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1. DBP vs. CA, GR No.

129471, 28 April, 2000

SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 129471. April 28, 2000]

DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and CARLOS CAJES, respondents.

DECISION

MENDOZA, J.: Misact

This is a petition for certiorari seeking to reverse the decision[1] and resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals dated August 30, 1996 and April
23, 1997, respectively, declaring private respondent Carlos Cajes the owner of 19.4 hectares of land embraced in TCT No. 10101 and
ordering the segregation and reconveyance of said portion to him.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

The land in dispute, consisting of 19.4 hectares located in San Miguel, Province of Bohol, was originally owned by Ulpiano Mumar,
whose ownership since 1917 was evidenced by Tax Declaration No. 3840.[3] In 1950,[4] Mumar sold the land to private respondent who
was issued Tax Declaration No. R-1475 that same year.[5] The tax declaration was later superseded by Tax Declaration Nos. R-799
issued in 1961[6] and D-2247 issued in 1974.[7] Private respondent occupied and cultivated the said land,[8] planting cassava and camote
in certain portions of the land.[9]

In 1969, unknown to private respondent, Jose Alvarez succeeded in obtaining the registration of a parcel of land with an area of
1,512,468.00 square meters,[10] in his name for which he was issued OCT No. 546 on June 16, 1969. [11] The parcel of land included the
19.4 hectares occupied by private respondent. Alvarez never occupied nor introduced improvements on said land.[12]

In 1972, Alvarez sold the land to the spouses Gaudencio and Rosario Beduya to whom TCT No. 10101 was issued.[13] That same year,
the spouses Beduya obtained a loan from petitioner Development Bank of the Philippines for P526,000.00 and, as security, mortgaged
the land covered by TCT No. 10101 to the bank. [14] In 1978, the SAAD Investment Corp., and the SAAD Agro-Industries, Inc.,
represented by Gaudencio Beduya, and the spouses Beduya personally executed another mortgage over the land in favor of petitioner
to secure a loan of P1,430,000.00.[15] Sdjad

The spouses Beduya later failed to pay their loans, as a result of which, the mortgage on the property was foreclosed. [16] In the
resulting foreclosure sale held on January 31, 1985, petitioner was the highest bidder. [17] As the spouses Beduya failed to redeem the
property, petitioner consolidated its ownership.[18]

It appears that private respondent had also applied for a loan from petitioner in 1978, offering his 19.4 hectare property under Tax
Declaration No. D-2247 as security for the loan. As part of the processing of the application, a representative of petitioner, Patton R.
Olano, inspected the land and appraised its value.

Private respondents loan application was later approved by petitioner. [19] However after releasing the amount of the loan to private
respondent, petitioner found that the land mortgaged by private respondent was included in the land covered by TCT No. 10101 in the
name of the spouses Beduya. Petitioner, therefore, cancelled the loan and demanded immediate payment of the amount. [20] Private
respondent paid the loan to petitioner for which the former was issued a Cancellation of Mortgage, dated March 18, 1981, releasing the
property in question from encumbrance.[21]

Sometime in April of 1986, more than a year after the foreclosure sale, a re-appraisal of the property covered by TCT No. 10101 was
conducted by petitioners representatives. It was then discovered that private respondent was occupying a portion of said land. Private
respondent was informed that petitioner had become the owner of the land he was occupying, and he was asked to vacate the
property. As private respondent refused to do so, [22] petitioner filed a complaint for recovery of possession with damages against him.
The case was assigned to Branch 1 of the Regional Trial Court, Tagbilaran City, [23] which after trial, rendered a decision, dated August
22, 1989, declaring petitioner the lawful owner of the entire land covered by TCT No. 10101 on the ground that the decree of
registration was binding upon the land.[24]The dispositive portion of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, foregoing considered, the court renders judgment:

1.......Declaring plaintiff bank Development Bank of the Philippines the true and legal owner of the land in question
covered by TCT No. 10101 farm of Gaudencio Beduya;

2.......Dismissing defendants counterclaim; Sppedsc


3.......Ordering defendant to vacate from the land in question; the portion of which he claims to belong to him for
without basis in fact and law;

4.......Ordering defendant, his agents or any person representing him or those who may claim substantial rights on
the land to vacate therefrom, cease and desist from disturbing, molesting and interfering plaintiffs possession of the
land in question, and from committing any such act as would tend to mitigate, deny or deprive plaintiff of its
ownership and possession over said land.

SO ORDERED.

On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed and gave judgment for private respondent, declaring him the owner of the 19.4 hectares of
land erroneously included in TCT No. 10101. The dispositive portion of the appellate courts decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. A new decision is hereby rendered:

1. Dismissing the complaint.

2. Declaring the disputed 19.4000 hectares of land embraced in TCT 10101 as exclusively belonging to defendant-
appellant, ordering its segregation from plaintiff-appellees title and its reconveyance to appellant.

No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.[25]

Petitioner moved for a reconsideration but its motion was denied in a resolution dated April 23, 1997.[26] Hence this petition.

Petitioner contends that:

I.......THE DECISION OF THE RESPONDENT COURT IS NOT IN ACCORD WITH THE APPLICABLE PROVISIONS
OF LAW (Sections 38 and 46 of ACT 496) AND THE APPLICABLE DECISIONS OF THE SUPREME COURT,
PARTICULARLY IN THE CASE OF BENIN VS. TUASON, 57 SCRA 531.

II.......THE RESPONDENT COURT OVERLOOKED THE ISSUES ABOUT THE DBP BEING AN INNOCENT
MORTGAGEE FOR VALUE OF THE LAND IN QUESTION AND OF HAVING PURCHASED LATER THE SAME
DURING A PUBLIC AUCTION SALE. Calrsc

III.THE RESPONDENT COURTS RULING DECLARING DBP IN ESTOPPEL IS ILLOGICAL. [27]

First. Petitioner invokes the ruling of this Court in Benin v. Tuason[28] in support of its claim that its predecessor-in-interest, Jose
Alvarez, became the owner of the land by virtue of the decree of registration issued in his name. In Benin, three sets of plaintiffs filed
separate complaints against Mariano Severo Tuason and J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc., praying for the cancellation of OCT No. 735
covering two parcels of land called the Sta. Mesa Estate, or Parcel 1, with an area of 8,798,617.00 square meters, and the Diliman
Estate, or Parcel 2, with an area of 15,961,246.00 square meters. They asked that they be declared the owners and lawful possessors
of said lands.

Benin is distinguished from this case. In the first place, Benin involved vast tracts of lands which had already been subdivided and
bought by innocent purchasers for value and in good faith at the time the claimants obtained registration. Secondly, when the claimants
ancestors occupied the lands in question and declared them for tax purposes in 1944, the lands were already covered by the tax
declarations in the name of J. M. Tuason & Co., Inc. In 1914, OCT No. 735 was issued in the name of Tuason so that, from that time
on, no possession could defeat the title of the registered owners of the land. Thirdly, the validity of OCT No. 735 had already been
recognized by this Court in several cases[29] and, as a result thereof, the transfer certificates of title acquired by the innocent purchasers
for value were also declared valid. It was held that neither could the claimants file an action to annul these titles for not only had these
actions prescribed, but the fact was that the claimants were also barred from doing so by laches, having filed the complaint only in
1955, or 41 years after the issuance of OCT No. 735 to J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. Thus, it was not solely the decree of registration which
was considered in resolving the Benin case. What was considered decisive was the valid title or right of ownership of J. M. Tuason &
Co., Inc. and that of the other innocent purchasers for value and in good faith compared to the failure of the claimants to show their
right to own or possess the questioned properties. Sccalr

Petitioner maintains that the possession by private respondent and his predecessor-in-interest of the 19.4 hectares of land for more
than 30 years cannot overcome the decree of registration issued in favor of its predecessor-in-interest Jose Alvarez. Petitioner quotes
the following statement in the Benin case:
It follows also that the allegation of prescriptive title in favor of plaintiffs does not suffice to establish a cause of
action. If such prescription was completed before the registration of the land in favor of the Tuasons, the resulting
prescriptive title was cut off and extinguished by the decree of registration. If, on the contrary, the prescription was
either begun or completed after the decree of registration, it conferred no title because, by express provision of law,
prescription can not operate against the registered owner (Act 496).[30]

Petitioner would thus insist that, by virtue of the decree of registration, Jose Alvarez and those claiming title from him ( i.e., the spouses
Beduya) acquired ownership of the 19.4 hectares of land, despite the fact that they neither possessed nor occupied these lands.

This view is mistaken. A consideration of the cases shows that a decree of registration cut off or extinguished a right acquired by a
person when such right refers to a lien or encumbrance on the land not to the right of ownership thereof which was not annotated on
the certificate of title issued thereon. Thus, Act No. 496 provides:

Sec. 39. Every person receiving a certificate of title in pursuance of a decree of registration, and every subsequent
purchaser of registered land who takes a certificate of title for value in good faith shall hold the same free of all
encumbrances except those noted on said certificate, and any of the following encumbrances which may be
subsisting, namely: Calrspped

First. Liens, claims, or rights arising or existing under the laws of Constitution of the United States or of the Philippine
Islands which the statutes of the Philippine Islands cannot require to appear of record in the Registry.

Second. Taxes within two years after the same became due and payable.

Third. Any public highway, way, private way established by law, or any Government irrigation canal or lateral thereof,
where the certificate of title does not state that the boundaries of such highway, way, or irrigation canal or lateral
thereof, have been determined.

But if there are easements or other rights appurtenant to a parcel of registered land which for any reason have failed
to be registered, such easements or rights shall remain so appurtenant notwithstanding such failure, and shall be
held to pass with the land until cut off or extinguished by the registration of the servient estate, or in any other
manner.

Hence, in Cid v. Javier,[31] it was helds:

. . . Consequently, even conceding arguendo that such an easement has been acquired, it had been cut off and
extinguished by the registration of the servient estate under the Torrens system without the easement being
annotated on the corresponding certificate of title, pursuant to Section 39 of the Land Registration Act.

This principle was reiterated in Purugganan v. Paredes[32] which also involved an easement of light and view that was not annotated on
the certificate of title of the servient estate. Scedp

But to make this principle applicable to a situation wherein title acquired by a person through acquisitive prescription would be
considered cut off and extinguished by a decree of registration would run counter to established jurisprudence before and after the
ruling in Benin. Indeed, registration has never been a mode of acquiring ownership over immovable property. As early as 1911, in the
case of City of Manila v. Lack,[33] the Court already ruled on the purpose of registration of lands, viz.:

The Court of Land Registration was created for a single purpose. The Act is entitled "An Act to provide for the
adjudication and registration of titles to lands in the Philippine Islands." The sole purpose of the Legislature in its
creation was to bring the land titles of the Philippine Islands under one comprehensive and harmonious system, the
cardinal features of which are indefeasibility of title and the intervention of the State as a prerequisite to the creation
and transfer of titles and interest, with the resultant increase in the use of land as a business asset by reason of the
greater certainty and security of title. It does not create a title nor vest one. It simply confirms a title already created
and already vested, rendering it forever indefeasible. . .

Again, in the case of Angeles v. Samia[34] where land was erroneously registered in favor of persons who neither possessed nor
occupied the same, to the prejudice of the actual occupant, the Court held:

. . . The purpose of the Land Registration Act, as this court has had occasion to so state more than once, is not to
create or vest title, but to confirm and register title already created and already vested, and of course, said original
certificate of title No. 8995 could not have vested in the defendant more title than what was rightfully due her and her
coowners. It appearing that said certificate granted her much more than she expected, naturally to the prejudice of
another, it is but just that the error, which gave rise to said anomaly, be corrected (City of Manila vs. Lack, 19 Phil.,
324). The defendant and her coowners knew or, at least, came to know that it was through error that the original
certificate of title in question was issued by the court which heard cadastral case No. 11 of Bacolor, not only in or
prior to March, 1933, but from the time said certificate was issued in their favor, that is, from December 15, 1921.
This is evidenced by the fact that, ever since, they remained passive without even attempting to make the least
showing of ownership over the land in question until after the lapse of more than eleven years. The Land Registration
Act as well as the Cadastral Act protects only the holders of a title in good faith and does not permit its provisions to
be used as a shield for the commission of fraud, or that one should enrich himself at the expense of another (Gustilo
vs. Maravilla, 48 Phil., 442; Angelo vs. Director of Lands, 49 Phil., 838). The above-stated Acts do not give anybody,
who resorts to the provisions thereof, a better title than he really and lawfully has. If he happened to obtain it by
mistake or to secure, to the prejudice of his neighbor, more land than he really owns, with or without bad faith on his
part, the certificate of title, which may have been issued to him under the circumstances, may and should be
cancelled or corrected (Legarda and Prieto vs. Saleeby, 31 Phil., 590). This is permitted by section 112 of Act No.
496, which is applicable to the Cadastral Act because it is so provided expressly by the provisions of section 11 of
the latter Act. It cannot be otherwise because, as stated in the case of Domingo vs. Santos, Ongsiako, Lim y Cia. (55
Phil., 361), errors in the plans of lands sought to be registered in the registry and reproduced in the certificate of title
issued later, do not annul the decree of registration on the ground that it is not the plan but the land itself which is
registered in the registry. In other words, if the plan of an applicant for registration or claimant in a cadastral case
alleges that the land referred to in said plan is 100 or 1,000 hectares, and the land which he really owns and desires
to register in the registry is only 80 ares, he cannot claim to be the owner of the existing difference if afterwards he is
issued a certificate of title granting him said area of 100 or 1,000 hectares.[35] Edpsc

The principle laid down in this 1938 case remains the prevailing doctrine, its latest application being in the case of Reyes v. Court of
Appeals[36] wherein we ruled that the fact that a party was able to secure a title in his favor did not operate to vest ownership upon her
of the property.

In the present case, private respondent has been in actual, open, peaceful and continuous possession of the property since 1950. This
fact was corroborated by the testimony of Eleuterio Cambangay who personally knew that Ulpiano Mumar transferred the land covered
by Tax Declaration No. 3840[37] in favor of private respondent in 1950.[38] Private respondents claim based on actual occupation of the
land is bolstered by Tax Declaration Nos. R-1475, R-799 and D-2247[39] which were issued in his name in 1950, 1961 and 1974,
respectively. Together with his actual possession of the land, these tax declarations constitute strong evidence of ownership of the land
occupied by him. As we said in the case of Republic vs. Court of Appeals:[40]

Although tax declarations or realty tax payments of property are not conclusive evidence of ownership, nevertheless,
they are good indicia of possession in the concept of owner for no one in his right mind would be paying taxes for a
property that is not in his actual or at least constructive possession. They constitute at least proof that the holder has
a claim of title over the property. The voluntary declaration of a piece of property for taxation purposes manifests not
only ones sincere and honest desire to obtain title to the property and announces his adverse claim against the State
and all other interested parties, but also the intention to contribute needed revenues to the Government. Such an act
strengthens ones bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership.

More importantly, it was established that private respondent, having been in possession of the land since 1950, was the owner of the
property when it was registered by Jose Alvarez in 1969, his possession tacked to that of his predecessor-in-interest, Ulpiano Mumar,
which dates back to 1917.[41] Clearly, more than 30 years had elapsed before a decree of registration was issued in favor of Jose
Alvarez. This uninterrupted adverse possession of the land for more than 30 years could only ripen into ownership of the land through
acquisitive prescription which is a mode of acquiring ownership and other real rights over immovable property. Prescription requires
public, peaceful, uninterrupted and adverse possession of the property in the concept of an owner for ten (10) years, in case the
possession is in good faith and with a just title. Such prescription is called ordinary prescription, as distinguished from extraordinary
prescription which requires possession for 30 years in case possession is without just title or is not in good faith.[42]Edp

In contrast to private respondent, it has been shown that neither Jose Alvarez nor the spouses Beduya were at any time in possession
of the property in question. In fact, despite knowledge by Gaudencio Beduya that private respondent occupied this 19.4 hectares
included in the area covered by TCT No. 10101,[43] he never instituted any action to eject or recover possession from the latter. Hence,
it can be concluded that neither Jose Alvarez nor the spouses Beduya ever exercised any right of ownership over the land. The fact of
registration in their favor never vested in them the ownership of the land in dispute. "If a person obtains a title under the Torrens
system, which includes by mistake or oversight land which can no longer be registered under the system, he does not, by virtue of the
said certificate alone, become the owner of the lands illegally included."[44]

Considering the circumstances pertaining in this case, therefore, we hold that ownership of the 19.4 hectares of land presently
occupied by private respondent was already vested in him and that its inclusion in OCT No. 546 and, subsequently, in TCT No. 10101,
was erroneous. Accordingly, the land in question must be reconveyed in favor of private respondent, the true and actual owner thereof,
reconveyance being clearly the proper remedy in this case.

"The true owner may bring an action to have the ownership or title to the land judicially settled and the Court in the
exercise of its equity jurisdiction, without ordering the cancellation of the Torrens title issued upon the patent, may
direct the defendants, the registered owner to reconvey the parcel of land to the plaintiff who has been found to be
the true owner thereof." (Vital vs. Amore, 90 Phil. 955) "The reconveyance is just and proper in order to terminate the
intolerable anomaly that the patentees should have a torrens title for the land which they and their predecessors
never possessed which has been possessed by Novo in the concept of owner." (Bustarga v. Novo, 129 SCRA 125)[45]
Second. Generally, an action for reconveyance based on an implied or constructive trust, such as the instant case, prescribes in 10
years from the date of issuance of decree of registration.[46] However, this rule does not apply when the plaintiff is in actual possession
of the land. Thus, it has been held: Misedp

. . . [A]n action for reconveyance of a parcel of land based on implied or constructive trust prescribes in ten years, the
point of reference being the date of registration of the deed or the date of the issuance of the certificate of title over
the property, but this rule applies only when the plaintiff or the person enforcing the trust is not in possession of the
property, since if a person claiming to be the owner thereof is in actual possession of the property, as the defendants
are in the instant case, the right to seek reconveyance, which in effect seeks to quiet title to the property, does not
prescribe. The reason for this is that one who is in actual possession of a piece of land claiming to be the owner
thereof may wait until his possession is disturbed or his title is attacked before taking steps to vindicate his right, the
reason for the rule being, that his undisturbed possession gives him a continuing right to seek the aid of a court of
equity to ascertain and determine the nature of the adverse claim of a third party and its effect on his own title, which
right can be claimed only by one who is in possession.[47]

Having been the sole occupant of the land in question, private respondent may seek reconveyance of his property despite the lapse of
more than 10 years.

Nor is there any obstacle to the determination of the validity of TCT No. 10101. It is true that the indefeasibility of torrens titles cannot
be collaterally attacked. In the instant case, the original complaint is for recovery of possession filed by petitioner against private
respondent, not an original action filed by the latter to question the validity of TCT No. 10101 on which petitioner bases its right. To rule
on the issue of validity in a case for recovery of possession is tantamount to a collateral attack. However, it should not be overlooked
that private respondent filed a counterclaim against petitioner, claiming ownership over the land and seeking damages. Hence, we
could rule on the question of the validity of TCT No. 10101 for the counterclaim can be considered a direct attack on the same. "A
counterclaim is considered a complaint, only this time, it is the original defendant who becomes the plaintiff. . . . It stands on the same
footing and is to be tested by the same rules as if it were an independent action." [48] In an analogous case,[49] we ruled on the validity of
a certificate of title despite the fact that the original action instituted before the lower court was a case for recovery of possession. The
Court reasoned that since all the facts of the case are before it, to direct the party to institute cancellation proceedings would be
needlessly circuitous and would unnecessarily delay the termination of the controversy which has already dragged on for 20 years.

Third. Petitioner nonetheless contends that an action for reconveyance does not lie against it, because it is an innocent purchaser for
value in the foreclosure sale held in 1985.

This contention has no merit. Sec. 38 of Act No. 496, the Land Registration Act, provides: Misoedp

If the court after hearing finds that the applicant or adverse claimant has title as stated in his application or adverse
claim and proper for registration, a decree of confirmation and registration shall be entered. Every decree of
registration shall bind the land, and quiet title thereto, subject only to the exceptions stated in the following section. It
shall be conclusive upon and against all persons, including the Insular Government and all the branches thereof,
whether mentioned by name in the application, notice, or citation, or included in the general description "To all whom
it may concern." Such decree shall not be opened by reason of the absence, infancy, or other disability of any person
affected thereby, nor by any proceeding in any court for reversing judgments or decrees; subject, however, to the
right of any person deprived of land or of any estate or interest therein by decree of registration obtained by fraud to
file in the competent Court of First Instance a petition for review within one year after entry of the decree, provided no
innocent purchaser for value has acquired an interest. Upon the expiration of said term of one year, every decree or
certificate of title issued in accordance with this section shall be incontrovertible. If there is any such purchaser, the
decree of registration shall not be opened, but shall remain in full force and effect forever, subject only to the right of
appeal hereinbefore provided: Provided, however, That no decree or certificate of title issued to persons not parties
to the appeal shall be cancelled or annulled. But any person aggrieved by such decree in any case may pursue his
remedy by action for damages against the applicant or any other person for fraud in procuring the decree. Whenever
the phrase "innocent purchaser for value" or an equivalent phrase occurs in this Act, it shall be deemed to include an
innocent lessee, mortgagee, or other encumbrancer for value. (As amended by Sec. 3, Act 3621; and Sec. 1, Act No.
3630.) Edpmis

Succinctly put, 38 provides that a certificate of title is conclusive and binding upon the whole world. Consequently, a buyer need not
look behind the certificate of title in order to determine who is the actual owner of the land. However, this is subject to the right of a
person deprived of land through fraud to bring an action for reconveyance, provided that it does not prejudice the rights of an innocent
purchaser for value and in good faith. "It is a condition sine qua non for an action for reconveyance to prosper that the property should
not have passed to the hands of an innocent purchaser for value." [50] The same rule applies to mortgagees, like petitioner. Thus, we
held:

Where the certificate of title is in the name of the mortgagor when the land is mortgaged, the innocent mortgagee for
value has the right to rely on what appears on the certificate of title. In the absence of anything to excite suspicion,
said mortgagee is under no obligation to look beyond the certificate and investigate the title of the mortgagor
appearing on the face of said certificate. Although Article 2085 of the Civil Code provides that absolute ownership of
the mortgaged property by the mortgagor is essential, the subsequent declaration of a title as null and void is not a
ground for nullifying the mortgage right of a mortgagee in good faith.[51]

The evidence before us, however, indicates that petitioner is not a mortgagee in good faith. To be sure, an innocent mortgagee is not
expected to conduct an exhaustive investigation on the history of the mortgagors title. Nonetheless, especially in the case of a banking
institution, a mortgagee must exercise due diligence before entering into said contract. Judicial notice is taken of the standard practice
for banks, before approving a loan, to send representatives to the premises of the land offered as collateral and to investigate who are
the real owners thereof. Banks, their business being impressed with public interest, are expected to exercise more care and prudence
than private individuals in their dealings, even those involving registered lands.[52] Jjsc

In this case, petitioners representative, Patton R. Olano, admitted that he came to know of the property for the first time in 1979 when
he inspected it to determine whether the portion occupied by private respondent and mortgaged by the latter to petitioner was included
in TCT No. 10101. This means that when the land was mortgaged by the spouses Beduya in 1972, no investigation had been made by
petitioner. It is clear, therefore, that petitioner failed to exercise due care and diligence in establishing the condition of the land as
regards its actual owners and possessors before it entered into the mortgage contract in 1972 with the Beduyas. Had it done so, it
would not have failed to discover that private respondent was occupying the disputed portion of 19.4 hectares. For this reason,
petitioner cannot be considered an innocent purchaser for value when it bought the land covered by TCT No. 10101 in 1985 at the
foreclosure sale.

Indeed, two circumstances negate petitioners claim that it was an innocent purchaser for value when it bought the land in question,
including the portion occupied by private respondent: (1) petitioner was already informed by Gaudencio Beduya that private respondent
occupied a portion of the property covered by TCT No. 10101; and (2) petitioners representative conducted an investigation of the
property in 1979 to ascertain whether the land mortgaged by private respondent was included in TCT No. 10101. In other words,
petitioner was already aware that a person other than the registered owner was in actual possession of the land when it bought the
same at the foreclosure sale. A person who deliberately ignores a significant fact which would create suspicion in an otherwise
reasonable man is not an innocent purchaser for value. "It is a well-settled rule that a purchaser cannot close his eyes to facts which
should put a reasonable man upon his guard, and then claim that he acted in good faith under the belief that there was no defect in the
title of the vendor."[53]

Petitioner deliberately disregarded both the fact that private respondent already occupied the property and that he was claiming
ownership over the same. It cannot feign ignorance of private respondents claim to the land since the latter mortgaged the same land
to petitioner as security for the loan he contracted in 1978 on the strength of the tax declarations issued under his name. Instead of
inquiring into private respondents occupation over the land, petitioner simply proceeded with the foreclosure sale, pretending that no
doubts surround the ownership of the land covered by TCT No. 10101. Considering these circumstances, petitioner cannot be deemed
an innocent mortgagee/purchaser for value. As we ruled: Scjj

"The failure of appellees to take the ordinary precautions which a prudent man would have taken under the
circumstances, specially in buying a piece of land in the actual, visible and public possession of another person,
other than the vendor, constitutes gross negligence amounting to bad faith.

In this connection, it has been held that where, as in this case, the land sold is in the possession of a person other
than the vendor, the purchaser is required to go beyond the certificates of title and ma[k]e inquiries concerning the
rights of the actual possessor. (Citations omitted.)

....

One who purchases real property which is in the actual possession of another should, at least, make some inquiry
concerning the right of those in possession. The actual possession by other than the vendor should, at least put the
purchaser upon inquiry. He can scarcely, in the absence of such inquiry, be regarded as a bona fide purchaser as
against such possessors."[54]

Fourth. From the foregoing, we find that the resolution of the issue of estoppel will not affect the outcome of this case. Petitioner claims
that the fact that it approved a loan in favor of private respondent and executed a mortgage contract covering the 19.4 hectares
covered by tax declarations issued under private respondents name does not mean that it is estopped from questioning the latters title.
Petitioner accuses private respondent of having made misrepresentations which led it to believe in his valid title and ownership.

The claim has no basis. Private respondent made no misrepresentation with regard to the land occupied by him as he is actually the
real owner thereof. Moreover, when private respondent entered into a mortgage contract with petitioner, his claim of ownership was
supported not only by the tax declarations but also by a certification of the Clerk of Court of the Court of First Instance of Bohol that no
civil, land registration or cadastral case has been filed or instituted before the court affecting the validity of Tax Declaration No. D-2247
covering the land located in Bugang, San Miguel, Bohol and declared in the name of Carlos Cajes. [55] These documents were relied
upon by private respondent in support of his claim of ownership. We cannot consider the submission of these documents as
misrepresentations by private respondent as to the actual ownership of the land. Rather, private respondent believed in good faith and
with good reason that he was the owner of the 19.4 hectares occupied by him. Sjcj
As to the question of estoppel, we do not find petitioner to be estopped from questioning private respondents title. "Estoppel in
pais arises when one, by his acts, representations or admission, or by his own silence when he ought to speak out, intentionally or
through culpable negligence, induces another to believe certain facts to exist and such other rightfully relies and acts on such belief, so
that he will be prejudiced if the former is permitted to deny the existence of such facts." [56] In the case at bar, upon learning that the land
occupied by private respondent was also covered by TCT No. 10101, petitioner immediately demanded full payment of the loan and
thereafter cancelled the mortgage contract, a fact that is admitted by private respondent himself.[57] Indeed, nothing in record indicates
that petitioner impliedly acquiesced to the validity of private respondents title when it found out that the latter was occupying a portion
of the land covered by TCT No. 10101.

However, for reasons aforestated, we uphold private respondents ownership of 19.4 hectares occupied by him. As a necessary
consequence thereof, such portion of land included in TCT No. 10101 must be segregated and reconveyed in his favor.

WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED in toto.

SO ORDERED. Supreme

Bellosillo, (Chairman), Quisumbing, Buena, and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.

2. UNISOURCE COMMERCIAL & DEV. CORP. vs. CHUNG et al., GR 173252, July 17, 2009

SECOND DIVISION

UNISOURCE COMMERCIAL AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION,

Petitioner,

G.R. No. 173252

Present:

- versus -

JOSEPH CHUNG, KIAT CHUNG and KLETO CHUNG,

Respondents.

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,

CARPIO MORALES,

CHICO-NAZARIO,*

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,** and

BRION, JJ.
Promulgated:

July 17, 2009

x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x

DECISION
QUISUMBING, J.:

The instant petition assails the Decision[1] dated October 27, 2005 and the Resolution[2] dated June 19, 2006 of the Court of Appeals
in CA-G.R. CV No. 76213. The appellate court had reversed and set aside the Decision[3] dated August 19, 2002 of the Regional Trial
Court of Manila, Branch 49, in Civil Case No. 00-97526.

The antecedent facts are as follows:

Petitioner Unisource Commercial and Development Corporation is the registered owner of a parcel of land covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 176253[4] of the Register of Deeds of Manila. The title contains a memorandum of encumbrance of a
voluntary easement which has been carried over from the Original Certificate of Title of Encarnacion S. Sandico. The certified English
translation[5] of the annotation reads:

By order dated 08 October 1924 of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Chamber IV (AP-7571/T-23046), it is declared that Francisco
Hidalgo y Magnifico has the right to open doors in the course of his lot described as Lot No. 2, Block 2650 of the map that has been
exhibited, towards the left of the Callejon that is used as a passage and that appears as adjacent to the said Lot 2 and to pass through
the land of Encarnacion Sandico y Santana, until the bank of the estero that goes to the Pasig River, and towards the right of the other
Callejon that is situated between the said Lot 2 and Lot 4 of the same Block N.[6]

As Sandicos property was transferred to several owners, the memorandum of encumbrance of a voluntary easement in favor of
Francisco M. Hidalgo was consistently annotated at the back of every title covering Sandicos property until TCT No. 176253 was
issued in petitioners favor. On the other hand, Hidalgos property was eventually transferred to respondents Joseph Chung, Kiat Chung
and Cleto Chung under TCT No. 121488.[7]

On May 26, 2000, petitioner filed a Petition to Cancel the Encumbrance of Voluntary Easement of Right of Way[8] on the ground that
the dominant estate has an adequate access to a public road which is Matienza Street. The trial court dismissed the petition on the
ground that it is a land registration case. Petitioner moved for reconsideration. Thereafter, the trial court conducted an ocular inspection
of the property. In an Order[9] dated November 24, 2000, the trial court granted the motion and made the following observations:

1. The dominant estate is a property enclosed with a concrete fence with no less than three (3) doors in it, opening to an alley
belonging to the servient estate owned by the petitioner. The alley is leading to Matienza St.;

2. The dominant estate has a house built thereon and said house has a very wide door accessible to Matienza St. without any
obstruction. Said street is perpendicular to J.P. Laurel St.

It is therefore found that the dominant estate has an egress to Matienza St. and does not have to use the servient estate.[10]

In their Answer,[11] respondents countered that the extinguishment of the easement will be of great prejudice to the locality and that
petitioner is guilty of laches since it took petitioner 15 years from acquisition of the property to file the petition.

In a Decision dated August 19, 2002, the trial court ordered the cancellation of the encumbrance of voluntary easement of right of way
in favor of the dominant estate owned by respondents. It found that the dominant estate has no more use for the easement since it has
another adequate outlet to a public road which is Matienza Street. The dispositive portion of the decision reads:

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the Court hereby orders the cancellation of the Memorandum of Encumbrance annotated in TCT
No. 176253 which granted a right of way in favor of the person named therein and, upon the finality of this decision, the Register of
Deeds of the City of Manila is hereby directed to cancel said encumbrance.

With respect to the other prayers in the petition, considering that the same are mere incidents to the exercise by the owners of right of
their ownership which they could well do without the Courts intervention, this Court sees no need to specifically rule thereon. The Court
cannot award plaintiffs claims for damages and attorneys fees for lack of sufficient bases therefor.
SO ORDERED.[12]

Respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals. On October 27, 2005, the appellate court reversed the decision of the trial court and
dismissed the petition to cancel the encumbrance of voluntary easement of right of way.

