categorical language of Article 457 of the Civil Code has confined the
their own and apply for its registration under the Torrens system only if provision only to accretion, we should apply the provision as its clear and
they established that, indeed, the property was an accretion to their land. categorical language tells us to. Axiomatic it is, indeed, that where the
language of the law is clear and categorical, there is no room for
Accretion is the process whereby the soil is deposited along the interpretation; there is only room for application. The first and
banks of rivers. The deposit of soil, to be considered accretion, fundamental duty of courts is then to apply the law.
must be: (a) gradual and imperceptible; (b) made through the
effects of the current of the water; and (c) taking place on land The State exclusively owned Lot 4998-B and may not be divested
adjacent to the banks of rivers. Accordingly, respondents should of its right of ownership. Article 502 of the Civil Code expressly
establish the concurrence of the elements of accretion to warrant the grant declares that rivers and their natural beds are public dominion of
of their application for land registration. the State. It follows that the river beds that dry up, like Lot 4998-B,
continue to belong to the State as its property of public dominion, unless
However, respondents did not discharge their burden of proof. They did there is an express law that provides that the dried-up river beds should
not show that the gradual and imperceptible deposition of soil through the belong to some other person.
effects of the current of the river had formed Lot 4998-B. Instead, their
evidence revealed that the property was the dried-up river bed of the WON respondents could claim the property by virtue of acquisitive
Parañaque River, leading both the RTC and the CA to themselves hold that prescription pursuant to Section 14 (1) of Presidential Decree No. 1529
Lot 4998-B was "the land which was previously part of the Parañaque (Property Registration Decree) (NO)
River . . . (and) became an orchard after it dried up."
In ruling for respondents:
Respondents did not establish at all that the increment of land had formed RTC: favored respondents' application because they had taken possession
from the gradual and imperceptible deposit of soil by the effects of the of the property continuously, openly, publicly and adversely for more than

28
30 years based on their predecessor-in-interest being the adjoining owner ownership; and, secondly, the causing of surveys of the property
of the parcel of land along the river bank. involved was not itself an of continuous, open, public and adverse
possession.
CA: affirmed the RTC.
The principle that the riparian owner whose land receives the gradual
Both lower courts erred. deposits of soil does not need to make an express act of
possession, and that no acts of possession are necessary in that
The relevant legal provision is Section 14 (1) of Presidential Decree No. instance because it is the law itself that pronounces the alluvium
1529 (Property Registration Decree), which pertinently states: to belong to the riparian owner from the time that the deposit
created by the current of the water becomes manifest has no
Section 14. Who may apply. — The following persons may file in the applicability herein. This is simply because Lot 4998-B was not formed
proper [Regional Trial Court] an application for registration of title to land, through accretion. Hence, the ownership of the land adjacent to the river
whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives: bank by respondents' predecessor-in-interest did not translate to
possession of Lot 4998-B that would ripen to acquisitive prescription in
(1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest relation to Lot 4998-B.
have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and
occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a On the other hand, the claim of 30 years of continuous, open, public and
bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier. adverse possession of Lot 4998-B was not even validated or
xxx xxx xxx preponderantly established. The admission of respondents themselves that
Under Section 14 (1), then, applicants for confirmation of imperfect they declared the property for taxation purposes only in 1997 and paid
title must prove the following, namely: (a) that the land forms part realty taxes only from 1999 signified that their alleged possession would at
of the disposable and alienable agricultural lands of the public most be for only 9 years as of the filing of their application for land
domain; and (b) that they have been in open, continuous, registration on March 7, 1997.
exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the land
under a bona fide claim of ownership either since time immemorial Yet, even conceding, for the sake of argument, that respondents
or since June 12, 1945. possessed Lot 4998-B for more than 30 years in the character they
claimed, they did not thereby acquire the land by prescription or by other
Here, the findings of the RTC were obviously grounded on speculation, means without any competent proof that the land was already declared as
surmises, or conjectures; and that the inference made by the RTC and the alienable and disposable by the Government. Absent that declaration,
CA was manifestly mistaken, absurd, or impossible. Hence, the Court the land still belonged to the State as part of its public dominion.
should now review the findings.
Article 419 of the Civil Code distinguishes property as being either of public
In finding that respondents had been in continuous, open, public and dominion or of private ownership. Article 420 of the Civil Code lists the
adverse possession of the land for more than 30 years, the RTC declared: properties considered as part of public dominion, namely: (a) those
intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports
The RTC apparently reckoned respondents' period of supposed possession and bridges constructed by the State, banks, shores, roadsteads, and
to be "more than thirty years" from the fact that "their predecessors in others of similar character; and (b) those which belong to the State,
interest are the adjoining owners of the subject parcel of land." Yet, its without being for public use, and are intended for some public
decision nowhere indicated what acts respondents had performed showing service or for the development of the national wealth. As earlier
their possession of the property "continuously, openly, publicly and mentioned, Article 502 of the Civil Code declares that rivers and
adversely" in that length of time. The decision mentioned only that they their natural beds are of public dominion.
had paid realty taxes and had caused the survey of the property to be
made. That, to us, was not enough to justify the foregoing findings, Whether the dried-up river bed may be susceptible to acquisitive
because, firstly, the payment of realty taxes did not conclusively prescription or not was a question that the Court resolved in favor
prove the payor's ownership of the land the taxes were paid for, of the State in Celestial v. Cachopero, a case involving the registration of
the tax declarations and payments being mere indicia of a claim of

