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No. L-30389. December 27, 1972. FERNANDO, J.

:
PEDRO LEE HONG HOK, SIMEON LEE HONG HOK, ROSITA LEE HONG HOK and LEONCIO LEE
HONG HOK, petitioners, vs. ANIANO DAVID, THE HON. SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE AND Petitioners in this appeal by certiorari would have us reverse a decision of respondent Court of Appeals affirming
NATURAL RESOURCES, THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS and COURT OF APPEALS, respondents. a lower court judgment dismissing their complaint to have the Torrens Title of respondent Aniano David declared
null and void. What makes the task for petitioners quite difficult is that their factual support for their pretension to
Public land; Validity of government grants.—Only the Government, represented by the Director of Lands, or the
ownership of such disputed lot through accretion was rejected by respondent Court of Appeals. Without such
Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, can bring an action to cancel a void certificate of title issued
underpinning, they must perforce rely on a legal theory, which, to put it mildly, is distinguished by unorthodoxy
pursuant to a void patent Whether the grant was in conformity with the law or not is a question which the
and is therefore far from persuasive. A grant by the government through the appropriate public officials3
government may raise, but until it is raised by the government and set aside, the defendant cannot question it. The
exercising the competence duly vested in them by law is not to be set at naught on the premise, unexpressed but
legality of the grant is a question between the grantee and the government.
implied, that land not otherwise passing into private ownership may not be disposed of by the state. Such an
Same; Imperium distinguished from dominium.—The government authority possessed by the state which is assumption is at war with settled principles of constitutional law. It cannot receive our assent. We affirm.
appropriately embraced in the concept of sovereignty comes under the heading of imperium; its capacity to own
The decision of respondent Court of Appeals following that of the lower court makes clear that there is no legal
or acquire property under dominiun. The use of this term is appropriate with reference to lands held by the state
justification for nullifying the right of respondent Aniano David to the disputed lot arising from the grant made in
in its proprietary character. In such capacity, it may provide for the exploitation and use of lands and other
his favor by respondent officials. As noted in the decision under review, he "acquired lawful title thereto pursuant
natural resources, including their disposition, -except as limited by the Constitution.
to his miscellaneous sales application in accordance with which an order of award and for issuance of a sales
Same; Jura regalia, adopted by the Constitution.—The concept of jura, regalia was adopted by the present patent was made by the Director of Lands on June 18, 1958, covering Lot 2892 containing an area of 226 square
Constitution. ownership however being vested in the state as such rather than the head thereof. meters, which is a portion of Lot 2863 of the Naga Cadastre, On the basis of the order of award of the Director of
Lands the Undersecretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources issued on August 26, 1959, Miscellaneous Sales
Same; When property considered of public domain.—There being no evidence whatever that the property in Patent No. V-1209 pursuant to which OCT No. 510 was issued by the Register of Deeds of Naga City to
question was ever acquired by the applicants or their ancestors either by composition title or by any other means defendant-appellee Aniano David on October 21, 1959. According to the Stipulation of Facts, since the filing of
for the acquisition of public lands, the property must be held to be public domain, For it is well-settled that no the sales application of Aniano David and during all the proceedings in connection with said application, up to the
public land can be acquired by private persons without any grant, express or implied, from the government. It is actual issuance of the sales patent in his favor, the plaintiffsappellants did not put up any opposition or adverse
indispensable then that there be a showing of a title from the state or any other mode of acquisition recognized by claim thereto. This is fatal to them because after the registration and issuance of the certificate and duplicate
law. certificate of title based on a public land patent, the land covered thereby automatically comes under the operation
of Republic Act 496 subject to all the safeguards provided therein * * *. Under Section 38 of Act 496 any question
Same; Proceedings under Land Registration Law and under Chapter VI of the Public Land Law; Similarities concerning the validity of the certificate of title based on fraud should be raised within one year from the date of
between—The proceedings under the Land Registration Law and under the provisions of Chapter VI of the Public the issuance of the patent. Thereafter the certificate of title based thereon becomes indefeasible * * *. In this case
Land Law are the same in that both are against the whole world, both take the nature of judicial proceedings, and the land in question is not a private property as the Director of Lands and the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
for both the decree of registration issued is conclusive and final. Resources have always sustained the public character thereof for having been formed by reclamation. * * * The
only remedy therefore, available to the appellants is an action for reconveyance on the ground of fraud. In this
APPEAL by certiorari from a decision of the Court of Appeals. case we do not see any fraud committed by defendant-appellant Aniano David in applying for the purchase of the
land involved through his Miscellaneous Sales Application No. MSA-V-26747, entered in the records of the
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court, Bureau of Lands [Miscellaneous Sales] Entry No. V-9033, because everything was done in the open. The notices
regarding the auction sale of the land were published, the actual sale and award thereof to Aniano David were not
Augusto A. Pardalis for petitioners.
clandestine but open and public official acts of an officer of the Government. The application was merely a
renewal of his deceased wif e's application, and the said deceased occupied the land since 1938."
Luis General, Jr. for respondent Aniano David.
On such finding of facts, the attempt of petitioners to elicit a different conclusion is likely to be attended with
Office of the Solicitor General for other respondents
frustration. The first error assigned predicated an accretion having taken place, notwithstanding its rejection by

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respondent Court of Appeals, would seek to disregard what was accepted by respondent Court as to how the decided in 1904. One of the royal decrees cited was incorporated in the Recopilacion de Leyes de lasIndias in
disputed lot came into being, namely by reclamation. It does not therefore call for any further consideration. these words: "We having acquired full sovereignty over the Indies, and all lands, territories, and possessions not
Neither of the other two errors imputed to respondent Court, as to its holding that authoritative doctrines preclude heretofore ceded away by our royal predecessors, or by us, or in our name, still pertaining to the royal crown and
a party other than the government to dispute the validity of a grant and the recognition of the indefeasible patrimony, it is our will that all lands which are held without proper and true deeds of grant be restored to us
character of a public land patent after one year, is possessed of merit. Consequently, as set forth at the outset, there according as they belong to us, in order that after reserving before all what to us or to our viceroys, audiencias, and
is no justification for reversal. governors may seem necessary for public squares, ways, pastures, and commons in those places which are
peopled, taking into consideration not only their present condition, but also their future and their probable
1. More specifically, the sham of criticism was let loose by petitioner aimed at this legal proposition set forth in increase, and after distributing to the natives what may be necessary for tillage and pasturage, confirming them in
the exhaustive opinion of then Justice Salvador Esguerra of the Court of Appeals, now a member of this Court: what they now have and giving them more if necessary, all the rest of said lands may remain free and
"There is, furthermore, a fatal defect of parties to this action. Only the Government, represented by the Director of unencumbered for us to dispose of as we may wish."
Lands, or the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, can bring an action to cancel a void certificate of
title issued pursuant to a void patent (Lucas vs. Durian, 102 Phil. 1157; Director of Lands vs. Heirs of Ciriaco It could therefore be affirmed in Montano v. Insular Government that "as to the unappropriated public lands
Carlo, G.R. No. L-12485, July 31, 1959). This was not done by said officers but by private parties like the constituting the public domain the sole power of legislation is vested in Congress, * * *." They continue to possess
plaintiffs, who cannot claim that the patent and title issued for the land involved are void since they are not the that character until severed therefrom by state grant,where, as in this case, it was found by the Court of Appeals
registered owners thereof nor had they been declared as owners in the cadastral proceedings of Naga Cadastre that the disputed lot was the result of reclamation, its being correctly categorized as public land is undeniable.
after claiming it as their private property. The cases cited by appellants are not in point as they refer to private What was held in Heirs of DatuPendatun v. Director of Lands finds application. Thus: "There being no evidence
registered lands or public lands over which vested rights have been acquired but notwithstanding such fact the whatever that the property in question was ever acquired by the applicants or their ancestors either by composition
Land Department subsequently granted patents to public land applicants." Petitioner ought to have known better. title from the Spanish Government or by possessory information title or by any other means for the acquisition of
The above excerpt is invulnerable to attack. It is a restatement of a principle that dates back to Maninang v. public lands, the property must be held to be public domain." For it is well-settled "that no public land can be
Consolacion, a 1908 decision. As was there categorically stated: "The fact that the grant was made by the acquired by private persons without any grant, express or implied, from the government." It is indispensable then
government is undisputed. Whether the grant was in conformity with the law or not is a question which the that there be a showing of a title from the state or any other mode of acquisition recognized by law. The most
government may raise, but until it is raised by the government and set aside, the defendant cannot question it. The recent restatement of the doctrine, found in an opinion of Justice J.B.L. Reyes, follows: "The applicant, having
legality of the grant is a question between the grantee and the government" The above citation was repeated failed to establish his right or title over the northern portion of Lot No. 463 involved in the present controversy,
ipsissimisverbis in Salazar v. Court of Appeals. Bereft as petitioners were of the right of ownership in accordance and there being no showing that the same has been acquired by any private person from the Government, either by
with the findings of the Court of Appeals, they cannot, in the language of Reyes v. Rodriguez, "question the [title] purchase or by grant, the property is and remains part of the public domain." To repeat, the second assignment of
legally issued." The second assignment of error is thus disposed of. error is devoid of merit.

2. As there are overtones indicative of skepticism, if not of outright rejection, of the well-known distinction in 3. The last error assigned would take issue with this portion of the opinion of Justice Esguerra: "According to the
public law between the government authority possessed by the state which is appropriately embraced in the Stipulation of Facts, since the filing of the sales application of Aniano David and during all the proceedings in
concept of sovereignty, and its capacity to own or acquire property, it is not inappropriate to pursue the matter connection with said application, up to the actual issuance of the sales patent in his favor, the plaintiffs-appellants
further. The former comes under the heading of imperium and the latter of dominium. The use of this term is did not put up any opposition or adverse claim thereto. This is fatal to them because after the registration and
appropriate with reference to lands held by the state in its proprietary character, In such capacity, it may provide issuance of the certificate and duplicate certificate of title based on a public land patent, the land covered thereby
for the exploitation and use of lands and other natural resources, including their disposition, except as limited by automatically comes under the operation of Republic Act 496 subject to all the safeguards provided therein * * *.
the Constitution. Dean Pound did speak of the confusion that existed during the medieval era between such two Under Section 38 of Act 496 any question concerning the validity of the certificate of title based on fraud should
concepts, but did note the existence of res publicae as a corollary to dominium. As far as the Philippines was be raised within one year from the date of the issuance of the patent. Thereafter the certificate of title based
concerned, there was a recognition by Justice Holmes inCariño v. Insular Government, a case of Philippine origin, thereon becomes indefeasible * * *." Petitioners cannot reconcile themselves to the view that respondent David's
that "Spain in its earlier decrees embodied the universal feudal theory that all lands were held from the Crown * * title is impressed with the quality of indefeasibility. In thus manifesting such an attitude, they failed to accord
*."That was a manifestation of the concept of jura regalia, which was adopted by the present Constitution, deference to controlling precedents. As f ar back as 1919, in Aquino v. Director of Lands, Justice Malcolm,
ownership however being vested in the state as such rather than the head thereof. What was stated by Holmes speaking for the Court, stated: "The proceedings under the Land Registration Law and under the provisions of
served to confirm a much more extensive discussion of the matter in the leading case of Valenton v. Murciano, Chapter VI of the Public Land Law are the same in that both are against the whole world, both take the nature of

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judicial proceedings, and for both the decree of registration issued is conclusive and final." Such a view has been 4. ID. ; PUBLIC LAND ACT, BENEFITS OF ; CONDITION PRECEDENT ; CASE AT BAR.—The benefits
followed since then.The latest case in point is Cabacug v. Lao. There is this revealing excerpt appearing in that provided in the Public Land Act for applicant's immediate predecessors in interest are or constitute a grant or
decision: "It is said, and with reason, that a holder of a land acquired under a free patent is more favorably situated concession by the State; and before they could acquire any right under such benefits, the applicant's immediate
than that of an owner of registered property. Not only does a free patent have a force and effect of a Torrens Title, predecessors in interest should comply with the condition precedent for the grant of such benefits. The condition
but in addition the person to whom it is granted has likewise in his favor the right to repurchase within a period of precedent is to apply for the registration of the land of which they had been in possession at least since July 26,
five years.It is quite apparent, therefore, that petitioners' stand is legally indefensible. 1894. This the applicant's immediate predecessors in interest failed to do. They did not have any vested right in the
lot amounting to title which was transmissible to the applicant. The only right, if it may thus be called, is their
WHEREFORE, the decision of respondent Court of Appeals of January 31, 1969 and its resolution of March 14, possession of the lot which, tacked to that of their predecessors in interest, may be availed of by a qualified person
1969 are affirmed. With costs against petitioners-appellants. to apply for its registration but not by a person as the applicant who is disqualified.