The appellate court ruled that when petitioners petition was initially dismissed by the executive judge, the copy of the petition and the
summons had not yet been served on respondents. Thus, when petitioner moved to reconsider the order of dismissal, there was no
need for a notice of hearing and proof of service upon respondents since the trial court has not yet acquired jurisdiction over them. The
trial court acquired jurisdiction over the case and over respondents only after the summons was served upon them and they were later
given ample opportunity to present their evidence.

The appellate court also held that the trial court erred in canceling the encumbrance of voluntary easement of right of way. The
appellate court ruled that Article 631(3)[13] of the Civil Code, which was cited by the trial court, is inapplicable since the presence of an
adequate outlet to a highway extinguishes only legal or compulsory easements but not voluntary easements like in the instant case.
There having been an agreement between the original parties for the provision of an easement of right of way in favor of the dominant
estate, the same can be extinguished only by mutual agreement or by renunciation of the owner of the dominant estate.

The decretal portion of the decision reads:

WHEREFORE, the foregoing considered, the appeal is hereby GRANTED and the assailed decision is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.
Accordingly, the petition to cancel the encumbrance of right of way is dismissed for lack of merit.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.[14]

Before us, petitioner alleges that the Court of Appeals erred in:

I.

BRUSHING ASIDE PETITIONERS CONTENTION THAT THE EASEMENT IS PERSONAL SINCE THE ANNOTATION DID NOT
PROVIDE THAT IT IS BINDING ON THE HEIRS OR ASSIGNS OF SANDICO.

II.

NOT CONSIDERING THAT THE EASEMENT IS PERSONAL SINCE NO COMPENSATION WAS GIVEN TO PETITIONER.

III.

DISREGARDING THE CIVIL CODE PROVISION ON UNJUST ENRICHMENT.

IV.

TREATING THE EASEMENT AS PREDIAL.[15]

Petitioner contends that the fact that Sandico and Hidalgo resorted to judicial intervention only shows that they contested the existence
of the requisite factors establishing a legal easement. Besides, the annotation itself provides that the easement is exclusively confined
to the parties mentioned therein, i.e., Sandico and Hidalgo. It was not meant to bind their heirs or assigns; otherwise, they would have
expressly provided for it. Petitioner adds that it would be an unjust enrichment on respondents part to continue enjoying the easement
without adequate compensation to petitioner. Petitioner also avers that to say that the easement has attached to Hidalgos property is
erroneous since such property no longer exists after it has been subdivided and registered in respondents respective names.[16]
Petitioner further argues that even if it is bound by the easement, the same can be cancelled or revoked since the dominant estate has
an adequate outlet without having to pass through the servient estate.

Respondents adopted the disquisition of the appellate court as their counter-arguments.

The petition lacks merit.

As defined, an easement is a real right on anothers property, corporeal and immovable, whereby the owner of the latter must refrain
from doing or allowing somebody else to do or something to be done on his property, for the benefit of another person or tenement.
Easements are established either by law or by the will of the owner. The former are called legal, and the latter, voluntary easements.
[17]

In this case, petitioner itself admitted that a voluntary easement of right of way exists in favor of respondents. In its petition to cancel
the encumbrance of voluntary easement of right of way, petitioner alleged that [t]he easement is personal. It was voluntarily constituted
in favor of a certain Francisco Hidalgo y Magnifico, the owner of [the lot] described as Lot No. 2, Block 2650.[18] It further stated that
the voluntary easement of the right of way in favor of Francisco Hidalgo y Magnifico was constituted simply by will or agreement of the
parties. It was not a statutory easement and definitely not an easement created by such court order because [the] Court merely
declares the existence of an easement created by the parties.[19] In its Memorandum[20] dated September 27, 2001, before the trial
court, petitioner reiterated that [t]he annotation found at the back of the TCT of Unisource is a voluntary easement.[21]

Having made such an admission, petitioner cannot now claim that what exists is a legal easement and that the same should be
cancelled since the dominant estate is not an enclosed estate as it has an adequate access to a public road which is Callejon Matienza
Street.[22] As we have said, the opening of an adequate outlet to a highway can extinguish only legal or compulsory easements, not
voluntary easements like in the case at bar. The fact that an easement by grant may have also qualified as an easement of necessity
does not detract from its permanency as a property right, which survives the termination of the necessity.[23] A voluntary easement of
right of way, like any other contract, could be extinguished only by mutual agreement or by renunciation of the owner of the dominant
estate.[24]

Neither can petitioner claim that the easement is personal only to Hidalgo since the annotation merely mentioned Sandico and Hidalgo
without equally binding their heirs or assigns. That the heirs or assigns of the parties were not mentioned in the annotation does not
mean that it is not binding on them. Again, a voluntary easement of right of way is like any other contract. As such, it is generally
effective between the parties, their heirs and assigns, except in case where the rights and obligations arising from the contract are not
transmissible by their nature, or by stipulation or by provision of law.[25] Petitioner cites City of Manila v. Entote[26] in justifying that the
easement should bind only the parties mentioned therein and exclude those not so mentioned. However, that case is inapplicable since
the issue therein was whether the easement was intended not only for the benefit of the owners of the dominant estate but of the
community and the public at large.[27] In interpreting the easement, the Court ruled that the clause any and all other persons
whomsoever in the easement embraces only those who are privy to the owners of the dominant estate, Lots 1 and 2 Plan Pcs-2672
and excludes the indiscriminate public from the enjoyment of the right-of-way easement.[28]

We also hold that although the easement does not appear in respondents title over the dominant estate, the same subsists. It is settled
that the registration of the dominant estate under the Torrens system without the annotation of the voluntary easement in its favor does
not extinguish the easement. On the contrary, it is the registration of the servient estate as free, that is, without the annotation of the
voluntary easement, which extinguishes the easement.[29]

Finally, the mere fact that respondents subdivided the property does not extinguish the easement. Article 618 [30] of the Civil Code
provides that if the dominant estate is divided between two or more persons, each of them may use the easement in its entirety, without
changing the place of its use, or making it more burdensome in any other way.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The Decision dated October 27, 2005 and the Resolution dated June 19, 2006 of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 76213 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

3. OBRA vs. BADUA et al., GR 149125, Aug 9, 2007


Republic of the Philippines

SUPREME COURT

Manila

SECOND DIVISION

RESURRECCION OBRA, G.R. No. 149125

Petitioner,

Present:

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,

- versus - CARPIO,

CARPIO MORALES,

TINGA, and

VELASCO, JR., JJ.

SPS. VICTORIANO BADUA &

MYRNA BADUA, SPS. JUANITO


BALTORES & FLORDELIZA

BALTORES, SPS. ISABELO Promulgated:

BADUA & PRESCILA BADUA,

SPS. JOSE BALANON &

SHIRLEY BALANON, SPS. August 9, 2007

ORLANDO BADUA & MARITA

BADUA and SPS. LEONCIO

BADUA & JUVY BADUA,

Respondents.

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

VELASCO, JR., J.:

An order of execution must conform to the terms of the dispositive portion of the decision. A court that issues an order of execution in
contravention of its final judgment exceeds its jurisdiction and renders its order invalid.

The Case

The present Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 seeks the annulment of the March 20, 2001[1] and June 20, 2001[2]
Orders of the San Fernando City, La Union Regional Trial Court (RTC), Branch 29 in Civil Case No. 5033, directing petitioner Obra to
demolish the fence she constructed on the southern portion of her property which blocked a portion of respondents right-of-way.

The Facts

The case arose from a Complaint for Easement of Right-of-Way filed by respondents against Anacleto and Resurreccion Obra, Donato
and Lucena Bucasas, and Paulino and Crisanta Badua in Civil Case No. 5033 entitled Sps. Victoriano Badua and Myrna Badua, et al.
v. Sps. Anacleto Obra and Resurreccion Obra, et al. before the RTC. Defendant Anacleto Obra was the husband of petitioner.
Respondents alleged that their residential houses, erected on a lot commonly owned by them and covered by Tax Declaration No. 93-
01900281 under Cadastral Lot No. 5518 situated in Galongen, Bacnotan, La Union, were located west of the properties of the Obras,
Bucasases, and Baduas. Their only access to the national highway was a pathway traversing the northern portion of petitioners
property and the southern portion of the properties of the Bucasases and Baduas. The pathway was more than one meter wide and
sixteen meters long. They claimed that this pathway had been established as early as 1955. In 1995, however, petitioner Obra
constructed a fence on the northern boundary of their property; thus, blocking respondents access to the national highway.
Respondents demanded the demolition of the fence, but petitioner refused.

In her Answer, petitioner averred that respondents had not established any easement of right-of-way either by law or agreement. She
claimed that respondents failed to satisfy the requisites provided in Articles 649 and 650 of the Civil Code in order to establish an
easement of right-of-way on the northern portion of her property. Moreover, she alleged that respondents had another access as
ingress and egress to the public road other than the one traversing her property.
The spouses Badua and Bucasas failed to file an answer; consequently, they were declared in default.

On July 7, 2000, after trial, the RTC rendered a Decision[3] dismissing the complaint. It held that respondents were not able to satisfy
all the requisites needed for their claim of an easement of right of way.[4] It observed that when petitioner fenced the northern portion of
her property, respondents were able to use another pathway as ingress and egress to the highway. It stated further that the new
pathway is more than adequate[5] for respondents use. Thus, the applied easement of right-of-way on the northern portion of
petitioners property was not allowed. The said Decision became final and executory.

It must be noted that the new pathway used by respondents, however, traversed the southern portion of petitioners property. Sometime
in 2001, petitioner constructed a fence on this portion of her lot, which again restricted the use of respondents new pathway. Aggrieved
and prejudiced by petitioners action, respondents filed on March 6, 2001 a Motion to Enforce[6] the July 7, 2000 Decision of the RTC.
They alleged that the Decision of the RTC dismissing the case was based on the existence of a new pathway which they had been
using since 1995. Thus, they asserted that petitioner was prohibited from closing said passage.

On March 20, 2001, the RTC granted the said motion. Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but it was rejected in the trial courts
June 20, 2001 Order.

Clarifying its July 7, 2000 Decision, the trial court, in its March 20, 2001 Order, held that the dismissal of the complaint depended on
petitioners representation that she was allowing respondents to use the southern portion of her property as an alternative pathway.
Since the southern portion was an agreed pathway,[7] petitioner could not reduce its width; thus, the trial court ordered petitioner to
remove the fence blocking the passage.

Hence, we have this petition.

The Issue

Petitioner assigns a lone issue for the consideration of the Court:

Whether or not the Court can motu proprio declare a compulsory right of way on a property not the subject of a pending case
(particularly Civil Case No. 5033).[8]

Essentially, petitioner questions the propriety of the trial courts issuance of an order clarifying its final and executory decision and
effectively establishing an easement on petitioners property without proper adjudication.

The Courts Ruling

The petition is impressed with merit.


Dispositive Portion of a Decision Controlling

The controversy of this petition stemmed from the alleged conflict between the body of the trial courts July 7, 2000 Decision and its
dispositive portion. Respondents aver that notwithstanding the dismissal of Civil Case No. 5033, the body of the Decision evidently
established an easement on the southern portion of petitioners property. On the other hand, petitioner maintains that the trial courts
reference to the new pathway was merely a declaration of its existence and not necessarily a creation of an easement of right-of-way.

We agree with petitioners postulation.

The resolution of the court in a given issue embodied in the fallo or dispositive part of a decision or order is the controlling factor as to
settlement of rights of the parties.[9] Thus, where there is a conflict between the fallo and the ratio decidendi or body of the decision,
the fallo controls. This rule rests on the theory that the fallo is the final order while the opinion in the body is merely a statement
ordering nothing.[10] The rule applies when the dispositive part of a final decision or order is definite, clear, and unequivocal, and can
wholly be given effect without need of interpretation or construction.[11]

In the case at bench, the decretal portion of the July 7, 2000 Decision is plain and clear[w]herefore, in view of the foregoing, this case
is hereby dismissed. When a court rules that the case or complaint is dismissed, then it is concluded that the cause of action embodied
in the allegations of the initiatory pleading has no merit or basis, and the prayer is consequently denied.

The amended complaint filed by respondents in Civil Case No. 5033 revealed that their cause of action was the recognition of their
easement of right-of-way of more than one (1) meter wide and more than sixteen (16) meters in length [which] traversed the northern
portion of the property of defendants spouses Anacleto Obra and Resurreccion Obra.[12] As prayer, respondents asked for the
demolition of the concrete fence constructed by petitioner and her spouse, Anacleto, that closed the pathway on the northern portion of
Obras lot; the declaration of right-of-way over said area in favor of respondents; and the payment of damages and attorneys fees.
When the RTC dismissed the case in its July 7, 2000 Decision, it ruled that respondents had no cause of action against petitioner and
her husband, Anacleto, because they failed to satisfy one of the four requisites for the entitlement of a right-of-way, namelythat the
dominant estate is surrounded by other immovables and is without adequate outlet to a public highway. The trial court took note of the
fact that the new pathway which incidentally traversed the southern portion of petitioners lot is an adequate outlet to a public highway.
While its body mentioned the existence of an alternative pathway located south of petitioners lot, such was made only to emphasize
that respondents failed to satisfy the requirements for an easement of right-of-way. As held by the trial court:

The insistence of the plaintiffs to open up the old pathway is therefore without basis considering that there is another outlet adequate
enough as an access route for them in their passage to the public highway and the alleged inconvenience cannot be a ground for the
opening of said old pathway.

xxxx

In fine, plaintiffs were not able to satisfy all the requisites needed for their claim of an easement of right of way; failing to prove that
there is no adequate outlet from their respective properties to a public highway.[13]
Apparently, no pronouncement was ever made regarding the nature and legality of this new pathway; therefore, no easement was
established by the Court on petitioners property in Civil Case No. 5033. Thus, their claim for a right-of-way on the southern portion had
no basis.

The parties and even the trial court were confined to the averments of the complaint, and the answer and the issues joined by the
major pleadings. It could not be disputed by respondents that there was no mention at all of any right-of-way on the southern portion of
petitioners lot in the complaint nor any claim or prayer for the declaration of respondents entitlement to a right-of-way over the said
area. Thus, there was no joinder of issue on this matter and, therefore, the dismissal of the case cannot, by any stretch of imagination,
be construed to encompass any grant of right-of-way to respondents relating to the southern portion owned by petitioner.

More importantly, the case was dismissed by the RTC, meaning no relief was granted by the court to respondents. Granting arguendo
that the issue on the entitlement to respondents of a right-of-way over the southern portion was likewise raised and was implicit from
the pleadings; nevertheless, respondents, by the dismissal of the case, were not granted any affirmative relief by the trial court. As
such, the trial court clearly erred in issuing the March 20, 2001 Order which granted a relief not found in the fallo of the decision.

Moreover, the construction of the fence on the southern portion was done by petitioner after the rendition and finality of the July 7, 2000
Decision dismissing the case. It is plain to see that such act of constructing the fence was subsequent to the Decision and could not
have been covered by said judgment. The dispute that arose from the blockade of the pathway on the southern portion could be the
subject matter of another complaint but definitely was not an issue in Civil Case No. 5033. In the new case, respondents are obliged to
prove all the essential elements of the easement of right-of-waya requirement which they failed to satisfy in Civil Case No. 5033.

Lastly, the assailed March 20, 2001 Order directing the demolition of the concrete fence was in the nature of an execution of a final
judgment. It is settled that what can be enforced by a writ of execution under Rule 39 are the dispositions in the decretal portion of the
decision or the fallo. Since the case was dismissed, there was nothing to enforce or implement.

No Voluntary Easement of Right-of-Way

The trial court, seemingly aware that it did not determine the legality of an easement of right-of-way over the pathway located south of
petitioners property, nevertheless, concluded that the said passage was an agreed or voluntary easement of right-of-way which
petitioner should respect.

The trial court was in error.

It is a settled doctrine that a decision, after it becomes final, becomes immutable and unalterable.[14] Thus, the court loses jurisdiction
to amend, modify, or alter a final judgment and is left only with the jurisdiction to execute and enforce it. Any amendment or alteration
which substantially affects a final and executory judgment is null and void for lack of jurisdiction, including the entire proceedings held
for that purpose.[15]

To recapitulate, the dismissal of Civil Case No. 5033 meant that no easement was ever established on petitioners property. However,
the trial court, by issuing its March 20, 2001 Order directing petitioner to remove the fence that limited respondents passage, effectively
created a right-of-way on petitioners property in favor of respondents allegedly on the basis of a voluntary agreement between the
parties. This directive was in contravention of its July 7, 2000 Decision; thus, it was null and void for having been issued outside of the
courts jurisdiction.

Granting for the sake of argument that the issue of voluntary easement of right-of-way, subject of the assailed March 20, 2001 Order,
was proper, relevant, and material to the issue of right-of-way as averred in the complaint in Civil Case No. 5033, still, the conclusion
that there was an agreed or voluntary easement of right-of-way had no basis. The records of Civil Case No. 5033 do not reveal any
agreement executed by the parties on the claimed right-of-way. Glaring is the fact that the terms of the arrangement were not agreed
upon by the parties, more particularly, the payment of the proper indemnity. The evidence is not ample enough to support the
conclusion that there was a verbal agreement on the right-of-way over the southern portion.

More so, since a right-of-way is an interest in the land, any agreement creating it should be drawn and executed with the same
formalities as a deed to a real estate, and ordinarily must be in writing.[16] No written instrument on this agreement was adduced by
respondents.

In the light of the foregoing considerations, the assailed March 20, 2001 and June 20, 2001 Orders are null, void, and without any legal
effect.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The June 20, 2001 and March 20, 2001 Orders of the San Fernando City, La Union RTC,
Branch 29 in Civil Case No. 5033 are hereby ANNULLED AND SET ASIDE.

No costs.

SO ORDERED.

4. OLIVA vs, REPUBLIC, GR No. 163118, April, 27, 2007


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

G.R. No. 163118 April 27, 2007

DORIS CHIONGBIAN-OLIVA, Petitioner,


vs.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE REGISTER OF
DEEDS OF CEBU CITY, Respondents.

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.:

This petition for certiorari assails (1) the Decision1 dated August 7, 2003 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV. No. 74409, reversing
the Decision2 dated December 13, 2001 of the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 12 in SP. Proc. No. 10746-CEB, and (2) the
Resolution3 dated March 17, 2004, denying the motion for reconsideration.

The following facts are undisputed.

Petitioner Doris Chiongbian-Oliva is the registered owner of a parcel of land in Talamban, Cebu City, as evidenced by Transfer
Certificate of Title (TCT) No. 5455.4 This title originated from Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 1066 from a free patent granted on
September 11, 1969 under Commonwealth Act No. 141,5 as amended. The free patent, OCT No. 1066, and TCT No. 5455 contained
the condition that a forty-meter legal easement from the bank of any river or stream shall be preserved as permanent timberland.6

On October 1, 2001, petitioner filed a petition for reduction of legal easement docketed as SP. Proc. No. 10746-CEB before the
Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 12. Petitioner alleged that the property is residential as shown by the tax declaration7 and
the Certification8 of the Office of the City Assessor. Thus, the applicable legal easement is only three meters pursuant to Department of
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Administrative Order No. 99-21,9 and not forty meters, which applies to timberlands and
forest lands. Petitioner also alleged that enforcing the forty-meter legal easement would virtually deprive her of the use and enjoyment
of the property since it consists only of 1,000 square meters.

The DENR countered that the property is inalienable. It also claimed that the applicant agreed on the forty-meter legal easement when
the free patent was applied for.
The trial court ruled in favor of petitioner. It said that there is no longer any reason for the forty-meter legal easement because the
property had been transformed into residential land and the area where it is located has been reclassified as urban. Applying DENR
A.O. No. 99-21, the applicable legal easement is only three meters. The decision’s decretal portion states:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is hereby ordered that the legal encumbrance of forty (40) meters for river bank protection
annotated on Petitioner’s Transfer Certificate of Title No. 5455 be reduced to the applicable legal easement of three (3) meters in
accordance with law.

Accordingly, the Register of Deeds of Cebu City is hereby directed to cancel the above legal encumbrance of forty (40) meters
annotated on Petitioner’s Transfer Certificate of Title No. 5455 and in lieu thereof, annotate the applicable legal encumbrance of three
(3) meters for river bank protection.

SO ORDERED.10

On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision. It upheld the DENR’s claim that the property was inalienable.
Accordingly, a positive act of the government was necessary to declassify it from forest land to alienable land. Declaration of the
property as residential in the tax declaration and reclassification of the area where it is located as urban were insufficient bases to
reclassify the property. The fallo of the appellate court’s decision reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Decision dated December 13, 2001, of the Regional Trial Court, 7th Judicial Region, Branch
12, Cebu City, in SP. PROC. NO. 10746-CEB, is hereby REVERSED and SET ASIDE. No pronouncement as to costs.

SO ORDERED.11

The appellate court later denied petitioner’s motion for reconsideration.

Petitioner now raises the following issues:

I.

WHETHER OR NOT PETITIONER’S LOT COVERED BY THE LEGAL ENCUMBRANCE IS A PUBLIC LAND/LAND OF THE PUBLIC
DOMAIN (AND THUS, CANNOT BE RECLASSIFIED EXCEPT BY THE EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT) OF THE GOVERNMENT, OR A
PRIVATE LAND.

II.

WHETHER OR NOT THE TRIAL COURT IS CORRECT IN TAKING JUDICIAL NOTICE OF THE FACT THAT PETITIONER’S LOT
COVERED BY TCT NO. 5455 IS SITUATED IN AN URBAN AREA AND NOT IN A FOREST AREA, AND IN THUS CONCLUDING
THAT THE LEGAL EASEMENT APPLICABLE FOR RIVER BANK PROTECTION IS THREE (3) METERS AND NOT FORTY (40)
METERS.

III.

WHETHER OR NOT SECTION 90(i) OF C.A. NO. 141 WHICH PROVIDES FOR A UNIFORM EASEMENT OF FORTY (40) METERS
FROM THE BANK ON EACH SIDE OF ANY RIVER, AND WHICH PRESERVES THE SAID 40-METER PORTION AS PERMANENT
TIMBERLAND REGARDLESS OF WHETHER IT IS SITUATED IN A FOREST AREA OR AN URBAN AREA, IS STILL APPLICABLE
TO LOTS SITUATED IN AN URBAN AREA IN THE LIGHT OF THE PROVISIONS OF SUBSEQUENT LEGISLATION, SPECIFICALLY
SECTION 51 OF P.D. NO. 1067.12

Simply stated, the issues are: (1) Is the property public or private land? and (2) Is the applicable legal easement forty or three meters?

On the first issue, C.A. No. 141, as amended, provides that lands of the public domain may be classified by the President, upon the
recommendation of the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, into: (1) alienable or disposable; (2) timber; and (3) mineral
lands.13 However, only alienable or disposable lands may be disposed of through any of the forms of concession enumerated in the
law.14 A free patent is one of such concessions15 and once it is registered and the corresponding certificate of title issued, the land
covered by them ceases to be part of the public domain and becomes private property.16

Verily, by the issuance of a free patent on September 11, 1969, and the subsequent issuance of OCT No. 1066 and TCT No. 5455, the
property in this case had become private land. It is inconsistent for an alienable land of the public domain to be covered by a free
patent and at the same time retain its character as public land.

On the second issue, Section 90(i) of C.A. No. 141 requires that a forty-meter legal easement from the bank of any river or stream shall
be preserved as permanent timberland. More specifically, it provides:

(i) That the applicant agrees that a strip forty meters wide starting from the bank on each side of any river or stream that may be found
on the land applied for, shall be demarcated and preserved as permanent timberland to be planted exclusively to trees of known
economic value, and that he shall not make any clearing thereon or utilize the same for ordinary farming purposes even after patent
shall have been issued to him or a contract of lease shall have been executed in his favor. (Emphasis supplied.)
To implement this, the DENR promulgated A.O. No. 99-21 which provides the guidelines in the processing, verification, and approval of
isolated and cadastral surveys. Pertinent to this case are the following provisions:

2.1 Original Surveys:

2.1.a Public Lands:

All alienable and disposable (A and D) lands of the public domain shall be surveyed pursuant to Section 1 Par. (1) of R.A. 1273 [C.A.
No. 141, Section 90(i)] whereby a strip of forty (40) meters wide starting from the banks on each side of any river or stream that may be
found on the land shall be demarcated and preserved as permanent timberland.

Likewise, to be demarcated are public lands along the banks of rivers and streams and the shores of the seas and lakes throughout
their entire length and within a zone of three (3) meters in urban areas, twenty (20) meters in agricultural areas and forty (40) meters in
forest area, along their margins which are subject to the easement for public use in the interest of recreation, navigation, floatage,
fishing and salvage.

xxxx

2.3 Survey of Titled Lands:

2.3.1 Administratively Titled Lands:

The provisions of item 2.1.a and 2.1.b shall be observed as the above. However, when these lands are to be subdivided, consolidated
or consolidated-subdivided, the strip of three (3) meters which falls within urban areas shall be demarcated and marked on the plan for
easement and bank protection.

The purpose of these strips of land shall be noted in the technical description and annotated in the title.

xxxx

Running in parallel vein is the Water Code of the Philippines17 which provides:

Art. 51. The banks of rivers and streams and the shores of the seas and lakes throughout their entire length and within a zone of three
(3) meters in urban areas, twenty (20) meters in agricultural areas and forty (40) meters in forest areas, along their margins, are subject
to the easement of public use in the interest of recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing and salvage. No person shall be allowed to stay
in this zone longer than what is necessary for recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing or salvage or to build structures of any kind.

Since the property in this case was originally alienable land of the public domain, the application for free patent contained the condition
that a forty-meter legal easement from the banks on each side of any river or stream found on the land shall be demarcated and
preserved as permanent timberland. However, after the property was administratively titled, it underwent several surveys for purposes
of subdivision, consolidation, or consolidation-subdivision as evidenced by TCT No. 5455. This title provides that it is a transfer from
TCT Nos. 3975 and 436018 and describes the property as Lot 2 of the consolidation-subdivision plan Pcs-07-002121, being a portion
of Lot 6 and 7 Pcs-07-000974.19 Thus, presently only three meters is required to be demarcated and preserved as permanent
timberland.

In this case, the trial court properly took judicial notice that Talamban, Cebu City is an urban area. Judicial notice is the cognizance of
certain facts which judges may properly take and act on without proof because they already know them.20 A municipal jurisdiction,
whether designated as chartered city or provincial capital, is considered as urban in its entirety if it has a population density of at least
1,000 persons per square kilometer.21 The City of Cebu was created on October 20, 1934 under Commonwealth Act No. 58.22 It is a
highly urbanized city classified as entirely urban.23 Thus, all its barangays, including Talamban, are considered urban.

Conformably with the foregoing considerations, the reduction of the legal easement of forty meters on petitioner’s property covered by
TCT No. 5455 to three meters now is in order.

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is GRANTED. The assailed Decision dated August 7, 2003 and Resolution dated March 17, 2004 of
the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV. No. 74409 are REVERSED, and the Decision dated December 13, 2001 of the Regional Trial
Court of Cebu City, Branch 12 in SP. Proc. No. 10746-CEB is REINSTATED.

SO ORDERED.

5. DICHOSO vs. MARCOS, GR No. 180282, April 11, 2011

Republic of the Philippines


Supreme Court

Baguio City

SECOND DIVISION

CRISPIN DICHOSO, JR.,

EVELYN DICHOSO VALDEZ, and ROSEMARIE DICHOSO PE BENITO,

Petitioners,

- versus -

PATROCINIO L. MARCOS,

Respondent.

G.R. No. 180282

Present:

CARPIO, J.,

Chairperson,

NACHURA,

PERALTA,

ABAD, and

MENDOZA, JJ.

Promulgated:

April 11, 2011

x-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------x
DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

This is a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, seeking to reverse and set aside the Court of Appeals
(CA) Decision[1] dated January 31, 2007 and Resolution[2] dated October 23, 2007 in CA-G.R. CV No. 85471. The assailed Decision
reversed and set aside the July 15, 2005 decision[3] of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Laoag City, Branch 14, in Civil Case No.
12581-14; while the assailed Resolution denied the Motion for Reconsideration filed by petitioners Crispin Dichoso, Jr., Evelyn Dichoso
Valdez, and Rosemarie Dichoso Pe Benito.

The facts of the case, as culled from the records, are as follows:

On August 2, 2002, petitioners filed a Complaint for Easement of Right of Way[4] against respondent Patrocinio L. Marcos. In their
complaint, petitioners alleged that they are the owners of Lot No. 21553 of the Cadastral Survey of Laoag City, covered by Transfer
Certificate of Title No. T-31219; while respondent is the owner of Lot No. 1. As petitioners had no access to a public road to and from
their property, they claimed to have used a portion of Lot No. 1 in accessing the road since 1970. Respondent, however, blocked the
passageway with piles of sand. Though petitioners have been granted another passageway by the spouses Benjamin and Sylvia Arce
(Spouses Arce), the owners of another adjacent lot, designated as Lot No. 21559-B, the former instituted the complaint before the RTC
and prayed that:

WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that judgment be rendered:

1. Granting the plaintiffs right of way over an area of 54 square meters more or less of Lot 01 by paying the defendant the amount of
P54,000.00, and that the right be annotated on defendants title;

2. Ordering the defendant to pay the plaintiffs the sum of P30,000.00 as damages for attorneys fees and costs of suit;

Other reliefs, just and equitable under the premises, are likewise sought.[5]

Instead of filing an Answer, respondent moved[6] for the dismissal of the complaint on the ground of lack of cause of action and
noncompliance with the requisite certificate of non-forum shopping.

During the hearing on respondents motion to dismiss, the parties agreed that an ocular inspection of the subject properties be
conducted. After the inspection, the RTC directed the parties to submit their respective position papers.

In a resolution[7] dated May 12, 2004, the RTC denied respondents motion to dismiss and required the latter to answer petitioners
complaint.

In his Answer,[8] respondent denied that he allowed anybody to use Lot No. 1 as passageway. He stated that petitioners claim of right
of way is only due to expediency and not necessity. He also maintained that there is an existing easement of right of way available to
petitioners granted by the Spouses Arce. Thus, there is no need to establish another easement over respondents property.
In an Order[9] dated July 6, 2005, the RTC declared that respondents answer failed to tender an issue, and opted to render judgment
on the pleadings and thus deemed the case submitted for decision.

On July 15, 2005, the RTC rendered a decision[10] in favor of petitioners, the dispositive portion of which reads, as follows:

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered, as follows:

1. granting plaintiffs a right of way over an area of 54 square meters more or less over Lot 01 owned by defendant Patrocinio L.
[Marcos] appearing in the Laoag City Assessors sketch (Annex A) found on page 28 of the record of the case;

2. ordering plaintiffs to pay defendant the amount of P54,000.00 as proper indemnity; and

3. ordering the Register of Deeds of Laoag City to duly annotate this right of way on defendants title to the property.

SO ORDERED.[11]

The RTC found that petitioners adequately established the requisites to justify an easement of right of way in accordance with Articles
649 and 650 of the Civil Code. The trial court likewise declared petitioners in good faith as they expressed their willingness to pay
proper indemnity.[12]

On appeal, the CA reversed and set aside the RTC decision and consequently dismissed petitioners complaint. Considering that a right
of way had already been granted by the (other) servient estate, designated as Lot No. 21559-B and owned by the Spouses Arce, the
appellate court concluded that there is no need to establish an easement over respondents property. The CA explained that, while the
alternative route through the property of the Spouses Arce is longer and circuitous, said access road is adequate. It emphasized that
the convenience of the dominant estate is never the gauge for the grant of compulsory right of way. Thus, the opening of another
passageway is unjustified.[13]

Aggrieved, petitioners come before this Court, raising the following issues:

I.

CAN PETITIONERS BE ENTITLED TO A GRANT OF LEGAL EASEMENT OF RIGHT OF WAY FROM THEIR LANDLOCKED
PROPERTY THROUGH THE PROPERTY OF PRIVATE RESPONDENT WHICH IS THE SHORTEST ROUTE IN GOING TO AND
FROM THEIR PROPERTY TO THE PUBLIC STREET AND WHERE THEY USED TO PASS?

II.

CAN RESPONDENT REFUSE TO GRANT A RIGHT OF WAY ON THE DESIRED PASSAGEWAY WHICH HE CLOSED SINCE
THERE IS ANOTHER PASSAGEWAY WHICH IS MORE CIRCUITOUS AND BURDENSOME AND IS BELATEDLY OFFERED UNTO
PETITIONERS?