29
land found to be part of a dried-up portion of the natural bed of a creek. express or implied, from the Government. It is indispensable, therefore,
There the Court held: that there is a showing of a title from the State. Occupation of public
land in the concept of owner, no matter how long, cannot ripen
Since property of public dominion is outside the commerce of man into ownership and be registered as a title.
and not susceptible to private appropriation and acquisitive
prescription, the adverse possession which may be the basis of a Subject to the exceptions defined in Article 461 of the Civil Code
grant of title in the confirmation of an imperfect title refers only to (which declares river beds that are abandoned through the natural
alienable or disposable portions of the public domain. It is only after change in the course of the waters as ipso facto belonging to the
the Government has declared the land to be alienable and disposable owners of the land occupied by the new course, and which gives to
agricultural land that the year of entry, cultivation and exclusive and the owners of the adjoining lots the right to acquire only the
adverse possession can be counted for purposes of an imperfect title. abandoned river beds not ipso facto belonging to the owners of the
land affected by the natural change of course of the waters only
A creek, like the Salunayan Creek, is a recess or arm extending from a after paying their value), all river beds remain property of public
river and participating in the ebb and flow of the sea. As such, under dominion and cannot be acquired by acquisitive prescription unless
Articles 420(1) and 502(1) of the Civil Code, the Salunayan Creek, previously declared by the Government to be alienable and
including its natural bed, is property of the public domain which is disposable. Considering that Lot 4998-B was not shown to be already
not susceptible to private appropriation and acquisitive declared to be alienable and disposable, respondents could not be deemed
prescription. And, absent any declaration by the government, that a to have acquired the property through prescription.
portion of the creek has dried-up does not, by itself, alter its
inalienable character. Was the notation on the survey plan to the effect that Lot 4998-B was
xxx xxx xxx "inside" the map "classified as alienable/disposable by the Bureau of Forest
...Ronquillo v. Court of Appeals, this Court held: Development on 03 Jan. 1968" sufficient proof of the property's nature as
alienable and disposable public land?
The law is clear and unambiguous. It leaves no room for interpretation.
Article 370 applies only if there is a natural change in the course of To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is
the waters. The rules on alluvion do not apply to man-made or alienable, an applicant must conclusively establish the existence of
artificial accretions nor to accretions to lands that adjoin canals or a positive act of the Government, such as a presidential
esteros or artificial drainage systems. Considering our earlier finding proclamation, executive order, administrative action, investigation
that the dried-up portion of Estero Calubcub was actually caused by the reports of the Bureau of Lands investigator, or a legislative act or
active intervention of man, it follows that Article 370 does not apply to statute. Until then, the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do
the case at bar and, hence, the Del Rosarios cannot be entitled not apply.
thereto supposedly as riparian owners.
As to the proofs that are admissible to establish the alienability and
The dried-up portion of Estero Calubcub should thus be considered as disposability of public land, we said in Secretary of the Department of
forming part of the land of the public domain which cannot be subject to Environment and Natural Resources v. Yap that:
acquisition by private ownership. . . .
The burden of proof in overcoming the presumption of State ownership of
Furthermore, both provisions pertain to situations where there has the lands of the public domain is on the person applying for registration
been a change in the course of a river, not where the river simply (or claiming ownership), who must prove that the land subject of the
dries up. In the instant Petition, it is not even alleged that the Salunayan application is alienable or disposable. To overcome this presumption,
Creek changed its course. In such a situation, commentators are of the incontrovertible evidence must be established that the land subject
opinion that the dry river bed remains property of public dominion. of the application (or claim) is alienable or disposable. There must
still be a positive act declaring land of the public domain as
Indeed, under the Regalian doctrine, all lands not otherwise appearing to alienable and disposable. To prove that the land subject of an
be clearly within private ownership are presumed to belong to the State. application for registration is alienable, the applicant must establish the
No public land can be acquired by private persons without any grant, existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential

30
proclamation or an executive order; an administrative action; investigation In the present case, petitioners cite a surveyor-geodetic engineer's
reports of Bureau of Lands investigators; and a legislative act or a statute. notation in Exhibit "E" indicating that the survey was inside alienable and
The applicant may also secure a certification from the government that the disposable land. Such notation does not constitute a positive government
land claimed to have been possessed for the required number of years is act validly changing the classification of the land in question. Verily, a
alienable and disposable. mere surveyor has no authority to reclassify lands of the public domain. By
relying solely on the said surveyor's assertion, petitioners have not
In the case at bar, no such proclamation, executive order, administrative sufficiently proven that the land in question has been declared alienable.
action, report, statute, or certification was presented to the Court. The
records are bereft of evidence showing that, prior to 2006, the portions of In Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc., we dealt with the sufficiency of the
Boracay occupied by private claimants were subject of a government certification by the Provincial Environmental Officer (PENRO) or
proclamation that the land is alienable and disposable. Absent such well- Community Environmental Officer (CENRO) to the effect that a piece of
nigh incontrovertible evidence, the Court cannot accept the submission public land was alienable and disposable in the following manner, viz.:
that lands occupied by private claimants were already open to disposition
before 2006. Matters of land classification or reclassification cannot be . . . it is not enough for the PENRO or CENRO to certify that a land is
assumed. They call for proof." alienable and disposable. The applicant for land registration must prove
that the DENR Secretary had approved the land classification and released
In Menguito v. Republic, which we reiterated in Republic v. Sarmiento, we the land of the public domain as alienable and disposable, and that the
specifically resolved the issue of whether the notation on the survey plan land subject of the application for registration falls within the approved
was sufficient evidence to establish the alienability and disposability of area per verification through survey by the PENRO or CENRO. In addition,
public land, to wit: the applicant for land registration must present a copy of the
original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and
To prove that the land in question formed part of the alienable and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official
disposable lands of the public domain, petitioners relied on the printed records. These facts must be established to prove that the land is
words which read: "This survey plan is inside Alienable and Disposable alienable and disposable. Respondent failed to do so because the
Land Area, Project No. 27-B as per L.C. Map No. 2623, certified by the certifications presented by respondent do not, by themselves, prove that
Bureau of Forestry on January 3, 1968," appearing on Exhibit "E" (Survey the land is alienable and disposable.
Plan No. Swo-13-000227). xxx xxx xxx
The CENRO and Regional Technical Director, FMS-DENR, certifications do
This proof is not sufficient. Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 not prove that Lot 10705-B falls within the alienable and disposable land
Constitution, provides: "All lands of the public domain, waters, as proclaimed by the DENR Secretary. Such government certifications
minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of do not, by their mere issuance, prove the facts stated therein. Such
potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and government certifications may fall under the class of documents
fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. . . . ." contemplated in the second sentence of Section 23 of Rule 132. As
such, the certifications are prima facie evidence of their due
For the original registration of title, the applicant (petitioners in execution and date of issuance but they do not constitute prima
this case) must overcome the presumption that the land sought to facie evidence of the facts stated therein.
be registered forms part of the public domain. Unless public land is
shown to have been reclassified or alienated to a private person by These rulings of the Court indicate that the notation on the survey plan of
the State, it remains part of the inalienable public domain. Indeed, Lot 4998-B, Cad-00-000343 to the effect that the "survey is inside a map
"occupation thereof in the concept of owner, no matter how long, classified as alienable/disposable by the Bureau of Forest Dev't" did not
cannot ripen into ownership and be registered as a title." To prove that Lot 4998-B was already classified as alienable and disposable.
overcome such presumption, incontrovertible evidence must be Accordingly, respondents could not validly assert acquisitive prescription of
shown by the applicant. Absent such evidence, the land sought to Lot 4988-B.
be registered remains inalienable.
Disposition: WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the
decision of the CA (May 27, 2003); DISMISSES the application for