Concepcion, C.J., Makalintal, Zaldivar, Castro, Teehankee, Barredo, Makasiar, Antonio and Esguerra, JJ., APPEAL from a judgment of the Court of First Instance of Tayabas. Magsalin, J.
concur.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the court.
Decision and resolution affirmed.
Solicitor General Roman Ozaeta and Assistant Solicitor General Rafael Amparo for appellant.
Notes. a) Nature of title over public lands.—While with the due registration and issuance of a certificate of title
over a land acquired pursuant to the Public Land Law, said property becomes registered in contemplation of Act Vicente Constantino for appellee.
496, in view of its nature and manner of acquisition, such certificate of title, when in conflict with one obtained on
the same date through judicial proceedings must give way to the latter (Nieto vs. Quines, 6 SCRA 74). Ferrier, Gomez &, Sotelo and J. T. Chuidian as amici curiæ.

b) Public lands still subject to tax.—Public lands granted by the State to private persons are subject to tax even PADILLA, J.:
though title remains in the State (Francisco vs. City of Davao, 12 SCRA 628).
This is an appeal from a judgment decreeing the registration of a residential lot located in the municipality of
[No. 48321. August 31, 1946] Guinayangan, Province of Tayabas, in the name of the applicant.
OH CHO, applicant and appellee, vs. THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, oppositor and appellant.
The opposition of the Director of Lands is based on the applicant's lack of title to the lot, and on his
1. LAND REGISTRATION ; PUBLIC LANDS; WHAT LANDS BELONG TO PUBLIC DOMAIN; disqualification, as alien, from acquiring lands of the public domain.
EXCEPTION.—All lands that were not acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to
the public domain. An exception to the rule would be any land that should have been in the possession of an The applicant, who is an alien, and his predecessors in interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and
occupant and of his predecessors in interest since time immemorial, for such possession would justify the notorious possession of the lot from 1880 to the filing of the application for registration on January 17, 1940.
presumption that the land had never been part of the public domain or that it had been a private property even
before the Spanish conquest. The Solicitor General reiterates the second objection of the opponent and adds that the lower court committed an
error in not declaring null and void the sale of the lot to the applicant.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR.—The earliest possession of the lot by the first predecessor in interest of
the applicant for registration began in 1880. Held: He does not come under the exception. The applicant invokes the Land Registration Act (Act No. 496), or should it not be applicable to the case, then he
would apply for the benefits of the Public Land Act (C. A. No. 141).
3. ID. ; PUBLIC LAND ACT, REGISTRATION UNDER; ALIEN DISQUALIFIED.—An alien is not entitled
to a decree of registration under the provisions of the Public Land Act, because he is disqualified from acquiring The applicant failed to show that he has title to the lot that may be confirmed under the Land Registration Act. He
lands of the public domain. failed to show that he or any of his predecessors in interest had acquired the lot from the Government, either by
purchase or by grant, under the laws, orders and decrees promulgated by the Spanish Government in the
Philippines, or by possessory information under the Mortgage Law (section 19, Act 496). All lands that were not

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acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain. An exception to the
rule would be any land that should have been in the possession of an occupant and of his predecessors in interest G.R. No. 57667. May 28, 1990.*
since time immemorial, for such possession would justify the presumption that the land had never been part of the SAN MIGUEL CORPORATION, petitioner, vs. COURT OF APPEALS and DIRECTOR OF LANDS,
respondents.
public domain or that it had been a private property even before the Spanish conquest. (Cariño vs. Insular
Government, 212 U. S., 449; 53 Law. ed., 594.) The applicant does not come under the exception, for the earliest
possession of the lot by his first predecessor in interest began in 1880. Civil Procedure; Evidence; Factual findings of trial courts may nonetheless be reversed by the Court of Appeals if
by the evidence on record, it appears that the trial court involved erred.—Suffice it to state that while trial courts
As the applicant failed to show title to the lot, the next question is whether he is entitled to a decree of registration
may have the opportunity to observe the demeanor of witnesses, their factual findings may nonetheless be
thereof under the provisions of the Public Land Act (C. A. No, 141), Under the provisions of the Act invoked by
reversed by the Court of Appeals, the appellate court vested by law to resolve both legal and factual issues, if, by
the applicant, he is not entitled to a decree of registration of the lot, because he is an alien disqualified from
the evidence on record, it appears that the trial court involved erred.
acquiring lands of the public domain (sections 48, 49, C. A. No. 141).
Civil Law; Property; Prescription; Such open, continuous, exclusive and notorious occupation of the disputed
As the applicant failed to prove title to the lot and has invoked the provisions of the Public Land Act, it seems
properties for more than 30 years must be conclusively established.—Open, exclusive and undisputed possession
unnecessary to make pronouncement in this case on the nature, character or classification of the lot sought to be
of alienable public land for the period prescribed by law creates the legal fiction whereby the land, upon
registered.
completion of the requisite period ipso jure and without the need of judicial or other sanction, ceases to be public
It may be argued that under the provisions of the Public Land Act the applicant's immediate predecessors in land and becomes private property. Such open, continuous, exclusive and notorious occupation of the disputed
interest would have been entitled to a decree of registration of the lot had they applied for its registration; and that properties for more than 30 years must, however, be conclusively established. This quantum of proof is necessary
he having purchased or acquired it, the right of his immediate predecessors in interest to a decree of registration to avoid the erroneous validation of actually fictitious claims of possession over the property in dispute.
must be deemed also to have been acquired by him. The benefits provided in the Public Land Act for applicant's
Same; Same; Land Titles; Tax declarations and receipts not conclusive evidence of ownership or right of
immediate predecessors in interest are or constitute a grant or concession by the State; and before they could
possession over a piece of land.—Tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership or right
acquire any right under such benefits, the applicant's immediate predecessors in interest should comply with the
of possession over a piece of land. They are merely indicia of a claim of ownership. Tax declarations only become
condition precedent for the grant of such benefits. The condition precedent is to apply for the registration of the
strong evidence of ownership of land acquired by prescription, a mode of acquisition of ownership relied upon by
land of which they had been in possession at least since July 26, 1894. This the applicant's immediate predecessors
petitioner in this case, when accompanied by proof of actual possession.
in interest failed to do. They did not have any vested right in the lot amounting to title which was transmissible to
the applicant. The only right, if it may thus be called, is their possession of the lot which, tacked to that of their PETITION for certiorari to review the decision of the Court of Appeals. Asuncion, J.
predecessors in interest, may be availed of by a qualified person to apply for its registration but not by a person as
the applicant who is disqualified. The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

It is urged that the sale of the lot to the applicant should have been declared null and void. In a suit between Ciriaco Lopez, Jr. & Associates for petitioner.
vendor and vendee for the annulment of the sale, such pronouncement -would be necessary, if the court were of
the opinion that it is void. It is not necessary in this case where the vendors do not even object to the application FERNAN, C.J.:
filed by the vendee.
In this petition for review on certiorari, San Miguel Corporation seeks the reversal of the decision of the Court of
Accordingly, judgment is reversed and the application for registration dismissed, without costs. Appeals1 denying its application for registration of a parcel of land in view of its failure to show entitlement
thereto.

On December 23, 1975, petitioner San Miguel Corporation (SMC for brevity) purchased from Silverio Perez Lot
684, a 14,531-square-meter parcel of land located in Sta. Anastacia, Sto. Tomas, Batangas, in consideration of the
sum of P133,084.80.2 On February 21, 1977, claiming ownership in fee simple of the land, SMC filed before the

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then Court of First Instance, now Regional Trial Court of Batangas an application for its registration under the In this case, petitioner‘s claim that its predecessor-in-interest had open, exclusive and undisputed possession of
Land Registration Act. Lot 684 for more than thirty years is anchored on certain documentary and testimonial evidence. Its documentary
evidence consist of tax declaration No. 923 wherein it appears that in 1974, Silverio Perez declared as his own for
The Solicitor General, appearing for the Republic of the Philippines, opposed the application for registration taxation purposes, a certain riceland with an area of 1.5657 hectares located in Sta. Anastacia, Sto. Tomas,
contending that SMC‘s claim of ownership in fee simple on the basis of a Spanish title or grant could no longer be Batangas, and a certification of the Office of the Treasurer of Sto. Tomas to the effect that in 1977, Silverio Perez
availed of by the applicant as the six-month period from February 16, 1976 prescribed by Presidential Decree No. paid realty taxes for the land subject of tax declaration no. 923.
892 had elapsed; that the parcel of land in question is part of the public domain, and that SMC, being a private
corporation, is disqualified under Section 11, Article XIV of the Constitution from holding alienable lands of the Tax declarations and receipts are not conclusive evidence of ownership or right of possession over a piece of
public domain. The Solicitor General thereafter authorized the Provincial Fiscal of Batangas to appear in said case, land.8 They are merely indicia of a claim of ownership. Tax declarations only become strong evidence of
subject to his supervision and control. ownership of land acquired by prescription, a mode of acquisition of ownership relied upon by petitioner in this
case, when accompanied by proof of actual possession.
At the initial and only hearing held on October 12, 1977, the Court, upon motion of SMC and there being no
opposition to the application except that of the Republic of the Philippines, issued an order of general default. Such proof of actual possession was sought to be provided by the testimony of vendor Silverio Perez that he had
SMC was allowed to mark documentary evidence to establish jurisdictional facts and to present additional been in possession of the property since 1933 until he sold it to SMC in 1975; that the property was given to him
evidence before the Clerk of Court who was appointed Commissioner for that purpose. by his parents when he got married; that no document evidenced that transfer; that it had been in the possession of
his parents since 1925; that he had declared the property in his name for taxation purposes; that he had paid taxes
On December 12, 1977, the lower court, presided by Judge Eduardo C. Abaya, rendered a decision granting the therefor, and that he was in peaceful, continuous and exclusive possession of the property until its sale to SMC.
application for registration and adjudicating the property in favor of SMC.
Petitioner did not present other witnesses to corroborate Perez‘ testimony. Its other witness, Antonio M. de las
The Solicitor General appealed to the Court of Appeals. In its decision of March 23, 1981, said court reversed the Alas, Jr., a lawyer of the petitioner, simply testified that he handled the negotiations for the purchase of the
decision of the lower court and declared the parcel of land involved as public land. Hence, the instant petition with property; that SMC was authorized to own and acquire property as shown by its articles of incorporation and by-
SMC submitting the following alleged ―grave errors‖ of the Court of Appeals for this Court‘s resolution: (1) the laws; that since its acquisition in 1975, the property had been used as a hatchery farm of SMC; that SMC‘s
Court of Appeals‘ failure to hold that ―prescription is a mode of acquiring title or ownership of land and that the possession in the concept of an owner had been continuous, adverse and against the whole world, and that the land
title thus acquired is registrable‖; (2) the Court of Appeals‘ disregard of SMC‘s evidence ―not on the basis of was declared for taxation purposes still in the name of Silverio Perez.
controverting evidence but on the basis of unfounded suppositions and conjectures,‖ and (3) the Court of Appeals‘
reversal of the factual findings of the trial court which had the opportunity of observing the demeanor and We hold that there is paucity of evidence of actual, notorious and exclusive possession of the property on the part
sincerity of the witnesses. of vendor Silverio Perez so as to attach to it the character of an express grant from the government. Indeed, as
correctly held by the Court of Appeals, Silverio Perez‘s testimony, being uncorroborated, is simply self-serving
We need not dwell lengthily on the third ―error‖ assigned by petitioner. Suffice it to state that while trial courts and hence, undeserving of any weight.
may have the opportunity to observe the demeanor of witnesses, their factual findings may nonetheless be
reversed by the Court of Appeals, the appellate court vested by law to resolve both legal and factual issues, if, by WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is hereby AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioner.
the evidence on record, it appears that the trial court involved erred. What is of primary concern to us in this case
is the issue of whether or not the evidence presented by the petitioner is sufficient to warrant a ruling that SMC SO ORDERED.
and/ or its predecessor-in-interest has a registrable right over Lot 684.