III.
CAN PETITIONERS BE COMPELLED TO AVAIL OF A LEGAL EASEMENT OF RIGHT OF WAY THROUGH THE PROPERTY OF
ARCE WHICH WAS BELATEDLY OFFERED BUT HAS BEEN FORECLOSED BY THE BANK AND WHEREIN THE LATTER IS NOT A
PARTY TO THE CASE?[14]

The petition is without merit.

It is already a well-settled rule that the jurisdiction of this Court in cases brought before it from the CA by virtue of Rule 45 of the Rules
of Court is limited to reviewing errors of law. Findings of fact of the CA are conclusive upon this Court. There are, however, recognized
exceptions to the foregoing rule, namely:

(1) when the findings are grounded entirely on speculation, surmises, or conjectures;

(2) when the inference made is manifestly mistaken, absurd, or impossible;

(3) when there is grave abuse of discretion;

(4) when the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts;

(5) when the findings of fact are conflicting;

(6) when, in making its findings, the Court of Appeals went beyond the issues of the case, or its findings are contrary to the admissions
of both the appellant and the appellee;

(7) when the findings are contrary to those of the trial court;

(8) when the findings are conclusions without citation of specific evidence on which they are based;

(9) when the facts set forth in the petition, as well as in the petitioner's main and reply briefs, are not disputed by the respondent; and

(10) when the findings of fact are premised on the supposed absence of evidence and contradicted by the evidence on record.[15]

The present case falls under the 7th exception, as the RTC and the CA arrived at conflicting findings of fact and conclusions of law.

The conferment of a legal easement of right of way is governed by Articles 649 and 650 of the Civil Code, quoted below for easy
reference:[16]

Article 649. The owner, or any person who by virtue of a real right may cultivate or use any immovable, which is surrounded by other
immovables pertaining to other persons and without adequate outlet to a public highway, is entitled to demand a right of way through
the neighboring estates, after payment of the proper indemnity.
Should this easement be established in such a manner that its use may be continuous for all the needs of the dominant estate,
establishing a permanent passage, the indemnity shall consist of the value of the land occupied and the amount of the damage caused
to the servient estate.

In case the right of way is limited to the necessary passage for the cultivation of the estate surrounded by others and for the gathering
of its crops through the servient estate without a permanent way, the indemnity shall consist in the payment of the damages caused by
such encumbrance.

This easement is not compulsory if the isolation of the immovable is due to the proprietors own acts.

Article 650. The easement of right of way shall be established at the point least prejudicial to the servient estate, and, insofar as
consistent with this rule, where the distance from the dominant estate to a public highway may be the shortest.

To be entitled to an easement of right of way, the following requisites should be met:

1. The dominant estate is surrounded by other immovables and has no adequate outlet to a public highway;

2. There is payment of proper indemnity;

3. The isolation is not due to the acts of the proprietor of the dominant estate; and

4. The right of way claimed is at the point least prejudicial to the servient estate; and insofar as consistent with this rule, where the
distance from the dominant estate to a public highway may be the shortest.[17]

Petitioners may be correct in the theoretical reading of Articles 649 and 650 of the Civil Code, but they nevertheless failed to show
sufficient factual evidence to satisfy the above-enumerated requirements.[18]

It must be stressed that, by its very nature, and when considered with reference to the obligations imposed on the servient estate, an
easement involves an abnormal restriction on the property rights of the servient owner and is regarded as a charge or encumbrance on
the servient estate. It is incumbent upon the owner of the dominant estate to establish by clear and convincing evidence the presence
of all the preconditions before his claim for easement of right of way may be granted.[19] Petitioners failed in this regard.

Admittedly, petitioners had been granted a right of way through the other adjacent lot owned by the Spouses Arce. In fact, other lot
owners use the said outlet in going to and coming from the public highway. Clearly, there is an existing outlet to and from the public
road.

However, petitioners claim that the outlet is longer and circuitous, and they have to pass through other lots owned by different owners
before they could get to the highway. We find petitioners concept of what is adequate outlet a complete disregard of the well-
entrenched doctrine that in order to justify the imposition of an easement of right of way, there must be real, not fictitious or artificial,
necessity for it. Mere convenience for the dominant estate is not what is required by law as the basis of setting up a compulsory
easement. Even in the face of necessity, if it can be satisfied without imposing the easement, the same should not be imposed.[20]
We quote with approval the CAs observations in this wise:

As it shows, [petitioners] had been granted a right of way through the adjacent estate of Spouses Arce before the complaint below was
even filed. [Respondent] alleged that this right of way is being used by the other estates which are similarly situated as [petitioners].
[Petitioners] do not dispute this fact. There is also a reason to believe that this right of way is Spouses Arces outlet to a public road
since their property, as it appears from the Sketch Map, is also surrounded by other estates. The fact that Spouses Arce are not
insisting on a right of way through respondents property, although an opening on the latters property is undoubtedly the most direct and
shortest distance to P. Gomez St. from the formers property, bolsters our conviction that they have adequate outlet to the highway
which they are now likewise making available to [petitioners].

The convenience of the dominant estate has never been the gauge for the grant of compulsory right of way. To be sure, the true
standard for the grant of the legal right is adequacy. Hence, when there is already an existing adequate outlet from the dominant estate
to a public highway, as in this case, even when the said outlet, for one reason or another, be inconvenient, the need to open up another
servitude is entirely unjustified.[21]

Thus, in Cristobal v. CA,[22] the Court disallowed the easement prayed for because an outlet already exists which is a path walk
located at the left side of petitioners property and which is connected to a private road about five hundred (500) meters long. The
private road, in turn, leads to Ma. Elena Street, which is about 2.5 meters wide, and finally, to Visayas Avenue. This outlet was
determined by the Court to be sufficient for the needs of the dominant estate.

Also in Floro v. Llenado,[23] we refused to impose a right of way over petitioners property although private respondents alternative
route was admittedly inconvenient because he had to traverse several ricelands and rice paddies belonging to different persons, not to
mention that said passage is impassable during the rainy season.

And in Ramos v. Gatchalian Realty, Inc.,[24] this Court refused to grant the easement prayed for even if petitioner had to pass through
lots belonging to other owners, as temporary ingress and egress, which lots were grassy, cogonal, and greatly inconvenient due to
flood and mud because such grant would run counter to the prevailing jurisprudence that mere convenience for the dominant estate
does not suffice to serve as basis for the easement.[25]

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The Court of Appeals Decision dated January 31, 2007 and Resolution
dated October 23, 2007 in CA-G.R. CV No. 85471 are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

6. VILLANUEVA vs. VELASCO, GR No. 130845,Nov. 27, 2000


SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. NO. 130845. November 27, 2000]

BRYAN U. VILLANUEVA, petitioner, vs. HON. TIRSO D.C. VELASCO in his capacity as Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of
Quezon City, Branch 88, JULIO N. SEBASTIAN and SHIRLEY LORILLA, respondents.

DECISION

QUISUMBING, J.:

This petition for certiorari assails (1) the decision[1] dated December 27, 1996 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 39166,
dismissing petitioners petition for review under Rule 65 with prayer for the issuance of a cease and desist order and/or temporary
restraining order, and (2) the resolution[2]dated August 14, 1997 denying the subsequent motion for reconsideration.
Petitioner Bryan Villanueva is the registered owner of the parcel of land covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 127862 of the
Register of Deeds of Quezon City. He bought it from Pacific Banking Corporation, the mortgagee of said property. The bank had
acquired it from the spouses Maximo and Justina Gabriel at a public auction on March 19, 1983. When petitioner bought the parcel of
land there was a small house on its southeastern portion. It occupied one meter of the two-meter wide easement of right of way the
Gabriel spouses granted to the Espinolas, predecessors-in-interest of private respondents, in a Contract of Easement of Right of Way.
The pertinent portion of the contract dated November 28, 1979, states:

. . . in order to have an access to and from their aforementioned land where their houses are constructed and to have an outlet to
Tandang Sora Ave. which is the nearest public road and the least burdensome to the servient estate and to third persons, it would be
necessary for them to pass through spouses MAXIMO GABRIEL and JUSTINA CAPUNOs land and for this purpose, a path or
passageway of not less than two (2) meters wide of said spouses property is necessary for the use of ROMEO, RODOLFO, NENITA
and AURORA ESPINOLA and for all their needs in entering their property.

xxx

WHEREFORE, in view of the fact that the property of the ESPINOLA had been bought by them from MAXIMO CAPUNO, father of
MAXIMO GABRIEL, spouses MAXIMO GABRIEL and JUSTINA CAPUNO hereby agree and permit RODOLFO, ROMEO, NENITA and
AURORA ESPINOLA and their families to have a permanent easement of right of way over the aforementioned property of said
spouses limited to not more than two meters wide, throughout the whole length of the southeast side of said property and as
specifically indicated in the attached plan which is made an integral part of this Contract as Annex A;

This Agreement shall be binding between the parties and upon their heirs, successors, assigns, without prejudice in cases of sale of
subject property that will warrant the circumstances.[3]

Unknown to petitioner, even before he bought the land, the Gabriels had constructed the aforementioned small house that encroached
upon the two-meter easement. Petitioner was also unaware that private respondents, Julio Sebastian and Shirley Lorilla, had filed on
May 8, 1991, Civil Case No. Q-91-8703, for easement, damages and with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction and/or restraining
order against the spouses Gabriel.[4] As successors-in-interest, Sebastian and Lorilla wanted to enforce the contract of easement.

On May 15, 1991, the trial court issued a temporary restraining order. On August 13, 1991, it issued a writ of preliminary mandatory
injunction ordering the Gabriels to provide the right of way and to demolish the small house encroaching on the easement. On August
15, 1991, the Gabriels filed a motion for reconsideration which was also denied. Thus, they filed a petition for certiorari before the Court
of Appeals.

On March 26, 1992, the Eighth Division of the Court of Appeals dismissed the petition and upheld the RTCs issuances. The decision
became final and executory on July 31, 1992.[5]

On January 5, 1995, Judge Tirso Velasco of the RTC in Quezon City, Branch 88, issued an Alias Writ of Demolition. On June 20, 1995,
the sheriff tried to demolish the small house pursuant to the writ. Petitioner filed a Third Party Claim with Prayer to Quash Alias Writ of
Demolition. He maintains that the writ of demolition could not apply to his property since he was not a party to the civil case. His Third
Party Claim with prayer to quash the writ of demolition was denied for lack of merit on August 16, 1995.[6] The motion for
reconsideration as well as the Supplemental Motion for Reconsideration dated September 12, 1995 were denied on October 19, 1995.
[7]

Petitioner, thereafter, filed a petition for certiorari before the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 39166, asserting that the
existence of the easement of right of way was not annotated in his title and that he was not a party to Civil Case No. Q-91-8703, hence
the contract of easement executed by the Gabriels in favor of the Espinolas could not be enforced against him. The Court of Appeals
dismissed the petition for lack of merit and denied the reconsideration, disposing thus:

WHEREFORE, the instant petition is hereby dismissed by this court for lack of merit.

No costs considering the failure of private respondents to file their comment, despite notice.[8]

Hence, this instant petition.

Petitioner now avers that the appellate court erred in declaring,

(1) THAT FOLLOWING THE ESSENCE OF INHERENCE AND INTRANSMISSIBILITY OF AN EASEMENT, A RIGHT OF WAY CAN
EXIST EVEN IF THEY ARE NOT EXPRESSLY STATED OR ANNOTATED ON THE TORRENS TITLE;

(2) THAT PETITIONER, AS PROSPECTIVE BUYER, SHOULD HAVE EXERCISED ORDINARY PRUDENCE BY TAKING THE
INITIATIVE TO DETERMINE THAT AN EASEMENT HAS BEEN CONSTITUTED ON THE PROPERTY HE INTENDS TO BUY; AND,

(3) THAT IN AS MUCH AS THE HEREIN PETITIONER IS NOT A PARTY TO CIVIL CASE NO. Q-91-8703, HE CANNOT BE BOUND
BY ANY JUDGMENT OR ORDER RENDERED THEREIN.[9]

Primarily, the issue is whether the easement on the property binds petitioner.
Petitioner argues it could not be enforced against him. First, he says that a right of way cannot exist when it is not expressly stated or
annotated on the Torrens title. According to him, even if an easement is inherent and inseparable from the estate to which it actively
belongs as provided in Art. 617 of the Civil Code,[10] the same is extinguished when the servient estate is registered and the easement
was not annotated in said title conformably with Section 39 of the Land Registration Law. Second, petitioner points out that the trial
court erred when it faulted him for relying solely on the clean title of the property he bought, as it is well-settled that a person dealing
with registered land is not required to go beyond what is recorded in the title. He adds that it is private respondents who should have
made sure their right of way was safeguarded by having the same annotated on the title with the Register of Deeds. He adds that
Section 76 of P.D. No. 1529[11] also requires that when a case is commenced involving any right to registered land under the Land
Registration Law (now the Property Registration Decree), any decision on it will only be effectual between or among the parties thereto,
unless a notice of lis pendens of such action is filed and registered in the registry office where the land is recorded. There was no such
annotation in the title of the disputed land, according to petitioner. Lastly, since he was not a party to Civil Case No. Q-91-8703,
petitioner argues that he cannot be bound by the writ of demolition and be forcibly divested of a portion of his land without having his
day in court.

Private respondents Sebastian and Lorilla, for their part, adopted the disquisition of the appellate court as their Comment and asked for
the dismissal of the petition and P100,000.00 in damages. In its decision the appellate court, citing the decision of the lower court,
stressed that unlike other types of encumbrance of real property, a servitude like a right of way can exist even if they are not expressly
stated or annotated as an encumbrance in a Torrens title because servitudes are inseparable from the estates to which they actively or
passively belong. Moreover, Villanueva was bound by the contract of easement, not only as a voluntary easement but as a legal
easement. A legal easement is mandated by law, and continues to exists unless its removal is provided for in a title of conveyance or
the sign of the easement is removed before the execution of the conveyance conformably with Article 649[12]in accordance with Article
617[13] of the Civil Code.

At the outset, we note that the subject easement (right of way) originally was voluntarily constituted by agreement between the Gabriels
and the Espinolas. But as correctly observed by the Court of Appeals, the easement in the instant petition is both (1) an easement by
grant or a voluntary easement, and (2) an easement by necessity or a legal easement. A legal easement is one mandated by law,
constituted for public use or for private interest, and becomes a continuing property right.[14] As a compulsory easement, it is
inseparable from the estate to which it belongs, as provided for in said Article 617 of the Civil Code. The essential requisites for an
easement to be compulsory are: (1) the dominant estate is surrounded by other immovables and has no adequate outlet to a public
highway; (2) proper indemnity has been paid; (3) the isolation was not due to acts of the proprietor of the dominant estate; (4) the right
of way claimed is at a point least prejudicial to the servient estate; and (5) to the extent consistent with the foregoing rule, where the
distance from the dominant estate to a public highway may be the shortest.[15] The trial court and the Court of Appeals have declared
the existence of said easement (right of way). This finding of fact of both courts below is conclusive on this Court,[16] hence we see no
need to further review, but only to re-affirm, this finding. The small house occupying one meter of the two-meter wide easement
obstructs the entry of private respondents cement mixer and motor vehicle. One meter is insufficient for the needs of private
respondents. It is well-settled that the needs of the dominant estate determine the width of the easement.[17] Conformably then,
petitioner ought to demolish whatever edifice obstructs the easement in view of the needs of private respondents estate.

Petitioners second proposition, that he is not bound by the contract of easement because the same was not annotated in the title and
that a notice of lis pendens of the complaint to enforce the easement was not recorded with the Register of Deeds, is obviously
unmeritorious. As already explained, it is in the nature of legal easement that the servient estate (of petitioner) is legally bound to
provide the dominant estate (of private respondents in this case) ingress from and egress to the public highway.

Petitioners last argument that he was not a party to Civil Case No. Q-91-8703 and that he had not been given his day in court, is also
without merit. Rule 39, Sec. 47, of the Revised Rules of Court:

SEC. 47. Effect of judgments or final orders. The effect of a judgment or final order rendered by a court of the Philippines, having
jurisdiction to pronounce the judgment or final order, may be as follows:

(a) In case of a judgment or final order against a specific thing, or in respect to the probate of a will, or the administration of the estate
of a deceased person, or in respect to the personal, political, or legal condition or status of a particular person or his relationship to
another, the judgment or final order is conclusive upon the title to the thing, the will or administration, or the condition, status or
relationship of the person; however, the probate of a will or granting of letters of administration shall only be prima facie evidence of the
death of the testator or intestate;

(b) In other cases, the judgment or final order is, with respect to the matter directly adjudged or as to any other matter that could have
been raised in relation thereto, conclusive between the parties and their successors in interest by title subsequent to the
commencement of the action or special proceeding, litigating for the same thing and under the same title and in the same capacity; and

(c) In any other litigation between the same parties or their successors in interest, that only is deemed to have been adjudged in a
former judgment or final order which appears upon its face to have been so adjudged, or which was actually and necessarily included
therein or necessary thereto. (Emphasis ours).

Simply stated, a decision in a case is conclusive and binding upon the parties to said case and those who are their successor in
interest by title after said case has been commenced or filed in court.[18] In this case, private respondents, Julio Sebastian and Shirley
Lorilla, initiated Civil Case No. Q-91-8703 on May 8, 1991,[19] against the original owners, the spouses Maximo and Justina Gabriel.
Title in the name of petitioner was entered in the Register of Deeds[20] on March 24, 1995, after he bought the property from the bank
which had acquired it from the Gabriels. Hence, the decision in Civil Case No. Q-91-8703 binds petitioner. For, although not a party to
the suit, he is a successor-in-interest by title subsequent to the commencement of the action in court.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED. The assailed decision and resolution of the Court of Appeals are AFFIRMED. Costs
against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.

7. BAPCI vs, OBIAS, GR No. 172077, Oct 9, 2009


THIRD DIVISION

BICOL AGRO-INDUSTRIAL PRODUCERS COOPERATIVE, INC. (BAPCI),

Petitioner,

- versus

EDMUNDO O. OBIAS, PERFECTO O. OBIAS, VICTOR BAGASINA, ELENA BENOSA, MELCHOR BRANDES, ROGELIO
MONTERO, PEDRO MONTERO, CLAUDIO RESARI, PILAR GALON, ANTONIO BUISON, PRUDENCIO BENOSA, JR., MARIA
VILLAMER and ROBERTO PADUA,

Respondent.

G.R. No. 172077

Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,

CARPIO MORALES,*

VELASCO, JR.,

NACHURA, and

PERALTA, JJ.

Promulgated:

October 9, 2009
x----------------------------------------------------x
DECISION

PERALTA, J.:

Before this Court is a Petition for Review on certiorari[1] under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, seeking to set aside the August 24, 2005
Decision[2] and March 28, 2006 Resolution[3] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 59016.

The facts of the case:

Sometime in 1972, the Bicol Sugar Development Corporation (BISUDECO) was established at Himaao, Pili, Camarines Sur. In the
same year, BISUDECO constructed a road (the disputed road) measuring approximately 7 meters wide and 2.9 kilometers long. The
disputed road was used by BISUDECO in hauling and transporting sugarcane to and from its mill site (Pensumil) and has thus become
indispensable to its sugar milling operations.[4]

On October 30, 1992, petitioner Bicol Agro-Industrial Producers Cooperative, Inc. acquired the assets of BISUDECO. On April 19,
1993, petitioner filed a Complaint[5] against respondents Edmundo Obias, Perfecto Obias, Victor Bagasina, Elena Benosa, Melchor
Brandes, Rogelio Montero, Pedro Montero, Claudio Resari, Pilar Galon, Antonio Buison, Prudencio Benosa, Jr., Victor Bagasina Jr.,
Maria Villamer, and Roberto Padua, alleging that on March 27, 1993 and April 3, 1993, respondents unjustifiably barricaded the
disputed road by placing bamboos, woods, placards and stones across it, preventing petitioners and the other sugar planters vehicles
from passing through the disputed road, thereby causing serious damage and prejudice to petitioner.[6]

Petitioner alleged that BISUDECO constructed the disputed road pursuant to an agreement with the owners of the ricefields the road
traversed. The agreement provides that BISUDECO shall employ the children and relatives of the landowners in exchange for the
construction of the road on their properties. Petitioner contends that through prolonged and continuous use of the disputed road,
BISUDECO acquired a right of way over the properties of the landowners, which right of way in turn was acquired by it when it bought
BISUDECOs assets. Petitioner prayed that respondents be permanently ordered to restrain from barricading the disputed road and
from obstructing its free passage.[7]

In an Order[8] dated April 19, 1993, the Regional Trial Court of Pili (RTC), Camarines Sur, 5th Judicial Region, Branch 31, ordered
respondents, their agents and representatives to cease and desist from placing barricades on the disputed road.[9]

In their Answer,[10] respondents denied having entered into an agreement with BISUDECO regarding the construction and the use of
the disputed road. They alleged that BISUDECO, surreptitiously and without their knowledge and consent, constructed the disputed
road on their properties and has since then intermittently and discontinuously used the disputed road for hauling sugarcane despite
their repeated protests. Respondents claimed they tolerated BISUDECO in the construction and the use of the road since BISUDECO
was a government-owned and controlled corporation, and the entire country was then under Martial Law. Respondents likewise denied
that the road has become a public road, since no public funds were used for its construction and maintenance. Moreover, respondents
alleged that with the exception of Edmundo and Perfecto Obias, they are actual tillers of the ricelands, having acquired their rights over
said lands under Presidential Decree No. 27 (PD 27). Edmundo and Perfecto Obias are the owners of the eastern portion of the
property on which a portion of the road going to BISUDECO was constructed. Respondents denied that they barricaded the road.[11]

Jaime Manubay and Manolito Maralit, for themselves and in representation of other sugarcane planters, filed the first complaint-in-
intervention.[12]

Petitioner filed an Amended Complaint[13] and with leave of court a Re-Amended Complaint,[14] where it averred, as an alternative
cause of action in the event the lower court does not find merit in its causes of action, that it will avail of the benefits provided for under
Article 649[15] of the New Civil Code. Petitioner thus demanded from respondents a right of way over the disputed road for its use.[16]
Respondents filed an Answer[17] to refute petitioners alternative cause of action. Respondents claimed that the road from the sugarmill
to the Maharlika Highway at Barangay Romero, Bula, Camarines Sur, which exits at the Rural Bank of Bula site, had a distance of only
about 15 kilometers; hence, respondents asserted that said road was shorter and was a more appropriate right of way than the
disputed road.[18]

On July 21, 1993, the RTC issued a Writ of Preliminary Injunction[19] ordering the respondents to desist from constructing barricades
across the road.

On June 28, 1994, nine other cooperatives[20] filed their Complaint-in-Intervention.[21]

On June 25, 1997 the RTC rendered a Decision,[22] the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, a decision is hereby rendered declaring the Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued against all the
herein defendants, their agents, representatives and such other persons acting in their behalf, permanent and perpetual BUT the
plaintiff Bicol Agro-Industrial Cooperative, Inc., (BAPCI) is hereby ordered to pay the owners of the lots affected by the road, viz: Pedro
Montero P299,040.00; Pedro Galon P52,920.00; Clara Padua P46,410.00; Antonio Buizon P35,070.00; Rogelio Montero P41,160.00;
Maria Villamer P41,580.00; Melchor Brandes P76,440.00; Prudencio Benosa P41, 650.00; Elena Benosa P39,550.00; Victor Bagasina,
Jr. P39,410.00; and Claudio Resari P40,950.00. Upon full payment thereof, the plaintiff shall be declared the absolute owner of the
road in question. Legal rate if interest is hereby imposed upon the plaintiff from the finality of this decision until fully payment hereof. No
costs.

SO ORDERED.[23]

The RTC ruled that petitioner failed to present any concrete evidence to prove that there was an agreement between BISUDECO and
respondents for the construction of the disputed road.[24] Moreover, it held that petitioner did not acquire the same by prescription.[25]
The RTC, however, also held that petitioner was entitled to a compulsory easement of right of way as provided for under Article 649 of
the New Civil Code upon payment of proper indemnity to respondents.[26]

Both parties filed a motion for reconsideration of the RTC Decision. Petitioner contended that: (1) the value of the land is excessive; (2)
the evidence is insufficient to justify the award; (3) the decision is contrary to law and jurisprudence. Respondents, on the other hand,
alleged that: (1) the trial court erred in declaring the persons mentioned in the decisions dispositive portion to be entitled to indemnity
for the construction and the use of the disputed road; (2) BAPCI should not be declared the absolute owner of the disputed road upon
full payment of the indemnity due to the defendants; and (3) the decision failed to award damages.[27]

On September 24, 1997, the RTC denied both motions for reconsideration.[28] The parties then appealed to the CA.

On August 24, 2005, the CA rendered a Decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the appeal is PARTLY GRANTED. The assailed decision of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 31,
Pili, Camarines Sur, in Civil Case No. P-1899 is hereby MODIFIED as follows: the awards of Php46,410.00 to Clara Padua and
Php41,650.00 to Prudencio Benosa are hereby DELETED, and the declaration that the plaintiff BAPCI shall become the absolute
owner of the disputed road upon full payment of indemnity is REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Accordingly, the owners of the servient
estate in the easement of right of way recognized in this Decision shall retain ownership of the lands affected by the easement in
accordance with Art. 630 of the Civil Code. We hereby AFFIRM the appeal in all other respects.

SO ORDERED.[29]

The CA affirmed the finding of the RTC that there was no conclusive proof to sufficiently establish the existence of an agreement
between BISUDECO and respondents regarding the construction of the disputed road.[30] Moreover, the CA also declared that an
easement of right of way is discontinuous and as such cannot be acquired by prescription.[31] The CA likewise affirmed the finding of
the RTC that petitioner was entitled to a compulsory easement of right of way upon payment of proper indemnity to respondents. The
CA, however, declared that ownership over the disputed road should remain with respondents, despite the grant of a compulsory
easement.[32] Lastly, the CA deleted the awards to Prudencio Benosa (Benosa) and Clara Padua (Padua), since the former never
claimed ownership of any portion of the lands affected by the disputed road and the latter was not a party to the proceedings below.[33]

Petitioner then filed a Motion for Reconsideration alleging among others that the CA Decision failed to rule on the issue of estoppel and
laches. Moreover, Benosa and Padua filed a Motion for Reconsideration assailing the portion of the CA Decision deleting the award of
indemnity to them. On March 28, 2006, the CA issued a Resolution denying the same.

Hence, herein petition, with petitioner raising the following assignment of errors, to wit:

I.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED SERIOUSLY IN NOT FINDING THAT THERE WAS FORGED AN AGREEMENT
BETWEEN BISUDECO MANAGEMENT AND THE PRIVATE RESPONDENTS FOR THE CONTRUCTION OF THE ROAD IN
QUESTION.

II.

THE HONORABLE PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT CONSIDERING THE PRINCIPLES OF
PRESCRIPTION, LACHES AND ESTOPPEL IN THE CASE AT BAR.

III.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN COMPLETELY DISREGARDING THE CLASSIFICATION OF THE ROAD IN
QUESTION AS BARANGAY ROAD.

IV.

IN THE ALTERNATIVE CAUSE OF ACTION, THE PUBLIC RESPONDENT SERIOUSLY ERRED IN CONSIDERING THE VALUATION
OF THE LANDS AFFECTED BY THE ROAD IN 1994, AND NOT IN 1974, WHEN SAID ROAD WAS CONSTRUCTED.
V.

THE HONORABLE PUBLIC RESPONDENT ERRED SERIOUSLY WHEN IT FAILED ALSO TO CONSIDER THE LEGAL PRINCIPLE
OF UNJUST ENRIGHTMENT AT THE EXPENSE OF ANOTHER.[34]

At the outset, this Court shall address some procedural matters. Quite noticeably, herein petition is denominated as one filed under
Rule 65[35] of the Rules of Court notwithstanding that it seeks to assail the Decision and Resolution of the CA. Clearly, petitioner had
availed of the improper remedy as the appeal from a final disposition of the CA is a petition for review under Rule 45 and not a special
civil action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.[36]

In Active Realty and Development Corporation v. Fernandez,[37] this Court discussed the difference between petitions filed under Rule
65 and Rule 45, viz:

A petition for certiorari under Rule 65 is proper to correct errors of jurisdiction committed by the lower court, or grave abuse of
discretion which is tantamount to lack of jurisdiction. This remedy can be availed of when there is no appeal, or any plain, speedy, and
adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law.

Appeal by certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court, on the other hand, is a mode of appeal available to a party desiring to raise
only questions of law from a judgment or final order or resolution of the Court of Appeals, the Sandiganbayan, the Regional Trial Court
or other courts whenever authorized by law.

x x x The general rule is that the remedy to obtain reversal or modification of judgment on the merits is appeal. Thus, the proper
remedy for the petitioner should have been a petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court since the decision
sought to be reversed is that of the CA. The existence and availability of the right of appeal proscribes a resort to certiorari, because
one of the requisites for availment of the latter is precisely that there should be no appeal. The remedy of appeal under Rule 45 of the
Rules of Court was still available to the petitioner.[38]

Rule 45 is clear that decisions, final orders or resolutions of the Court of Appeals in any case, i.e., regardless of the nature of the action
or proceeding involved, may be appealed to this Court by filing a petition for review, which would be but a continuation of the appellate
process over the original case.[39] Moreover, it is basic that one cannot avail of the remedy provided for under Rule 65 when an appeal
is still available. Hence, petitioner should have filed its petition under Rule 45.

The procedural infirmity notwithstanding and in the interest of substantial justice, this Court shall consider herein petition as one filed
under Rule 45 especially since it was filed well within the reglementary period proscribed under the said Rule. The Court also takes
notice that the assignment of errors raised by petitioner does not allege grave abuse of discretion or lack of jurisdiction on the part of
the CA.

On the Existence of an Agreement between BISUDECO and Respondents

Anent the first error raised, petitioner argues that the CA erred in not finding that BISUDECO and respondents forged an agreement for
the construction of the road in dispute. Petitioner thus asserts its entitlement to an easement of right of way over the properties of
respondents by virtue of said agreement.

An easement of right of way was succinctly explained by the CA in the following manner, to wit:
Easement or servitude is an encumbrance imposed upon an immovable for the benefit of another immovable belonging to a different
owner. By its creation, easement is established either by law (in which case it is a legal easement) or by will of the parties (a voluntary
easement). In terms of use, easement may either be continuous or discontinuous. The easement of right of way the privilege of
persons or a particular class of persons to pass over anothers land, usually through one particular path or linen is characterized as a
discontinuous easement because its use is in intervals and depends on the act of man. Because of this character, an easement of a
right of way may only be acquired by virtue of a title.[40]

Article 622 of the New Civil Code is the applicable law in the case at bar, viz:

Art. 622. Continuous non-apparent easements, and discontinuous ones, whether apparent or not, may be acquired only by virtue of a
title.

Based on the foregoing, in order for petitioner to acquire the disputed road as an easement of right-of-way, it was incumbent upon
petitioner to show its right by title or by an agreement with the owners of the lands that said road traversed.

While conceding that they have no direct evidence of the alleged agreement, petitioner posits that they presented circumstantial
evidence which, if taken collectively, would prove its existence.[41] Specifically, petitioner cites the following circumstances, to wit:

a. The agreement was of public knowledge.[42] Allegedly BISUDECO and respondents entered into an agreement for the
construction of the road provided that the latter, their children or relatives were employed with BISUDECO.

b. The road was continuously used by BISUDECO and the public in general.[43]

c. There was no protest or complaint from respondents for almost a period of two decades.[44]

d. The portions of the land formerly belonging to respondents affected by the road were already segregated and surveyed from the
main lots.[45]

e. The road in dispute is already a barangay road.

The well-entrenched rule in our jurisdiction is that only questions of law may be entertained by this Court in a petition for review on
certiorari. This rule, however, is not iron-clad and admits certain exceptions, such as when (1) the conclusion is grounded on
speculations, surmises or conjectures; (2) the inference is manifestly mistaken, absurd or impossible; (3) there is grave abuse of
discretion; (4) the judgment is based on a misapprehension of facts; (5) the findings of fact are conflicting; (6) there is no citation of
specific evidence on which the factual findings are based; (7) the findings of absence of facts are contradicted by the presence of
evidence on record; (8) the findings of the Court of Appeals are contrary to those of the trial court; (9) the Court of Appeals manifestly
overlooked certain relevant and undisputed facts that, if properly considered, would justify a different conclusion; (10) the findings of
the Court of Appeals are beyond the issues of the case; and (11) such findings are contrary to the admissions of both parties.[46]

After a painstaking review of the records, this Court finds no justification to warrant the application of any exception to the general rule.