31
registration of Arcadio C. Santos, Jr. and Arcadio Ivan S. Santos III the Cagayan River, so much so, that by 1958, the bank thereof had
respecting Lot 4998-B with a total area of 1,045 sqm., more or less, receded to a distance of about 105 meters from its original site, and an
situated in Barangay San Dionisio, Parañaque City, Metro Manila; and alluvial deposit of 19,964 sqm. (1.9964 hectares), more or less, had been
DECLARES Lot 4998-B as exclusively belonging to the State for being part added to the registered area (Exh. C-1).
of the dried-up bed of the Parañaque River.
2. January 25, 1958: petitioners instituted the present action in the CFI -
Respondents shall pay the costs of suit. Isabela against respondents, to quiet title to said portion (19,964 sqm.)
formed by accretion, alleging in their complaint that they and their
Ignacio Grande vs. Court of Appeals predecessors-in-interest, were formerly in peaceful and continuous
possession thereof, until September, 1948, when respondents entered
Petitioners: Ignacio Grande et al. upon the land under claim of ownership. Petitioners also asked for
Respondents: Hon. Court of Appeals, Domingo Calalung, and Esteban damages corresponding to the value of the fruits of the land as well as
Calalung attorney's fees and costs.

1. PROPERTY; ACCRETION; ALLUVIAL DEPOSITS ON REGISTERED LAND; Respondents’ answer (February 18, 1958): claim ownership in themselves,
INCREMENT NOT AUTOMATICALLY REGISTERED. — An accretion does not asserting that they have been in continuous, open, and undisturbed
automatically become registered land just because the lot which receives possession of said portion, since prior to the year 1933 - present.
such accretion is covered by a Torrens title. Ownership of a piece of land is
one thing; registration under the Torrens system of that ownership is After trial, CFI of Isabela (May 4, 1959) RULED IN FAVOR OF
another. Ownership over the accretion received by the land adjoining a PETITIONERS. Ordered respondents to vacate the premises and deliver
river is governed by the Civil Code. Imprescriptibility of registered land is possession thereof to petitioners, and to pay to the latter P250.00 as
provided in the registration law. Registration under the Land Registration damages and costs.
and Cadastral Acts does not vest or give title to the land, but merely … The land in question being an accretion to the mother or registered land
confirms and, thereafter, protects the title already possessed by the of the plaintiffs, the accretion belongs to the plaintiffs (Art. 457, New Civil
owner, making it imprescriptible by occupation of third parties. But to Code; Art. 366, Old Civil Code). Assuming, arguendo, that the accretion
obtain this protection, the land must be placed under the operation of the has been occupied by the defendants since 1948, or earlier, is of no
registration laws, wherein certain judicial procedures have been provided. moment, because the law does not require any act of possession on the
part of the owner of the riparian owner, from the moment the deposit
CASE: This is an appeal taken by petitioners Ignacio, Eulogia, Alfonso, becomes manifest (Roxas vs. Tuason, 9 Phil. 408; Cortez vs. City of
Eulalia, and Sofia Grande, from the CA Decision (CA-G. R. No. 25169-R) Manila, 10 Phil. 567). Further, no act of appropriation on the part of the
reversing that of CFI (Civil Case No. 1171), and dismissing petitioners' riparian owner is necessary, in order to acquire ownership of the alluvial
action against respondents Domingo and Esteban Calalung, to quiet title to formation, as the law does not require the same (3 Manresa, C.C., pp.
and recover possession of a parcel of land allegedly occupied by the latter 321-326).
without petitioners' consent.
"This brings us now to the determination of whether the defendants,
FACTS: granting that they have been in possession of the alluvium since 1948,
1. Petitioners (Grande et al) are the owners of a parcel of land (3.5032 could have acquired the property by prescription. Assuming that they
hectares, located at barrio Ragan, municipality of Magsaysay (formerly occupied the land in September, 1948, but considering that the action was
Tumauini), province of Isabela) by inheritance from their deceased mother commenced on January 25, 1958, they have not been in possession of the
Patricia Angui (who inherited it from her parents Isidro Angui and Ana land for 10 years; hence, they could not have acquired the land by
Lopez, in whose name said land appears registered, as shown by OCT No. ordinary prescription (Arts. 1134 and 1138, New Civil Code). Moreover, as
2982, issued on June 9, 1934; identified as Lot No. 1, Plan PSU-83342). the alluvium is, by law, part and parcel of the registered property, the
When it was surveyed for purposes of registration sometime in 1930, its same may be considered as registered property, within the meaning of
northeastern boundary was the Cagayan River (the same boundary stated Section 46 of Act No. 496; and, therefore, it could not be acquired by
in the (title). Since then, and for many years thereafter, a gradual prescription or adverse possession by another person."
accretion on the northeastern side took place, by action of the current of