Open, exclusive and undisputed possession of alienable public land for the period prescribed by law creates the
legal fiction whereby the land, upon completion of the requisite period ipso jure and without the need of judicial or
other sanction, ceases to be public land and becomes private property.4 Such open, continuous, exclusive and
notorious occupation of the disputed properties for more than 30 years must, however, be conclusively established.
This quantum of proof is necessary to avoid the erroneous validation of actually fictitious claims of possession
over the property in dispute.
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G.R. No. 85322. April 30, 1991.* After Emiliano‘s death on May 1, 1948 at the age of 67, his wife, Ana Menguito, and their children received the
ALFREDO M. ALMEDA, LEONARDO M. ALMEDA and ERNESTO M. ALMEDA, petitioners, vs. HON. produce of the land and rented out to third persons portions of the property where Emiliano had three houses built.
COURT OF APPEALS and REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by THE DIRECTOR OF Upon Ana‘s death on April 3, 1950, her children with Emiliano inherited the property and the lessees moved out.
LANDS, respondents. On June 9, 1980, the brothers Alfredo, Leonardo and Ernesto executed an extrajudicial partition adjudicating the
land to themselves (Exh. J).
Land Registration; Civil Law; Private respondents had not qualified for a grant under Sec. 48(b) of Com. Act 141
On September 12, 1984, the Almeda brothers applied for the registration of the land in the Regional Trial Court of
which requires public, peaceful, continuous, adverse possession by the applicants in the concept of an owner for a
Pasig, Branch CLVI, where the case was docketed as LRC Case No. N-10771, LRC Record No. N-58761 entitled,
period of at least 30 years.—The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that the private respondents had not qualified
―Alfredo M. Almeda, Leonardo M. Almeda and Ernesto M. Almeda, Applicants.‖ Their application was set for
for a grant under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act because their possession of the land while it was still
hearing on December 20, 1984. The notice of hearing dated October 10, 1984 was duly published in the Official
inalienable forest land, or before it was declared alienable and disposable land of the public domain on January 3,
Gazette and posted by the deputy sheriff.
1968, could not ripen into private ownership, and should be excluded from the computation of the 30-year open
and continuous possession in concept of owner required under Section 48(b) of Com.Act 141. On the date of the hearing, no one appeared to oppose the application except the Director of Lands, through the
Solicitor General, who had earlier filed a formal opposition. An order of general default was issued against the
Same; Same; Villareal and Marcelo cases not applicable to case at bar.—The situation of the land in this case is
whole world, except the aforementioned oppositor, and the case was set for hearing.
the reverse of the Villareal and Marcelo cases. The land here was already forest land when occupied by the
petitioners but it was later released on January 23, 1968 from its forest classification. In other words, the The report of the Bureau of Lands stated that the land is not included in any military area or naval reservation nor
petitioners here occupied forest land before it was released as alienable and disposable, while the applicants in the is it covered by any land patent or public land application. The Land Registration Commission Report also stated
Villareal and Marcelo cases possessed parcels of land long before they were reserved as forest land. The that Plan Psu-128539, when plotted in the Municipal Index map, does not overlap with any previously-plotted
subsequent reservation did not prejudice their vested rights therein. titled properties under Act 496 as amended by PD 1525, and that the survey books do not show that the subject lot
had been applied for except in this case.
PETITION for review from the decision of the Court of Appeals.
The Director of Lands, through the Office of the Solicitor General, presented Corazon Calamno, senior forester of
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
the Bureau of Forest Development, who stated that she prepared the inspection report on November 26, 1984; that
Leonardo M. Almeda for petitioners. the land falls within the alienable and disposable land under Project No. 29 of Pateros, Metro Manila, as per BFD
Map LC 2623, certified and declared as such on January 23, 1968.
GRIÑO-AQUINO, J.:
The Court found that the applicants‘ possession of the parcel of land sought to be registered, together with that of
This petition for review assails the Court of Appeals‘ decision dated May 9, 1988 in CA-G.R. No. 09309-CV their predecessors-in-interest, has been public, peaceful, continuous, adverse to the whole world and in the concept
reversing the judgment dated January 6, 1986 of the Regional Trial Court in LRC Case No. N-10771 entitled, of an owner for a period of more than thirty (30) years, and, that the land is not located within any forest
―Alfredo M. Almeda, Leonardo M. Almeda and Ernesto M. Almeda, Applicants versus Republic of the reservation nor mortgaged or encumbered in favor of any person or lending institution.
Philippines, represented by the Director of Lands, Oppositor.‖
In a decision dated January 18, 1986, the trial court affirmed the order of general default and confirmed the title of
The case involves a parcel of land with an area of 1,208 square meters located in Barrio Pampangin, Pateros, the applicants to the parcel of land covered by the plan, Psu-128539, and ordered its registration in the names of
Rizal, and described in Survey Plan Psu-128539. It was originally owned and possessed by EmilianoAlmeda, Alfredo, Leonardo and Ernesto Almeda pro-indiviso (pp. 42-45, Rollo).
father of the petitioners, by virtue of an ―Escritura de Particion Extrajudicial‖ (Exh. G) executed on June 15, 1935,
between him and his brother Adriano, wherein they attested the fact that the land in question was inherited from From that decision, the Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Solicitor General, appealed to the Court of
their parents, VedastoAlmeda and Josefa C. Concepcion, who had inherited the same from their own parents Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. 09309, alleging that the applicants-appellees have not met the statutory requirements
(great-grandparents of herein petitioners). on possession under Section 48(b) of CA 141, mainly because the land applied for was inalienable forest land
before its release as alienable and disposable land on January 3, 1968. The applicants‘ possession thereof prior to
January 3, 1968 was invalid for purposes of a grant under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act.
6 |Page
The Court of Appeals, in a decision dated May 9, 1988, reversed the lower court and denied the application for The petitioners have erroneously cited our decisions in Director of Forestry vs. Villareal, 170 SCRA 598 and
registration. It held that private respondents had not qualified for a grant under Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Republic vs. Court of Appeals, Miguel Marcelo, et al., 168 SCRA 77, in support of their position in this case. In
Act 141 which requires public, peaceful, continuous, adverse possession by the applicants in the concept of an those cases, the applicants‘ possession of the land antedated its classification as forest land. We held that such
owner, for a period of at least 30 years. They have to their credit only seventeen (17) years possession and lands could not be retroactively legislated or classified as forest lands because it would violate previously acquired
occupation of the land, counted from January 23, 1968, when it was declared alienable and disposable, up to property rights protected by the due process clause of the Constitution.
September 12, 1984, when their application for registration was filed.
The situation of the land in this case is the reverse of the Villareal and Marcelo cases. The land here was already
After their motion for reconsideration was denied by the Court of Appeals, the applicants filed this petition for forest land when occupied by the petitioners but it was later released on January 23, 1968 from its forest
review under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court. classification. In other words, the petitioners here occupied forest land before it was released as alienable and
disposable, while the applicants in the Villareal and Marcelo cases possessed parcels of land long before they were
Petitioners allege that the Court of Appeals erred: reserved as forest land. The subsequent reservation did not prejudice their vested rights therein.

1. in not holding that the land classification made by the Director of Forestry (Bureau of Forest Development) Petitioner‘s recourse to the decision of this Court in Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals and Iglesia Ni Cristo,
could not affect the vested rights of the applicants and their predecessors-in-interest who had continuously 158 SCRA 568, is inappropriate. That case did not involve forest land, but agricultural land of the public domain
occupied and profited from the land since 1918 or very much earlier, as in this case; and within the proposed alienable or disposable block.

2. in denying the motion for reconsideration despite the ruling in ―The Director of Lands vs. The Honorable WHEREFORE, the petition for review is denied for lack of merit.Costs against the petitioners.
Court of Appeals and Iglesiani Cristo,‖ 158 SCRA 568 promulgated on March 14, 1988, which allowed
registration even when the land applied for was within the proposed alienable or disposable block of a proposed SO ORDERED.
LC project.
Narvasa (Chairman), Cruz, Gancayco and Medialdea, JJ., concur.
There is no merit in the petition.
Petition denied.
The Court of Appeals correctly ruled that the private respondents had not qualified for a grant under Section 48(b)
of the Public Land Act because their possession of the land while it was still inalienable forest land, or before it Note.—Possession of forested land cannot ripen into ownership. (Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals, 133
was declared alienable and disposable land of the public domain on January 13, 1968, could not ripen into private SCRA 701.)
ownership, and should be excluded from the computation of the 30-year open and continuous possession in
concept of owner required under Section 48(b) of Com. Act 141. It accords with our ruling in Director of Lands G.R. No. 48066. January 31, 1989.*
THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, petitioner-appellee, vs. KALAHI INVESTMENTS, INC., claimant-
vs. Court of Appeals, Ibarra Bishar, et al., 178 SCRA 708, that:
appellant.
―Unless and until the land classified as forest is released in an official proclamation to that effect so that it may
form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public domain, the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do Land Registration; Mining Claims; Possessory Rights; The right of a locator of a mining claim is merely a
not apply (Amunategui vs. Director of Forestry, 126 SCRA 69; Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals, 129 possessory right.—In the recent case of Santa Rosa Mining Co., Inc. vs. Hon. Minister of Natural Resources Jose
SCRA 689; Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals, 133 SCRA 701; Republic vs. Court of Appeals, 148 SCRA J. Leido, Jr. and Director of Mines Juanito C. Fernandez, (G.R. No. L-49109, dated Dec. 1, 1987), this Court ruled
480; Vallarta vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 151 SCRA 679). that while it is recognized that the right of a locator of a mining claim is a property right, ―this right is not
absolute. It is merely a possessory right x xx more so where petitioner‘s claims are still unpatented x xx,‖ viz: ―x
―Thus, possession of forest lands, however long, cannot ripen into private ownership (Vamo vs. Government, 41
xxxxx ―Mere location does not mean absolute ownership over the affected land or the mining claim. It merely
Phil. 161 [1920]; Adorable vs. Director of Forestry, 107 Phil. 401 [1960]). A parcel of forest land is within the
segregates the located land or area from the public domain by barring other would-be locators from locating the
exclusive jurisdiction of the Bureau of Forestry and beyond the power and jurisdiction of the cadastral court to
same and appropriating for themselves the minerals found therein. To rule otherwise would imply that location is
register under the Torrens System (Republic vs. Court of Appeals, 89 SCRA 648; Republic vs. Vera, 120 SCRA
all that is needed to acquire and maintain rights over a located mining claim. This, we cannot approve or sanction
210 [1983]; Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals, 129 SCRA 689 [1984]).‖

7 |Page
because it is contrary to the intention of the lawmaker that the locator should faithfully and consistently comply x xxxxxxxx
with the requirements for annual work and improvements in the located mining claims.‖
―It was later on disclosed that Lot No. 1851 was a vast land of mountain ranges containing an area of no less than
Same; Same; Same; PD 1214; By virtue of PD 1214 issued on October 14, 1977, a holder of a subsisting and valid 886,021,588 square meters. Kalahi‘s s present claim, otherwise known as Lot No. 1851-B is graphically shown in
mining claim can no longer proceed with the acquisition of a mining patent.—It is not clear if claimant Kalahi has the Plan, Annex A of the Report of the Commissioner shaded in orange color, which Report was made during the
fully complied with the requirements of the Act of Congress of 1902. This is a factual issue which is not within the pendency of this case for trial. The alleged claim of 123 mineral claims are inside this portion. The very plan of
scope of our jurisdiction. Nonetheless, even assuming claimant to be a holder of a subsisting and valid patentable the Commissioner labelled this portion as Project No. 11, Forest Reserve, Proc. No. 82, dated August 8, 1966,
mining claim, We hold that it can no longer proceed with the acquisition of a mining patent in view of P.D. No. under Republic Act No. 3092, labelled ‗timber land‘ also designated as Lot 2 in said Commissioner‘s Report.
1214, issued on October 14, 1977, directing ―holders of subsisting and valid patentable mining claims, lode or
placer, located under the provisions of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, as amended, to file a mining lease ―In the land classification, province of Pampanga and province of Zambales, dated May 26, 1960, known as
application x xx within one year from the approval of the Decree and upon the filing thereof, holders of said Exhibit 4, Director of Forestry, these lands were also considered part of the Project No. 11, Timber Land.‖ (pp.
claims shall be considered to have waived their rights to the issuance of mining patents thereof: Provided, 356–357, Record on Appeal)
however, That the non-filing of the application for mining lease by the holders thereby within the period herein
prescribed shall cause the forfeiture of all his rights to the claim.‖ x xxxxxxxx

APPEAL from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Pampanga, Br. I. Sarmiento, J. ―The Bureau of Forestry‘s opposition is based on the ground that these lands are part of the vast public forest,
known as TIMBER LAND of Project No. 11, Exhibit 4, Director of Forestry. Until now these lands are not
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. released by the proper authorities as alienable agricultural lands; instead on August 9, 1966, the President of the
Philippines issued Proclamation No. 82, declaring these lands as part of the Mt. Dorst Forest Reserve. Other
The Solicitor General for petitioner-appellee. reservations are also existing in these areas for the so-called minorities, the Negritos.‖ (p. 359, Record on Appeal).

Martin N. Roque for claimant-appellant. x xxxxxxxx

MEDIALDEA, J.: ―Kalahi abandoned its former claim over the entire area of Lot No. 1851-B, covering an area of 886,021,588
square meters (Psd2387-D). It limited its present claim to 1,730 hectares, known as Lot No. 1 of Plan Sgs-3690, a
This is an appeal from the decision of the Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) of Pampanga, portion of Lot 2210, FloridablancaCadastre, formerly a part of Lot No. 1851-B. It is in this Lot No. 1 of Plan Sgs-
denying the application of Kalahi Investments, Inc. (Kalahi, for short) for registration of Lot No. 1851-B of the 3690, with an area of 1.284.2340 hectares, and in Lot No. 2, with an area of 446.0870 hectares, giving a total of
FloridablancaCadastre, certified to this Court by the Court of Appeals on January 11, 1978 on the following legal 1,720 hectares where the alleged 123 lode mining claims are said to be existing and where the alleged 500,000
questions: coffee plants were planted.‖ (p. 360, Record on Appeal)

Do mining claims, acquired, registered, perfected, and patentable under the Old Mining Law, mature to private Kalahi presented evidence to support perfected mining rights over the 123 mineral claims, viz., that it had located
ownership which would entitle the claimant-applicant to the ownership thereof? in 1934 and prior thereto 123 mineral claims in Floridablanca mountains; made annual assessment work thereto;
made declaration of location and paid annual assessment work from 1965–1966; constructed roads traversing the
Which agency has the authority to examine, process, and find out whether or not the requirements of the Act of mountains and hills, and planted 500,000 coffee trees. These were, however, not considered by the court a quo as
Congress of 1902 have been complied with, by the applicant—the courts or the Bureau of Mines? basis sufficient in law and in fact for the registration of title under act 496.