Crucial to the petitioners cause was its burden of proving the existence of the alleged agreement between BISUDECO and
respondents for the construction of the road. In this regard, the RTC found that petitioner failed to prove its existence, to wit:

It is clear that the plaintiff failed to present any concrete evidence to prove that there was such an agreement between BISUDECO and
defendants. Hereunder quoted are the testimonies of plaintiffs witnesses regarding the alleged agreement.
Romeo Deveterbo, Transportation Superintendent of BISUDECO testified

Cross Examination by Atty. Pejo

Q: You also mentioned that there was an agreement between Senator Cea, Mr. Obias and some of the tenants?

A: Yes.

Q: You mentioned that this was not in writing, am I right?

A: Yes.

Q: How did you know about it that it was not in writing, who told you, Senator Cea?

A: It was commonly known to all original employees of the BISUDECO.

Q: You know it from the management?

A: From co-employees.

Q: You learned about that agreement from you co-employees?

A: Yes.

Q: In other words, therefore, that is why you said you are confused between Edmundo Cea and Perfecto Obias because you just
learned it from other employees and you were never present when they talked about it, am I right?

A: Yes. x x x

To this effect also is the testimony of Angel Lobo, head of the agricultural Department of BAPCI, to wit:

A: Yes, your Honor?

COURT: From where did you learn?

A: From people whom I talked with at that time and it is a public common knowledge at that time.

xxx

Atty. Carandang: I repeat my question, Your Honor.

You said you acquired it from or because of common knowledge and you mentioned some people. Who are those people you are
referring to whom you acquired that knowledge?

A: Most of all, the late Benjamin Bagasina, Barangay Captain at that time who was our employee in consideration of this agreement,
then we have also a Civil Engineering Head, Civil Engineering Department who is responsible for the maintenance of this road. I
learned from him that this arrangement established the fact why this road was constructed.
Q: Who is the head of the Engineering Dept?

xxx

COURT: May answer.

A: Engineer Pablo Tordilla who was then the head of our Civil Engineering Dept.

But this Engineer Pablo Tordilla, Lobos alleged source of the information, was never presented in Court. And, according to the Chief
Accountant of BAPCI, David Severo:

A: When I was interviewing Mrs. Alma Montero Penaflor she filed to me a certain arrangement related to the used of the land to
Himaao as road going to the central.

COURT: You mean Himaao Millsite road?

A: Yes, sir.

Atty. Carandang:

Q: What arrangement is that supposedly filed to you?

A: She told me in exchange for the use of the road, the relatives or owners or tenants of the land will be hired by the sugar Central?

COURT:

Q: So, only the tenants not the owners?

A: The tenants children the road belongs.

xxx

Finally, intervenor Antonio Austria, in trying to show you that there was consent and approval on the part of the defendant Edmundo
Obias to give the right of way to BISUDECO at the time to be used in hauling the sugarcane of the planters to the Central, averred the
following uncertain statements:

A: Well, he has (sic) having a case against PENSUNIL, regarding the property I think the right of way going to PENSUMIL right now we
discuss it and he said he is allowing it anymore but then I reminded him wayback in 1974 to 1980 he was one of the biggest planters in
the part of Partido so he consented to the late I think Edmundo Cea, the owner of BISUDECO at that time to pass his property since he
is also milling a lot of things at that time and many other things one of the concession mill was I think some of the tenants there in
Himaao will be employed in the mill.

xxx

These aforequoted testimonies of the plaintiffs witnesses failed to satisfactorily establish the plaintiffs contention that there was such an
agreement. Likewise, the list of the Employees of Defendants relatives, son/daughter employed by the BISUDECO (Exhibit H) does not
in any manner prove the alleged agreement.[47]
For its part, the CA also ruled that petitioner failed to prove the existence of the said agreement, to wit:

Like the lower court, we found no conclusive proof to sufficiently establish the existence of an agreement between BISUDECO and the
defendants-appellants regarding the construction and the use of the disputed road. The lower court correctly disbelieved the plaintiffs-
appellants contention that an agreement existed because there is simply no direct evidence to support this allegation. BAPCI submitted
purely circumstantial evidence that are not sufficiently adequate as basis for the inference than an agreement existed. By themselves,
the circumstances the plaintiffs-appellants cited i.e., the employment of sixteen (16) relatives of the defendants-appellants; the
defendants-appellants unjustified silence; the fact that the existence of the agreement is known to everyone, etc. are events
susceptible of diverse interpretations and do not necessarily lead to BAPCIs desired conclusion. Additionally, the testimonies that the
plaintiffs-appellants presented are mainly hearsay, as not one among the witnesses had personal knowledge of the agreement by
reason of direct participation in the agreement or because the witness was present when the agreement was concluded by the parties.
Thus, given the defendants-appellants categorical denial that an agreement existed, we sustain the lowers conclusion that no
agreement existed between BISUDECO and the defendants-appellants.[48]

Based on the foregoing, the inability of petitioner to prove the existence of an agreement militates its allegations in herein petition. On
this score, both the RTC and the CA are one in ruling that petitioner had failed to prove the existence of the agreement between
BISUDECO and the respondents for the construction of the road. Also, well-established is the rule that "factual findings of the Court of
Appeals are conclusive on the parties and carry even more weight when the said court affirms the factual findings of the trial court."[49]
Hence, this Court finds no reason to reverse such findings.

On Acquisition by Prescription

Petitioner would have this Court re-examine Costabella Corporation v. Court of Appeals[50] (Costabella) where the Court held that, It is
already well-established that a right of way is discontinuous and, as such, cannot be acquired by prescription.[51] Petitioner contends
that some recognized authorities[52] share its view that an easement of right of way may be acquired by prescription.

Be that as it may, this Court finds no reason to re-examine Costabella. This Court is guided by Bogo-Medellin Milling Co., Inc. v. Court
of Appeals[53] (Bogo-Medellin), involving the construction of a railroad track to a sugar mill. In Bogo-Medellin, this Court discussed the
discontinuous nature of an easement of right of way and the rule that the same cannot be acquired by prescription, to wit:

Continuous and apparent easements are acquired either by virtue of a title or by prescription of ten years.

The trial court and the Court of Appeals both upheld this view for the reason that the railroad right of way was, according to them,
continuous and apparent in nature. The more or less permanent railroad tracks were visually apparent and they continuously occupied
the subject strip of land from 1959 (the year the easement granted by Feliciana Santillan to petitioner expired). Thus, with the lapse of
the 10-year prescriptive period in 1969, petitioner supposedly acquired the easement of right of way over the subject land.

Following the logic of the courts a quo, if a road for the use of vehicles or the passage of persons is permanently cemented or
asphalted, then the right of way over it becomes continuous in nature. The reasoning is erroneous.

Under civil law and its jurisprudence, easements are either continuous or discontinuous according to the manner they are exercised,
not according to the presence of apparent signs or physical indications of the existence of such easements. Thus, easement is
continuous if its use is, or may be, incessant without the intervention of any act of man, like the easement of drainage; and it is
discontinuous if it is used at intervals and depends on the act of man, like the easement of right of way.
The easement of right of way is considered discontinuous because it is exercised only if a person passes or sets foot on somebody
elses land. Like a road for the passage of vehicles or persons, an easement of right of way of railroad tracks is discontinuous because
the right is exercised only if and when a train operated by a person passes over another's property. In other words, the very exercise of
the servitude depends upon the act or intervention of man which is the very essence of discontinuous easements.

The presence of more or less permanent railroad tracks does not, in any way, convert the nature of an easement of right of way to one
that is continuous. It is not the presence of apparent signs or physical indications showing the existence of an easement, but rather the
manner of exercise thereof, that categorizes such easement into continuous or discontinuous. The presence of physical or visual signs
only classifies an easement into apparent or non-apparent. Thus, a road (which reveals a right of way) and a window (which evidences
a right to light and view) are apparent easements, while an easement of not building beyond a certain height is non-apparent.

In Cuba, it has been held that the existence of a permanent railway does not make the right of way a continuous one; it is only
apparent. Therefore, it cannot be acquired by prescription. In Louisiana, it has also been held that a right of passage over another's
land cannot be claimed by prescription because this easement is discontinuous and can be established only by title.

In this case, the presence of railroad tracks for the passage of petitioners trains denotes the existence of an apparent but
discontinuous easement of right of way. And under Article 622 of the Civil Code, discontinuous easements, whether apparent or not,
may be acquired only by title. Unfortunately, petitioner Bomedco never acquired any title over the use of the railroad right of way
whether by law, donation, testamentary succession or contract. Its use of the right of way, however long, never resulted in its
acquisition of the easement because, under Article 622, the discontinuous easement of a railroad right of way can only be acquired by
title and not by prescription.[54]

Applying Bogo-Medellin to the case at bar, the conclusion is inevitable that the road in dispute is a discontinuous easement
notwithstanding that the same may be apparent. To reiterate, easements are either continuous or discontinuous according to the
manner they are exercised, not according to the presence of apparent signs or physical indications of the existence of such
easements. Hence, even if the road in dispute has been improved and maintained over a number of years, it will not change its
discontinuous nature but simply make the same apparent. To stress, Article 622 of the New Civil Code states that discontinuous
easements, whether apparent or not, may be acquired only by virtue of a title.

On Laches and Estoppel

Petitioner argues that estoppel and laches bar respondents from exercising ownership rights over the properties traversed by the road
in dispute. In support of said argument, petitioner posits that BISUDECO had been peacefully and continuously using the road without
any complaint or opposition on the part of the respondents for almost twenty years. Respondents, on the other hand, claim that they
merely tolerated the use of their land as BISUDECO was a government-owned and controlled corporation and considering that the
disputed road was constructed during the time of Martial Law.

There is no absolute rule on what constitutes laches. It is a rule of equity and applied not to penalize neglect or sleeping on ones rights,
but rather to avoid recognizing a right when to do so would result in a clearly unfair situation. The question of laches is addressed to
the sound discretion of the court and each case must be decided according to its particular circumstances.[55] It is the better rule that
courts, under the principle of equity, should not be guided or bound strictly by the statute of limitations or the doctrine of laches if wrong
or injustice will result.[56]

In herein petition, the CA denied petitioners argument in the wise:

As previously explained in our Decision, the applicable law is Article 622 of the Civil Code of the Philippines, which provides:

Art. 622. Continuous non-apparent easements, and discontinuous ones, whether apparent or not, may be acquired only by virtue of a
title.
The eminent jurist, former Senator Arturo M. Tolentino, opines that this provision seeks to prevent the imposition of a burden on a
tenement based purely on the generosity, tolerance and spirit of neighborliness of the owners thereof.

We applied the cited provision to the case in ruling that no easement of right of way was acquired; based on the evidence presented,
the plaintiff-appellant failed to satisfactorily prove the existence of an agreement evidencing any right or title to use the disputed road.
We additionally rejected the plaintiff-appellants position that it had acquired the easement of right of way through acquisitive
prescription, as settled jurisprudence states that an easement of right of way cannot be acquired by prescription.

We hold the same view on the issue of acquisition of an easement of right of way by laches. To our mind, settled jurisprudence on the
application of the principle of estoppel by laches militates against the acquisition of an easement of right of way by laches.

Laches is a doctrine in equity and our courts are basically courts of law and not courts of equity; equity, which has been aptly described
as justice outside legality, should be applied only in the absence of, and never against, statutory law; Aeguetas nunguam contravenit
legis. Based on this principle, we find that the positive mandate of Article 622 of the Civil Code the statutory provision requiring title as
basis for the acquisition of an easement of a right of way precludes the application of the equitable principle of laches.[57]

This Court agrees with the CA. The fact that the law is categorical that discontinuous easements cannot be acquired by prescription
militates against petitioners claim of laches. To stress, discontinuous easements can only be acquired by title. More importantly,
whether or not the elements of laches are present is a question involving a factual determination by the trial court.[58] Hence, the same
being a question of fact, it cannot be the proper subject of herein petition. On the other hand, as to the issue of estoppel, this Court
likewise agrees with the finding of the CA that petitioner did not present any evidence that would show an admission, representation or
conduct by respondents that will give rise to estoppel.[59]

Classification of the Road in Dispute as a Barangay Road

Petitioner argues that the CA erred when it disregarded the classification of the road in question as a barangay road. In support of said
argument, petitioner presented Exhibit Q, a Tax Declaration or Field Appraisal and Assessment Sheet[60] (1991 FAAS) with Survey
Number 1688-40 and PIN No. 026-01-009-08-037, dated April 30, 1991, which they claim proves that the road in dispute is already a
barangay road.

The same is again a question of fact which cannot be the proper subject of herein petition. Petitioner cannot have this Court re-
examine the evidentiary value of the documents it presented before the RTC as the same is not a function of this Court. In any case,
after a closer scrutiny of the 1991 FAAS, this Court holds that the same is insufficient to prove petitioners claim.

Respondents, in their Comment,[61] argue against the classification of the road in dispute as a barangay road in the wise:

Petitioner also stated that the Honorable Court of Appeals fails to consider the fact that the owner of the road in question is the
Municipality of Pili in the Province of Camarines Sur and as proof of such claim they presented and marked as Exhibit Q, tax
declaration no. 009-756 or Annex D of their Petition. However, private respondents wish to call the attention of this Honorable Court to
the following:

a. Tax Declaration No. 009-828 attached as Annex C-6 of the Verified Petition declared in the name of Edmundo Obias (one of the
private respondents);
b. Actual Use portion of said Annex C-6 marked as Exh. No. N-6-a-1 which states Road Lot (BISUDECO Road); and

c. The Memoranda portion in the second page of Annex C-6 which states: Revised to declare the property in The name of the
rightful owner, Edmundo Obias based from the approved subdivision plan, Bsd-05-000055 (OLT) & technical descriptions. Likewise
area was made to conform with the said subdivision plan from 4,773 sq.m. to 11,209 sq.m.

Obviously, the alleged Exhibit Q of the Petitioner is an erroneous tax declaration, thus, negates the claim of the Petitioner that the
same is owned by the Municipality of Pili and has been declared a barangay road. Private respondents cannot understand why the
herein Petitioner alleged this matter and used it as a proof to support their claim when they are already in possession of a tax
declaration correcting the same and even attached the same as part of their Petition.[62]

In its Reply,[63] petitioner counters:

II. While Petitioners claim that the road belongs to the Municipal Government of Pili, yet what they attached to the Petition as Annex C-
7 is a tax declaration of Edmundo Obias. Petitioners have the following observations:

xxxx

(b) That land of Edmundo Obias covered by Annex C-6 to the Petition is not included or involved in this case at bar. His name does not
appear to be awarded in the Decision of the Honorable Court of Appeals and also in the list of beneficiaries to receive monetary
considerations made by Mr. Angel Lobo.[64]

After a painstaking review of the records, this Court is more inclined to believe the claim of respondents. The claim of petitioner to the
effect that the land of Edmundo Obias is not included in the case at bar is misleading. It may be true that Edmundo was not awarded
indemnity by the lower courts, however, the same does not mean that his lands do not form part of the subject matter of herein petition.

It bears to stress that Edmundo claimed in the CA that he was the owner of the affected ricelands and that respondents were merely
his tenants-beneficiaries under PD 27, otherwise known as the Tenant Emancipation Decree.[65] The CA, however, dismissed said
claim because it was raised for the first time on appeal. It also held that the averments in the documents submitted by Edmundo in the
RTC described respondents as "owners" of the land they till; hence, the same constituted binding judicial admissions.[66]

Based on the foregoing, petitioner's attempt to refute the contents of the 1995 FAAS by claiming that the lands of Edmundo are not
involved in the case at bar must fail. It is clear that respondents are the tenant-beneficiaries of the lands of Edmundo under PD 27;
hence, contrary to the claim of petitioner, the lands of Edmundo are the subject matter of herein petition.

In addition, it is curious that petitioner relies on the 1991 FAAS yet finds exception to the contents of the 1995 FAAS. After a closer
scrutiny of both documents, it appears to this Court that the land described in the 1991 FAAS is also the same land described in the
1995 FAAS. Both FAAS involve land measuring 4,773 square meters. Likewise, both FAAS have the same PIN Number (026-01-009-
08-037) and Survey Number (1688-40). Accordingly, the annotation contained in the 1995 FAAS, to the effect that a BISUDECO road
does not belong to the Municipality of Pili, serves to weaken petitioners claim.

The Court also considers portions of the RTC Decision where it can be gathered that the road in dispute is not a barangay road, to wit:

At this point, it is important to note that defendants admitted the identity of the road and the area of the same as reflected in the
Commissioners Report, during the Pre-trial held last September 19, 1995.
Engr. Roberto Revilla testified that a portion of the road inside the property of Edmundo Obias, is a barangay road which are lots A-52
sq.m., B-789 sq.m. and C-655 sq.m. or a total of 1,497 sq.m. which starts from the intersection of the National Road and the road to
Pensumil up to Corner 9 of Lot 37, Bsc-05-000055 (OCT) in the name of Pedro O. Montero. Engr. Revilla concluded that the actual
area occupied by the road in question is the sum of areas of Lots D-2042 sq.m., E-2230 sq.m., F-756 sq.m., G-663 sq.m., H-501
sq.m. , I-588 sq.m., J-594 sq.m., K-l092 sq.m., L-595 sq.m., M-459 sq.m., N-106 sq.m., O-585 sq.m. and P-563 sq.m., or a total of
10,774 square meters. Said road starts from corner 9 of the lot of Pedro Montero which is equivalent to corner 25 of Lot 40 Bsd-05-
000055 (OCT) going to the Southern Direction and ending at corner 25 of Lot 1688 Cad. 291 Pili Cadastre covered by OCT No. 120-
217 (1276) in the name of spouses Edmundo Obias and Nelly Valencia and spouses Perfecto Obias and Adelaida Abenojar.[67]

The RTC findings of fact thus shows that while certain portions of the property of Edmundo is a barangay road, the same only pertains
to Lots A, B and C, or a total of 1,497 square meters, which is distinct from the road in dispute which pertains to different lots (lots E to
P) and covers a total area of 10,774 square meters.

In light of the foregoing, considering that the contents of the 1991 FAAS is disputable, it was incumbent on petitioner to present
documents which would evidence the expropriation of the road in dispute by the local government as a barangay road. Under the
prevailing circumstances, the documents of the expropriation proceedings would have been the best evidence available and the
absence thereof is certainly damaging to petitioners cause.

Amount of Indemnity Due & On Unjust Enrichment

Petitioner manifested in the RTC its desire, in the alternative, to avail of a compulsory easement of right of way as provided for under
Article 649 the New Civil Code. Said relief was granted by the RTC because of the unavailability of another adequate outlet from the
sugar mill to the highway. Despite the grant of a compulsory easement of right of way, petitioner, however, assails both the RTC and
CA Decision with regard to the amount of indemnity due respondents.

Petitioner likens the proceedings at bar to an expropriation proceeding where just compensation must be based on the value of the
land at the time of taking.[68] Petitioner thus maintains that the compensation due to respondents should have been computed in 1974
when the road was constructed.[69]

This Court does not agree. Article 649 of the New Civil Code states:

The owner, or any person who by virtue of a real right may cultivate or use any immovable, which is surrounded by other immovables
pertaining to other persons and without adequate outlet to a public highway, is entitled to demand a right of way through the
neighboring estates, after payment of the proper indemnity.

Should this easement be established in such a manner that its use may be continuous for all the needs of the dominant estate,
establishing a permanent passage, the indemnity shall consist of the value of the land occupied and the amount of the damage cause
to the servient estate.

Based on the foregoing, it is clear that the law does not provide for a specific formula for the valuation of the land. Neither does the
same state that the value of the land must be computed at the time of taking. The only primordial consideration is that the same should
consist of the value of the land and the amount of damage caused to the servient estate. Hence, the same is a question of fact which
should be left to the sound discretion of the RTC. In this regard, the RTC ruled:

The market value per hectare in 1974 or at the time of taking or prior to its conversion to road is P6,500/hectare, the same being a first
class riceland irrigated therefore the total market value is P6,864.31. The 1994 Market Value of P1,292,880.00 is the value assigned to
the property in question after it was already developed as a road lot where the unit value applied per square meter is P120.00 for 5th
class residential lot.
It has to be remembered however that the cost of transforming the land to road was entirely borne by BISUDECO including its
maintenance, repair and the cost of the improvements and by plaintiff after its acquisition. Thus, the P120.00 unit value is exorbitant
while the 1974 valuation of P6,500/hectare is low and unreasonable.

In fine, this Court will adopt the unit value of P70.00 per square meter as shown by Exhibit Q, the Real Property Field Assessment
Sheet No. 009-756.[70]

In addition, the CA ruled:

We stress that the amount of proper indemnity due to the landowners does not only relate to the market value of their property but
comprehends as well the corresponding damage caused to the servient estate. It is undisputed that the BISUDECO began the
construction and used of the disputed road in 1974. While the maintenance was borne by BISUDECO and now by BAPCI who
principally used the disputed road for their sugar milling operations, the defendants-appellants have been deprived of the use do their
ricefields because of the roads construction since 1974. Thus, it is but proper to compensate them for this deprivation, over and above
the prevailing market value of the affected property. To our mind, in light of the circumstances surrounding the acquisition of the
affected ricelands and the construction of the disputed road, particularly the absence of a definitive agreement to show that the
defendants-appellants consented to the roads construction, we find the P70.00 per square meter indemnity awarded by the lower court
in accordance with the Real Property Field Assessment Sheet No. 009-756, to be fair and reasonable under the circumstances.[71]

Withal, this Court finds no error as to the proper amount of indemnity due respondents as the findings of both the RTC and the CA
appear to be fair and reasonable under the prevailing circumstances and in accordance with the provisions of Article 649 of the New
Civil Code.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is DENIED. The August 24, 2005 Decision and October 27, 2005 Resolution of the
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 59016 are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

8. VALDEZ vs. TABISULA, GR No. 175510, 28 July, 2008

SECOND DIVISION

SPOUSES VICTOR VALDEZ AND JOCELYN VALDEZ, represented by their Attorney-In-Fact, VIRGILIO VALDEZ,

Petitioners,

- versus -

SPOUSES FRANCISCO TABISULA AND CARIDAD TABISULA,


Respondents.

G.R. No. 175510

Present:

QUISUMBING, J., Chairperson,

CARPIO MORALES,

TINGA,

VELASCO, JR., and

BRION, JJ.

Promulgated:

July 28, 2008

x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

CARPIO MORALES, J.:

Petitioner-spouses Victor and Jocelyn Valdez purchased via a January 11, 1993 Deed of Absolute Sale[1] (the deed) from respondent-
spouses Francisco Tabisula and Caridad Tabisula a 200 square meter (sq.m.) portion (the subject property) of a 380 sq. m. parcel of
land located in San Fernando, La Union, which 380 sq.m. parcel of land is more particularly described in the deed as follows:

A parcel of land classified as residential lot, bounded on the North by Lot No. 25569, on the East, by Lot No. 247, 251, on the South, by
a Creek and on the West, by Lot No. 223-A, declared under Tax Decl. No. 52820, with an area of 380 square meters, more or less, and
assessed at P 17100.00 for the current year. It is not registered under Act 496 nor under the Spanish Mortgage Law. (Emphasis and
underscoring supplied)

The pertinent portions of the deed read:

xxxx

That for and in consideration of the sum of SEVENTY THOUSAND (P70,000.00) PESOS, Philippine Currencyp [sic] paid to us at our
entire satisfaction by spouses VICTOR and JOECELYN [sic] VALDEZ, both of legal age, Filipinos and residents of 148 P. Burgos St.,
San Fernando, La Union, receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, do hereby SELL, CONVEY and TRANSFER by way of absolute
sale unto the said spouses Victor and Joecelyn Valdez, their heirs and assigns, the TWO HUNDRED (200) SQUARE METERS,
EASTERN PORTION of the parcel of land above-described, free from all liens and encumbrances.
xxxx

That now and hereinafter, said VENDEE-SPOUSES VICTOR and JOECELYN [sic] VALDEZ shall be the absolute owners of the said
200 sq. meters, eastern portion and that we shall warrant and forever defend their ownership of the same against the claims of all
persons whomsoever; they shall be provided a 2 1/2 meters [sic] wide road right-of-way on the western side of their lot but which is not
included in this sale.

x x x.x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Respondents subsequently built a concrete wall on the western side of the subject property.[2] Believing that that side is the intended
road right of way mentioned in the deed, petitioners, through their representative, reported the matter to the barangay for mediation
and conciliation. Respondents failed to attend the conferences scheduled by the barangay, however, drawing petitioners to file in April
1999 or more than six years after the execution of the deed a Complaint for Specific Performance with Damages[3] against
respondents before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of San Fernando City, La Union.

In their complaint, petitioners alleged that they purchased the subject property on the strength of respondents assurance of providing
them a road right of way. They thus prayed that respondents be ordered to provide the subject property with a 2-meter wide easement
and to remove the concrete wall blocking the same.[4]

Respondents, in their Answer with Compulsory Counterclaim (for damages and attorneys fees),[5] averred that the 2 -meter easement
should be taken from the western portion of the subject property and not from theirs;[6] and petitioners and their family are also the
owners of two properties adjoining the subject property, which adjoining properties have access to two public roads or highways the
bigger one which adjoins P. Burgos St. on the north, and the smaller one which abuts an existing barangay road on the north.[7]

Respondents further averred that they could not have agreed to providing petitioners an easement on the western side of their lot as
there exists a two-storey concrete house on their lot where the supposed easement is to be located, which was erected long before the
subject property was sold to petitioners.[8] In support of this claim, respondents submitted a February 20, 2003 letter from the City
Engineers Office.[9]

Branch 26 of the RTC of San Fernando dismissed petitioners complaint and granted respondents Counterclaim by Decision[10] of
March 18, 2005, the dispositive portion of which reads:

WHEREFORE, and in view of all the foregoing, judgment is hereby rendered finding the defendants as against the plaintiffs and hereby
orders the Complaint dismissed for being unmeritorious and plaintiffs are hereby ordered to pay the defendants, the following:

1) P100,000.00 as moral damages;

2) P50,000.00 as exemplary damages;

3) P50,000.00 as attorneys fees;


4) P30,000.00 as expenses of litigation; and

5) To pay the costs.

SO ORDERED.[11] (Underscoring supplied)

On appeal by petitioners, the Court of Appeals, by Decision of May 29, 2006,[12] affirmed that of the trial court, it holding that the deed
only conveyed ownership of the subject property to petitioners, and that the reference therein to an easement in favor of petitioners is
not a definite grant-basis of a voluntary easement of right of way.[13]

The appellate court went on to hold that petitioners are neither entitled to a legal or compulsory easement of right of way as they failed
to present circumstances justifying their entitlement to it under Article 649 of the Civil Code.[14]

Petitioners motion for reconsideration[15] having been denied by the Court of Appeals by Resolution of November 15, 2006, they filed
the present petition for review on certiorari faulting the trial [sic] court

I. . . . IN RULING THAT THE RIGHT OF WAY IS NOT PART OF THE ABSOLUTE DEED OF SALE DATED JANUARY 11, 1993;

II. . . . IN RULING THAT THE PROVISION OF THE ABSOLUTE DEED OF SALE GRANTING A RIGHT OF WAY IS VAGUE AND
OBSCURE;

III. . . . IN AWARDING MORAL AND EXEMPLARY DAMAGES TO THE RESPONDENTS.[16] (Underscoring supplied)

An easement or servitude is a real right constituted on anothers property, corporeal and immovable, by virtue of which the owner of the
same has to abstain from doing or to allow somebody else to do something on his property for the benefit of another thing or person.
[17] The statutory basis of this right is Article 613 of the Civil Code which reads:

Art. 613. An easement or servitude is an encumbrance imposed upon an immovable for the benefit of another immovable belonging to
a different owner.

The immovable in favor of which the easement is established is called the dominant estate; that which is subject thereto, the servient
estate.

There are two kinds of easements according to source by law or by the will of the owners. So Article 619 of the Civil Code provides:
Art. 619. Easements are established either by law or by the will of the owners. The former are called legal and the latter voluntary
easements.

From the allegations in petitioners complaint, it is clear that what they seek to enforce is an alleged grant in the deed by respondents of
an easement reading: they shall be provided a 2 meters wide road right-of-way on the western side of their lot but which is not included
in this sale.

Article 1358 of the Civil Code provides that any transaction involving the sale or disposition of real property must be in writing.[18] The
stipulation harped upon by petitioners that they shall be provided a 2 meters wide road right-of-way on the western side of their lot but
which is not included in this sale is not a disposition of real property. The proviso that the intended grant of right of way is not included
in this sale could only mean that the parties would have to enter into a separate and distinct agreement for the purpose.[19] The use of
the word shall, which is imperative or mandatory in its ordinary signification, should be construed as merely permissive where, as in the
case at bar, no public benefit or private right requires it to be given an imperative meaning.[20]

Besides, a document stipulating a voluntary easement must be recorded in the Registry of Property in order not to prejudice third
parties. So Articles 708 and 709 of the Civil Code call for, viz:

Art. 708. The Registry of Property has for its object the inscription or annotation of acts and contracts relating to the ownership and
other rights over immovable property.

Art. 709. The titles of ownership, or of other rights over immovable property, which are not duly inscribed or annotated in the Registry of
Property shall not prejudice third persons.

Petitioners are neither entitled to a legal or compulsory easement of right of way. For to be entitled to such kind of easement, the
preconditions under Articles 649 and 650 of the Civil Code must be established, viz:

Art. 649. The owner, or any person who by virtue of a real right may cultivate or use any immovable, which is surrounded by other
immovables pertaining to other persons, and without adequate outlet to a public highway, is entitled to demand a right of way through
the neighboring estates, after payment of the proper indemnity.

xxxx

This easement is not compulsory if the isolation of the immovable is due to the proprietors own acts. (Underscoring supplied)

Art. 650. The easement of right of way shall be established at the point least prejudicial to the servient estate, and, insofar as
consistent with this rule, where the distance from the dominant estate to a public highway may be the shortest. (Underscoring supplied)
Thus, to be conferred a legal easement of right of way under Article 649, the following requisites must be complied with: (1) the
property is surrounded by other immovables and has no adequate outlet to a public highway; (2) proper indemnity must be paid; (3) the
isolation is not the result of the owner of the dominant estates own acts; (4) the right of way claimed is at the point least prejudicial to
the servient estate; and (5) to the extent consistent with the foregoing rule, the distance from the dominant estate to a public highway
may be the shortest.[21] The onus of proving the existence of these prerequisites lies on the owner of the dominant estate,[22] herein
petitioners.

As found, however, by the trial court, which is supported by the Sketch[23] (Exhibit B; Exhibit 1) of the location of the lots of the parties
and those adjoining them, a common evidence of the parties, petitioners and their family are also the owners of two properties
adjoining the subject property which have access to two public roads or highways.[24]

Since petitioners then have more than adequate passage to two public roads, they have no right to demand the grant by respondents
of an easement on the western side of [respondents] lot.

It may not be amiss to note at this juncture that at the time the deed was executed in 1993, the barangay road-Exhibit 1-G, by which
petitioners could access Burgos Street-Exhibit 1-F, was not yet in existence; and that the Interior Street-Exhibit 1-H, which petitioners
via this case seek access to with a right of way, was still a creek,[25] as reflected in the earlier-quoted particular description of
respondents parcel of land from which the subject property originally formed part.

Respecting the grant of damages in favor of respondents by the trial court which was affirmed by the appellate court, the Court finds
the same baseless.

To merit an award of moral damages, there must be proof of moral suffering, mental anguish, fright and the like. It is not enough that
one suffers sleepless nights, mental anguish, serious anxiety as a result of the actuation of the other party.[26] Invariably, such
actuation must be shown by clear and convincing evidence[27] to have been willfully done in bad faith or with ill-motive.