32
3. Respondents appeal -> CA (September 14, 1960) RULED IN FAVOR OF defendants' possession started sometime in 1933 or 1934. The area
PLAINTIFFS. thereof, he said, was then less than one hectare.
CFI Ruling:
1st: since by accession, the land in question pertains to the original estate, "... We are convinced, upon consideration of the evidence, that the latter
and since in this instance the original estate is registered, the accretion, (defendants), were really in possession since 1934, immediately after the
consequently, falls within the purview of Section 46 of Act No. 496, which process of alluvion started, and that the plaintiffs woke up to their rights
states that 'no title to registered land in derogation to that of the only when they received their copy of the title in 1958. By then, however,
registered owner shall be acquired by prescription or adverse possession'; prescription had already supervened in favor of the defendants."
2nd: the adverse possession of the defendant began only in the month of
September, 1948, or less than the 10-year period required for prescription Hence, this appeal (by petitioners) -> SC.
before the present action was instituted.
ISSUE:
CA Ruling: WON whether the accretion becomes automatically registered land just
1st ground relied upon by the trial court, is not quite correct. An accretion because the lot which receives it is covered by a Torrens title thereby
to registered land, while declared by specific provision of the Civil Code to making the alluvial property imprescriptible (NO)
belong to the owner of the land as a natural accession thereof, does not
ipso jure become entitled to the protection of the rule of imprescriptibility WON respondents have acquired the alluvial property in question through
of title established by the Land Registration Act. Such protection does not prescription (YES)
extend beyond the area given and described in the certificate. To hold
otherwise, would be productive of confusion. It would virtually deprive the HELD:
title, and the technical description of the land given therein, of their There can be no dispute that both under Article 457 of the new
character of conclusiveness as to the identity and area of the land that is Civil Code and Article 366 of the old, petitioners are the lawful
registered. Just as the Supreme Court, albeit in a negative manner, has owners of said alluvial property, as they are the registered owners
stated that registration does not protect the riparian owner against the of the land to which it adjoins. The question is whether the accretion
erosion of the area of his land through gradual changes in the course of becomes automatically registered land just because the lot which receives
the adjoining stream (Payatas Estate Development Co. vs. Tuason, 53 Phil. it is covered by a Torrens title thereby making the alluvial property
55), so registration does not entitle him to all the rights conferred by the imprescriptible. We agree with the Court of Appeals that it does not, just
Land Registration Act, in so far as the area added by accretion is as an unregistered land purchased by the registered owner of the
concerned. What rights he has, are declared not by said Act, but by the adjoining land does not, by extension, become ipso facto registered land.
provisions of the Civil Code on accession; and these provisions do not Ownership of a piece of land is one thing, and registration under the