In its decision, the Court of Appeals found the following facts to be established by the evidence: Kalahi thus contends that these mineral lands are now segregated from the government lands and its mining claims
thereon, deemed property rights, based on the following opinion of the Secretary of Justice No. 52, Series of 1956,
―On December 12, 1963, Kalahi Investment, Inc. moved for an advanced hearing of Lot No. 1851-B,
dated August 31, 1956, viz:
FloridablancaCadastre. Evidence was presented and Kalahi‘s title was to be registered under the provisions of Act
496." (p. 355, Record on Appeal) x xxxxxxxx

8 |Page
‗The legal effect of a valid location of a mining claim is not only to segregate the area from the public domain, but ordinary proceedings under Act 496. The Public Law never governs private lands (Susi vs. Razon, 41 Phil. 420).
to grant to the locator the beneficial ownership of the claim and the right to a patent therefore upon compliance These lands are never private lands either.
with the terms and conditions prescribed by law. ‗Where there is a valid location of the mining claim, the area
becomes segregated from the public domain and becomes the property of the locator/ (St. Louis Mining & Milling ―The Public Land Law (Commonwealth Act 141) is not applicable to forest lands nor to mineral lands. These
Co. vs. Montana Mining Co., 171 U.S. 650, 855, 43 Law Ed., 320, 323.) When a location of a mining claim is lands are covered by separate laws. The confirmation of imperfect title under the Public Land Law can not be
perfected it has the effect of a grant by the United States of the right of present and exclusive possession with the made the basis for registration of titles over forest (Vaño vs. Government of the P.I., 41 Phil. 161) and/or mineral
right to the exclusive enjoyment of all the surface ground as well as of all the minerals within the lines of the lands (Li SengGiap y Cia vs. Director, 55 Phil. 963). (p. 368, Record on Appeal)
claim, except as limited by the extralateral rights of adjoining locators; and this is the locator‘s right before as well
as after the issuance of the patent.‖ (Italics ours) (p. 376, Record on Appeals) Kalahi‘s motion for reconsideration, filed on October 15, 1970, was denied on November 15, 1970.

and the decision of the Court of Appeals in the case of San Mauricio Mining Co., Inc. vs. Dantoy, et. al. (C.A. No. On appeal, Kalahi invoked anew its vested rights over the mining claims, having been perfected and registered
22274-R, dated March 23, 1963, 60 O.G. No. 3, p. 367): under the Act of Congress of 1902, and its consequent ownership, exclusive even as against the government.

―MINING LAW; MINING CLAIM; Right perfected under Act of Congress of 1902 is exclusive against whole It assigned as errors the following:
world—Under the Act of Congress of 1902, otherwise known as the Philippine Bill, a right or rights acquired by a
I
holder of unpatented but valid and existing claim located and registered under its provisions becomes the property
of the locator. The moment the locator discovered some valuable mineral deposits on the land located and proved ―The lower court erred in not considering the basis for the registration of the land in question sufficient in law and
that such location was in accordance with the rules and regulations, the land located becomes mineral land and is in fact.
segregated from the public domain. The right of the locator to enjoy the surface ground and the minerals within
the limits of his claim becomes exclusive as against the whole world, limited only by the extra lateral rights of ―II
adjoining locators. He is not required to purchase the claim or secure a patent and as long as he could comply with
the mining laws, his possessory rights of ownership is as good as though secured by patent (Wilbur v. U.S. rel. ―The lower court erred in declaring that the doctrine of the Supreme Court and the opinion of the Secretary of
Krusnic, 230 U.S. 306, 74 Law Ed. 455; Salakot Mining Co. vs. Rodriguez, 67 Phil. 97). (Italics ours) (cited in the Justice never contemplate of a procedure that will entitle the claimants to the registration of the land in question.
Record on Appeal, p. 372)
―III
Likewise, it claims registration of title based on its actual, open, public, peaceful, continuous, adverse possession
in the concept of an owner for more than 30 years, or confirmation of imperfect title under Sec. 48(b) CA141, as ―The lower court erred in denying the claim for registration of the claimant‘s title over the land in question at least
amended by RA No. 1942. a portion thereof covered by the mining claims and their gaps.‖ (pp, 5–6, CA decision)

In its decision dated September 17, 1980 the court a quo denied the claim for registration, ruling that a) the 123 On the other hand, the Director of Lands contended:
mineral lode claims are governed by the mining laws; hence, under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Mines which
is the proper agency to enforce the claims and to adjudicate the rights of claimants, which in fact, Kalahi ―As regards the first, it is admitted by Kalahi that the land in question is a mining property consisting of mining
recognized when it filed an application for lease with said Bureau, and b) that the claim for confirmation of claims located and registered under the provisions of the Act of the U.S. Congress of July 1, 1902 (Cf. Kalahi‘s
imperfect title cannot be sustained, based on the evidence and the Public Land Law provisions: ‗Petition for Admission of Attached Answer and for Advanced Hearing,‘ pp. 2–9, Record on Appeal). Such being
the case, said Act requires Kalahi as holder of the mining claims to do no other act except to proceed with the
x xxxxxxxx acquisition of mining patents in the Bureau of Mines, which is the proper agency in the Administrative Branch of
the government entrusted by law (C.A 137, the Mining Law) to determine the qualifications of said claimant, and
x xxThe lands in the public domain are classified under three main categories: Mineral, Forest and Agricultural to examine, process and find out whether or not the requirements of the Act of Congress of 1902 are complied
Lands. It is only on agricultural lands in the public domain that title could be issued either under administrative with. Said Act does not contemplate a situation where titles covering mining claims should be secured from the
proceedings by application in the Bureau of Lands or under compulsory proceedings under Cadastral Act or Judicial Branch of the government thru the process of land registration or cadastral proceedings. In other words,

9 |Page
the Act of the U.S. Congress prescribes an explicit and definite procedure by which mining patents are to be circumstances, secures the beneficial ownership or the dominium utile, the government retains the bare ownership
secured administratively after whichwhen registered under Section 122 of the Land Registration Act, said mining or the dominium directum, until the locator‘s claim ripens into full ownership upon full compliance with all the
patents are transcribed into original certificates of title.‖ (pp. 6–7, Appellee‘s Brief, p. 115, Rollo) requirements of the law for the issuance of a patent.‖

The Court of Appeals has thus certified the following questions for our resolution: The dissenting opinion of Justice Pedro Concepcion in the Gold Creek Mining Corp. case, insofar as pertinent, is
worthy of mention:
a) ―Are mining claims acquired, registered, perfected, and patentable under the Old Mining Law matured to
private ownership that would entitle the claimant-appellant to the ownership thereof?‖ (Appellants‘ Brief, p. 13) ―Location should only be understood as segregating the land located from the public domain in the sense that it is
no longer open to location or susceptible of appropriation by another, while the locator has not lost his right to or
b) ―Who has authority to examine, process, and find out whether or not the requirements of the Act of Congress abandoned the mining claim. To give a broader meaning and a greater effect to the location of a mining claim is to
of 1902 have been complied by the applicant—the court or the Bureau of Mines? (Appellants‘ (sic) should be contend—against the express provisions of Sections 36, 37 and 39 of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, as
Appellee‘s Brief, p. 7) amended by Section 9 of another Act of Congress of February 6, 1905,—that location is all that is necessary to
acquire absolute ownership over a located mining claim. This is not the law. From the location of a claim to the
In the recent case of Santa Rosa Mining Co., Inc. vs. Hon. Minister of Natural Resources Jose J. Leido, Jr. and issuance of the patent for or title to the land, is a far cry. Location, without more, confers only the right of
Director of Mines Juanito C. Fernandez. (G.R. No. L-49109, dated Dec. 1, 1987), this Court ruled that while it is possession. Thus Section 36 of the Act of Congress of February 6, 1905 refers to the manner of recording, and
recognized that the right of a locator of a mining claim is a property right, ―this right is not absolute. It is merely a amount of work necessary to hold possession of a mining claim.‘ Section 39 of the same Act also speaks of the
possessory right x xx, more so where petitioner‘s claims are still unpatented x xx.‖ (Italics ours), viz: right of possession of the claim, and the right to the issuance of a patent only arises after the execution of certain
works and acts prescribed by law, such as labor or description and identification of the land by means of plat and
―x xxxxxxxx
field notes (Sec. 37); the notice of publication of the application for a patent by the locator, etc., etc., (Sec. 37). x
―Mere location does not mean absolute ownership over the affected land or the located claim. It merely segregates xx‖ (pp. 273–274, Rollo)
the located land or area from the public domain by barring other would-be locators from locating the same and
―x xx I gather from the majority opinion that, as long as the location of the mining claim was perfected before the
appropriating for themselves the minerals found therein. To rule otherwise would imply that location is all that is
inauguration of the new Government of the Philippines on November 15, 1935, the other conditions may be
needed to acquire and maintain rights over a located mining claim. This, we cannot approve or sanction because it
complied with even after said date in order that the locator may acquire a right to the patent. I dissent on this
is contrary to the intention of the lawmaker that the locator should faithfully and consistently comply with the
fundamental point from the majority opinion. I maintain that in prohibiting the alienation of natural resources,
requirements for annual work and improvements in the located mining claims.‖ (Italics ours)
save any existing right, the Constitution does not refer to the right of location or to the inherent right of possession,
The aforecited ruling modifies the San Mauricio doctrine cited by petitioner, in that while a perfected location of a or to any inchoate or contingent right which are only a means to bring about another right; it refers only to the
mining claim has the effect of segregating said land from the body of public domain, the area covered does not right to obtain a patent. And inasmuch as this right cannot be acquired until after compliance with all the
thereby become the private property of the locator. There must be evidence of full, faithful compliance with the conditions prescribed by law, it is evident that the prescribed conditions should be complied with before the
requirements of law. inauguration of the Commonwealth.‖ (Italics ours) (p. 274, Rollo)

Noteworthy in this regard is the concurring opinion of Justice Jose P. Laurel in the case of Gold Creek Mining It is not clear if claimant Kalahi has fully complied with the requirements of the Act of Congress of 1902. This is a
Corp. vs. E. Rodriguez and Q. Abadilla (66 Phil. 259), upholding the property rights of a valid location of a factual issue which is not within the scope of our jurisdiction. Nonetheless, even assuming claimant to be a holder
mining claim, viz: of a subsisting and valid patentable mining claim, we hold that it can no longer proceed with the acquisition of a
mining patent in view of P.D. No. 1214, issued on October 14, 1977, directing ―holders of subsisting and valid
―But while I regard the recognition and protection of the right here invoked inevitable, I feel constrained to patentable mining claims, lode or placer, located under the provisions of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, as
withhold my assent to the invocation of the case of McDaniel vs. Apacible and Cuisia [1922], 42 Phil. 749), amended, to file a mining lease application x xx within one year from the approval of the Decree and upon the
insofar as citation thereof may imply unqualified acceptance of or adherence to the broad rule that where there is a filing thereof, holders of said claims shall be considered to have waived their rights to the issuance of mining
valid and perfected location of a mining claim, the area covered is not only thereby segregated from the body of patents therefor: Provided, however, That the non-filing of the application for mining lease by the holders thereby
the public domain but becomes the private property of the locator. My opinion is that while the locator, under the within the period herein prescribed shall cause the forfeiture of all his rights to the claim.‖

10 | P a g e
The constitutionality of P.D. No. 1214 was upheld in the case of Santa Rosa Mining Co., supra, as a ―valid petitioner's attempt to seek judicial recognition of the continuing validity of its mining claims, cannot be
exercise of the sovereign power of the state as owners over lands of the public domain of which petitioner‘s entertained by the Court. As stated by the Court, through Mr. Justice Sabino Padilla in Ham v. Bachrach Motor
mining claims still form a part, and over the patrimony of the nation, of which mineral deposits are a valuable Co., Inc., applying the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies: "By its own act of appealing from the
asset.‖ decision of the Director of Lands and the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources to the President of the
Philippines, and without waiting for the latter's decision, the defendant cannot complain if the courts do not take
The records show that claimant has already filed a mining lease application (p. 357, Record on Appeal). Its mining action before the President has decided its appeal."
claims, therefore, are deemed covered by P.D. 1214, and the Bureau of Mines may, accordingly process the same
as a lease application, in accordance with P.D. 463, pursuant to Sec. 2 of P.D. No. 1214. It is understood of course Land Registration; The right of a locator of a mining claim is merely a possessory right since it can be lost through
that prior to the approval of the lease application, the applicant must show that it has fully and faithfully complied abandonment or forfeiture.—The cases cited by petitioner, true enough, recognize the right of a locator of a
with the requirements of the Philippine Bill of 1902, in effect upholding the dissenting opinion of Justice mining claim as a property right. This right, however, is not absolute. It is merely a possessory right, more so, in
Concepcion in the Gold Creek Mining case, supra. this case, where petitioner's claims are still unpatented. They can be lost through abandonment or forfeiture or they
may be revoked for valid legal grounds. The statement in McDaniel v. Apacible that 'There is no pretense in the
As to whether or not the Bureau of Mines is likewise qualified to rule on whether there has been full and faithful present case that the petitioner has not complied with all the requirements of the law in making the location of the
compliance with the requirements of the Philippine Bill of 1902 as amended, We rule that the Bureau of Mines is mineral claims in question, or that the claims in question were ever abandoned or forfeited by him," confirms that
so empowered as a corollary function in the processing of mining lease applications. a valid mining claim may still be lost through abandonment or forfeiture.