In respondents case, they predicated their Counterclaim for damages on general allegations of sickness, humiliation and
embarrassment, without establishing bad faith, fraud or ill-motive on petitioners part.[28]

More importantly, respondents are precluded from filing any counterclaim in light of Article 199 of Rule XXVI of the Rules and
Regulations Implementing the Local Government Code of 1991 reading:

xxxx

ARTICLE 199. Penalty for Refusal or Failure of Any Party or Witness to Appear before the Lupon or Pangkat. Refusal or willful failure
of any party or witness to appear before the lupon or pangkat in compliance with summons issued pursuant to this Rule may be
punished by the city or municipal court as for indirect contempt of court upon application filed therewith by the lupon chairman, the
pangkat chairman, or by any of the contending parties. Such refusal or willful failure to appear shall be reflected in the records of the
lupon secretary or in the minutes of the pangkat secretary and shall bar the complainant who fails to appear, from seeking judicial
recourse for the same course of action, and the respondent who refuses to appear, from filing any counterclaim arising out of, or
necessarily connected with the complaint.

x x x x (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)


While respondent Caridad Tabisula claimed that she always appeared, when summoned, before the barangay lupon,[29] the following
Certificate to File Action[30] belies the claim.

xxxx

This is to certify that respondents failed to appear for (2) Mediation Proceeding before our Punong Barangay thus the corresponding
complaint may now be filed in court.

Issued this 24th day of November 1998 at the Multi Purpose Hall, Barangay 1 City of San Fernando (LU).

x x x x (Underscoring supplied)

The award for moral damages being thus baseless, that for exemplary damages must too be baseless.

As for the award of attorney's fees and expenses of litigation, respondents have not shown their entitlement thereto in accordance with
Article 2208 of the Civil Code.

WHEREFORE, the May 29, 2006 Decision and November 15, 2006 Resolution of the Court of Appeals are MODIFIED in that the grant
of the Counterclaim of respondents, Spouses Francisco Tabisula and Caridad Tabisula, is reversed and set aside. In all other respects,
the challenged decision is AFFIRMED.

Costs against petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

9. ANECO REALTY vs LANDEX DEV CORP, GR No. 165952, July 28, 2008
Republic of the Philippines

Supreme Court

Manila

THIRD DIVISION

ANECO REALTY AND G.R. No. 165952

DEVELOPMENT

CORPORATION, Present:
Petitioner,

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,

Chairperson,

AUSTRIA-MARTINEZ,

- versus - CHICO-NAZARIO,

NACHURA, and

REYES, JJ.

LANDEX DEVELOPMENT Promulgated:

CORPORATION,

Respondent. July 28, 2008

x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

REYES, R.T., J.:

THIS is a simple case of a neighbor seeking to restrain the landowner from fencing his own property. The right to fence flows from the
right of ownership. Absent a clear legal and enforceable right, We will not unduly restrain the landowner from exercising an inherent
proprietary right.

Before Us is a petition for review on certiorari of the Decision[1] of the Court of Appeals (CA) affirming the Order[2] of the Regional Trial
Court (RTC) dismissing the complaint for injunction filed by petitioner Aneco Realty and Development Corporation (Aneco) against
respondent Landex Development Corporation (Landex).

Facts

Fernandez Hermanos Development, Inc. (FHDI) is the original owner of a tract of land in San Francisco Del Monte, Quezon City. FHDI
subdivided the land into thirty-nine (39) lots.[3] It later sold twenty-two (22) lots to petitioner Aneco and the remaining seventeen (17)
lots to respondent Landex.[4]

The dispute arose when Landex started the construction of a concrete wall on one of its lots. To restrain construction of the wall, Aneco
filed a complaint for injunction[5] with the RTC in Quezon City. Aneco later filed two (2) supplemental complaints seeking to demolish
the newly-built wall and to hold Landex liable for two million pesos in damages.[6]
Landex filed its Answer[7] alleging, among others, that Aneco was not deprived access to its lots due to the construction of the concrete
wall. Landex claimed that Aneco has its own entrance to its property along Miller Street, Resthaven Street, and San Francisco del
Monte Street. The Resthaven access, however, was rendered inaccessible when Aneco constructed a building on said street. Landex
also claimed that FHDI sold ordinary lots, not subdivision lots, to Aneco based on the express stipulation in the deed of sale that FHDI
was not interested in pursuing its own subdivision project.

RTC Disposition

On June 19, 1996, the RTC rendered a Decision[8] granting the complaint for injunction, disposing as follows:

Wherefore, premises considered, and in the light aforecited decision of the Supreme Court judgment is hereby rendered in favor of the
plaintiff and the defendant is hereby ordered:

1. To stop the completion of the concrete wall and excavation of the road lot in question and if the same is already completed, to
remove the same and to return the lot to its original situation;

2. To pay actual and compensatory damage to the plaintiff in the total amount of P50,000.00;

3. To pay attorneys fees in the amount of P20,000.00;

4. To pay the cost.

SO ORDERED.[9]

Landex moved for reconsideration.[10] Records reveal that Landex failed to include a notice of hearing in its motion for reconsideration
as required under Section 5, Rule 15 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. Realizing the defect, Landex later filed a motion[11] setting
a hearing for its motion for reconsideration. Aneco countered with a motion for execution[12] claiming that the RTC decision is already
final and executory.

Acting on the motion of Landex, the RTC set a hearing on the motion for reconsideration on August 28, 1996. Aneco failed to attend the
slated hearing. The RTC gave Aneco additional time to file a comment on the motion for reconsideration.[13]

On March 13, 1997, the RTC issued an order[14] denying the motion for execution of Aneco.
On March 31, 1997, the RTC issued an order granting the motion for reconsideration of Landex and dismissing the complaint of Aneco.
In granting reconsideration, the RTC stated:

In previously ruling for the plaintiff, this Court anchored its decision on the ruling of the Supreme Court in the case of White Plains
Association vs. Legaspi, 193 SCRA 765, wherein the issue involved was the ownership of a road lot, in an existing, fully developed and
authorized subdivision, which after a second look, is apparently inapplicable to the instant case at bar, simply because the property in
question never did exist as a subdivision. Since, the property in question never did exist as a subdivision, the limitations imposed by
Section 1 of Republic Act No. 440, that no portion of a subdivision road lot shall be closed without the approval of the Court is clearly in
appropriate to the case at bar.

The records show that the plaintiffs property has access to a public road as it has its own ingress and egress along Miller St.; That
plaintiffs property is not isolated as it is bounded by Miller St. and Resthaven St. in San Francisco del Monte, Quezon City; that plaintiff
could easily make an access to a public road within the bounds and limits of its own property; and that the defendant has not yet been
indemnified whatsoever for the use of his property, as mandated by the Bill of rights. The foregoing circumstances, negates the alleged
plaintiffs right of way.[15]

Aneco appealed to the CA.[16]

CA Disposition

On March 31, 2003, the CA rendered a Decision[17] affirming the RTC order, disposing as follows:

WHEREFORE, in consideration of the foregoing, the instant appeal is perforce dismissed. Accordingly, the order dated 31 March 1996
is hereby affirmed.

SO ORDERED.[18]

In affirming the RTC dismissal of the complaint for injunction, the CA held that Aneco knew at the time of the sale that the lots sold by
FHDI were not subdivision units based on the express stipulation in the deed of sale that FHDI, the seller, was no longer interested in
pursuing its subdivision project, thus:

The subject property ceased to be a road lot when its former owner (Fernandez Hermanos, Inc.) sold it to appellant Aneco not as
subdivision lots and without the intention of pursuing the subdivision project. The law in point is Article 624 of the New Civil Code,
which provides:

Art. 624. The existence of an apparent sign of easement between two estates, established or maintained by the owner of both, shall be
considered, should either of them be alienated, as a title in order that the easement may continue actively and passively, unless, at the
time the ownership of the two estates is divided, the contrary should be provided in the title of conveyance of either of them, or the sign
aforesaid should be removed before the execution of the deed. This provision shall also apply in case of the division of a thing owned
in common by two or more persons.

Viewed from the aforesaid law, there is no question that the law allows the continued use of an apparent easement should the owner
alienate the property to different persons. It is noteworthy to emphasize that the lot in question was provided by the previous owner
(Fernandez Hermanos, Inc.) as a road lot because of its intention to convert it into a subdivision project. The previous owner even
applied for a development permit over the subject property. However, when the twenty-two (22) lots were sold to appellant Aneco, it
was very clear from the sellers deed of sale that the lots sold ceased to be subdivision lots. The seller even warranted that it shall
undertake to extend all the necessary assistance for the consolidation of the subdivided lots, including the execution of the requisite
manifestation before the appropriate government agencies that the seller is no longer interested in pursuing the subdivision project. In
fine, appellant Aneco knew from the very start that at the time of the sale, the 22 lots sold to it were not intended as subdivision units,
although the titles to the different lots have yet to be consolidated. Consequently, the easement that used to exist on the subject lot
ceased when appellant Aneco and the former owner agreed that the lots would be consolidated and would no longer be intended as a
subdivision project.

Appellant Aneco insists that it has the intention of continuing the subdivision project earlier commenced by the former owner. It also
holds on to the previous development permit granted to Fernandez Hermanos, Inc. The insistence is futile. Appellant Aneco did not
acquire any right from the said previous owner since the latter itself expressly stated in their agreement that it has no more intention of
continuing the subdivision project. If appellant desires to convert its property into a subdivision project, it has to apply in its own name,
and must have its own provisions for a road lot.[19]

Anent the issue of compulsory easement of right of way, the CA held that Aneco failed to prove the essential requisites to avail of such
right, thus:

An easement involves an abnormal restriction on the property of the servient owner and is regarded as a charge or encumbrance on
the servient owner and is regarded as a charge or encumbrance on the servient estate (Cristobal v. CA, 291 SCRA 122). The essential
requisites to be entitled to a compulsory easement of way are: 1) that the dominant estate is surrounded by other immovables and has
no adequate outlet to a public highway; 2) that proper indemnity has been paid; 3) that the isolation was not due to acts of the
proprietor of the dominant estate; 4) that the right of way claimed is at a point least prejudicial to the servient estate and in so far as
consistent with this rule, where the distance from the dominant estate to a public highway may be the shortest (Cristobal v. Court of
Appeals, 291 SCRA 122).

An in depth examination of the evidence adduced and offered by appellant Aneco, showed that it had failed to prove the existence of
the aforementioned requisites, as the burden thereof lies upon the appellant Aneco.[20]

Aneco moved for reconsideration but its motion was denied.[21] Hence, the present petition or appeal by certiorari under Rule 45.

Issues

Petitioner Aneco assigns quadruple errors to the CA in the following tenor:

A.

THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN DISMISSING PETITIONERS APPEAL AND SUSTAINING THE TRIAL COURTS
ORDER DATED 31 MARCH 1997 GRANTING RESPONDENTS MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION WHICH IS FATALLY
DEFECTIVE FOR LACK OF NOTICE OF HEARING.

B.

THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE TRIAL COURTS ORDER WHICH GAVE FULL WEIGHT AND
CREDIT TO THE MISLEADING AND ERRONEOUS CERTIFICATION ISSUED BY GILDA E. ESTILO WHICH SHE LATER
EXPRESSLY AND CATEGORICALLY RECANTED BY WAY OF HER AFFIDAVIT.
C.

THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN APPLYING THE LIBERAL CONSTRUCTION OF THE RULES IN ORDER TO
SUSTAIN THE TRIAL COURTS ORDER DATED 31 MARCH 1997.

D.

THE COURT OF APPEALS GRAVELY ERRED IN AFFIRMING THE TRIAL COURTS ORDER THAT MADE NO PRONOUNCEMENTS
AS TO COSTS, AND IN DISREGARDING THE MERIT OF THE PETITIONERS CAUSE OF ACTION.[22]

Our Ruling

The petition is without merit.

Essentially, two (2) issues are raised in this petition. The first is the procedural issue of whether or not the RTC and the CA erred in
liberally applying the rule on notice of hearing under Section 5, Rule 15 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure. The second is the
substantive issue of whether or not Aneco may enjoin Landex from constructing a concrete wall on its own property.

We shall discuss the twin issues sequentially.

Strict vs. Liberal Construction of Procedural Rules; Defective motion was cured when Aneco was given an opportunity to comment on
the motion for reconsideration.

Section 5, Rule 15 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure[23] requires a notice of hearing for a contested motion filed in court. Records
disclose that the motion for reconsideration filed by Landex of the RTC decision did not contain a notice of hearing. There is no dispute
that the motion for reconsideration is defective. The RTC and the CA ignored the procedural defect and ruled on the substantive issues
raised by Landex in its motion for reconsideration. The issue before Us is whether or not the RTC and the CA correctly exercised its
discretion in ignoring the procedural defect. Simply put, the issue is whether or not the requirement of notice of hearing should be
strictly or liberally applied under the circumstances.

Aneco bats for strict construction. It cites a litany of cases which held that notice of hearing is mandatory. A motion without the required
notice of hearing is a mere scrap of paper. It does not toll the running of the period to file an appeal or a motion for reconsideration. It is
argued that the original RTC decision is already final and executory because of the defective motion.[24]

Landex counters for liberal construction. It similarly cites a catena of cases which held that procedural rules may be relaxed in the
interest of substantial justice. Landex asserts that the procedural defect was cured when it filed a motion setting a hearing for its motion
for reconsideration. It is claimed that Aneco was properly informed of the pending motion for reconsideration and it was not deprived of
an opportunity to be heard.[25]

It is true that appeals are mere statutory privileges which should be exercised only in the manner required by law. Procedural rules
serve a vital function in our judicial system. They promote the orderly resolution of cases. Without procedure, there will be chaos. It
thus behooves upon a litigant to follow basic procedural rules. Dire consequences may flow from procedural lapses.
Nonetheless, it is also true that procedural rules are mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their strict and rigid
application should be relaxed when they hinder rather than promote substantial justice. Public policy dictates that court cases should,
as much as possible, be resolved on the merits not on mere technicalities. Substantive justice trumps procedural rules. In Barnes v.
Padilla,[26] this Court held:

Let it be emphasized that the rules of procedure should be viewed as mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their
strict and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must always
be eschewed. Even the Rules of Court reflect this principle. The power to suspend or even disregard rules can be so pervasive and
compelling as to alter even that which this Court itself has already declared to be final x x x.

The emerging trend in the rulings of this Court is to afford every party litigant the amplest opportunity for the proper and just
determination of his cause, free from the constraints of technicalities. Time and again, this Court has consistently held that rules must
not be applied rigidly so as not to override substantial justice.[27]

Here, We find that the RTC and the CA soundly exercised their discretion in opting for a liberal rather than a strict application of the
rules on notice of hearing. It must be stressed that there are no vested right to technicalities. It is within the courts sound discretion to
relax procedural rules in order to fully adjudicate the merits of a case. This Court will not interfere with the exercise of that discretion
absent grave abuse or palpable error. Section 6, Rule 1 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure even mandates a liberal construction of
the rules to promote their objectives of securing a just, speedy, and inexpensive disposition of every action and proceeding.

To be sure, the requirement of a notice of hearing in every contested motion is part of due process of law. The notice alerts the
opposing party of a pending motion in court and gives him an opportunity to oppose it. What the rule forbids is not the mere absence of
a notice of hearing in a contested motion but the unfair surprise caused by the lack of notice. It is the dire consequences which flow
from the procedural error which is proscribed. If the opposing party is given a sufficient opportunity to oppose a defective motion, the
procedural lapse is deemed cured and the intent of the rule is substantially complied. In E & L Mercantile, Inc. v. Intermediate Appellate
Court,[28] this Court held:

Procedural due process is not based solely on a mechanistic and literal application of a rule such that any deviation is inexorably fatal.
Rules of procedure, and this includes the three (3) days notice requirement, are liberally construed in order to promote their object and
to assist the parties in obtaining just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding (Section 2, Rule 1, Rules
of Court). In Case and Nantz v. Jugo (77 Phil. 517), this Court made it clear that lapses in the literal observance of a rule of procedure
may be overlooked when they have not prejudiced the adverse party and have not deprived the court of its authority.

A party cannot ignore a more than sufficient opportunity to exercise its right to be heard and once the court performs its duty and the
outcome happens to be against that negligent party, suddenly interpose a procedural violation already cured, insisting that everybody
should again go back to square one. Dilatory tactics cannot be the guiding principle.

The rule in De Borja v. Tan (93 Phil. 167), that what the law prohibits is not the absence of previous notice, but the absolute absence
thereof and lack of opportunity to be heard, is the applicable doctrine. (See also Aguilar v. Tan, 31 SCRA 205; Omico v. Vallejos, 63
SCRA 285; Sumadchat v. Court of Appeals, 111 SCRA 488.) x x x[29]

We also find that the procedural lapse committed by Landex was sufficiently cured when it filed another motion setting a hearing for its
defective motion for reconsideration. Records reveal that the RTC set a hearing for the motion for reconsideration but Anecos counsel
failed to appear. The RTC then gave Aneco additional time to file comment on the motion for reconsideration.[30]

Aneco was afforded procedural due process when it was given an opportunity to oppose the motion for reconsideration. It cannot argue
unfair surprise because it was afforded ample time to file a comment, as it did comment, on the motion for reconsideration. There being
no substantial injury or unfair prejudice, the RTC and the CA correctly ignored the procedural defect.
The RTC and the CA did not err in dismissing the complaint for injunction; factual findings and conclusions of law of the RTC and the
CA are afforded great weight and respect.

Anent the substantive issue, We agree with the RTC and the CA that the complaint for injunction against Landex should be dismissed
for lack of merit. What is involved here is an undue interference on the property rights of a landowner to build a concrete wall on his
own property. It is a simple case of a neighbor, petitioner Aneco, seeking to restrain a landowner, respondent Landex, from fencing his
own land.

Article 430 of the Civil Code gives every owner the right to enclose or fence his land or tenement by means of walls, ditches, hedges or
any other means. The right to fence flows from the right of ownership. As owner of the land, Landex may fence his property subject
only to the limitations and restrictions provided by law. Absent a clear legal and enforceable right, as here, We will not interfere with the
exercise of an essential attribute of ownership.

Well-settled is the rule that factual findings and conclusions of law of the trial court when affirmed by the CA are accorded great weight
and respect. Here, We find no cogent reason to deviate from the factual findings and conclusion of law of the trial court and the
appellate court. We have meticulously reviewed the records and agree that Aneco failed to prove any clear legal right to prevent, much
less restrain, Landex from fencing its own property.

Aneco cannot rely on the road lot under the old subdivision project of FHDI because it knew at the time of the sale that it was buying
ordinary lots, not subdivision lots, from FHDI. This is clear from the deed of sale between FHDI and Aneco where FHDI manifested that
it was no longer interested in pursuing its own subdivision project. If Aneco wants to transform its own lots into a subdivision project, it
must make its own provision for road lots. It certainly cannot piggy back on the road lot of the defunct subdivision project of FHDI to the
detriment of the new owner Landex. The RTC and the CA correctly dismissed the complaint for injunction of Aneco for lack of merit.

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the appealed Decision AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

10. LA VISTA ASS. Vs. CA, GR No. 95252, Sept. 5, 1997


Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

FIRST DIVISION

G.R. No. 95252September 5, 1997

LA VISTA ASSOCIATION, INC., petitioner,


vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, SOLID HOMES, INC., ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY, ROMULO VILLA, LORENZO TIMBOL, EMDEN
ENCARNACION, VICENTE CASIÑO, JR., DOMINGO REYES, PEDRO C. MERCADO, MARIO AQUINO, RAFAEL GOSECO,
PORFIRIO CABALU, JR., and ANTONIO ADRIANO, in their behalf and in behalf of the residents of LOYOLA GRAND VILLAS, INC.,
PHASES I AND II, respondents.

BELLOSILLO, J.:

MANGYAN ROAD is a 15-meter wide thoroughfare in Quezon City abutting Katipunan Avenue on the west, traversing the edges of La
Vista Subdivision on the north and of the Ateneo de Manila University and Maryknoll (now Miriam) College on the south. Mangyan
Road serves as the boundary between LA VISTA on one side and ATENEO and MARYKNOLL on the other. It bends towards the east
and ends at the gate of Loyola Grand Villas Subdivision. The road has been the subject of an endless dispute, the disagreements
always stemming from this unresolved issue: Is there an easement of right-of-way over Mangyan Road?

In resolving this controversy, the Court would wish to write finis to this seemingly interminable debate which has dragged on for more
than twenty years.

The area comprising the 15-meter wide roadway was originally part of a vast tract of land owned by the Tuasons in Quezon City and
Marikina. On 1 July 1949 the Tuasons sold to Philippine Building Corporation a portion of their landholdings amounting to 1,330,556
square meters by virtue of a Deed of Sale with Mortgage. Paragraph three (3) of the deed provides that ". . . the boundary line between
the property herein sold and the adjoining property of the VENDORS shall be a road fifteen (15) meters wide, one-half of which shall be
taken from the property herein sold to the VENDEE and the other half from the portion adjoining belonging to the VENDORS."

On 7 December 1951 the Philippine Building Corporation, which was then acting for and in behalf of Ateneo de Manila University
(ATENEO) in buying the properties from the Tuasons, sold, assigned and formally transferred in a Deed of Assignment with
Assumption of Mortgage, with the consent of the Tuasons, the subject parcel of land to ATENEO which assumed the mortgage. The
deed of assignment states —

The ASSIGNEE hereby agrees and assumes to pay the mortgage obligation on the above-described land in favor of the
MORTGAGOR and to perform any and all terms and conditions as set forth in the Deed of Sale with Mortgage dated July 1, 1949,
hereinabove referred to, which said document is incorporated herein and made an integral part of this contract by reference . . . .

On their part, the Tuasons developed a part of the estate adjoining the portion sold to Philippine Building Corporation into a residential
village known as La Vista Subdivision. Thus the boundary between LA VISTA and the portion sold to Philippine Building Corporation
was the 15-meter wide roadway known as the Mangyan Road.

On 6 June 1952 ATENEO sold to MARYKNOLL the western portion of the land adjacent to Mangyan Road. MARYKNOLL then
constructed a wall in the middle of the 15-meter wide roadway making one-half of Mangyan Road part of its school campus. The
Tuasons objected and later filed a complaint before the then Court of First Instance of Rizal for the demolition of the wall.
Subsequently, in an amicable settlement, MARYKNOLL agreed to remove the wall and restore Mangyan Road to its original width of 15
meters.

Meanwhile, the Tuasons developed its 7.5-meter share of the 15-meter wide boundary. ATENEO deferred improvement on its share
and erected instead an adobe wall on the entire length of the boundary of its property parallel to the 15-meter wide roadway.

On 30 January 1976 ATENEO informed LA VISTA of the former's intention to develop some 16 hectares of its property along Mangyan
Road into a subdivision. In response, LA VISTA President Manuel J. Gonzales clarified certain aspects with regard to the use of
Mangyan Road. Thus —

. . . The Mangyan Road is a road fifteen meters wide, one-half of which is taken from your property and the other half from the La Vista
Subdivision. So that the easement of a right-of-way on your 71/2 m. portion was created in our favor and likewise an easement of right-
of-way was created on our 7 1/2 portion of the road in your favor (paragraph 3 of the Deed of Sale between the Tuasons and the
Philippine Building Corporation and Ateneo de Manila dated 1 July 1949 . . . .

On 28 April 1976 LA VISTA President Manuel J. Gonzales, in a letter to ATENEO President Fr. Jose A. Cruz, S. J., offered to buy under
specified conditions the property ATENEO was intending to develop. One of the conditions stipulated by the LA VISTA President was
that "[i]t is the essence of the offer that the mutuaI right of way between the Ateneo de Manila University and La Vista Homeowners'
Association will be extinguished." The offer of LA VISTA to buy was not accepted by ATENEO. Instead, on 10 May 1976 ATENEO
offered to sell the property to the public subject to the condition that the right to use the 15-meter roadway will be transferred to the
vendee who will negotiate with the legally involved parties regarding the use of such right as well as the development costs for
improving the access road.

LA VISTA became one of the bidders. However it lost to Solid Homes, Inc., in the bidding. Thus on 29 October 1976 ATENEO executed
a Deed of Sale in favor of Solid Homes, Inc., over parcels of land covering a total area of 124,424 square meters subject, among
others, to the condition that —

7. The VENDOR hereby passes unto the VENDEE, its assigns and successors-in-interest the privileges of such right of way which
the VENDOR acquired, and still has, by virtue of the Deeds mentioned in the immediately preceeding paragraph hereof; provided, that
the VENDOR shall nonetheless continue to enjoy said right of way privileges with the VENDEE, which right of way in favor of the
VENDOR shall be annotated on the pertinent road lot titles. However it is hereby agreed that the implementation of such right of way
shall be for the VENDEE's sole responsibility and liability, and likewise any development of such right of way shall be for the full
account of the VENDEE. In the future, if needed, the VENDOR is therefore free to make use of the aforesaid right of way, and/or
Mangyan Road access, but in such a case the VENDOR shall contribute a pro-rata share in the maintenance of the area.

Subsequently, Solid Homes, Inc., developed a subdivision now known as Loyola Grand Villas and together they now claim to have an
easement of right-of-way along Mangyan Road through which they could have access to Katipunan Avenue.

LA VISTA President Manuel J. Gonzales however informed Solid Homes, Inc., that LA VISTA could not recognize the right-of-way over
Mangyan Road because, first, Philippine Building Corporation and its assignee ATENEO never complied with their obligation of
providing the Tuasons with a right-of-way on their 7.5-meter portion of the road and, second, since the property was purchased for
commercial purposes, Solid Homes, Inc., was no longer entitled to the right-of-way as Mangyan Road was established exclusively for
ATENEO in whose favor the right-of-way was originally constituted. LA VISTA, after instructing its security guards to prohibit agents
and assignees of Solid Homes, Inc., from traversing Mangyan Road, then constructed one-meter high cylindrical concrete posts
chained together at the middle of and along the entire length of Mangyan Road thus preventing the residents of LOYOLA from passing
through.

Solid Homes, Inc., complained to LA VISTA but the concrete posts were not removed. To gain access to LOYOLA through Mangyan
Road an opening through the adobe wall of ATENEO was made and some six (6) cylindrical concrete posts of LA VISTA were
destroyed. LA VISTA then stationed security guards in the area to prevent entry to LOYOLA through Mangyan Road.

On 17 December 1976, to avert violence, Solid Homes, Inc., instituted the instant case, docketed as Civil Case No. Q-22450, before
the then Court of First Instance of Rizal and prayed that LA VISTA been joined from preventing and obstructing the use and passage of
LOYOLA residents through Mangyan Road. LA VISTA in turn filed a third-party complaint against ATENEO. On 14 September 1983 the
trial court issued a preliminary injunction in favor of Solid Homes, Inc. (affirming an earlier order of 22 November 1977), directing LA
VISTA to desist from blocking and preventing the use of Mangyan Road. The injunction order of 14 September 1983 was however
nullified and set aside on 31 May 1985 by the then Intermediate Appellate Court1 in AC-G.R. SP No. 02534. Thus in a petition for
review on certiorari, docketed as G.R. No. 71150, Solid Homes, Inc., assailed the nullification and setting aside of the preliminary
injunction issued by the trial court.

Meanwhile, on 20 November 1987 the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City rendered a decision on the merits2 in Civil Case No. Q-
22450 affirming and recognizing the easement of right-of-way along Mangyan Road in favor of Solid Homes, Inc., and ordering LA
VISTA to pay damages thus —

ACCORDINGLY, judgment is hereby rendered declaring that an easement of a right-of-way exists in favor of the plaintiff over Mangyan
Road, and, consequently, the injunction prayed for by the plaintiff is granted, enjoining thereby the defendant, its successors-in-interest,
its/their agents and all persons acting for and on its/their behalf, from closing, obstructing, preventing or otherwise refusing to the
plaintiff, its successors-in-interest, its/their agents and all persons acting for and on its/their behalf, and to the public in general, the
unobstructed ingress and egress on Mangyan Road, which is the boundary road between the La Vista Subdivision on one hand, and
the Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City, and the Loyola Grand Villas Subdivision, Marikina, Metro Manila, on the other; and, in
addition the defendant is ordered to pay the plaintiff reasonable attorney's fees in the amount of P30,000.00. The defendant-third-party
plaintiff is also ordered to pay the third-party defendant reasonable attorney's fees for another amount of P15,000.00. The counter-
claim of defendant against the plaintiff is dismissed for lack of merit. With costs against the defendant.

Quite expectedly, LA VISTA appealed to the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. CV No. 19929. On 20 April 1988 this Court, taking
into consideration the 20 November 1987 Decision of the trial court, dismissed the petition docketed as G.R. No. 71150 wherein Solid
Homes, Inc., sought reversal of the 31 May 1985 Decision in AC-G.R. SP No. 02534 which nullified and
set aside the 14 September 1983 injunction order of the trial court. There we said —

Considering that preliminary injunction is a provisional remedy which may be granted at any time after the commencement of the action
and before judgment when it is established that the plaintiff is entitled to the relief demanded and only when his complaint shows facts
entitling such reliefs (Section 3(a), Rule 58) and it appearing that the trial court had already granted the issuance of a final injunction in
favor of petitioner in its decision rendered after trial on the merits (Sections 7 & 10, Rule 58, Rules of Court), the Court resolved to
Dismiss the instant petition having been rendered moot and academic. An injunction issued by the trial court after it has already made
a clear pronouncement as to the plaintiff's right thereto, that is, after the same issue has been decided on the merits, the trial court
having appreciated the evidence presented, is proper, notwithstanding the fact that the decision rendered is not yet final (II Moran, pp.
81-82, 1980 ed.). Being an ancillary remedy, the proceedings for preliminary injunction cannot stand separately or proceed
independently of the decision rendered on the merit of the main case for injunction. The merit of the main case having been already
determined in favor of the applicant, the preliminary determination of its non-existence ceases to have any force and effect.3

On the other hand, in CA-G.R. CV No. 19929, several incidents were presented for resolution: two (2) motions filed by Solid Homes,
Inc., to cite certain officers of LA VISTA for contempt for alleged violation of the injunction ordaining free access to and egress from
Mangyan Road, to which LA VISTA responded with its own motion to cite Solid Homes, Inc., for contempt; a motion for leave to
intervene and to re-open Mangyan Road filed by residents of LOYOLA; and, a petition praying for the issuance of a restraining order to
enjoin the closing of Mangyan Road. On 21 September 1989 the incidents were resolved by the Court of Appeals4 thus —

1. Defendant-appellant La Vista Association, Inc., its Board of Directors and other officials and all persons acting under their orders
and in their behalf are ordered to allow all residents of Phase I and II of Loyola Grand Villas unobstructed right-of-way or passage
through the Mangyan Road which is the boundary between the La Vista Subdivision and the Loyola Grand Villas Subdivision;

2. The motion to intervene as plaintiffs filed by the residents of Loyola Grand Villas Subdivision is GRANTED; and

3. The motions for contempt filed by both plaintiff-appellee and defendant-appellant are DENIED.

This resolution is immediately executory.5

On 15 December 1989 both motions for reconsideration of Solid Homes, Inc., and LA VISTA were denied. In separate petitions, both
elevated the 21 September 1989 and 15 December 1989 Resolutions of the Court of Appeals to this Court. The petition of Solid
Homes, Inc., docketed as G.R. No. 91433, prayed for an order directing the appellate court to take cognizance of and hear the motions
for contempt, while that of LA VISTA in G.R. No. 91502 sought the issuance of a preliminary injunction to order Solid Homes, Inc.,
ATENEO and LOYOLA residents to desist from intruding into Mangyan Road.

On 22 May 1990, pending resolution of G.R. Nos. 91433 and 91502, the Second Division of the Court of Appeals6 in CA-G.R. CV No.
19929 affirmed in toto the Decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. Q-22450. On 6 September 1990 the motions for reconsideration
and/or re-raffle and to set the case for oral argument were denied. In view of the affirmance of the Decision by the Court of Appeals in
CA-G.R. CV No. 19929 this Court dismissed the petition in G.R. No. 91502 for being moot as its main concern was merely the validity
of a provisional or preliminary injunction earlier issued. We also denied the petition in G.R. No. 91433 in the absence of a discernible
grave abuse of discretion in the ruling of the appellate court that it could not entertain the motions to cite the parties for contempt
"because a charge of contempt committed against a superior court may be filed only before the court against whom the contempt has
been committed" (Sec. 4, Rule 71, Rules of Court).7

Consequently we are left with the instant case where petitioner LA VISTA assails the Decision of respondent Court of Appeals affirming
in toto the Decision of the trial court which rendered a judgment on the merits and recognized an easement of right-of-way along
Mangyan Road, permanently enjoining LA VISTA from closing to Solid Homes, Inc., and its successors-in-interest the ingress and
egress on Mangyan Road.