preclude acquisition of the additional area by another person through Torrens system of that ownership is quite another. Ownership over the
prescription. This Court has held as much in the case of Galindez, et al. vs. accretion received by the land adjoining a river is governed by the
Baguisa, et al., CA-G. R. No. 19249-R, July 17, 1959. Civil Code. Imprescriptibility of registered land is provided in the
2nd ground relied upon by the trial court, regarding the length of time that registration law. Registration under the Land Registration and
the defendants have been in possession. Domingo Calalung testified that Cadastral Acts does not vest or give title to the land, but merely
he occupied the land in question for the first time in 1934, not in 1948 as confirms and thereafter protects the title already possessed by the
claimed by the plaintiffs. The area under occupancy gradually increased as owner, making it imprescriptible by occupation of third parties. But
the years went by. In 1946, he declared the land for purposes of taxation to obtain this protection, the land must be placed under the
(Exhibit 1). This tax declaration was superseded in 1948 by another operation of the registration laws wherein certain judicial
(Exhibit 2).... Calalung's testimony is corroborated by two witnesses, both procedures have been provided. The fact remains, however, that
owners of properties nearby. Pedro Laman, 72 years of age, who was petitioners never sought registration of said alluvial property (which was
Municipal president of Tumauini for three terms, said that the land in formed sometime after petitioners' property covered by Original Certificate
question adjoins his own on the south, and that since 1940 or 1941, he of Title No. 2982 was registered on June 9, 1934) up to the time they
has always known it to be in the peaceful possession of the defendants. instituted the present action in the CFI - Isabela in 1958. The increment,
Vicente C. Bacani testified to the same effect, although, he said that the therefore, never became registered property, and hence is not entitled or
subject to the protection of imprescriptibility enjoyed by registered

33
property under the Torrens system. Consequently, it was subject to
acquisition through prescription by third persons.

The next issue is, did respondents acquire said alluvial property through
acquisitive prescription? This is a question which requires determination of
facts: physical possession and dates or duration of such possession. The
Court of Appeals, after analyzing the evidence, found that respondents-
appellees were in possession of the alluvial lot since 1933 or 1934, openly,
continuously and adversely, under a claim of ownership up to the filing of
the action in 1958. This finding of the existence of these facts, arrived at
by the Court of Appeals after an examination of the evidence presented by
the parties, is conclusive as to them and can not be reviewed by us.

The law on prescription applicable to the case is that provided in Act 190
and not the provisions of the Civil Code, since the possession started in
1933 or 1934 when the pertinent articles of the Old Civil Code were not in
force and before the effectivity of the New Civil Code in 1950. Hence, the
conclusion of the Court of Appeals that the respondents acquired the
alluvial lot in question by acquisitive prescription is in accordance with law.

Disposition: The decision of the Court of Appeals under review is hereby


affirmed, with costs against the petitions.

34