Accordingly, the decision of the CFI of Pampanga, (now Regional Trial Court) is hereby AFFIRMED, with the Same; Presidential Decree No. 1214, constitutional and valid exercise of sovereign power of the state over lands
MODIFICATION in that Kalahi‘s mining claims may be processed as a mining lease application by the Bureau of of the public domain; Scope of P.D. No. 1214.—We now come to the question of whether or not Presidential
Mines. Decree No. 1214 is constitutional. Even assuming arguendo that petitioner was not bound to exhaust
administrative remedies on the question of whether or not its mining claims are still subsisting (not abandoned or
SO ORDERED. cancelled), before challenging the constitutionality of said Decree, we hold that Presidential Decree No. 1214 is
not unconstitutional. It is a valid exercise of the sovereign power of the State, as owner, over lands of the public
Narvasa, Cruz, Gancayco and Griño-Aquino, JJ., concur.
domain, of which petitioner's mining claims still form a part, and over the patrimony of the nation, of which
Decision affirmed with modification. mineral deposits are a valuable asset. It may be underscored, in this connection, that the Decree does not cover
all mining claims located under the Phil. Bill of 1902, but only those claims over which their locators had failed to
Notes.—A mining corporation cannot obtain a free patent to a public land. (Marcopper Mining Corporation vs. obtain a patent. And even then, such locators may still avail of the renewable twenty-five year (25) lease
Garcia, 143 SCRA 178.) prescribed by Pres. Decree No. 463, the Mineral Development Resources Decree of 1974.

A land where location of mineral claim has been perfected may be the subject of expropriation. (Banquet Same; Same; Same; Mere location does not mean absolute ownership over the mining claim.—Mere location does
Consolidated, Inc. vs. Republic, 143 SCRA 466.) not mean absolute ownership over the affected land or the mining claim. It merely segregates the located land or
area from the public domain by barring other would-be locators from locating the same and appropriating for
No. L-49109.December 1, 1987.* themselves the minerals found therein. To rule otherwise would imply that location is all that is needed to acquire
SANTA ROSA MINING COMPANY, INC., petitioner, vs. HON. MINISTER OF NATURAL and maintain rights over a located mining claim. This, we cannot approve or sanction because it is contrary to the
RESOURCES JOSE J. LEIDO, JR. AND DIRECTOR OF MINES JUANITO C. FERNANDEZ, intention of the lawmaker that the locator should faithfully and consistently comply with the requirements for
respondents. annual work and improvements in the located mining claim.

Same; Same; Same; Case at bar differs from Gold Creek Mining Corp. vs. Rodriguez (66 Phil 259) where the
Administrative Law; Principle of Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies; it is premature for the court to make
issue was Gold Creek's right to a patent over its mining claim.—The petitioner cannot successfully plead the
findings in the matter whether petitioner had abandoned its mining claim.—We agree with respondents' contention
ruling in Gold Creek Mining Corp. v. Rodriguez, supra. In that case, what was in issue was Gold Creek 's right to
that it is premature for the Court to now make a finding on the matter of whether petitioner had abandoned its
a patent over its mining claim, after compliance with all legal requirements for a patent. In the present case, no
mining claims. Until petitioner's appeal shall have been decided by the Office of the President, where it is pending,
11 | P a g e
application for patent is in issue, although as a holder of patentable mining claims petitioner could have applied Petitioner avers that its fifty (50) mining claims had already been declared as its own private and exclusive
for one during all these years but inexplicably did not do so. In Gold Creek, no finding of abandonment was ever property in final judgments rendered by the Court of First Instance of Camarines Norte (CFI, for short) in land
made against the mining claimant as to deprive it of the initial privilege given by virtue of its location; on the other registration proceedings initiated by third persons, such as, a September 1951 land title application by a certain
hand, such a finding has been made in petitioner's case (although the finding among others is on appeal with the GervacioLiwanag, where the Director of Mines opposed the grant of said application because herein petitioner,
President). according to him (Director of Mines), had already located and perfected its mining claims over the area applied
for. Petitioner also cites LRC Case No. 240, filed 11 July 1960, by one Antonio Astudillo, and decided in 1974
Same; Same; Same; Constitutional mandate of P.D. 1214 found in Sec. 2, Art. XII, 1987 Constitution.—The same against said applicant, in which, petitioner's mining claims were described as vested property outside the
constitutional mandate is found in Sec. 2, Art. XII of the 1987 Constitution, which declares: "All lands of the jurisdiction of the Director of Mines.
public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries,
forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception In answer, the respondents allege that petitioner has no standing to file the instant petition as it failed to fully
of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration, development, and exhaust administrative remedies. They cite the pendency of petitioner's appeal, with the Office of the President, of
utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. x xx the ruling of the respondent Secretary of Natural Resources issued on 2 April 1977 in DNR Case No. 4140, which
upheld the decision of the Director of Mines finding that forty four (44) out of petitioner's fifty (50) mining claims
SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION for certiorari and prohibition to review the order of the Court of First Instance of were void for lack of valid "tie points" as required under the Philippine Bill of 1902, and that all the mining claims
Camarines Norte. had already been abandoned and cancelled, for petitioner's non-compliance with the legal requirements of the
same Phil. Bill of 1902 and Executive Order No. 141.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
We agree with respondents' contention that it is premature for the Court to now make a finding on the matter of
PADILLA, J.: whether petitioner had abandoned its mining claims. Until petitioner's appeal shall have been decided by the
Office of the President, where it is pending, petitioner's attempt to seek judicial recognition of the continuing
This is a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition with prayer for a writ of preliminary injunction, to
validity of its mining claims, cannot be entertained by the Court. As stated by the Court, through Mr. Justice
declare Presidential Decree No. 1214 unconstitutional and to enjoin respondent public officials from enforcing it.
Sabino Padilla in Ham v. Bachrach Motor Co., Inc.4 applying the principle of exhaustion of administrative
On 19 October 1978, the Court required the respondents to comment on the petition and issued a temporary
remedies: "By its own act of appealing from the decision of the Director of Lands and the Secretary of Agriculture
restraining order continuing until otherwise ordered by the Court.
and Natural Resources to the President of the Philippines, and without waiting for the latter's decision, the
Petitioner Santa Rosa Mining Company, Inc. (petitioner, for short) is a mining corporation duly organized and defendant cannot complain if the courts do not take action before the President has decided its appeal.''
existing under the laws of the Philippines. It alleges that it is the holder of fifty (50) valid mining claims situated in
The decisions of the Court of First Instance of Camarines Norte in applications for land registration filed by third
Jose Panganiban, Camarines Norte, acquired under the provisions of the Act of the U.S. Congress dated 1 July
persons covering the area over which petitioner had located and registered its mining claims, as cited by petitioner,
1902 (Philippine Bill of 1902, for short).
are inapplicable. Said decisions merely denied the applications of such third persons for land registration over
On 14 October 1977, Presidential Decree No. 1214 was issued, requiring holders of subsisting and valid areas already covered by petitioner's mining claims, for failure to show titles that were registrable under the
patentable mining claims located under the provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902 to file a mining lease Torrens system; that was all. While the CFI made a statement in one case declaring that the petitioner's mining
application within one (1) year from the approval of the Decree. Petitioner accordingly filed a mining lease claims are its vested property and even patentable at that time, there is nothing in said CFI decision that squarely
application, but "under protest," on 13 October 1978, with a reservation annotated on the back of its application passed upon the question of whether petitioner had valid, patentable (but still unpatented) mining claims which it
that it is not waiving its rights over its mining claims until the validity of Presidential Decree No. 1214 shall have had continued to maintain, in compliance with the requirements of applicable laws. This question, which involves
been passed upon by this Court. a finding of facts, is precisely the issue before the Office of the President in the petitioner's appeal from the
decision of the Secretary of Natural Resources in DNR Case No. 4140 holding that petitioner's mining claims are
On 10 October 1978, or three (3) days before filing the disputed mining lease application, petitioner filed this considered abandoned and cancelled for failure of petitioner to comply with the requirements of the Philippine Bill
special civil action for certiorari and prohibition, alleging.that it has no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy in of 1902 and Executive Order No. 141. In short, the decisions of the Court of First Instance of Camarines Norte,
the ordinary course of law to protect its rights (except by said petition). Petitioner assails Presidential Decree No. relied upon by petitioner, do not foreclose a proceeding, such as DNR Case No. 4140, to determine whether
1214 as unconstitutional in that it amounts to a deprivation of property without due process of law. petitioner's unpatented mining claims have remained valid and subsisting.

12 | P a g e
Respondents further contend that, even assuming arguendo that petitioner's mining claims were valid at the outset, needed to acquire and maintain rights over a located mining claim. This, we cannot approve or sanction because it
if they are deemed abandoned and cancelled due to non-compliance with the legal requirements for maintaining a is contrary to the intention of the lawmaker that the locator should faithfully and consistently comply with the
perfected mining claim, under the provisions of the Philippine Bill of 1902, petitioner has no valid and subsisting requirements for annual work and improvements in the located mining claim.
claim which could be lost through the implementation of Presidential Decree No. 1214, thus giving it no standing
to question the Decree. Presidential Decree No. 1214 is in accord with Sec. 8, Art. XIV of the 1973 Constitution which states:

Petitioner, on the other hand, would rebut respondents' argument by declaring that it already had a vested right "All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential
over its mining claims even before Presidential Decree No. 1214, following the rulings in McDaniel v. Apacible energy, fisheries, wildlife, and other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the State. With the exception of
and Gold Creek Mining Corp, v. Rodriguez. agricultural, industrial or commercial, residential and resettlement lands of the public domain, natural resources
shall not be alienated, and no license, concession, or lease for the exploration, development, exploitation, or
The Court is not impressed that this is so. utilization of any of the natural resources shall be granted for a period exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for
not more than twenty-five years, except as to water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses
The cases cited by petitioner, true enough, recognize the right of a locator of a mining claim as a property right. other than the development of water power, in which cases, beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the
This right, however, is not absolute. It is merely a possessory right, more so, in this case, where petitioner's claims grant."
are still unpatented. They can be lost through abandonment or forfeiture or they may be revoked for valid legal
grounds. The statement in McDaniel v. Apacible that "There is no pretense in the present case that the petitioner The same constitutional mandate is found in Sec. 2, Art. XII of the 1987 Constitution, which declares:
has not complied with all the requirements of the law in making the location of the mineral claims in question, or
that the claims in question were ever abandoned or forfeited by him, " confirms that a valid mining claim may still "All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential
be lost through abandonment or forfeiture. The petitioner cannot successfully plead the ruling in Gold Creek energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State.
Mining Corp. v. Rodriguez, supra. In that case, what was in issue was Gold Creek's right to a patent over its With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall not be alienated. The exploration,
mining claim, after compliance with all legal requirements for a patent In the present case, no application for development, and utilization of natural resources shall be under the full control and supervision of the State. x xx
patent is in issue, although as a holder of patentable mining claims petitioner could have applied for one during all
these years but inexplicably did not do so. In Gold Creek, no finding of abandonment was ever made against the WHEREFORE, premises considered, the petition is hereby DISMISSED. The temporary restraining order issued
mining claimant as to deprive it of the initial privilege given by virtue of its location; on the other hand, such a by the Court on 19 October 1978 is LIFTED and SET ASIDE. Costs against the petitioner.
finding has been made in petitioner's case (although the finding among others is on appeal with the President).
SO ORDERED.
We now come to the question of whether or not Presidential Decree No. 1214 is constitutional. Even assuming
Teehankee (C.J.), Yap, Fernan, Narvasa, MelencioHerrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Cruz, Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Bidin,
arguendo that petitioner was not bound to exhaust administrative remedies on the question of whether or not its
Sarmiento and Cortés, JJ., concur.
mining claims are still subsisting (not abandoned or cancelled), before challenging the constitutionality of said
Decree, we hold that Presidential Decree No. 1214 is not unconstitutional. It is a valid exercise of the sovereign Petition dismissed.
power of the State, as owner, over lands of the public domain, of which petitioner's mining claims still form a part,
and over the patrimony of the nation, of which mineral deposits are a valuable asset. It may be underscored, in this No. L-58867.June 22, 1984.*
connection, that the Decree does not cover all mining claims located under the Phil. Bill of 1902, but only those DIRECTOR OF LANDS and DIRECTOR OF FOREST DEVELOPMENT, petitioners, vs. HON. COURT
claims over which their locators had failed to obtain a patent And even then, such locators may still avail of the OF APPEALS and ANTONIO VALERIANO, GABRIELA VALERIANO VDA. DE LA CRUZ, LETICIA
renewable twenty-five year (25) lease prescribed by Pres. Decree No. 463, the Mineral Development Resources A. VALERIANO and MARISSA VALERIANO DE LA ROSA, respondents.
Decree of 1974.