In its first assigned error, petitioner LA VISTA argues that respondent appellate court erred in disregarding the decisions in (a) La Vista
Association, Inc., v. Hon. Ortiz, 8 affirmed by this Court in Tecson v. Court of Appeals;9 (b) La Vista Association, Inc., v. Hon. Leviste,
10 affirmed by this Court in Rivera v. Hon. Intermediate Appellate Court; 11 and, (c) La Vista v. Hon. Mendoza, 12 and in holding that
an easement of right-of-way over Mangyan Road exists. 13

We do not agree with petitioner. The reliance of petitioner on the cited cases is out of place as they involve the issuance of a
preliminary injunction pending resolution of a case on the merits. In the instant case, however, the subject of inquiry is not merely the
issuance of a preliminary injunction but the final injunctive writ which was issued after trial on the merits. A writ of preliminary injunction
is generally based solely on initial and incomplete evidence. The opinion and findings of fact of a court when issuing a writ of
preliminary injunction are interlocutory in nature and made even before the trial on the merits is terminated. Consequently there may be
vital facts subsequently presented during the trial which were not obtaining when the writ of preliminary injunction was issued. Hence,
to equate the basis for the issuance of a preliminary injunction with that for the issuance of a final injunctive writ is erroneous. And it
does not necessarily mean that when a writ of preliminary injunction issues a final injunction follows. Accordingly, respondent Court of
Appeals in its assailed Decision rightly held that —

We are unswayed by appellant's theory that the cases cited by them in their Brief (pagers 17 and 32) and in their motion for early
resolution (page 11, Rollo) to buttress the first assigned error, are final judgments on the merits of, and therefore res judicata to the
instant query. It is quite strange that appellant was extremely cautious in not mentioning this doctrine but the vague disquisition
nevertheless points to this same tenet, which upon closer examination negates the very proposition. Generally, it is axiomatic that res
judicata will attach in favor of La Vista if and when the case under review was disposed of on the merits and with Finality (Manila
Electric Co., vs. Artiaga. 50 Phil. 144; 147; S. Diego vs. Carmona, 70 Phil. 281; 283; cited in Comments on the Rules of Court, by
Moran. Volume II, 1970 edition, page 365; Roman Catholic Archbishop vs. Director of Lands. 35 Phil. 339; 350-351, cited in Remedial
Law Compendium, by Regalado, Volume I, 1986 Fourth revised Edition, page 40). Appellants suffer from the mistaken notion that the
"merits" of the certiorari petitions impugning the preliminary injunction in the cases cited by it are tantamount to the merits of the main
case, subject of the instant appeal. Quite the contrary, the so-called "final judgments" adverted to dealt only with the propriety of the
issuance or non-issuance of the writ of preliminary injunction, unlike the present recourse which is directed against a final injunctive writ
under Section 10, Rule 58. Thus the invocation of the disputed matter herein is misplaced.14

We thus repeat what we said in Solid Homes, Inc., v. La Vista 15 which respondent Court of Appeals quoted in its assailed Decision 16

Being an ancillary remedy, the proceedings for preliminary injunction cannot stand separately or proceed independently of the decision
rendered on the merits of the main case for injunction. The merits of the main case having been already determined in favor of the
applicant, the preliminary determination of its non-existence ceases to have any force and effect.

Petitioner LA VISTA in its lengthy Memorandum also quotes our ruling in Ramos, Sr., v. Gatchalian Realty, Inc., 17 no less than five (5)
times 18 —

To allow the petitioner access to Sucat Road through Gatchalian Avenue inspite of a road right-of-way provided by the petitioner's
subdivision for its buyers simply because Gatchalian Avenue allows petitioner a much greater ease in going to and coming from the
main thoroughfare is to completely ignore what jurisprudence has consistently maintained through the years regarding an easement of
a right-of-way, that "mere convenience for the dominant estate is not enough to serve as its basis. To justify the imposition of this
servitude, there must be a real, not a fictitious or artificial, necessity for it" (See Tolentino, Civil Code of the Philippines, Vol. II, 2nd ed.,
1972, p. 371)

Again this is misplaced. Ramos, Sr., v. Gatchalian Realty, Inc., 19 concerns a legal or compulsory easement of right-of-way —

Since there is no agreement between the contending parties in this case granting a right-of-way by one in favor of the other, the
establishment of a voluntary easement between the petitioner and the respondent company and/or the other private respondents is
ruled out. What is left to examine is whether or not petitioner is entitled to a legal or compulsory easement of a right-of-way —
which should be distinguished from a voluntary easement. A legal or compulsory easement is that which is constituted by law for public
use or for private interest. By express provisions of Arts. 649 and 650 of the New Civil Code, the owner of an estate may claim a legal
or compulsory right-of-way only after he has established the existence of four (4) requisites, namely, (a) the estate is surrounded by
other immovables and is without adequate outlet to a public highway; (b) after payment of the proper indemnity; (c) the isolation was
not due to the proprietor's own acts; and, (d) the right-of-way claimed is at a point least prejudicial to the servient estate, and insofar as
consistent with this rule, where the distance from the dominant estate to a public highway may be the shortest. 20 A voluntary
easement on the other hand is constituted simply by will or agreement of the parties.

From the facts of the instant case it is very apparent that the parties and their respective predecessors-in-interest intended to establish
an easement of right-of-way over Mangyan Road for their mutual benefit, both as dominant and servient estates. This is quite evident
when: (a) the Tuasons and the Philippine Building Corporation in 1949 stipulated in par. 3 of their Deed of Sale with Mortgage that the
"boundary line between the property herein sold and the adjoining property of the VENDORS shall be a road fifteen (15) meters wide,
one-half of which shall be taken from the property herein sold to the VENDEE and the other half from the portion adjoining belonging to
the vendors;" (b) the Tuasons in 1951 expressly agreed and consented to the assignment of the land to, and the assumption of all the
rights and obligations by ATENEO, including the obligation to contribute seven and one-half meters of the property sold to form part of
the 15-meter wide roadway; (c) the Tuasons in 1958 filed a complaint against MARYKNOLL and ATENEO for breach of contract and
the enforcement of the reciprocal easement on Mangyan Road, and demanded that MARYKNOLL set back its wall to restore Mangyan
Road to its original width of 15 meters, after MARYKNOLL constructed a wall in the middle of the 15-meter wide roadway; (d) LA VISTA
President Manuel J. Gonzales admitted and clarified in 1976, in a letter to ATENEO President Fr. Jose A. Cruz, S.J., that "Mangyan
Road is a road fifteen meters wide, one-half of which is taken from your property and the other half from the La Vista Subdivision. So
that the easement of a right-of-way on your 7 1/2 m. portion was created in our favor and likewise an easement of right-of-way was
created on our 7 1/2 m. portion of the road in your favor;" (e) LA VISTA, in its offer to buy the hillside portion of the ATENEO property in
1976, acknowledged the existence of the contractual right-of-way as it manifested that the mutual right-of-way between the Ateneo de
Manila University and La Vista Homeowners' Association would be extinguished if it bought the adjacent ATENEO property and would
thus become the owner of both the dominant and servient estates; and, (f) LA VISTA President Luis G. Quimson, in a letter addressed
to the Chief Justice, received by this Court on 26 March 1997, acknowledged that "one-half of the whole length of (Mangyan Road)
belongs to La Vista Assn., Inc. The other half is owned by Miriam (Maryknoll) and the Ateneo in equal portions;"

These certainly are indubitable proofs that the parties concerned had indeed constituted a voluntary easement of right-of-way over
Mangyan Road and, like any other contract, the same could be extinguished only by mutual agreement or by renunciation of the owner
of the dominant estate. Thus respondent Court of Appeals did not commit a reversible error when it ruled
that —

Concerning the pivotal question posed herein on the existence of an easement, we are of the belief, and thus hereby hold that a right-
of-way was properly appreciated along the entire route of Mangyan Road. Incidentally, the pretense that the court a quo erred in
holding that Mangyan Road is the boundary road between La Vista and Ateneo (page 31, Appellant's Brief) does not raise any critical
eyebrow since the same is wholly irrelevant to the existence of a servitude thereon from their express admission to the contrary
(paragraph 1, Answer).

One's attention should rather be focused on the contractual stipulations in the deed of sale between the Tuason Family and the
Philippine Building Corporation (paragraph 3, thereof) which were incorporated in the deed of assignment with assumption of mortgage
by the Philippine Building Corporation in favor of Ateneo (first paragraph, page 4 of the deed) as well as in the deed of sale dated
October 24, 1976 when the property was ultimately transferred by Ateneo to plaintiff-appellee. Like any other contractual stipulation,
the same cannot be extinguished except by voluntary rescission of the contract establishing the servitude or renunciation by the owner
of the dominant lots (Chuanico vs. Ibañez, 7 CA Reports, 2nd Series, 1965 edition, pages 582; 589, cited in Civil Law Annotated, by
Padilla, Volume II, 1972 Edition, pages 602-603), more so when the easement was implicitly recognized by the letters of the La Vista
President to Ateneo dated February 11 and April 28, 1976 (page 22, Decision; 19 Ruling Case Law 745).

The free ingress and egress along Mangyan Road created by the voluntary agreement between Ateneo and Solid Homes, Inc., is thus
legally demandable (Articles 619 and 625, New Civil Code) with the corresponding duty on the servient estate not to obstruct the same
so much so that —

When the owner of the servient tenement performs acts or constructs works impairing the use of the servitude, the owner of the
dominant tenement may ask for the destruction of such works and the restoration of the things to their condition before the impairment
was committed, with indemnity for damages suffered (3 Sanchez Roman 609). An injunction may also be obtained in order to restrain
the owner of the servient tenement from obstructing or impairing in any manner the lawful use of the servitude (Resolme v. Lazo, 27
Phil. 416; 417; 418)." (Commentaries and Jurisprudence on the Civil Code of the Philippines, by Tolentino, Volume 2, 1963 edition,
page 320) 21

Resultantly, when the court says that an easement exists, it is not creating one. For, even an injunction cannot be used to create one
as there is no such thing as a judicial easement. As in the instant case, the court merely declares the existence of an easement created
by the parties. Respondent court could not have said it any better —

It must be emphasized, however, that We are not constituting an easement along Mangyan Road, but merely declaring the existence of
one created by the manifest will of the parties herein in recognition of autonomy of contracts (Articles 1306 and 619, New Civil Code;
Tolentino, supra, page 308; Civil Code of the Philippines, by Paras, Volume II, 1984 edition, page 549). 22

The argument of petitioner LA VISTA that there are other routes to LOYOLA from Mangyan Road is likewise meritless, to say the least.
The opening of an adequate outlet to a highway can extinguish only legal or compulsory easements, not voluntary easements like in
the case at bar. The fact that an easement by grant may have also qualified as an easement of necessity does not detract from its
permanency as a property right, which survives the termination of the necessity. 23

That there is no contract between LA VISTA and Solid Homes, Inc., and thus the court could not have declared the existence of an
easement created by the manifest will of the parties, is devoid of merit. The predecessors-in-interest of both LA VISTA and Solid
Homes, Inc., i.e., the Tuasons and the Philippine Building Corporation, respectively, clearly established a contractual easement of right-
of-way over Mangyan Road. When the Philippine Building Corporation transferred its rights and obligations to ATENEO the Tuasons
expressly consented and agreed thereto. Meanwhile, the Tuasons themselves developed their property into what is now known as LA
VISTA. On the other hand, ATENEO sold the hillside portions of its property to Solid Homes, Inc., including the right over the easement
of right-of-way. In sum, when the easement in this case was established by contract, the parties unequivocally made provisions for its
observance by all who in the future might succeed them in dominion.

The contractual easement of right-of-way having been confirmed, we find no reason to delve on the issue concerning P.D. No. 957
which supposedly grants free access to any subdivision street to government or public offices within the subdivision. In the instant
case, the rights under the law have already been superseded by the voluntary easement of right-of-way.

Finally, petitioner questions the intervention of some LOYOLA residents at a time when the case was already on appeal, and submits
that intervention is no longer permissible after trial has been concluded. Suffice it to say that in Director of Lands v. Court of Appeals,
24 we said —

It is quite clear and patent that the motions for intervention filed by the movants at this stage of the proceedings where trial has already
been concluded, a judgment thereon had been promulgated in favor of private respondent and on appeal by the losing party . . . the
same was affirmed by the Court of Appeals and the instant petition for certiorari to review said judgment is already submitted for
decision by the Supreme Court, are obviously and manifestly late, beyond the period prescribed under . . . Section 2, Rule 12 of the
Rules of Court (now Sec. 2, Rule 19, 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure).

But Rule 12 of the Rules of Court, like all other Rules therein promulgated, is simply a rule of procedure, the whole purpose and object
of which is to make the powers of the Court fully and completely available for justice. The purpose of procedure is not to thwart justice.
Its proper aim is to facilitate the application of justice to the rival claims of contending parties. It was created not to hinder and delay but
to facilitate and promote the administration of justice. It does not constitute the thing itself which courts are always striving to secure to
litigants. It is designed as the means best adopted to obtain that thing. In other words, it is a means to an end.

The denial of the motions for intervention arising from the strict application of the Rule due to alleged lack of notice to, or the alleged
failure of, movants to act seasonably will lead the Court to commit an act of injustice to the movants, to their successors-in-interest and
to all purchasers for value and in good faith and thereby open the door to fraud, falsehood and misrepresentation, should intervenors'
claims be proven to be true.

After all, the intervention does not appear to have been filed to delay the proceedings. On the contrary, it seems to have expedited the
resolution of the case as the incidents brought forth by the intervention, which could have been raised in another case, were resolved
together with the issues herein resulting in a more thorough disposal of this case.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of respondent Court of Appeals dated 22 May 1990 and its Resolution dated 6 September 1990, which
affirmed the Decision of the RTC-Br. 89, Quezon City, dated 20 November 1987, are AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

Vitug, Kapunan and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., concur.

11. PILAR DEV CORP vs. DUMADAG, GR No. 194336, March 11, 2013
Republic of the Philippines
SUPREME COURT
Manila

THIRD DIVISION

G.R. No. 194336 March 11, 2013

PILAR DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, Petitioner,


vs.
RAMON DUMADAG, EMMA BACABAC, RONALDO NAVARRO, JIMMY PAGDALIAN, PAY DELOS SANTOS, ARMANDO TRILLOS,
FELICISIMO TRILLOS, ARCANGEL FLORES, EDDIE MARTIN, PRESILLA LAYOG, CONRADO CAGUYONG, GINA GONZALES,
ARLENE PEDROSA, JOCELYN ABELINO, ROQUE VILLARAZA, ROLANDO VILLARAZA, CAMILO GENOVE, NILDA ROAYANA,
SUSAN ROAYANA, JUANCHO PANGANIBAN, BONG DE GUZMAN, ARNOLD ENVERSO, DONNA DELA RAZA, EMELYN
HAGNAYA, FREDDIE DE LEON, RONILLO DE LEON, MARIO MARTINEZ, and PRECY LOPEZ, Respondents.

DECISION

PERALTA, J.:
Challenged in this petition for review on certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Civil Procedure are the March 5, 2010 Decision1 and
October 29, 2010 Resolution2 of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. CV No. 90254, which affirmed the May 30, 2007 Decision3 of
the Las Piñas Regional Trial Court, Branch 197 (trial court) dismissing the complaint filed by petitioner.

On July 1, 2002, petitioner filed a Complaint4 for accion publiciana with damages against respondents for allegedly building their
shanties, without its knowledge and consent, in its 5,613-square-meter property located at Daisy Road, Phase V, Pilar Village
Subdivision, Almanza, Las

Piñas City. It claims that said parcel of land, which is duly registered in its name under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 481436 of the
Register of Deeds for the Province of Rizal, was designated as an open space of Pilar Village Subdivision intended for village
recreational facilities and amenities for subdivision residents.5 In their Answer with Counterclaim,6 respondents denied the material
allegations of the Complaint and briefly asserted that it is the local government, not petitioner, which has jurisdiction and authority over
them.

Trial ensued. Both parties presented their respective witnesses and the trial court additionally conducted an ocular inspection of the
subject property.

On May 30, 2007, the trial court dismissed petitioner’s complaint, finding that the land being occupied by respondents are situated on
the sloping area going down and leading towards the Mahabang Ilog Creek, and within the three-meter legal easement; thus,
considered as public property and part of public dominion under Article 5027 of the New Civil Code (Code), which could not be owned
by petitioner. The court held:

x x x The land title of [petitioner] only proves that it is the owner in fee simple of the respective real properties described therein, free
from all liens and encumbrances, except such as may be expressly noted thereon or otherwise reserved by law x x x. And in the
present case, what is expressly reserved is what is written in TCT No. T-481436, to wit "that the 3.00 meter strip of the lot described
herein along the Mahabang Ilog Creek is reserved for public easement purposes. (From OCT 1873/A-50) and to the limitations
imposed by Republic Act No. 440. x x x"8

The trial court opined that respondents have a better right to possess the occupied lot, since they are in an area reserved for public
easement purposes and that only the local government of Las Piñas City could institute an action for recovery of possession or
ownership.

Petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration, but the same was denied by the trial court in its Order dated August 21, 2007.9
Consequently, petitioner elevated the matter to the Court of Appeals which, on March 5, 2010, sustained the dismissal of the case.

Referring to Section 210 of Administrative Order (A.O.) No. 99-21 of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),
the appellate court ruled that the 3-meter area being disputed is located along the creek which, in turn, is a form of a stream; therefore,
belonging to the public dominion. It said that petitioner could not close its eyes or ignore the fact, which is glaring in its own title, that
the 3-meter strip was indeed reserved for public easement. By relying on the TCT, it is then estopped from claiming ownership and
enforcing its supposed right. Unlike the trial court, however, the CA noted that the proper party entitled to seek recovery of possession
of the contested portion is not the City of Las Piñas, but the Republic of the Philippines, through the Office of the Solicitor General
(OSG), pursuant to Section 10111 of Commonwealth Act (C.A.) No. 141 (otherwise known as The Public Land Act).

The motion for reconsideration filed by petitioner was denied by the CA per Resolution dated October 29, 2010, hence, this petition.

Anchoring its pleadings on Article 63012 of the Code, petitioner argues that although the portion of the subject property occupied by
respondents is within the 3-meter strip reserved for public easement, it still retains ownership thereof since the strip does not form part
of the public dominion. As the owner of the subject parcel of land, it is entitled to its lawful possession, hence, the proper party to file an
action for recovery of possession against respondents conformably with Articles 42813 and 53914 of Code.

We deny.

An easement or servitude is a real right on another's property, corporeal and immovable, whereby the owner of the latter must refrain
from doing or allowing somebody else to do or something to be done on his or her property, for the benefit of another person or
tenement; it is jus in re aliena, inseparable from the estate to which it actively or passively belongs, indivisible, perpetual, and a
continuing property right, unless extinguished by causes provided by law.15 The Code defines easement as an encumbrance imposed
upon an immovable for the benefit of another immovable belonging to a different owner or for the benefit of a community, or of one or
more persons to whom the encumbered estate does not belong.16 There are two kinds of easement according to source: by law or by
will of the owners – the former are called legal and the latter voluntary easement.17 A legal easement or compulsory easement, or an
easement by necessity constituted by law has for its object either public use or the interest of private persons.18

While Article 630 of the Code provides for the general rule that "the owner of the servient estate retains the ownership of the portion on
which the easement is established, and may use the same in such a manner as not to affect the exercise of the easement," Article 635
thereof is specific in saying that "all matters concerning easements established for public or communal use shall be governed by the
special laws and regulations relating thereto, and, in the absence thereof, by the provisions of this Title Title VII on Easements or
Servitudes."

In the case at bar, the applicability of DENR A.O. No. 99-21 dated June 11, 1999, which superseded DENR A.O. No. 97-0519 dated
March 6, 1997 and prescribed the revised guidelines in the implementation of the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (R.A.) No. 1273
and Presidential Decree (P.D.) Nos. 705 and 1067, cannot be doubted. Inter alia, it was issued to further the government’s program of
biodiversity preservation. Aside from Section 2.1 above-quoted, Section 2.3 of which further mandates:

2.3 Survey of Titled Lands:

2.3.1 Administratively Titled Lands:

The provisions of item 2.1.a and 2.1.b shall be observed as the above. However, when these lands are to be subdivided, consolidated
or consolidated-subdivided, the strip of three (3) meters which falls within urban areas shall be demarcated and marked on the plan for
easement and bank protection.

The purpose of these strips of land shall be noted in the technical description and annotated in the title.

xxxx

2.3.3 Complex Subdivision or Consolidation Subdivision Surveys for Housing/Residential, Commercial or Industrial Purposes:

When titled lands are subdivided or consolidated-subdivided into lots for residential, commercial or industrial purposes the segregation
of the three (3) meter wide strip along the banks of rivers or streams shall be observed and be made part of the open space
requirement pursuant to P.D. 1216.

The strip shall be preserved and shall not be subject to subsequent subdivision. (Underscoring supplied)

Certainly, in the case of residential subdivisions, the allocation of the 3-meter strip along the banks of a stream, like the Mahabang Ilog
Creek in this case, is required and shall be considered as forming part of the open space requirement pursuant to P.D. 1216 dated
October 14, 1977.20 Said law is explicit: open spaces are "for public use and are, therefore, beyond the commerce of men" and that
"[the] areas reserved for parks, playgrounds and recreational use shall be non-alienable public lands, and non-buildable."

Running in same vein is P.D. 1067 or The Water Code of the Philippines21 which provides:

Art. 51. The banks of rivers and streams and the shores of the seas and lakes throughout their entire length and within a zone of three
(3) meters in urban areas, twenty (20) meters in agricultural areas and forty (40) meters in forest areas, along their margins, are subject
to the easement of public use in the interest of recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing and salvage. No person shall be allowed to stay
in this zone longer than what is necessary for recreation, navigation, floatage, fishing or salvage or to build structures of any kind.
(Underscoring supplied)

Thus, the above prove that petitioner’s right of ownership and possession has been limited by law with respect to the 3-meter
strip/zone along the banks of Mahabang Ilog Creek. Despite this, the Court cannot agree with the trial court’s opinion, as to which the
CA did not pass upon, that respondents have a better right to possess the subject portion of the land because they are occupying an
area reserved for public easement purposes. Similar to petitioner, respondents have no right or title over it precisely because it is public
land. Likewise, we repeatedly held that squatters have no possessory rights over the land intruded upon.22 The length of time that they
may have physically occupied the land is immaterial; they are deemed to have entered the same in bad faith, such that the nature of
their possession is presumed to have retained the same character throughout their occupancy.23

As to the issue of who is the proper party entitled to institute a case with respect to the 3-meter strip/zone, We find and so hold that
both the Republic of the Philippines, through the OSG and the local government of Las Piñas City, may file an action depending on the
purpose sought to be achieved. The former shall be responsible in case of action for reversion under C.A. 141, while the latter may
also bring an action to enforce the relevant provisions of Republic Act No. 7279 (otherwise known as the Urban Development and
Housing Act of 1992).24 Under R.A. 7279, which was enacted to uplift the living conditions in the poorer sections of the communities in
urban areas and was envisioned to be the antidote to the pernicious problem of squatting in the metropolis,25 all local government
units (LGUs) are mandated to evict and demolish persons or entities occupying danger areas such as esteros, railroad tracks, garbage
dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks, and playgrounds.26 Moreover,
under pain of administrative and criminal liability in case of non-compliance,27 it obliges LGUs to strictly observe the following:

Section 29. Resettlement. - Within two (2) years from the effectivity of this Act, the local government units, in coordination with the
National Housing Authority, shall implement the relocation and resettlement of persons living in danger areas such as esteros, railroad
tracks, garbage dumps, riverbanks, shorelines, waterways, and in other public places such as sidewalks, roads, parks and
playgrounds. The local government unit, in coordination with the National Housing Authority, shall provide relocation or resettlement
sites with basic services and facilities and access to employment and livelihood opportunities sufficient to meet the basic needs of the
affected families.1âwphi1

Section 30. Prohibition Against New Illegal Structures. - It shall be unlawful for any person to construct any structure in areas
mentioned in the preceding section. After the effectivity of this Act, the barangay, municipal or city government units shall prevent the
construction of any kind or illegal dwelling units or structures within their respective localities. The head of any local government unit
concerned who allows, abets or otherwise tolerates the construction of any structure in violation of this section shall be liable to
administrative sanctions under existing laws and to penal sanctions provided for in this Act.

Yet all is not lost for petitioner. It may properly file an action for mandamus to compel the local government of Las Piñas City to enforce
with reasonable dispatch the eviction, demolition, and relocation of respondents and any other persons similarly situated in order to
give flesh to one of the avowed policies of R.A. 7279, which is to reduce urban dysfunctions, particularly those that adversely affect
public health, safety, and ecology.28

Indeed, as one of the basic human needs, housing is a matter of state concern as it directly and significantly affects the general
welfare.29

WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED. The March 5, 2010 Decision and October 29, 2010 Resolution of the Court of Appeals in CA-
G.R. CV No. 90254, which affirmed the May 30, 2007 Decision of the Las Piñas RTC, Branch 197, dismissing petitioner's complaint, is
hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.

12. LIWAG vs. happy glenn loop homeowners gr No. 189755, July 4, 2012
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

SECOND DIVISION

EMETERIA LIWAG,

Petitioner,

- versus -

HAPPY GLEN LOOP HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION, INC.,

Respondent.

G. R. No. 189755

Present:

CARPIO, J., Chairperson,

BRION,

PEREZ,

SERENO, and

REYES, JJ.
Promulgated:

July 4, 2012

x--------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

SERENO, J.:

This Rule 45 Petition assails the Decision[1] and Resolution[2] of the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-GR SP No. 100454. The CA affirmed
with modification the Decision[3] and Order[4] of the Office of the President (O.P.) in OP Case No. 05-G-224, which had set aside the
Decision[5] of the Board of Commissioners of the Housing and Land Use Regulatory Board (HLURB) in HLURB Case No. REM-A-
041210-0261 and affirmed the Decision[6] of the Housing and Land Use Arbiter in HLURB Case No. REM-030904-12609.

The controversy stems from a water facility in Happy Glen Loop Subdivision (the Subdivision), which is situated in Deparo, Caloocan
City.

Sometime in 1978, F.G.R. Sales, the original developer of Happy Glen Loop, obtained a loan from Ernesto Marcelo (Marcelo), the
owner of T.P. Marcelo Realty Corporation. To settle its debt after failing to pay its obligation, F.G.R. Sales assigned to Marcelo all its
rights over several parcels of land in the Subdivision, as well as receivables from the lots already sold.[7]

As the successor-in-interest of the original developer, Marcelo represented to subdivision lot buyers, the National Housing Authority
(NHA) and the Human Settlement Regulatory Commission (HSRC) that a water facility was available in the Subdivision.[8]

For almost 30 years, the residents of the Subdivision relied on this facility as their only source of water.[9] This fact was acknowledged
by Marcelo and Hermogenes Liwag (Hermogenes), petitioners late husband who was then the president of respondent Happy Glen
Loop Homeowners Association (Association).[10]

Sometime in September 1995, Marcelo sold Lot 11, Block No. 5 to Hermogenes. As a result, Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. C-
350099

was issued to him. When Hermogenes died in 2003, petitioner Emeteria P. Liwag subsequently wrote a letter to respondent
Association, demanding the removal of the overhead water tank from the subject parcel of land.[11]

Refusing to comply with petitioners demand, respondent Association filed before the HLURB an action for specific performance;
confirmation, maintenance and donation of water facilities; annulment of sale; and cancellation of TCT No. 350099 against T.P. Marcelo
Realty Corporation (the owner and developer of the Subdivision), petitioner Emeteria, and the other surviving heirs of Hermogenes.

After the parties submitted their respective position papers, Housing and Land Use Arbiter Joselito Melchor (Arbiter Melchor) ruled in
favor of the Association. He invalidated the transfer of the parcel of land in favor of Hermogenes in a Decision dated 5 October 2004,
the dispositive portion of which reads:[12]

WHEREFORE, premises considered, judgment is hereby rendered as follows:

1. Confirming the existence of an easement for water system/facility or open space on Lot 11, Block 5 of TCT No. C-350099 wherein
the deep well and overhead tank are situated,

2. Making the Temporary Restraining Order dated 01 April 2004 permanent so as to allow the continuous use and maintenance of
the said water facility, i.e., deep well and over head water tank, on the subject lot, by the complainants members and residents of the
subject project, and restraining all the respondents from committing the acts complained of and as described in the complaint,

3. Declaring as void ab initio the deed of sale dated 26 February 2001, involving Lot 11, Block 5 in favor of spouses Liwag, and TCT
No. C-350099 in the name of same respondents without prejudice to complainants right to institute a criminal action in coordination
with the prosecuting arms of the government against respondents Marcelo and Liwag, and furthermore, with recourse by Liwag against
T.P. and/or Marcelo to ask for replacement for controverted lot with a new one within the subject project; and
4. Ordering respondents, jointly and severally, to pay complainant the amount of ₱10,000.00 as attorneys fees and the amount of
₱20,000.00 as damages in favor of the complainants members.

SO ORDERED.

On appeal before the HLURB Board of Commissioners, the Board found that Lot 11, Block 5 was not an open space. Moreover, it ruled
that Marcelo had complied with the requirements of Presidential Decree No. (P.D.) 1216 with the donation of 9,047 square meters of
open space and road lots. It further stated that there was no proof that Marcelo or the original subdivision owner or developer had at
any time represented that Lot 11, Block 5 was an open space. It therefore concluded that the use of the lot as site of the water tank
was merely tolerated.[13]

Respondent Association interposed an appeal to the OP, which set aside the Decision of the HLURB Board of Commissioners and
affirmed that of the Housing and Land Use Arbiter.[14]

The OP ruled that Lot 11, Block 5 was an open space, because it was the site of the water installation of the Subdivision, per Marcelos
official representation on file with the HLURB National Capital Region Field Office. The OP further ruled that the open space required
under P.D. 957 excluded road lots; and, thus, the Subdivisions open space was still short of that required by law. Finally, it ruled that
petitioner Liwag was aware of the representations made by Marcelo and his predecessors-in-interest, because he had acknowledged
the existence of a water installation system as per his Affidavit of 10 August 1982.[15]

Petitioner Liwag unsuccessfully moved for reconsideration,[16] then filed a Rule 43 Petition for Review before the CA.[17]

The CA affirmed that the HLURB possessed jurisdiction to invalidate the sale of the subject parcel of land to Hermogenes and to
invalidate the issuance of TCT No. C-350099 pursuant thereto.[18] The appellate court agreed with the OP that an easement for water
facility existed on the subject parcel of land and formed part of the open space required to be reserved by the subdivision developer
under P.D. 957.[19] However, it ruled that Arbiter Melchor should not have recommended the filing of a criminal action against
petitioner, as she was not involved in the development of the Subdivision or the sale of its lots to buyers.[20] The CA likewise deleted
the award of attorneys fees and damages in favor of respondent.[21]

Aggrieved, petitioner filed the instant Petition before this Court.

The Courts Ruling

We affirm the ruling of the appellate court.

The HLURB has exclusive jurisdiction

over the case at bar

The jurisdiction of the HLURB is outlined in P.D. 1344, Empowering the National Housing Authority to Issue Writ of Execution in the
Enforcement of its Decision under Presidential Decree No. 957, viz:

Sec. 1. In the exercise of its functions to regulate real estate trade and business and in addition to its powers provided for in
Presidential Decree No. 957, the National Housing Authority shall have the exclusive jurisdiction to hear and decide cases of the
following nature.

A. Unsound real estate business practices;

B. Claims involving refund and any other claims filed by subdivision lot or condominium unit buyer against the project owner,
developer, dealer, broker or salesman; and

C. Cases involving specific performance of contractual and statutory obligations filed by buyers of subdivision lots or
condominium units against the owner, developer, broker or salesman.
When respondent Association filed its Complaint before the HLURB, it alleged that Marcelos sale of Lot 11, Block 5 to Hermogenes
was done in violation of P.D. 957 in the following manner:

12. Through fraudulent acts and connivance of [T.P. and Ernesto Marcelo] and the late Liwag and without the knowledge and consent
of the complainants all in violation of P.D. 957 and its implementing regulations, respondents T.P. and Ernesto Marcelo transferred the
same lot where the deep well is located which is covered by TCT No. C-41785 in favor of spouses Hermogenes Liwag and Emeteria
Liwag to the great damage and prejudice of complainants x x x.[22] (Empasis in the original)

We find that this statement sufficiently alleges that the subdivision owner and developer fraudulently sold to Hermogenes the lot where
the water facility was located. Subdivisions are mandated to maintain and provide adequate water facilities for their communities.[23]
Without a provision for an alternative water source, the subdivision developers alleged sale of the lot where the communitys sole water
source was located constituted a violation of this obligation. Thus, this allegation makes out a case for an unsound real estate business
practice of the subdivision owner and developer. Clearly, the case at bar falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the HLURB.

It is worthy to note that the HLURB has exclusive jurisdiction over complaints arising from contracts between the subdivision developer
and the lot buyer, or those aimed at compelling the subdivision developer to comply with its contractual and statutory obligations to
make the Subdivision a better place to live in.[24] This interpretation is in line with one of P.D. 957s Whereas clauses, which provides:

WHEREAS, numerous reports reveal that many real estate subdivision owners, developers, operators, and/or sellers have reneged on
their representations and obligations to provide and maintain properly subdivision roads, drainage, sewerage, water systems, lighting
systems, and other similar basic requirements, thus endangering the health and safety of home and lot buyers. x x x.

P.D. 957 was promulgated to closely regulate real estate subdivision and condominium businesses.[25] Its provisions were intended to
encompass all questions regarding subdivisions and condominiums.[26] The decree aimed to provide for an appropriate government
agency, the HLURB, to which aggrieved parties in transactions involving subdivisions and condominiums may take recourse.[27]

II

An easement for water facility exists on Lot 11, Block 5 of Happy Glen Loop Subdivision

Easements or servitudes are encumbrances imposed upon an immovable for the benefit of another immovable belonging to a different
owner,[28] for the benefit of a community, [29] or for the benefit of one or more persons to whom the encumbered estate does not
belong.[30]

The law provides that easements may be continuous or discontinuous and apparent or non-apparent. The pertinent provisions of the
Civil Code are quoted below:

Art. 615. Easements may be continuous or discontinuous, apparent or non-apparent.

Continuous easements are those the use of which is or may be incessant, without the intervention of any act of man.

Discontinuous easements are those which are used at intervals and depend upon the acts of man.

Apparent easements are those which are made known and are continually kept in view by external signs that reveal the use and
enjoyment of the same.

Non-apparent easements are those which show no external indication of their existence.

In this case, the water facility is an encumbrance on Lot 11, Block 5 of the Subdivision for the benefit of the community. It is continuous
and apparent, because it is used incessantly without human intervention, and because it is continually kept in view by the overhead
water tank, which reveals its use to the public.

Contrary to petitioners contention that the existence of the water tank on Lot 11, Block 5 is merely tolerated, we find that the easement
of water facility has been voluntarily established either by Marcelo, the Subdivision owner and developer; or by F.G.R. Sales, his
predecessor-in-interest and the original developer of the Subdivision. For more than 30 years, the facility was continuously used as the
residents sole source of water.[31] The Civil Code provides that continuous and apparent easements are acquired either by virtue of a
title or by prescription of 10 years.[32] It is therefore clear that an easement of water facility has already been acquired through
prescription.

III
Lot 11, Block 5 of Happy Glen Loop Subdivision forms part of its open space

The term open space is defined in P.D. 1216 as an area reserved exclusively for parks, playgrounds, recreational uses, schools, roads,
places of worship, hospitals, health centers, barangay centers and other similar facilities and amenities.[33]

The decree makes no specific mention of areas reserved for water facilities. Therefore, we resort to statutory construction to determine
whether these areas fall under other similar facilities and amenities.

The basic statutory construction principle of ejusdem generis states that where a general word or phrase follows an enumeration of
particular and specific words of the same class, the general word or phrase is to be construed to include or to be restricted to things
akin to or resembling, or of the same kind or class as, those specifically mentioned.[34]

Applying this principle to the afore-quoted Section 1 of P.D. 1216, we find that the enumeration refers to areas reserved for the
common welfare of the community. Thus, the phrase other similar facilities and amenities should be interpreted in like manner.

Here, the water facility was undoubtedly established for the benefit of the community. Water is a basic need in human settlements,[35]
without which the community would not survive. We therefore rule that, based on the principle of ejusdem generis and taking into
consideration the intention of the law to create and maintain a healthy environment in human settlements,[36] the location of the water
facility in the Subdivision must form part of the area reserved for open space.

IV

The subject parcel of land is beyond the commerce of man and its sale is prohibited under the law

The law expressly provides that open spaces in subdivisions are reserved for public use and are beyond the commerce of man.[37] As
such, these open spaces are not susceptible of private ownership and appropriation. We therefore rule that the sale of the subject
parcel of land by the subdivision owner or developer to petitioners late husband was contrary to law. Hence, we find no reversible error
in the appellate courts Decision upholding the HLURB Arbiters annulment of the Deed of Sale.

Petitioner attempts to argue in favor of the validity of the sale of the subject parcel of land by invoking the principle of indefeasibility of
title and by arguing that this action constitutes a collateral attack against her title, an act proscribed by the Property Registration
Decree.

Petitioner is mistaken on both counts.

First, the rule that a collateral attack against a Torrens title is prohibited by law[38] finds no application to this case.

There is an attack on the title when the object of an action is to nullify a Torrens title, thus challenging the judgment or proceeding
pursuant to which the title was decreed.[39] In the present case, this action is not an attack against the validity of the Torrens title,
because it does not question the judgment or proceeding that led to the issuance of the title. Rather, this action questions the validity of
the transfer of land from Marcelo to petitioners husband. As there is no attack direct or collateral against the title, petitioners argument
holds no water.

Second, the principle of indefeasibility of title is not absolute, and there are well-defined exceptions to this rule.[40] In Aqualab
Philippines, Inc. v. Heirs of Pagobo,[41] we ruled that this defense does not extend to a transferee who takes the title with knowledge of
a defect in that of the transferees predecessor-in-interest.

In this case, Spouses Liwag were aware of the existence of the easement of water facility when Marcelo sold Lot 11, Block 5 to them.
Hermogenes even executed an Affidavit dated 10 August 1982 attesting to the sufficiency of the water supply coming from an
electrically operated water pump in the Subdivision.[42] It is undisputed that the water facility in question was their only water source
during that time. As residents of the Subdivision, they had even benefited for almost 30 years from its existence. Therefore, petitioner
cannot be shielded by the principle of indefeasibility and conclusiveness of title, as she was not an innocent purchaser in good faith
and for value.

From the discussion above, we therefore conclude that the appellate court committed no reversible error in the assailed Decision and
accordingly affirm it in toto.

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the instant Petition for Review is DENIED, and the assailed Decision and Resolution of the Court
of Appeals in CA-GR SP No. 100454 are hereby AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.
13. METRO ILOILO WATER DISTRICT vs. CA, GR No. 122855, March 31, 2005
SECOND DIVISION

[G.R. No. 122855. March 31, 2005]

METRO ILOILO WATER DISTRICT, petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, Former SECOND DIVISION, Manila, HON.
SEVERINO C. AGUILAR, Presiding Judge, Branch 35, RTC, Iloilo, EMMA NAVA, RUFINO SITACA, JR., REXES URSUA, CARMEN
PANGANTIHON, BENITO GO, REBECCA BERLIN, and / or CHIT BERLIN, LUIS CARREON, CHARLES KANA-AN and GERRY
LUZURIAGA, respondents.

DECISION

TINGA, J.:

Before this Court is a Petition[1] dated November 9, 1995 filed by the Metro Iloilo Water District assailing the Decision[2] of the Court of
appeals dated June 19, 1995 which affirmed the trial courts Order[3] dismissing the petitions for injunction filed by petitioner against
private respondents.

Petitioner is a water district organized under the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 198 (P.D. 198), as amended. It was granted by
the Local Water Utilities Administration Conditional Certificate of Conformance No. 71[4] on January 12, 1979. Its service areas
encompass the entire territorial areas of Iloilo City and the Municipalities of Ma-asin, Cabanatuan, Santa Barbara and Pavia.

Sometime between April and May of 1993, petitioner filed nine (9) individual yet identical petitions for injunction with prayer for
preliminary injunction and / or temporary restraining order[5] against herein private respondents the pertinent portions of which read:

4. That pursuant to the provisions of section 31 (a) of P.D. 198, as amended, the petitioner as a Water District was authorized to adopt
laws and regulations governing the drilling, maintenance and operation of wells within its boundaries for purposes other than single
family domestic use on overlying land, with then provision that any well operated in violation of such regulations shall be deemed an
interference with the waters of the district;

5. That by virtue of said authorization, the Board of Directors for the petitioner promulgated its Rules Governing Ground Water Pumping
and spring Development Within the Territorial Jurisdiction of the Metro Iloilo Water District, Section 3 of which provides as follows:

Ground Water Pumping and Spring Development. Except when the use of water is for single family domestic use, no person, natural or
juridical shall abstract or withdraw ground water and appropriate the waters from springs within the jurisdiction of the District without
first securing a water permit from the Council and no person shall engage in the business of drilling wells either as test wells or
production wells for the purpose of abstracting or withdrawing ground water without first registering as well as driller with the Council;
Provided, that the person drilling his own well or through the services of a qualified well driller shall comply with the standards and
requirements established herein in addition to those established by the Council for the exploitation of ground water resources.

6. That the respondent has abstracted or withdrawn ground water within the territorial jurisdiction of the petitioner at
_________________________ Iloilo City, without first securing a Water Permit from the National Water Resources Council nor had its
well driller registered as such with said council, and sold said water so extracted to commercial and other consumers in Iloilo City,
within petitioners service area;

7. That the unauthorized extraction or withdrawal of ground water by the respondent without the necessary permit therefore is in
violation of the rules and regulations prescribed by the Board of Directors of the petitioner as above-mentioned duly approved by the
National Water Resources Council and constitutes interference with or deterioration of water quality or the natural flow of surface or
ground water supply which maybe used or useful for any purpose of the petitioner for which the petitioner as a Water District may
commence, maintain, intervene in, defend and compromise actions or proceedings under Section 31 (a) of P.D. 198, as amended;

8. That the act of the respondent in continuing to extract or withdraw ground water without a Water Permit therefor, is in violation of Art.
XIII of P.D. 1067 of the Water Code of the Philippines, and unless such act is restrained, will definitely cause great loss upon the
petitioner as a Water District.[6]

In their respective answers, private respondents uniformly invoked the lack of jurisdiction of the trial court, contending that the cases
were within the original and exclusive jurisdiction of the National Water Resources Council (Water Council) under Presidential Decree
No. 1067, otherwise known as the Water Code of the Philippines (Water Code). In addition, private respondents Emma Nava[7] and
Rebecca Berlin[8] denied having extracted or withdrawn water from the ground, much less sold the same.[9] Private respondent
Carmen Pangantihon likewise denied having constructed any waterworks system in her area but admitted that she had constructed her
own deep well, unaware that she needed to get a permit to do the same.[10] Private respondent Rufino Sitaca maintained the
petitioners source of water are reservoirs from rivers and are thus not affected by his well. Moreover, he claimed that his water permit
application was deemed approved, and thus he is entitled to use the water from his well.[11]

Private respondent Benito Go admitted that he extracted water from the ground, which he claimed to be his private property, and used
the water for his lumberyard and domestic purposes.[12] Additionally, he alleged the petitioners rules and regulations were not
published in the Official Gazette and hence petitioner had no cause of action.[13] Private respondent Charles Kana-an asserted that he
had complied with the requirements for the approval of his water permit application. He claimed that he was extracting and selling
water with petitioners knowledge, and without damage and injury to the latter.[14] Meanwhile, private respondent Gerry Luzuriaga
claimed that he was not the real party in interest, but Shoemart, Inc. which has the control and possession of the property where the
alleged withdrawal of ground water was taking place.[15]

The trial court dismissed the petitions in its Order[16] dated March 17, 1994, ruling that the controversy was within the original
jurisdiction of the Water Council, involving, as it did, the appropriation, exploitation, and utilization of water, and factual issues which
were within the Water Councils competence. In addition, the trial court held that petitioner failed to exhaust administrative remedies
under the doctrine of primary administrative jurisdiction. Petitioners Motion for Reconsideration[17] was thereafter denied on April 29,
1994.[18]

A petition[19] dated May 27, 1994 seeking a review of the trial courts order of dismissal was filed before this Court but the same was
referred to the Court of Appeals for consideration and adjudication on the merits in the Resolution[20] dated July 11, 1994.

Petitioner sought the review of the order of the trial court dismissing the petitions and denying its motion for reconsideration, on the
ground that the trial court failed to adhere to this Courts rulings in Amistoso v. Ong[21] and Santos v. Court of Appeals,[22] which
upheld the regular courts jurisdiction over disputes which involve not the settlement of water rights but the enjoyment of the right to
water use for which a permit had already been granted.

The Court of Appeals denied the petition, holding that the trial court did not err in dismissing the case for want of jurisdiction as it was
the Water Council which had jurisdiction over the case. The appellate court ratiocinated:

The controversy in this case arose from the fact that the petitioner Iloilo Water District was granted water rights in Iloilo City and the
respondents also extracted or withdrew ground water within the same jurisdiction.

While at first impression this case involves a violation of the petitioners enjoyment of a right to water use, the fact is that it actually
involves also a dispute over the appropriation, utilization, exploitation development, control, conversation and protection of waters
because the respondents have allegedly engaged in the extraction or withdrawal of ground water without a permit from the NWRC
within the territorial jurisdiction of the petitioner. Therefore, Art. 88 of P.D. No. 1067 giving the NWRC original jurisdiction over the cases
is applicable.

The NWRC has jurisdiction to hear and decide disputes relating to appropriation, utilization and control of water while the Regional Trial
Court only has appellate jurisdiction over the case. This was the ruling of the Supreme Court in Abe-abe vs. Manta, 90 SCRA 524
which was reiterated in Tanjay Water District vs. Gabanton, 172 SCRA 253.

The cases of Santos v. Court of Appeals, 214 SCRA 170 and Amistoso vs. Ong, 130 SCRA 288 are not applicable to the case at bar for
here, what is involved is not only the alleged violation of the grantees right but a question of whether or not the respondents have equal
right to the appropriation, utilization and exploitation of water rights.[23]

The Court of Appeals denied petitioners Motion for Reconsideration[24] dated July 11, 1995 in its Resolution of September 29, 1995.
[25]

Petitioner now contends that the extraction or withdrawal of ground water as well as the sale thereof within its territorial jurisdiction is a
violation of its rights as a water district.[26] Being a violation thereof, the regular courts have jurisdiction over the dispute. On the other
hand, private respondents unanimously maintain that it is the Water Council which has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this case.
Thus, the sole issue in this petition, as presented by petitioner, is:

DID THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF ILOILO HAVE JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT MATTER OF THE PETITIONS?[27]

Petitioner anchors its claim on Section 31 (now 32) of PD 198, as amended, which reads:

Sec. 32. Protection of waters and Facilities of District. A district shall have the right to :

(a) Commence, maintain, intervene in, defend and compromise actions or proceedings to prevent interference with or deterioration of
water quality or the natural flow of any surface, stream or ground water supply which may be used or useful for any purpose of the
district or be a common benefit to the lands or its inhabitants. The ground water within a district is necessary to the performance of the
districts powers and such districts hereby authorized to adopt rules and regulations subject to the approval of the National Water
Resources Council governing the drilling, maintenance and operation of wells within its boundaries for purposes other than a singled
family domestic use on overlying land. Any well operated on violation of such regulations shall be deemed in interference with the
waters of the district.

(c) Prohibit any person, firm or corporation from vending, selling, or otherwise disposing of water for public purposes within the service
area of the district where district facilities are available to provide such service, or fix terms and conditions by permit for such sale or
disposition of water.

By virtue of the above provisions, petitioner states that as a water district, it has the right to prevent interference with the water of the
district; and to enforce such right, it is given remedies of commencing, maintaining, or intervening in, defending or entering into
appropriate actions or proceedings.

In asserting the jurisdiction of the regular courts over its petitions and the propriety of its filing of the petitions before the trial court,
petitioner invokes the ruling of the Court in Amistoso v. Ong,[28] as reiterated in Santos v. Court of Appeals,[29] that where the issue
involved is not the settlement of a water rights dispute, but the enjoyment of a right to water use for which a permit was already
granted, the regular court has jurisdiction and not the Water Council.

Petitioner insists that there is no occasion to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Water Council in this case since there is no question
of appropriation, exploitation, utilization, development, control, conservation, and protection of water. The only dispute, according to
petitioner, pertains to the act of private respondents in extracting ground water from the territory of petitioner as a water district and
selling the same within its service area, or more succinctly, private respondents interference with the granted right of petitioner over
ground water within its territorial jurisdiction.[30]

Private respondents, for their part, staunchly invoke Article 88 of the Water Code, which grants original jurisdiction over all disputes
relating to the appropriation, utilization, exploitation, development, control, conservation and protection of waters to the Water Council.
[31]

Relying on the cases of Abe-abe v. Manta[32] and Tanjay Water District v. Gabaton,[33] private respondents maintain that the Water
Council is exclusively vested with original jurisdiction to settle water disputes under the Water Code. They claim that the Amistoso and
Santos cases do not apply to the instant case since in Amistoso, the issue was the prevention of the flow of water through an irrigation
canal, and in Santos, the issue referred to the prevention of the enjoyment of a water right. In contrast, the issue in the instant case is
the right to appropriate water which petitioner and some of the private respondents profess to have.

We find merit in the petition.

The petitions file before the trial court were for the issuance of an injunction order for respondents to cease and desist from extracting
or withdrawing water from petitioners well and from selling the same within its service areas.[34] The petitions contained factual
allegations in support of the prayer for injunction, to wit:

1. the grant to petitioner of a Conditional Certificate of Conformance by the Local Water Utilities Administration over areas from which
water was allegedly extracted or withdrawn by private respondents, by virtue of which its Board of Directors promulgated rules
governing ground water pumping within its service areas;

2. abstraction or withdrawal of water within the territorial jurisdiction of petitioner by private respondents without first securing a permit
from the Water Council, or registering their well drillers, and sale of said water so extracted to commercial and other consumers within
petitioners service areas;

3. that the unauthorized extraction or withdrawal of ground water by private respondents without the necessary permit was in violation
of petitioners prescribed rules, and constitutes interference for which petitioner may commence, maintain, intervene in, defend and
compromise actions or proceedings under Sec. 31 of P.D. No. 198;

4. that the extraction or withdrawal of ground water without the corresponding permit was a violation of Art. 13 of the Water Code; and

5. that great damage and prejudice will be suffered by petitioner if private respondents extraction and withdrawal of ground water, as
well as the selling thereof be allowed to continue.

In essence, the petitions focus on the violations incurred by private respondents by virtue of their alleged unauthorized extraction and
withdrawal of ground water within petitioners service area, visa-a-vis petitioners vested rights as a water district. At issue is whether or
not private respondents extraction and sale of ground water within petitioners service area violated petitioners rights as a water district.
It is at once obvious that the petitions raise a judicial question.

A judicial question is raised when the determination of the questions involves the exercise of a judicial function, i.e., the question
involves the determination of what the law is and what the legal rights of the parties are with respect to the matter in controversy. As
opposed to a moot question or one properly decided by the executive or legislative branch, a judicial question is properly addressed to
the courts.[35]

The instant case certainly calls for the application and interpretation of pertinent laws and jurisprudence in order to determine whether
private respondents actions violate petitioners rights as a water district and justify an injunction. This issue does not so much provide
occasion to invoke the special knowledge and expertise of the Water Council as it necessitates judicial intervention. While initially it
may appear that there is a dimension to the petitions which pertains to the sphere of the Water Council, i.e., the appropriation of water
which the Water Code defines as the acquisition of rights over the use of waters or the taking or diverting of waters from a natural
source in the manner and for any purpose allowed by law, in reality the matter is at most merely collateral to the main thrust of the
petitions.

The petitions having raised a judicial question, it follows that the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, on the basis of
which the petitions were dismissed by the trial court and the Court of Appeals, does not even come to play.[36]

Notably too, private respondents themselves do not dispute petitioners rights as a water district. The cases of Abe-Abe v. Manta[37]
and Tanjay Water District v. Gabaton[38] invoked by private respondents are thus inapplicable. In Abe-Abe v. Manta, both petitioners
and respondent had no established right emanating from any grant by any governmental agency to the use, appropriation and
exploitation of water, while in Tanjay Water District v. Gabaton, petitioner Tanjay sought to enjoin the Municipality of Pamplona and its
officials from interfering in the management of the Tanjay Waterworks System.
On the other hand, in the analogous case of Amistoso v. Ong[39], petitioner had an approved Water Rights Grant from the Department
of Public Works, Transportation and Communications. The trial court was not asked to grant petitioner the right to use but to compel
private respondents to recognize that right. Thus, we declared that the trial courts jurisdiction must be upheld where the issue involved
is not the settlement of a water rights dispute, but the enjoyment of a right to water use for which a permit was already granted.[40]

In like manner, the present petition calls for the issuance of an injunction order to prevent private respondents from extracting and
selling ground water within petitioners service area in violation of the latters water permit. There is no dispute regarding petitioners right
to ground water within its service area. It is petitioners enjoyment of its rights as a water district which it seeks to assert against private
respondents.

WHEREFORE, the Decision of the Court of Appeals dated June 19, 1995 is SET ASIDE and the case is ordered REMANDED to the
trial court for further proceedings, with costs against respondents.

SO ORDERED.

Puno, (Chairman), Austria-Martinez, Callejo, Sr., and Chico-Nazario, JJ., concur.

14. TELMO vs. BUSTAMANTE, GR No. 182567, July 13, 2009


THIRD DIVISION

GUILLERMO M. TELMO,

Petitioner,

- versus -

LUCIANO M. BUSTAMANTE,

Respondent.

G.R. No. 182567

Present:

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J.,

Chairperson,

CHICO-NAZARIO,

VELASCO, JR.,

NACHURA, and
PERALTA, JJ.

Promulgated:

July 13, 2009

x------------------------------------------------------------------------------------x

DECISION

NACHURA, J.:

For our consideration is a Petition[1] for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court in relation to Section 27, paragraph 3
of the Ombudsman Act of 1989 (Republic Act No. 6770). Subject of the Petition is the Decision[2] dated October 13, 2005 and the
Order[3] dated March 17, 2006 of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon.

This case arose from the Verified Complaint[4] filed by respondent Luciano M. Bustamante before the Office of the Deputy
Ombudsman for Luzon against petitioner Guillermo Telmo, Municipal Engineer of Naic, Cavite, Danilo Consumo, Barangay (Brgy.)
Chairman, Brgy. Halang, Naic, Cavite, and Elizalde Telmo, a private individual.

The complaint alleged that respondent is a co-owner of a real property of 616 square meters in Brgy. Halang, Naic, Cavite, known as
Lot 952-A and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-957643 of the Register of Deeds of Cavite. Petitioner and Elizalde Telmo
(Telmos) are the owners of the two (2) parcels of land denominated as Lot 952-B and 952-C, respectively, located at the back of
respondents lot. When his lot was transgressed by the construction of the Noveleta-Naic-Tagaytay Road, respondent offered for sale
the remaining lot to the Telmos. The latter refused because they said they would have no use for it, the remaining portion being
covered by the roads 10-meter easement.

The complaint further alleged that, on May 8, 2005, respondent caused the resurvey of Lot 952-A in the presence of the Telmos. The
resurvey showed that the Telmos encroached upon respondents lot. Petitioner then uttered, Hanggat ako ang municipal engineer ng
Naic, Cavite, hindi kayo makakapagtayo ng anuman sa lupa nyo; hindi ko kayo bibigyan ng building permit.

On May 10, 2005, respondent put up concrete poles on his lot. However, around 7:00 p.m. of the same day, the Telmos and their men
allegedly destroyed the concrete poles. The following day, respondents relatives went to Brgy. Chairman Consumo to report the
destruction of the concrete poles. Consumo told them that he would not record the same, because he was present when the incident
occurred. Consumo never recorded the incident in the barangay blotter.
Respondent complained that he and his co-owners did not receive any just compensation from the government when it took a portion
of their property for the construction of the Noveleta-Naic-Tagaytay Road. Worse, they could not enjoy the use of the remaining part of
their lot due to the abusive, Illegal, and unjust acts of the Telmos and Consumo. Respondent charged the latter criminallyfor violation of
Article 312[5] of the Revised Penal Code and Section 3(e)[6] of Republic Act No. 3019[7] and administrativelyfor violation of Section 4
(a)[8], (b)[9], (c)[10], and (e)[11] of Republic Act No. 6713.[12]

In his Counter-Affidavit,[13] petitioner denied having uttered the words attributed to him by respondent, and claimed that he only
performed his official duties in requiring an application for a building permit before any structure can be erected on government
property. He said that respondent insisted on enclosing with barbed wire and concrete posts the lot that already belonged to the
national government, which had now been converted into a national road. He also alleged that if he allowed the enclosures erected by
the respondent, other residents would be denied ingress to and egress from their own properties.

In his own counter-affidavit, Consumo denied collusion with petitioner in not recording in the barangay blotter the subject incident. He
explained that on May 10, 2005 at around 5:00 p.m., he was summoned by petitioner to intercede, because the respondent and his
men were fencing the subject property. Consumo obliged, personally saw the fence being built, and observed that even the trucks
owned by petitioner were enclosed therein. When he asked respondent if he had the necessary permit and the proper barangay
clearance to do so, respondents lawyer, Atty. San Gaspar, replied that there was no need for the permit and clearance since
respondent was just fencing his own property. Thus, Consumo could not prevent the ongoing fencing, but told respondent and
company to wait for petitioner to decide the matter.

Consumo further alleged that after putting up the fence, respondent and his companions left without waiting for the arrival of petitioner.
When petitioner arrived, he explained to the people present that the property enclosed by respondent is owned by the government and
that no one is allowed to construct any fence without a permit from him, as the Municipal Engineer, or from any building official of the
local government of Naic, Cavite. Consumo said that the residents affected by the fence constructed by respondent were the ones who
pulled out the concrete posts in order to provide access to the national road. These residents included the petitioner, whose trucks
used for delivering sand and hollow blocks were enclosed and also denied access.

In his Counter-Affidavit,[14] Elizalde Telmo denied having encroached, occupied or taken possession of respondents property. He
claimed that, on May 10, 2005, he was merely an onlooker to the altercation between petitioner and respondent. He said that
petitioner, his brother, insisted that respondent could not enclose the property in question unless the latter obtains a building permit
from the Office of the Municipal Engineer/Building Official, since it appeared that the subject property was no longer a property of
respondent but was converted into government property by virtue of the 30-meter road set-back imposed by the Zoning Ordinance of
the Municipality of Naic, Cavite. Elizalde Telmo stated that he did not offer any resistance to the fencing of the property in question. He
observed, though, that when they learned that petitioner was arriving at the place, respondent and his companions just left the vicinity.

Later, petitioner and respondent filed their respective position papers[15] upon the directive of the Graft Investigating and Prosecuting
Officer. Their position papers reiterated the allegations made in their respective affidavits earlier submitted.

In the Decision[16] dated October 13, 2005, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon found petitioner and Danilo Consumo
administratively liable, but dismissed the charge against Elizalde Telmo for lack of jurisdiction over his person, he being a private
individual. The dispositive portion of the Decision states

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the undersigned investigator respectfully recommends the following, to wit:

(1) That the administrative complaint against respondent Elizalde Telmo be DISMISSED for lack of jurisdiction;

(2) That respondent Guillermo Telmo be meted the PENALTY OF FINE EQUIVALENT TO SIX (6) MONTHS SALARY for
violation of Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6713; and
(3) That respondent Danilo Consumo be meted the PENALTY OF FINE EQUIVALENT TO THREE (3) MONTHS HONORARIA
for violation of Section 4 of Republic Act No. 6713.

SO DECIDED.[17]

Petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration,[18] wherein he elaborated that he just performed his official duties when he summarily
removed the concrete posts erected by respondent to enclose the property.

In the Order[19] dated March 17, 2006, the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon denied the Motion for Reconsideration for lack
of merit.

Hence, this petition anchored on the following grounds:

A. THE HONORABLE DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN FOR LUZON SERIOUSLY ERRED WHEN HE DECLARED THAT THERE WAS NO
VALID TAKING OF RESPONDENTS LOT BY MEANS OF EXPROPRIATION.

B. THE HONORABLE DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN FOR LUZON SERIOUSLY ERRED WHEN HE DECLARED THAT PETITIONER
SHOULD BE AUTHORIZED BY THE MUNICIPAL MAYOR OR BY THE COURT TO ABATE PUBLIC NUISANCE OR NUISANCE PER
SE.

C. THE HONORABLE DEPUTY OMBUDSMAN FOR LUZON ERRED WHEN HE METED THE PENALTY OF FINE EQUIVALENT TO
SIX (6) MONTHS SALARY FOR VIOLATION OF SECTION 4 OF REPUBLIC ACT NO. 6713.[20]

In essence, petitioner contends that the property claimed and enclosed with concrete posts by respondent was validly taken by the
National Government through its power of eminent domain, pursuant to Executive Order No. 113, as amended by Executive Order No.
253, creating the Noveleta-Naic-Tagaytay Road. In this context, petitioner contends that the concrete posts erected by respondent
were a public nuisance under Article 694 (4)[21] of the Civil Code, more particularly a nuisance per se, which may be summarily abated
under Article 699 (3)[22] of the same Code. Petitioner says that as the Municipal Engineer, he is also the Building Official of Naic,
Cavite; and thus, it was well within his authority, pursuant to Section 214, paragraph two (2) of the National Building Code, to order the
removal of the concrete posts. Petitioner likewise claims that Section 23 of Revised Philippine Highway Act (Presidential Decree No.
17)[23] mandated him to remove respondents concrete posts. Petitioner concludes that since he merely performed his official duties in
removing the concrete posts erected by petitioner from the property, which is already owned by the government, he must be absolved
of any administrative liability.

Instead of filing his comment on the petition, respondent manifested through counsel that he is no longer interested in pursuing this
case, submitting therewith his Affidavit of Desistance[24] dated December 5, 2007. Respondent alleged in the affidavit that the
administrative charges he lodged against petitioner were brought about by a misunderstanding between them, which differences have
already been settled. Consequently, this case should now be dismissed.

We disagree.
The desistance of the complainant does not necessarily result in the dismissal of the administrative complaint because the Court
attaches no persuasive value to a desistance, especially when executed as an afterthought.[25] It should be remembered that the
issue in an administrative case is not whether the complaint states a cause of action against the respondent, but whether the public
officials have breached the norms and standards of the public service.[26] Considering that petitioner admitted in his pleadings that he
summarily removed the concrete posts erected by respondent, allegedly within the parameters of his authority as Municipal Engineer of
Naic, Cavite, it is only proper that this case be decided on its merits rather than on the basis of the desistance of respondent.

It cannot be denied that respondents property was taken by the National Government thru the Department of Public Works and
Highways when it constructed the Noveleta-Naic-Tagaytay Road. What is not clear from the records of this case is whether
respondents property was taken as part of the national road itself or only as part of the right-of-way easement therefor. We observe
that the re-survey plan[27] of his property attached by respondent to his complaint and the survey plan[28] of the Noveleta-Naic-
Tagaytay Road submitted by petitioner appear to be different. Nevertheless, it is evident from the sketch plans that respondent could
not enclose his property because it is now being used by the National Government. Therefore, whatever cause of action respondent
may have in his claim for just compensation for the taking of his property, the same should be lodged against the National Government.

While it is settled that respondent does not have the legal right to enclose the property, we should now determine whether petitioner
indeed performed his official functions properly.