Mere location does not mean absolute ownership over the affected land or the mining claim. It merely segregates Civil Law; Land Registration; Regalian Doctrine; Classification of public lands, an exclusive prerogative of the
the located land or area from the public domain by barring other would-be locators from locating the same and Executive Department, not the courts; Absence of classification of land renders the land as unclassified in
appropriating for themselves the minerals found therein. To rule otherwise would imply that location is all that is consonance with the Regalian doctrine.—In effect, what the Courts a quo have done is to release the subject
property from the unclassified category, which is beyond their competence and jurisdiction. The classification of
13 | P a g e
public lands is an exclusive prerogative of the Executive Department of the Government and not of the Courts. In MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.:
the absence of such classification, the land remains as unclassified land until it is released therefrom and rendered
open to disposition. This should be so under time-honored Constitutional precepts. This is also in consonance with Petitioners-public officials, through the Solicitor General, seek a review of the Decision and Resolution of the then
the Regalian doctrine that all lands of the public domain belong to the State, and that the State is the source of any Court of Appeals affirming the judgment of the former Court of First Instance of Bulacan, Branch III, decreeing
asserted right to ownership in land and charged with the conservation of such patrimony. registration of a parcel of land in private respondents‘ favor. The land in question, identified as Lot 2347, Cad-
302-D, Case 3, ObandoCadastre, under Plan Ap-03-000535, is situated in Obando, Bulacan, and has an area of
Same; Same; Estoppel by State; Non-presentation of evidence that property is within the unclassified region, will approximately 9.3 hectares. It adjoins the Kailogan River and private respondents have converted it into a
not operate against the State under the rule that the State cannot be estopped by omission, mistake or error of its fishpond.
officials or agents.—The recommendation of the District Forester for release of subject property from the
unclassified region is not the ultimate word on the matter. And the fact that BF Map LC No. 637 dated March 1, In their application for registration filed on May 10, 1976, private respondents (Applicants, for brevity) claimed
1927 showing subject property to be within the unclassified region was not presented in evidence will not operate that they are the co-owners in fee simple of the land applied for partly through inheritance in 1918 and partly by
against the State considering the stipulation between the parties and under the well-settled rule that the State purchase on May 2, 1958; that it is not within any forest zone or military reservation; and that the same is assessed
cannot be estopped by the omission, mistake or error of its officials or agents, if omission there was, in fact. for taxation purposes in their names.

Same; Same; Jurisdiction; Torrens System; Land within the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Forest Development is The Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development opposed the
beyond the jurisdiction of the cadastral court to register under the Torrens System.—While it may be that the application on the principal ground that the land applied for is within the unclassified region of Obando, Bulacan,
Municipality of Obando has been cadastrally surveyed in 1961, it does not follow that all lands comprised therein per BF Map LC No. 637 dated March 1, 1927; and that areas within the unclassified region are denominated as
are automatically released as alienable. A survey made in a cadastral proceeding merely identifies each lot forest lands and do not form part of the disposable and alienable portion of the public domain.
preparatory to a judicial proceeding for adjudication of title to any of the lands upon claim of interested parties.
Besides, if land is within the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Forest Development, it would be beyond the jurisdiction After hearing, the Trial Court ordered registration of the subject land in favor of the Applicants. This was affirmed
of the Cadastral Court to register it under the Torrens System. on appeal by respondent Appellate Court, which found that ―through indubitable evidence (Applicants) and their
predecessors-in-interest have been in open, public, continuous, peaceful and adverse possession of the subject
Same; Same; Where property is still unclassified, possession of applicants, however long, cannot ripen into private parcel of land under a bona fide claim of ownership for more than 30 years prior to the filing of the application‖
ownership.—Since the subject property is still unclassified, whatever possession Applicants may have had, and, and are, therefore, entitled to registration. It further opined that ―since the subject property is entirely devoted to
however long, cannot ripen into private ownership. fishpond purposes, it cannot be categorized as part of forest lands.‖

Same; Same; Conversion of property into fishpond or titling of properties around it, does not automatically render Before this instance, the principal issues posed are: (1) whether or not Courts can reclassify the subject public
the property as alienable and disposable; Remedy is the release of the property from its being unclassified.—The land; and (2) whether or not applicants are entitled to judicial confirmation of title.
conversion of subject property into a fishpond by Applicants, or the alleged titling of properties around it, does not
automatically render the property as alienable and disposable. Applicants‘ remedy lies in the release of the The parties, through their respective counsel, stipulated that the land is within an unclassified region of Obando,
property from its present classification. In fairness to Applicants, and it appearing that there are titled lands around Bulacan, as shown by BF Map LC No. 637, dated March 1, 1927.1 No evidence has been submitted that the land
the subject property, petitioners-officials should give serious consideration to the matter of classification of the has been released or subsequently classified despite an Indorsement, dated November 17, 1976, of the District
land in question. Forester, to the Director of Forest Development, containing the following recommendation:

PETITION to review the decision of the Court of Appeals. ―Subject area requested for release was verified and found to be within the Unclassified Region of Obando,
Bulacan per BF LC Map No. 637, certified March 1, 1927. However, on-the-spot inspection conducted by a
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. representative of this Office, it disclosed that the same was devoid of any forest growth and forms part of a
welldeveloped and 100 percent producing fishponds. Two houses of light materials were erected within the area
The Solicitor General for petitioners. for the caretakers temporary dwelling.

Carlos C. Serapio for private respondents.

14 | P a g e
―In view thereof, and in fairness to the applicant considering the investment introduced therein this Office believes SO ORDERED.
that the release is in order.
Teehankee, (Chairman), Plana, Relova and De la Fuente, JJ., concur.
―Recommended for approval and be disposed of in accordance with the Public Land Law.‖
Gutierrez, Jr., **J., took no part.
The Government‘s cause is meritorious.
Decision reversed and the application for registration is dismissed.
In effect, what the Courts a quo have done is to release the subject property from the unclassified category, which
is beyond their competence and jurisdiction. The classification of public lands is an exclusive prerogative of the Notes.—The policy of the State to enable occupants or tenants of agricultural lands to acquire small holdings is
Executive Department of the Government and not of the Courts. In the absence of such classification, the land that the old tenants were preferred over others in acquisition of property. (Pindañgan Agricultural Co., Inc. vs.
remains as unclassified land until it is released therefrom and rendered open to disposition. This should be so Dans, 4 SCRA 1035.)
under time-honored Constitutional precepts. This is also in consonance with the Regalian doctrine that all lands of
the public domain belong to the State, and that the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership in land Subsequent to the authority of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the Director of Lands has, by
and charged with the conservation of such patrimony. law, direct control over the sale or any other form of concession or disposition and the management of the public
domain. (Pineda vs. Court of First Instance of Davao, 1 SCRA 1020.)
The recommendation of the District Forester for release of subject property from the unclassified region is not the
ultimate word on the matter. And the fact that BF Map LC No. 637 dated March 1, 1927 showing subject property The Director of Lands has no authority to grant to another a free patent for land that has ceased to be a public land
to be within the unclassified region was not presented in evidence will not operate against the State considering and has passed to private ownership. (De la Concha vs. Magtira, 18 SCRA 398.)
the stipulation between the parties and under the well-settled rule that the State cannot be estopped by the
G.R. No. 31688. December 17, 1990.*
omission, mistake or error of its officials or agents,6if omission there was, in fact.
DIRECTOR OF LANDS, DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY and REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES,
petitioners, vs. HON. JUAN P. AQUINO, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Abra, Second Judicial
While it may be that the Municipality of Obando has been cadastrally surveyed in 1961, it does not follow that all District and ABRA INDUSTRIAL CORPORATION, respondents.
lands comprised therein are automatically released as alienable. A survey made in a cadastral proceeding merely
identifies each lot preparatory to a judicial proceeding for adjudication of title to any of the lands upon claim of
interested parties. Besides, if land is within the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Forest Development, it would be Civil Procedure; Appeals; Motions; A motion for new trial or reconsideration is not a prerequisite to an appeal,
beyond the jurisdiction of the Cadastral Court to register it under the Torrens System. petition for review, or a petition for review on certiorari.—A motion for new trial or reconsideration is not a
prerequisite to an appeal, petition for review or a petition for review on certiorari. The reglementary period for
Since the subject property is still unclassified, whatever possession Applicants may have had, and, however long, filing the petition for review on certiorari in the instant case was thirty (30) days from notice of the order or
cannot ripen into private ownership. judgment subject of review which period, parenthetically, is now fifteen (15) days pursuant to Section 39 of the
Judiciary Act of 1980. Petitioners having been granted a total of sixty (60) days within which to file the petition,
The conversion of subject property into a fishpond by Applicants, or the alleged titling of properties around it, the same was timely filed.
does not automatically render the property as alienable and disposable. Applicants‘ remedy lies in the release of
the property from its present classification. In fairness to Applicants, and it appearing that there are titled lands Land Registration; Forest Reserves; Commonwealth Act 141; Under CA 141, the power to exclude an area from
around the subject property, petitioners-officials should give serious consideration to the matter of classification of the forest zone belongs to the President, upon recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
the land in question. Resources, and not the District Forester or even the Director of Forestry.—Petitioners herein contend that the
lower court erred in granting the application for registration of the parcels of land notwithstanding its finding that
WHEREFORE, the appealed Decision is reversed and the application for registration in Land Registration Case they are within the forest zone. The District Forester's failure to object to the exclusion of the area sought to be
No. N-299-V-76 of the former Court of First Instance of Bulacan, Branch III, is hereby dismissed, without registered from the forest reserve was not enough justification for registration because under Commonwealth Act
prejudice to the availment by the applicants of the proper administrative remedy. No. 141, the power to exclude an area from the forest zone belongs to the President of the Philippines, upon the
recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and not the District Forester or even the
No costs.
Director of Forestry. x xx We find the petition to be meritorious. Once again, we reiterate the rule enunciated by
15 | P a g e
this Court in Director of Forestry vs. Muñoz and consistently adhered to in a long line of cases the more recent of The Solicitor General for petitioners.
which is Republic vs. Court of Appeals, that forest lands or forest reserves are incapable of private appropriation
and possession thereof, however long, cannot convert them into private properties. This ruling is premised on the Demetrio V. Pre for private respondent.
regalian doctrine enshrined not only in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions but also in the 1987 Constitution Article
XIII of which provides that: "Sec. 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal x xx, forests or timber, FERNAN, C.J.:
x xx and other natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural
The center of controversy in the instant petition for review on certiorari is a limestone-rich 70-hectare land in
resources shall not be alienated." Pursuant to this constitutional provision, the land must first be released from its
Bucay, Abra 66 hectares of which are, according to petitioners, within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve.
classification as forest land and reclassified as agricultural land in accordance with the certification issued by the
Director of Forestry as provided for by Section 1827 of the Revised Administrative Code. This is because the Private respondent Abra Industrial Corporation (AIC for brevity), a duly registered corporation established for the
classification of public lands is an exclusive prerogative of the executive department of the government and not of purpose of setting up a cement factory, claims on the other hand, to be the owner in fee simple of the whole 70-
the courts. Moreover, a positive act of the government is needed to declassify a forest land into alienable or hectare area indicated in survey plans PSU-217518, PSU-217519 and PSU-217520 with a total assessed value of
disposable land for agricultural or other purposes. P6,724.48. Thus, on September 23, 1965, it filed in the then Court of First Instance of Abra an application for
registration in its name of said parcels of land under the Land Registration Act or, in the alternative, under Sec. 48
Same; Same; Public Lands; An applicant for registration has the burden to overcome the presumption that the land
of Commonwealth Act No. 1411 as amended by Republic Act No. 1942 inasmuch as its predecessors-in-interest
sought to be registered forms part of the public domain.—Being the interested party, an applicant for registration
had allegedly been in possession thereof since July 26,1894.
of a parcel of land bears the burden of overcoming the presumption that the land sought to be registered forms part
of the public domain. In this case, AIC asserts that the land in dispute is no longer part of the Cordillera Forest The requisite publication and posting of notice having been complied with, the application was set for hearing.
Reserve because the communal forest in Bucay, Abra which had been established in 1909 by virtue of Forestry Except for the Director of Lands, nobody appeared to oppose the application. Hence, the court issued an order of
Administrative Order No. 2-298, had been "cancelled and de-established" by Forestry Administrative Order No. 2- default against the whole world except the Director of Lands.
622 dated October 1, 1965 and issued by then Acting Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources Jose Y.
Feliciano. AIC therefore tries to impress upon the Court the fact that as there was no longer a forested area, the After the applicant had rested its case, the provincial fiscal, appearing for the Director of Lands, submitted
same area had become alienable more so because its actual occupants, who had been devoting it to agriculture, had evidence supporting the opposition filed by the Solicitor General to the effect that AIC had no registerable title
relinquished their rights over it in favor of AIC "to give way for greater economic benefits for the people in the and that the highly mineralized parcels of land applied for were within the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve
locality." It should be emphasized, however, that the classification of the land as forest land is descriptive of its which had not yet been released as alienable and disposable land pursuant to the Public Land Law.
legal nature or status and does not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like. Hence, the fact that
the contested parcels of land have long been denuded and actually contains rich limestone deposits does not in any On July 22, 1966, the lower court favorably acted on the application and ordered the registration of the parcels of
way affect its present classification as forest land. land under the Land Registration Act. It ruled that although said land was within the forest zone, the opposition of
the Director of Lands was not well-taken because the Bureau of Forestry, thru the District Forester of Abra,
Same; Same; Same; The inclusion in a title of a part of the public domain nullified the title.—The petitioners "offered no objection to exclude the same area from the forest reserve." It found that the parcels of land had been
therefore validly insisted on the review of the decision ordering the issuance of the decree of registration in view acquired by purchase and AIC's possession thereof, including that of its predecessors-in-interest, had been for
of its patent infirmity. The lower court closed its eyes to a basic doctrine in land registration cases that the forty-nine (49) years.
inclusion in a title of a part of the public domain nullifies the title. Its decision to order the registration of an
inalienable land in favor of AIC under the misconception that it is imperative for the Director of Forestry to object The Director of Lands, through the provincial fiscal, filed a motion for reconsideration of the decision asserting
to its exclusion from the forest reserve even in the face of its finding that indeed a sizable portion of the Central that except for a 4-hectare area, the land covered by PSU-217518, 217519 and 217520 fell within the Central
Cordillera Forest Reserve is involved, cannot be allowed to stay unreversed. It betrays an inherent infirmity which Cordillera Forest Reserve, under Proclamation No. 217 dated February 16, 1929; that although it had been
must be corrected. denuded, it was covered with massive, corraline, tufaceous limestone estimated to yield 200,000,000 metric tons
about a fifth of which was suitable for the manufacture of high grade portland cement type and that the limestone,
PETITION to review the order of the then Court of First Instance of Abra. Aquino, J. being 250 meters thick, could yield 10,000 bags of cement a day for 1,000 years.5 He contended that, while the
land could be reclassified as mineral land under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Mines, the process of exclusion
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