First. Petitioner claims that his act of summarily removing respondents concrete posts was authorized under the National Building
Code (Presidential Decree No. 1096). The provision he cites correctly pertains to Section 215, which reads

Sec. 215. Abatement of Dangerous Buildings.When any building or structure is found or declared to be dangerous or ruinous, the
Building Official shall order its repair, vacation or demolition depending upon the decree of danger to life, health, or safety. This is
without prejudice to further action that may be taken under the provisions of Articles 482 and 694 to 707 of the Civil Code of the
Philippines.

To better understand this provision, we refer to Section 214 of the same law, which defines what are dangerous and ruinous buildings
or structures susceptible of abatement. It provides

Sec. 214. Dangerous and Ruinous Buildings or Structures. Dangerous buildings are those which are herein declared as such or are
structurally unsafe or not provided with safe egress, or which constitute a fire hazard, or are otherwise dangerous to human life, or
which in relation to existing use, constitute a hazard to safety or health or public welfare because of inadequate maintenance,
dilapidation, obsolescence, or abandonment, or which otherwise contribute to the pollution of the site or the community to an
intolerable degree.

A careful reading of the foregoing provisions would readily show that they do not apply to the respondents situation. Nowhere was it
shown that the concrete posts put up by respondent in what he believed was his and his co-owners property were ever declared
dangerous or ruinous, such that they can be summarily demolished by petitioner.

What is more, it appears that the concrete posts do not even fall within the scope of the provisions of the National Building Code. The
Code does not expressly define the word building. However, we find helpful the dictionary definition of the word building, viz:

[A] constructed edifice designed usually covered by a roof and more or less completely enclosed by walls, and serving as a dwelling,
storehouse, factory, shelter for animals, or other useful structure distinguished from structures not designed for occupancy (as fences
or monuments) and from structures not intended for use in one place (as boats or trailers) even though subject to occupancy.[29]
The provisions of the National Building Code would confirm that building as used therein conforms to this definition. Thus, applying the
statutory construction principle of ejusdem generic,[30] the word structure should be construed in the context of the definition of the
word building. The concrete posts put up by respondent on the property are not properly covered by the definition of the word building
nor is it embraced in the corresponding interpretation of the word structure.

Second. Petitioner contends that respondents concrete posts were in the nature of a nuisance per se, which may be the subject of
summary abatement sans any judicial proceedings. Again, we disagree.

A nuisance per se is that which affects the immediate safety of persons and property and may be summarily abated under the
undefined law of necessity.[31] Evidently, the concrete posts summarily removed by petitioner did not at all pose a hazard to the safety
of persons and properties, which would have necessitated immediate and summary abatement. What they did, at most, was to pose an
inconvenience to the public by blocking the free passage of people to and from the national road.

Third. Petitioner likewise maintains that his authority to perform the assailed official act sprang from Section 23 of the Revised
Philippine Highway Act. He posits that this provision is particularly implemented by Department Order No. 52,[32] Series of 2003 of the
Department of Public Works and Highways for the Removal of Obstructions and Prohibited Uses within the Right-of-Way of National
Roads.

Department Order No. 52 directs all District Engineers to immediately remove or cause the removal of all obstructions and prohibited
uses within the right-of-way of all national roads in their respective jurisdictions. These obstructions and prohibited uses include, among
others, all kinds of private, temporary and permanent structures, such as buildings, houses, shanties, stores, shops, stalls, sheds,
posts, canopies, billboards, signages, advertisements, fences, walls, railings, basketball courts, garbage receptacles, and the like. The
Department Order requires the District Engineers to issue notices to the concerned persons to remove the obstructions and prohibited
uses within the right-of-way, and shall follow through prompt compliance with these notices and full implementation of the Order. It
further provides that appropriate sanctions will be taken against those who fail to comply with its provisions.

Gauging the action of petitioner based on the guidelines set by Department Order No. 52, from which he claims his authority, we
cannot but conclude that petitioner went beyond the scope of his official power because it is the concerned District Engineer of the
Department of Public Works and Highways who should have ordered respondent to remove the concrete posts. The petitioner failed to
show that he was duly authorized by the District Engineer to implement the Department Order in Naic, Cavite. More importantly, even
assuming that petitioner had been duly authorized to order the removal of the concrete posts of respondent, he failed to prove that he
issued the required notice to respondent to remove the said structures before he did the removal himself. Note that petitioner, in fact,
admitted in his pleadings that he summarily removed the said posts.

The Revised Philippine Highway Act and Department Order No. 52 do not expressly provide for the administrative sanction to be taken
against public officials violating their provisions. Hence, we must refer to the Uniform Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil
Service. We believe that the administrative offense committed by petitioner through the questioned act was only Discourtesy in the
Course of Official Duties, which is a light offense under Rule IV, Section 52 of the said Rules. The penalties imposable for such an
offense are a reprimand for the first offense, a suspension from 1 day to 30 days for the second offense, and dismissal from public
service for the third offense. Since this appears to be petitioners first offense, his action warrants only a REPRIMAND.

WHEREFORE, the Decision dated October 13, 2005 and the Order dated March 17, 2006 of the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for
Luzon finding petitioner Guillermo M. Telmo, Municipal Engineer of Naic, Cavite, administratively culpable for violation of Section 4 of
Republic Act No. 6713, imposing upon him the penalty of fine equivalent to his six 6-month salary, must be MODIFIED. Guillermo M.
Telmo is instead found administratively guilty of DISCOURTESY IN THE COURSE OF OFFICIAL DUTIES and is hereby
REPRIMANDED. Costs against petitioner.

SO ORDERED.
15. GANCAYCO vs. LGU QUEZON CITY, GR No. 177807, Oct 11, 2011
Republic of the Philippines
Supreme Court
Manila

EN BANC

EMILIO GANCAYCO,

Petitioner,

- versus -

CITY GOVERNMENT OF QUEZON CITY AND METRO MANILA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY,

Respondents.

x-----------------------------------------------x

METRO MANILA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY,

Petitioner,

-versus-

JUSTICE EMILIO A. GANCAYCO (Retired),

Respondent,

x-----------------------------------------x

G.R. No. 177807


G.R. No. 177933

Present:

CORONA, C.J.,

CARPIO,

VELASCO, JR.,

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO,

BRION,

PERALTA,

BERSAMIN,*

DEL CASTILLO,**

ABAD,

VILLARAMA, JR.,

PEREZ,*

MENDOZA,

SERENO,

REYES, and

PERLAS-BERNABE, JJ.

Promulgated:

October 11, 2011


x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x

DECISION

SERENO, J.:

Before us are consolidated Petitions for Review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court assailing the Decision[1] promulgated on 18 July
2006 and the Resolution[2] dated 10 May 2007 of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 84648.

The Facts

In the early 1950s, retired Justice Emilio A. Gancayco bought a parcel of land located at 746 Epifanio delos Santos Avenue (EDSA),[3]
Quezon City with an area of 375 square meters and covered by Transfer Certificate of Title (TCT) No. RT114558.

On 27 March 1956, the Quezon City Council issued Ordinance No. 2904, entitled An Ordinance Requiring the Construction of Arcades,
for Commercial Buildings to be Constructed in Zones Designated as Business Zones in the Zoning Plan of Quezon City, and Providing
Penalties in Violation Thereof.[4]

An arcade is defined as any portion of a building above the first floor projecting over the sidewalk beyond the first storey wall used as
protection for pedestrians against rain or sun.[5]

Ordinance No. 2904 required the relevant property owner to construct an arcade with a width of 4.50 meters and height of 5.00 meters
along EDSA, from the north side of Santolan Road to one lot after Liberty Avenue, and from one lot before Central Boulevard to the
Botocan transmission line.

At the outset, it bears emphasis that at the time Ordinance No. 2904 was passed by the city council, there was yet no building code
passed by the national legislature. Thus, the regulation of the construction of buildings was left to the discretion of local government
units. Under this particular ordinance, the city council required that the arcade is to be created by constructing the wall of the ground
floor facing the sidewalk a few meters away from the property line. Thus, the building owner is not allowed to construct his wall up to
the edge of the property line, thereby creating a space or shelter under the first floor. In effect, property owners relinquish the use of the
space for use as an arcade for pedestrians, instead of using it for their own purposes.

The ordinance was amended several times. On 8 August 1960, properties located at the Quezon City-San Juan boundary were
exempted by Ordinance No. 60-4477 from the construction of arcades. This ordinance was further amended by Ordinance No. 60-
4513, extending the exemption to commercial buildings from Balete Street to Seattle Street. Ordinance No. 6603 dated 1 March 1966
meanwhile reduced the width of the arcades to three meters for buildings along V. Luna Road, Central District, Quezon City.

The ordinance covered the property of Justice Gancayco. Subsequently, sometime in 1965, Justice Gancayco sought the exemption of
a two-storey building being constructed on his property from the application of Ordinance No. 2904 that he be exempted from
constructing an arcade on his property.

On 2 February 1966, the City Council acted favorably on Justice Gancaycos request and issued Resolution No. 7161, S-66, subject to
the condition that upon notice by the City Engineer, the owner shall, within reasonable time, demolish the enclosure of said arcade at
his own expense when public interest so demands.[6]

Decades after, in March 2003, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) conducted operations to clear obstructions
along the sidewalk of EDSA in Quezon City pursuant to Metro Manila Councils (MMC) Resolution No. 02-28, Series of 2002.[7] The
resolution authorized the MMDA and local government units to clear the sidewalks, streets, avenues, alleys, bridges, parks and other
public places in Metro Manila of all illegal structures and obstructions.[8]

On 28 April 2003, the MMDA sent a notice of demolition to Justice Gancayco alleging that a portion of his building violated the National
Building Code of the Philippines (Building Code)[9] in relation to Ordinance No. 2904. The MMDA gave Justice Gancayco fifteen (15)
days to clear the portion of the building that was supposed to be an arcade along EDSA.[10]

Justice Gancayco did not comply with the notice. Soon after the lapse of the fifteen (15) days, the MMDA proceeded to demolish the
party wall, or what was referred to as the wing walls, of the ground floor structure. The records of the present case are not entirely clear
on the extent of the demolition; nevertheless, the fact of demolition was not disputed. At the time of the demolition, the affected portion
of the building was being used as a restaurant.
On 29 May 2003, Justice Gancayco filed a Petition[11] with prayer for a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction
before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Quezon City, docketed as Civil Case No. Q03-49693, seeking to prohibit the MMDA and the
City Government of Quezon City from demolishing his property. In his Petition,[12] he alleged that the ordinance authorized the taking
of private property without due process of law and just compensation, because the construction of an arcade will require 67.5 square
meters from the 375 square meter property. In addition, he claimed that the ordinance was selective and discriminatory in its scope and
application when it allowed the owners of the buildings located in the Quezon City-San Juan boundary to Cubao Rotonda, and Balete
to Seattle Streets to construct arcades at their option. He thus sought the declaration of nullity of Ordinance No. 2904 and the payment
of damages. Alternately, he prayed for the payment of just compensation should the court hold the ordinance valid.

The City Government of Quezon City claimed that the ordinance was a valid exercise of police power, regulating the use of property in
a business zone. In addition, it pointed out that Justice Gancayco was already barred by estoppel, laches and prescription.

Similarly, the MMDA alleged that Justice Gancayco could not seek the nullification of an ordinance that he had already violated, and
that the ordinance enjoyed the presumption of constitutionality. It further stated that the questioned property was a public nuisance
impeding the safe passage of pedestrians. Finally, the MMDA claimed that it was merely implementing the legal easement established
by Ordinance No. 2904.[13]

The RTC rendered its Decision on 30 September 2003 in favor of Justice Gancayco.[14] It held that the questioned ordinance was
unconstitutional, ruling that it allowed the taking of private property for public use without just compensation. The RTC said that
because 67.5 square meters out of Justice Gancaycos 375 square meters of property were being taken without compensation for the
publics benefit, the ordinance was confiscatory and oppressive. It likewise held that the ordinance violated owners right to equal
protection of laws. The dispositive portion thus states:

WHEREFORE, the petition is hereby granted and the Court hereby declares Quezon City Ordinance No. 2094,[15] Series of 1956 to
be unconstitutional, invalid and void ab initio. The respondents are hereby permanently enjoined from enforcing and implementing the
said ordinance, and the respondent MMDA is hereby directed to immediately restore the portion of the party wall or wing wall of the
building of the petitioner it destroyed to its original condition.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

The MMDA thereafter appealed from the Decision of the trial court. On 18 July 2006, the Court of Appeals (CA) partly granted the
appeal.[16] The CA upheld the validity of Ordinance No. 2904 and lifted the injunction against the enforcement and implementation of
the ordinance. In so doing, it held that the ordinance was a valid exercise of the right of the local government unit to promote the
general welfare of its constituents pursuant to its police powers. The CA also ruled that the ordinance established a valid classification
of property owners with regard to the construction of arcades in their respective properties depending on the location. The CA further
stated that there was no taking of private property, since the owner still enjoyed the beneficial ownership of the property, to wit:

Even with the requirement of the construction of arcaded sidewalks within his commercial lot, appellee still retains the beneficial
ownership of the said property. Thus, there is no taking for public use which must be subject to just compensation. While the arcaded
sidewalks contribute to the public good, for providing safety and comfort to passersby, the ultimate benefit from the same still redounds
to appellee, his commercial establishment being at the forefront of a busy thoroughfare like EDSA. The arcaded sidewalks, by their
nature, assure clients of the commercial establishments thereat some kind of protection from accidents and other hazards. Without
doubt, this sense of protection can be a boon to the business activity therein engaged. [17]

Nevertheless, the CA held that the MMDA went beyond its powers when it demolished the subject property. It further found that
Resolution No. 02-28 only refers to sidewalks, streets, avenues, alleys, bridges, parks and other public places in Metro Manila, thus
excluding Justice Gancaycos private property. Lastly, the CA stated that the MMDA is not clothed with the authority to declare, prevent
or abate nuisances. Thus, the dispositive portion stated:

WHEREFORE, the appeals are PARTLY GRANTED. The Decision dated September 30, 2003 of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 224,
Quezon City, is MODIFIED, as follows:

1) The validity and constitutionality of Ordinance No. 2094,[18] Series of 1956, issued by the City Council of Quezon City, is
UPHELD; and

2) The injunction against the enforcement and implementation of the said Ordinance is LIFTED.

SO ORDERED.

This ruling prompted the MMDA and Justice Gancayco to file their respective Motions for Partial Reconsideration.[19]
On 10 May 2007, the CA denied the motions stating that the parties did not present new issues nor offer grounds that would merit the
reconsideration of the Court.[20]

Dissatisfied with the ruling of the CA, Justice Gancayco and the MMDA filed their respective Petitions for Review before this Court. The
issues raised by the parties are summarized as follows:

I. WHETHER OR NOT JUSTICE GANCAYCO WAS ESTOPPED FROM ASSAILING THE VALIDITY OF ORDINANCE NO.
2904.

II. WHETHER OR NOT ORDINANCE NO. 2904 IS CONSTITUTIONAL.

III. WHETHER OR NOT THE WING WALL OF JUSTICE GANCAYCOS BUILDING IS A PUBLIC NUISANCE.

IV. WHETHER OR NOT THE MMDA LEGALLY DEMOLISHED THE PROPERTY OF JUSTICE GANCAYCO.

The Courts Ruling

Estoppel

The MMDA and the City Government of Quezon City both claim that Justice Gancayco was estopped from challenging the ordinance,
because, in 1965, he asked for an exemption from the application of the ordinance. According to them, Justice Gancayco thereby
recognized the power of the city government to regulate the construction of buildings.

To recall, Justice Gancayco questioned the constitutionality of the ordinance on two grounds: (1) whether the ordinance takes private
property without due process of law and just compensation; and (2) whether the ordinance violates the equal protection of rights
because it allowed exemptions from its application.

On the first ground, we find that Justice Gancayco may still question the constitutionality of the ordinance to determine whether or not
the ordinance constitutes a taking of private property without due process of law and just compensation. It was only in 2003 when he
was allegedly deprived of his property when the MMDA demolished a portion of the building. Because he was granted an exemption in
1966, there was no taking yet to speak of.

Moreover, in Acebedo Optical Company, Inc. v. Court of Appeals,[21] we held:

It is therefore decisively clear that estoppel cannot apply in this case. The fact that petitioner acquiesced in the special conditions
imposed by the City Mayor in subject business permit does not preclude it from challenging the said imposition, which is ultra vires or
beyond the ambit of authority of respondent City Mayor. Ultra vires acts or acts which are clearly beyond the scope of one's authority
are null and void and cannot be given any effect. The doctrine of estoppel cannot operate to give effect to an act which is otherwise null
and void or ultra vires. (Emphasis supplied.)

Recently, in British American Tobacco v. Camacho,[22] we likewise held:

We find that petitioner was not guilty of estoppel. When it made the undertaking to comply with all issuances of the BIR, which at that
time it considered as valid, petitioner did not commit any false misrepresentation or misleading act. Indeed, petitioner cannot be faulted
for initially undertaking to comply with, and subjecting itself to the operation of Section 145(C), and only later on filing the subject case
praying for the declaration of its unconstitutionality when the circumstances change and the law results in what it perceives to be
unlawful discrimination. The mere fact that a law has been relied upon in the past and all that time has not been attacked as
unconstitutional is not a ground for considering petitioner estopped from assailing its validity. For courts will pass upon a constitutional
question only when presented before it in bona fide cases for determination, and the fact that the question has not been raised before
is not a valid reason for refusing to allow it to be raised later. (Emphasis supplied.)

Anent the second ground, we find that Justice Gancayco may not question the ordinance on the ground of equal protection when he
also benefited from the exemption. It bears emphasis that Justice Gancayco himself requested for an exemption from the application of
the ordinance in 1965 and was eventually granted one. Moreover, he was still enjoying the exemption at the time of the demolition as
there was yet no valid notice from the city engineer. Thus, while the ordinance may be attacked with regard to its different treatment of
properties that appears to be similarly situated, Justice Gancayco is not the proper person to do so.

Zoning and the regulation of the

construction of buildings are valid


exercises of police power .

In MMDA v. Bel-Air Village Association,[23] we discussed the nature of police powers exercised by local government units, to wit:

Police power is an inherent attribute of sovereignty. It has been defined as the power vested by the Constitution in the legislature to
make, ordain, and establish all manner of wholesome and reasonable laws, statutes and ordinances, either with penalties or without,
not repugnant to the Constitution, as they shall judge to be for the good and welfare of the commonwealth, and for the subjects of the
same. The power is plenary and its scope is vast and pervasive, reaching and justifying measures for public health, public safety,
public morals, and the general welfare.

It bears stressing that police power is lodged primarily in the National Legislature. It cannot be exercised by any group or body of
individuals not possessing legislative power. The National Legislature, however, may delegate this power to the President and
administrative boards as well as the lawmaking bodies of municipal corporations or local government units. Once delegated, the agents
can exercise only such legislative powers as are conferred on them by the national lawmaking body.

To resolve the issue on the constitutionality of the ordinance, we must first determine whether there was a valid delegation of police
power. Then we can determine whether the City Government of Quezon City acted within the limits of the delegation.

It is clear that Congress expressly granted the city government, through the city council, police power by virtue of Section 12(oo) of
Republic Act No. 537, or the Revised Charter of Quezon City,[24] which states:

To make such further ordinances and regulations not repugnant to law as may be necessary to carry into effect and discharge the
powers and duties conferred by this Act and such as it shall deem necessary and proper to provide for the health and safety, promote
the prosperity, improve the morals, peace, good order, comfort, and convenience of the city and the inhabitants thereof, and for the
protection of property therein; and enforce obedience thereto with such lawful fines or penalties as the City Council may prescribe
under the provisions of subsection (jj) of this section.

Specifically, on the powers of the city government to regulate the construction of buildings, the Charter also expressly provided that the
city government had the power to regulate the kinds of buildings and structures that may be erected within fire limits and the manner of
constructing and repairing them.[25]

With regard meanwhile to the power of the local government units to issue zoning ordinances, we apply Social Justice Society v.
Atienza.[26] In that case, the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Manila City enacted an ordinance on 28 November 2001 reclassifying
certain areas of the city from industrial to commercial. As a result of the zoning ordinance, the oil terminals located in those areas were
no longer allowed. Though the oil companies contended that they stood to lose billions of pesos, this Court upheld the power of the city
government to pass the assailed ordinance, stating:

In the exercise of police power, property rights of individuals may be subjected to restraints and burdens in order to fulfil the objectives
of the government. Otherwise stated, the government may enact legislation that may interfere with personal liberty, property, lawful
businesses and occupations to promote the general welfare. However, the interference must be reasonable and not arbitrary. And to
forestall arbitrariness, the methods or means used to protect public health, morals, safety or welfare must have a reasonable relation to
the end in view.

The means adopted by the Sanggunian was the enactment of a zoning ordinance which reclassified the area where the depot is
situated from industrial to commercial. A zoning ordinance is defined as a local city or municipal legislation which logically arranges,
prescribes, defines and apportions a given political subdivision into specific land uses as present and future projection of needs. As a
result of the zoning, the continued operation of the businesses of the oil companies in their present location will no longer be permitted.
The power to establish zones for industrial, commercial and residential uses is derived from the police power itself and is exercised for
the protection and benefit of the residents of a locality. Consequently, the enactment of Ordinance No. 8027 is within the power of the
Sangguniang Panlungsod of the City of Manila and any resulting burden on those affected cannot be said to be unjust... (Emphasis
supplied)

In Carlos Superdrug v. Department of Social Welfare and Development,[27] we also held:

For this reason, when the conditions so demand as determined by the legislature, property rights must bow to the primacy of police
power because property rights, though sheltered by due process, must yield to general welfare.

Police power as an attribute to promote the common good would be diluted considerably if on the mere plea of petitioners that they will
suffer loss of earnings and capital, the questioned provision is invalidated. Moreover, in the absence of evidence demonstrating the
alleged confiscatory effect of the provision in question, there is no basis for its nullification in view of the presumption of validity which
every law has in its favor. (Emphasis supplied.)
In the case at bar, it is clear that the primary objectives of the city council of Quezon City when it issued the questioned ordinance
ordering the construction of arcades were the health and safety of the city and its inhabitants; the promotion of their prosperity; and the
improvement of their morals, peace, good order, comfort, and the convenience. These arcades provide safe and convenient passage
along the sidewalk for commuters and pedestrians, not just the residents of Quezon City. More especially so because the contested
portion of the building is located on a busy segment of the city, in a business zone along EDSA.

Corollarily, the policy of the Building Code,[28] which was passed after the Quezon City Ordinance, supports the purpose for the
enactment of Ordinance No. 2904. The Building Code states:

Section 102. Declaration of Policy. It is hereby declared to be the policy of the State to safeguard life, health, property, and public
welfare, consistent with the principles of sound environmental management and control; and to this end, make it the purpose of this
Code to provide for all buildings and structures, a framework of minimum standards and requirements to regulate and control their
location, site, design quality of materials, construction, occupancy, and maintenance.

Section 1004 likewise requires the construction of arcades whenever existing or zoning ordinances require it. Apparently, the law
allows the local government units to determine whether arcades are necessary within their respective jurisdictions.

Justice Gancayco argues that there is a three-meter sidewalk in front of his property line, and the arcade should be constructed above
that sidewalk rather than within his property line. We do not need to address this argument inasmuch as it raises the issue of the
wisdom of the city ordinance, a matter we will not and need not delve into.

To reiterate, at the time that the ordinance was passed, there was no national building code enforced to guide the city council; thus,
there was no law of national application that prohibited the city council from regulating the construction of buildings, arcades and
sidewalks in their jurisdiction.

The wing walls of the building are not

nuisances per se.

The MMDA claims that the portion of the building in question is a nuisance per se.

We disagree.

The fact that in 1966 the City Council gave Justice Gancayco an exemption from constructing an arcade is an indication that the wing
walls of the building are not nuisances per se. The wing walls do not per se immediately and adversely affect the safety of persons and
property. The fact that an ordinance may declare a structure illegal does not necessarily make that structure a nuisance.

Article 694 of the Civil Code defines nuisance as any act, omission, establishment, business, condition or property, or anything else
that (1) injures or endangers the health or safety of others; (2) annoys or offends the senses; (3) shocks, defies or disregards decency
or morality; (4) obstructs or interferes with the free passage of any public highway or street, or any body of water; or, (5) hinders or
impairs the use of property. A nuisance may be per se or per accidens. A nuisance per se is that which affects the immediate safety of
persons and property and may summarily be abated under the undefined law of necessity.[29]

Clearly, when Justice Gancayco was given a permit to construct the building, the city council or the city engineer did not consider the
building, or its demolished portion, to be a threat to the safety of persons and property. This fact alone should have warned the MMDA
against summarily demolishing the structure.

Neither does the MMDA have the power to declare a thing a nuisance. Only courts of law have the power to determine whether a thing
is a nuisance. In AC Enterprises v. Frabelle Properties Corp.,[30] we held:

We agree with petitioner's contention that, under Section 447(a)(3)(i) of R.A. No. 7160, otherwise known as the Local Government
Code, the Sangguniang Panglungsod is empowered to enact ordinances declaring, preventing or abating noise and other forms of
nuisance. It bears stressing, however, that the Sangguniang Bayan cannot declare a particular thing as a nuisance per se and order its
condemnation. It does not have the power to find, as a fact, that a particular thing is a nuisance when such thing is not a nuisance per
se; nor can it authorize the extrajudicial condemnation and destruction of that as a nuisance which in its nature, situation or use is not
such. Those things must be determined and resolved in the ordinary courts of law. If a thing be in fact, a nuisance due to the manner of
its operation, that question cannot be determined by a mere resolution of the Sangguniang Bayan. (Emphasis supplied.)
MMDA illegally demolished

the property of Justice Gancayco.

MMDA alleges that by virtue of MMDA Resolution No. 02-28, Series of 2002, it is empowered to demolish Justice Gancaycos property.
It insists that the Metro Manila Council authorized the MMDA and the local government units to clear the sidewalks, streets, avenues,
alleys, bridges, parks and other public places in Metro Manila of all illegal structures and obstructions. It further alleges that it
demolished the property pursuant to the Building Code in relation to Ordinance No. 2904 as amended.

However, the Building Code clearly provides the process by which a building may be demolished. The authority to order the demolition
of any structure lies with the Building Official. The pertinent provisions of the Building Code provide:

SECTION 205. Building Officials. Except as otherwise provided herein, the Building Official shall be responsible for carrying out the
provisions of this Code in the field as well as the enforcement of orders and decisions made pursuant thereto.

Due to the exigencies of the service, the Secretary may designate incumbent Public Works District Engineers, City Engineers and
Municipal Engineers act as Building Officials in their respective areas of jurisdiction.

The designation made by the Secretary under this Section shall continue until regular positions of Building Official are provided or
unless sooner terminated for causes provided by law or decree.

xxx xxx xxx

SECTION 207. Duties of a Building Official. In his respective territorial jurisdiction, the Building Official shall be primarily responsible for
the enforcement of the provisions of this Code as well as of the implementing rules and regulations issued therefor. He is the official
charged with the duties of issuing building permits.

In the performance of his duties, a Building Official may enter any building or its premises at all reasonable times to inspect and
determine compliance with the requirements of this Code, and the terms and conditions provided for in the building permit as issued.

When any building work is found to be contrary to the provisions of this Code, the Building Official may order the work stopped and
prescribe the terms and/or conditions when the work will be allowed to resume. Likewise, the Building Official is authorized to order the
discontinuance of the occupancy or use of any building or structure or portion thereof found to be occupied or used contrary to the
provisions of this Code.

xxx xxx xxx

SECTION 215. Abatement of Dangerous Buildings. When any building or structure is found or declared to be dangerous or ruinous, the
Building Official shall order its repair, vacation or demolition depending upon the degree of danger to life, health, or safety. This is
without prejudice to further action that may be taken under the provisions of Articles 482 and 694 to 707 of the Civil Code of the
Philippines. (Emphasis supplied.)
MMDA v. Trackworks Rail Transit Advertising, Vending and Promotions, Inc.[31] is applicable to the case at bar. In that case, MMDA,
invoking its charter and the Building Code, summarily dismantled the advertising media installed on the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) 3.
This Court held:

It is futile for MMDA to simply invoke its legal mandate to justify the dismantling of Trackworks' billboards, signages and other
advertising media. MMDA simply had no power on its own to dismantle, remove, or destroy the billboards, signages and other
advertising media installed on the MRT3 structure by Trackworks. In Metropolitan Manila Development Authority v. Bel-Air Village
Association, Inc., Metropolitan Manila Development Authority v. Viron Transportation Co., Inc., and Metropolitan Manila Development
Authority v. Garin, the Court had the occasion to rule that MMDA's powers were limited to the formulation, coordination, regulation,
implementation, preparation, management, monitoring, setting of policies, installing a system, and administration. Nothing in Republic
Act No. 7924 granted MMDA police power, let alone legislative power.

Clarifying the real nature of MMDA, the Court held:

...The MMDA is, as termed in the charter itself, a "development authority". It is an agency created for the purpose of laying down
policies and coordinating with the various national government agencies, people's organizations, non-governmental organizations and
the private sector for the efficient and expeditious delivery of basic services in the vast metropolitan area. All its functions are
administrative in nature and these are actually summed up in the charter itself, viz:

Sec.2. Creation of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.- xxx.

The MMDA shall perform planning, monitoring and coordinative functions, and in the process exercise regulatory and supervisory
authority over the delivery of metro-wide services within Metro Manila, without diminution of the autonomy of local government units
concerning purely local matters.

The Court also agrees with the CA's ruling that MMDA Regulation No. 96-009 and MMC Memorandum Circular No. 88-09 did not apply
to Trackworks' billboards, signages and other advertising media. The prohibition against posting, installation and display of billboards,
signages and other advertising media applied only to public areas, but MRT3, being private property pursuant to the BLT agreement
between the Government and MRTC, was not one of the areas as to which the prohibition applied. Moreover, MMC Memorandum
Circular No. 88-09 did not apply to Trackworks' billboards, signages and other advertising media in MRT3, because it did not
specifically cover MRT3, and because it was issued a year prior to the construction of MRT3 on the center island of EDSA. Clearly,
MMC Memorandum Circular No. 88-09 could not have included MRT3 in its prohibition.

MMDA's insistence that it was only implementing Presidential Decree No. 1096 (Building Code) and its implementing rules and
regulations is not persuasive. The power to enforce the provisions of the Building Code was lodged in the Department of Public Works
and Highways (DPWH), not in MMDA, considering the law's following provision, thus:

Sec. 201. Responsibility for Administration and Enforcement. -


The administration and enforcement of the provisions of this Code including the imposition of penalties for administrative violations
thereof is hereby vested in the Secretary of Public Works, Transportation and Communications, hereinafter referred to as the
"Secretary."

There is also no evidence showing that MMDA had been delegated by DPWH to implement the Building Code. (Emphasis supplied.)

Additionally, the penalty prescribed by Ordinance No. 2904 itself does not include the demolition of illegally constructed buildings in
case of violations. Instead, it merely prescribes a punishment of a fine of not more than two hundred pesos (P200.00) or by
imprisonment of not more than thirty (30) days, or by both such fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the Court, Provided, that if
the violation is committed by a corporation, partnership, or any juridical entity, the Manager, managing partner, or any person charged
with the management thereof shall be held responsible therefor. The ordinance itself also clearly states that it is the regular courts that
will determine whether there was a violation of the ordinance.
As pointed out in Trackworks, the MMDA does not have the power to enact ordinances. Thus, it cannot supplement the provisions of
Quezon City Ordinance No. 2904 merely through its Resolution No. 02-28.

Lastly, the MMDA claims that the City Government of Quezon City may be considered to have approved the demolition of the structure,
simply because then Quezon City Mayor Feliciano R. Belmonte signed MMDA Resolution No. 02-28. In effect, the city government
delegated these powers to the MMDA. The powers referred to are those that include the power to declare, prevent and abate a
nuisance[32] and to further impose the penalty of removal or demolition of the building or structure by the owner or by the city at the
expense of the owner.[33]

MMDAs argument does not hold water. There was no valid delegation of powers to the MMDA. Contrary to the claim of the MMDA, the
City Government of Quezon City washed its hands off the acts of the former. In its Answer,[34] the city government stated that the
demolition was undertaken by the MMDA only, without the participation and/or consent of Quezon City. Therefore, the MMDA acted on
its own and should be held solely liable for the destruction of the portion of Justice Gancaycos building.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 84648 is AFFIRMED.

SO ORDERED.