16 | P a g e
from the Cordillera Forest Reserve had not yet been undertaken pursuant to Sec. 1826 of Republic Act No. 3092 thirty (30) days from notice of the order or judgment subject of review which period, parenthetically, is now
and therefore it was still part of the forest zone which was inalienable under the 1935 Constitution. fifteen (15) days pursuant to Section 39 of the Judiciary Act of 1980. Petitioners having been granted a total of
sixty (60) days within which to file the petition, the same was timely filed.
AIC having filed its opposition to the motion for reconsideration, the lower court denied it on September 28, 1967
holding that the grounds raised therein were relevant and proper only if the Bureau of Forestry and the Bureau of Petitioners herein contend that the lower court erred in granting the application for registration of the parcels of
Mines were parties to the case. It added that the motion for intervention filed by the Bureau of Lands and the land notwithstanding its finding that they are within the forest zone. The District Forester's failure to object to the
Bureau of Mines was improper in land registration cases. exclusion of the area sought to be registered from the forest reserve was not enough justification for registration
because under Commonwealth Act No. 141, the power to exclude an area from the forest zone belongs to the
The Director of Lands filed a petition for certiorari with the Court of Appeals but the same was dismissed for President of the Philippines, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and
having been filed out of time.Hence, on December 22, 1967, the Commissioner of Land Registration issued not the District Forester or even the Director of Forestry.
Decrees Nos. 118198,118199 and 118200 for the registration of the subject parcels of land in the name of AIC.
Petitioners also contend that the lower court erred in denying the petition for review based on actual fraud because
Within one year from the issuance of said decrees or on May 22,1968, the Republic of the Philippines, through the under Section 38 of Act No. 496, a decree of registration may be reviewed not only by reason of, actual fraud but
Solicitor General, invoking Section 38 of Act No. 496, filed in the Court of First Instance of Abra a petition for also for a fatal infirmity of the decision upon which the decree is based, provided no innocent purchaser for value
review of the decrees of registration and the lower court's decision of July 22,1966. The Solicitor General alleged will be prejudiced.
that although the evidence presented by AIC showed that it had purchased from individual owners only a total area
of 24 hectares, the application included 46 hectares of the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve and therefore AIC We find the petition to be meritorious. Once again, we reiterate the rule enunciated by this Court in Director of
"employed actual fraud" which misled the court "to error in finding the applicant to have a registerable title over Forestry vs. Muñoz and consistently adhered to in a long line of cases the more recent of which is Republic vs.
the parcels of land subject of the application." Court of Appeals, that forest lands or forest reserves are incapable of private appropriation and possession thereof,
however long, cannot convert them into private properties. This ruling is premised on the Regalian doctrine
On November 27, 1969, the lower court denied the petition on the ground that if, as alleged by the Solicitor enshrined not only in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions but also in the 1987 Constitution Article XIII of which
General, then presiding Judge Macario M. Ofilada was mistaken in appreciating the evidence presented, the provides that: "Sec. 2. All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal x xx, forests or timber, x xx and other
judicial error was "not synonymous with actual fraud." natural resources are owned by the State. With the exception of agricultural lands, all other natural resources shall
not be alienated."
Without asking for a reconsideration of said order, on February 25, 1970, the Solicitor General, representing the
Director of Lands, the Director of Forestry and the Republic of the Philippines, filed the present petition for Pursuant to this constitutional provision, the land must first be released from its classification as forest land and
review on certiorari under Republic Act No. 5440. reclassified as agricultural land in accordance with the certification issued by the Director of Forestry as provided
for by Section 1827 of the Revised Administrative Code. This is because the classification of public lands is an
The petition was forthwith given due course by the Court but inasmuch as no action was taken on their prayer for exclusive prerogative of the executive department of the government and not of the courts. Moreover, a positive
the issuance of a temporary restraining order, the petitioners filed a motion reiterating said prayer. Finding the act of the government is needed to declassify a forest land into alienable or disposable land for agricultural or
motion meritorious, the Court issued a temporary restraining order enjoining the private respondent and its agents other purposes.
and representatives "from further acts of possession and disposition to innocent purchasers for value of the parcels
of land involved" in this case. Being the interested party, an applicant for registration of a parcel of land bears the burden of overcoming the
presumption that the land sought to be registered forms part of the public domain. In this case, AIC asserts that the
AIC filed a motion to dismiss the instant petition on the grounds that it raises "unsubstantial" issues and that it was land in dispute is no longer part of the Cordillera Forest Reserve because the communal forest in Bucay, Abra
filed out of time. The motion was denied by the Court but it bears pointing out that AIC's second ground for which had been established in 1909 by virtue of Forestry Administrative Order No. 2-298, had been "cancelled
dismissal, which is premised on its perception that a motion for reconsideration of the order of November 27, 1969 and de-established" by Forestry Administrative Order No. 2-622 dated October 1, 1965 and issued by then Acting
is necessary before the filing of the instant petition, is incorrect. Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources Jose Y. Feliciano. AIC therefore tries to impress upon the Court
the fact that as there was no longer a forested area, the same area had become alienable more so because its actual
A motion for new trial or reconsideration is not a prerequisite to an appeal, petition for review or a petition for
occupants, who had been devoting it to agriculture, had relinquished their rights over it in favor of AIC "to give
review on certiorari. The reglementary period for filing the petition for review on certiorari in the instant case was

17 | P a g e
way for greater economic benefits for the people in the locality." It should be emphasized, however, that the to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like.—Mangrove swamps or manglares should be understood as
classification of the land as forest land is descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to be comprised within the public forests of the Philippines as defined in the aforecited Section 1820 of the
descriptive of what the land actually looks like. Hence, the fact that the contested parcels of land have long been Administrative Code of 1917. The legislature having so determined, we have no authority to ignore or modify its
denuded and actually contains rich limestone deposits does not in any way affect its present classification as forest decision, and in effect veto it, in the exercise of our own discretion. The statutory definition remains unchanged to
land. date and, no less noteworthy, is accepted and invoked by the executive department. More importantly, the said
provision has not been challenged as arbitrary or unrealistic or unconstitutional, assuming the requisite
While it is true that under Section 1839 of the Revised Administrative Code, the Director of Forestry, with the conditions, to justify our judicial intervention and scrutiny. The law is thus presumed valid and so must be
approval of the Department Head, may change the location of a communal forest, such executive action does not respected. We repeat our statement in the Amunategui case that the classification of mangrove swamps as forest
amount to a declassification of a forest reserve into an alienable or disposable land. Under Commonwealth Act lands is descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks
No. 141, it is no less than the President, upon the recommendation of the proper department head, who has the like. That determination having been made and no cogent argument having been raised to annul it, we have no
authority to classify the lands of the public domain into alienable or disposable, timber and mineral lands. The duty as judges but to apply it. And so we shall.
President shall also declare from time to time what lands are open to disposition or concession. AIC therefore,
should prove first of all that the lands it claims for registration are alienable or disposable lands. As it is, AIC has Same; Same; Same; Same; The previous description of mangrove swamps as agricultural lands covers only those
not only failed to prove that it has a registerable title but more importantly, it failed to show that the lands are no lands over which ownership had already vested before the Administrative Code of 1917 became effective.—Our
longer a part of the public domain. previous description of the term in question as pertaining to our agricultural lands should be understood as
covering only those lands over which ownership had already vested before the Administrative Code of 1917
The petitioners therefore validly insisted on the review of the decision ordering the issuance of the decree of became effective. Such lands could not be retroactively legislated as forest lands because this would be violative
registration in view of its patent infirmity. The lower court closed its eyes to a basic doctrine in land registration of a duly acquired property right protected by the due process clause. So we ruled again only two months ago in
cases that the inclusion in a title of a part of the public domain nullifies the title.31 Its decision to order the Republic of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals, where the possession of the land in dispute commenced as early
registration of an inalienable land in favor of AIC under the misconception that it is imperative for the Director of as 1909, before it was much later classified as timberland.
Forestry to object to its exclusion from the forest reserve even in the face of its finding that indeed a sizable
portion of the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve is involved, cannot be allowed to stay unreversed. It betrays an Same; Same; Same; Tax declarations are not sufficient to prove possession and much less prove ownership in
inherent infirmity which must be corrected. favor of the declarant.—Significantly, the tax declarations made by the private respondent were practically the
only basis used by the appellate court in sustaining his claim of possession over the land in question. Tax
WHEREFORE, the order of November 27, 1969 denying the petition for review under Section 38 of Act No. 496 declarations are, of course, not sufficient to prove possession and much less vest ownership in favor of the
and the decision of July 22,1966 insofar as it orders the registration of land within the Central Cordillera Forest declarant, as we have held in countless cases.
Reserve are hereby REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The temporary restraining order issued on April 7, 1970 is
hereby made permanent. Costs against the private respondent. Same; Same; Alienable Public Lands; Mangrove Swamps; Mangrove swamps form part of the public forests and
are not alienable under the Constitution.—It is reiterated for emphasis that, conformably to the legislative
SO ORDERED. definition embodied in Section 1820 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917, which remains unamended up
to now, mangrove swamps or manglares form part of the public forests of the Philippines. As such, they are not
Gutierrez, Jr. and Bidin, JJ., concur. alienable under the Constitution and may not be the subject of private ownership until and unless they are first
released as forest land and classified as alienable agricultural land.
Order reversed and set aside.
PETITION for certiorari to review the decision of the Court of Appeals.
G.R. No. 32266. February 27, 1989.*
THE DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY, petitioner, vs. RUPERTO A. VILLAREAL, respondent.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

The Solicitor General for petitioner.


Land Registration; Public Lands; Public Forests; Mangrove Swamps, Classification Of; Mangrove swamps are
classified as forest lands but said classification is descriptive only of its legal nature and status and does not have
Quasha, Asperilla, Ancheta, Valmonte, Peña & Marcos for respondents.
18 | P a g e
CRUZ, J.: jurisprudence. The waters flowing over them are not available for purpose of navigation, and they may be
disposed of without impairment of the public interest in what remains.
The basic question before the Court is the legal classification of mangrove swamps, or manglares, as they are
commonly known. If they are part of our public forest lands, they are not alienable under the Constitution. If they xxx
are considered public agricultural lands, they may be acquired under private ownership. The private respondent‘s
claim to the land in question must be judged by these criteria. ―Under this uncertain and somewhat unsatisfactory condition of the law, the custom had grown of converting
manglares and nipa lands into fisheries which became a common feature of settlement along the coast and at the
The said land consists of 178,113 square meters of mangrove swamps located in the municipality of Sapian, same time of the change of sovereignty constituted one of the most productive industries of the Islands, the
Capiz. RupertoVillareal applied for its registration on January 25, 1949, alleging that he and his predecessors-in- abrogation of which would destroy vested interests and prove a public disaster.‖
interest had been in possession of the land for more than forty years. He was opposed by several persons,
including the petitioner on behalf of the Republic of the Philippines. After trial, the application was approved by Mangrove swamps were thus considered agricultural lands and so susceptible of private ownership.
the Court of First Instance of Capiz. The decision was affirmed by the Court of Appeals.The Director of Forestry
then came to this Court in a petition for review on certiorari claiming that the land in dispute was forestal in nature Subsequently, the Philippine Legislature categorically declared, despite the above-cited case, that mangrove
and not subject to private appropriation. He asks that the registration be reversed. swamps form part of the public forests of this country. This it did in the Administrative Code of 1917, which
became effective on October 1 of that year, thus:
It should be stressed at the outset that both the petitioner and the private respondent agree that the land is
mangrove land. There is no dispute as to this. The bone of contention between the parties is the legal nature of ―Section 1820. Words and phrase defined.—For the purpose of this chapter ‗public forest‘ includes, except as
mangrove swamps or manglares. The petitioner claims, it is forestal and therefore not disposable and the private otherwise specially indicated, all unreserved public land, including nipa and mangrove swamps, and all forest
respondent insists it is alienable as agricultural land. The issue before us is legal, not factual. reserves of whatever character.‖

For a proper background of this case, we have to go back to the Philippine Bill of 1902, one of the earlier It is noteworthy, though, that notwithstanding this definition, the Court maintained the doctrine in the Montano
American organic acts in the country. By this law, lands of the public domain in the Philippine Islands were case when two years later it held in the case of Jocson v. Director of Forestry:
classified into three grand divisions, to wit, agricultural, mineral and timber or forest lands. This classification was
―x xx the words timber land are always translated in the Spanish translation of that Act (Act of Congress) as
maintained in the Constitution of the Commonwealth, promulgated in 1935, until it was superseded by the
‗terrenosforestales.‘ We think there is an error in this translation and that a better translation would be
Constitution of 1973. That new charter expanded the classification of public lands to include industrial or
‗terrenosmadereros.‘ Timber land in English means land with trees growing on it. The manglar plant would never
commercial, residential, resettlement, and grazing lands and even permitted the legislature to provide for other
be called a tree in English but a bush, and land which has only bushes, shrubs or aquatic plants growing on it
categories.3 This provision has been reproduced, but with substantial modifications, in the present Constitution.
cannot be called ‗timber land.‘
Under the Commonwealth Constitution, which was the charter in force when this case arose, only agricultural
xxx
lands were allowed to be alienated.Their disposition was provided for under C.A. No. 141. Mineral and timber or
forest lands were not subject to private ownership unless they were first reclassified as agricultural lands and so ―The fact that there are a few trees growing in a manglare or nipa swamps does not change the general character of
released for alienation. In the leading case of Montano v. Insular Government, promulgated in 1909, mangrove the land from manglare to timber land.‖
swamps or manglares were defined by the Court as:
More to the point, addressing itself directly to above-quoted Section 1820, the Court declared:
―x xx mud flats, alternately washed and exposed by the tide, in which grows various kindred plants which will not
live except when watered by the sea, extending their roots deep into the mud and casting their seeds, which also ―In the case of Mapa vs. Insular Government (10 Phil. Rep., 175), this Court said that the phrase ‗agricultural
germinate there. These constitute the mangrove flats of the tropics, which exist naturally, but which are also, to lands‘ as used in Act No. 926 means those public lands acquired from Spain which are not timber or mineral
some extent cultivated by man for the sake of the combustible wood of the mangrove and like trees as well as for lands.
the useful nipa palm propagated thereon. Although these flats are literally tidal lands, yet we are of the opinion
that they cannot be so regarded in the sense in which that term is used in the cases cited or in general American

19 | P a g e
―Whatever may have been the meaning of the term ‗forestry‘ under the Spanish law, the Act of Congress of July ―The Heirs of Jose Amunategui maintain that Lot No. 885 cannot be classified as forest land because it is not
1st, 1902, classifies the public lands in the Philippine Islands as timber, mineral or agricultural lands, and all thickly forested but is a ‗mangrove swamps.‘ Although conceding that a ‗mangrove swamp‘ is included in the
public lands that are not timber or mineral lands are necessarily agricultural public lands, whether they are used as classification of forest land in accordance with Section 1820 of the Revised Administrative Code, the petitioners
nipa swamps, manglares, fisheries or ordinary farm lands. argue that no big trees classified in Section 1821 of the said Code as first, second and third groups are found on
the land in question. Furthermore, they contend that Lot 885, even if it is a mangrove swamp, is still subject to
―The definition of forestry as including manglares found in the Administrative Code of 1917 cannot affect rights land registration proceedings because the property had been in actual possession of private persons for many
which vested prior to its enactment. years, and therefore, said land was already ‗private land‘ better adapted and more valuable for agricultural than for
forest purposes and not required by the public interests to be kept under forest classification.‖
―These lands being neither timber nor mineral lands, the trial court should have considered them agricultural
lands. If they are agricultural lands, then the rights of appellants are fully established by Act No. 926.‖ ―The petition is without merit.

The doctrine was reiterated still later in GarchitorenaVda. deCentenera v. Obias,8 promulgated on March 4, 1933, ―A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain does not lose such classification simply because
more than fifteen years after the effectivity of the Administrative Code of 1917. Justice Ostranddeclared for a loggers or settlers may have stripped it of its forest cover. Parcels of land classified as forest land may actually be
unanimous Court: covered with grass or planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other farmers. ‗Forested lands‘ do not have to be
on mountains or in out-of-the-way places. Swampy areas covered by mangrove trees, nipa palms, and other trees
―The opposition rests mainly upon the proposition that the land covered by the application there are mangrove growing in brackish or sea water may also be classified as forest land. The classification is descriptive of its legal
lands as shown in his opponent‘s Exh. I, but we think this opposition of the Director of Forestry is untenable, nature or status and does not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like. Unless and until the land
inasmuch as it has been definitely decided that mangrove lands are not forest lands in the sense in which this classsified as ‗forest‘ is released in an official proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the disposable
phrase is used in the Act of Congress.‖ agricultural lands of the public domain, the rules on confirmation of imperfect titles do not apply.‖

No elaboration was made on this conclusion which was merely based on the cases of Montano and Jocson. And in The view was maintained in Vallarta v. Intermediate Appellate Court, where this Court agreed with the Solicitor
1977, the above ruling was reaffirmed in Tongson v. Director of Forestry,9 with Justice Fernando declaring that General‘s submission that the land in dispute, which he described as ―swamp mangrove or forestal land,‖ were not
the mangrove lands in litis were agricultural in nature. The decision even quoted with approval the statement of private properties and so not registerable. This case was decided only twelve days after the De Porkan case.
the trial court that:
Faced with these apparent contradictions, the Court feels there is a need for a categorical pronouncement that
―x xx Mangrove swamps where only trees of mangrove species grow, where the trees are small and sparse, fit only should resolve once and for all the question of whether mangrove swamps are agricultural lands or forest lands.
for firewood purposes and the trees growing are not of commercial value as lumber do not convert the land into
public land. Such lands are not forest in character. They do not form part of the public domain.‖ The determination of this question is a function initially belonging to the legislature, which has the authority to
implement the constitutional provision classifying the lands of the public domain (and is now even permitted to
Only last year, in Republic v. De Porkan, the Court, citing Krivenko v. Register of Deeds, reiterated the ruling in provide for more categories of public lands). The legislature having made such implementation, the executive
the Mapa case that ―all public lands that are not timber or mineral lands are necessarily agricultural public lands, officials may then, in the discharge of their own role, administer our public lands pursuant to their constitutional
whether they are used as nipa swamps, manglares, fisheries or ordinary farm lands.‖ duty ―to ensure that the laws be faithfully executed‖ and in accordance with the policy prescribed. For their part,
the courts will step into the picture if the rules laid down by the legislature are challenged or, assuming they are
But the problem is not all that simple. As it happens, there is also a line of decisions holding the contrary view.
valid, it is claimed that they are not being correctly observed by the executive. Thus do the three departments,
In Yngson v. Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, promulgated in 1983, the Court ruled ―that the coordinating with each other, pursue and achieve the objectives of the Constitution in the conservation and
Bureau of Fisheries has no jurisdiction to dispose of swamplands or mangrove lands forming part of the public utilization of our natural resources.
domain while such lands are still classified as forest lands.‖
In C.A. No. 141, the National Assembly delegated to the President of the Philippines the function of making
Four months later, in Heirs of Amunategui v. Director of Forestry,13 the Court was more positive when it held, periodic classifications of public lands, thus:
again through Justice Gutierrez:

20 | P a g e
Sec. 6. The President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, shall from ―The President of the Philippines may in like manner by proclamation alter or modify the boundaries of any forest
time to time classify the lands of the public domain into: reserve from time to time, or revoke any such proclamation, and upon such revocation such forest reserve shall be
and become part of the public lands as though such proclamation had never been made.
(a) Alienable or disposable,
―Sec. 1827. Assignment of forest land for agricultural purposes.—Lands in public forest, not including forest
(b) Timber, and reserves, upon the certification of the Director of Forestry that said lands are better adapted and more valuable for
agricultural than for forest purposes and not required by the public interests to be kept under forest, shall be
(c) Mineral lands, declared by the Department Head to be agricultural lands.‖

and may at any time and in a like manner transfer such lands from one class to another, for the purposes of their With these principles in mind, we reach the following conclusion:
administration and disposition.‖
Mangrove swamps or manglares should be understood as comprised within the public forests of the Philippines as
―Sec. 7. For the purposes of the administration and disposition of alienable or disposable lands, the President, defined in the aforecited Section 1820 of the Administrative Code of 1917. The legislature having so determined,
upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, shall from time to time declare what we have no authority to ignore or modify its decision, and in effect veto it, in the exercise of our own discretion.
lands are open to disposition or concession under this Act. The statutory definition remains unchanged to date and, no less noteworthy, is accepted and invoked by the
executive department. More importantly, the said provision has not been challenged as arbitrary or unrealistic or
With particular regard to alienable public lands, Section 9 of the same law provides:
unconstitutional, assuming the requisite conditions, to justify our judicial intervention and scrutiny. The law is
―For the purpose of their administration and disposition, the lands of the public domain alienable or open to thus presumed valid and so must be respected. We repeat our statement in the Amunategui case that the
disposition shall be classified, according to the use or purposes to which such lands are destined, as follows: classification of mangrove swamps as forest lands is descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to
be descriptive of what the land actually looks like. That determination having been made and no cogent argument
(a) Agricultural; having been raised to annul it, we have no duty as judges but to apply it. And so we shall.

(b) Residential, commercial, industrial, or for similar productive purposes; Our previous description of the term in question as pertaining to our agricultural lands should be understood as
covering only those lands over which ownership had already vested before the Administrative Code of 1917
(c) Educational, charitable, or other similar purposes; and became effective. Such lands could not be retroactively legislated as forest lands because this would be violative
of a duly acquired property right protected by the due process clause. So we ruled again only two months ago in
(d) Reservations for townsites and for public and quasi-public uses. Republic of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals, where the possession of the land in dispute commenced as early
as 1909, before it was much later classified as timber-land.
The President, upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, shall from time to
time make the classifications provided for in this section, and may, at any time and in a similar manner, transfer It follows from all this that the land under contention being admittedly a part of the mangrove swamps of Sapian,
lands from one class to another.‖ and for which a minor forest license had in fact been issued by the Bureau of Forestry from 1920 to 1950, it must
be considered forest land. It could therefore not be the subject of the adverse possession and consequent ownership
As for timber or forest lands, the Revised Administrative Code states as follows: claimed by the private respondent in support of his application for registration. To be so, it had first to be released
as forest land and reclassified as agricultural land pursuant to the certification the Director of Forestry may issue
―Sec. 1826. Regulation setting apart forest reserves—Revocation of same.—Upon the recommendation of the
under Section 1827 of the Revised Administrative Code.
Director of Forestry, with the approval of the Department Head, the President of the Philippines may set apart
forest reserves from the public lands and he shall by proclamation declare the establishment of such reserves and The private respondent invokes the survey plan of the mangrove swamps approved by the Director of Lands,16 to
the boundaries thereof, and thereafter such forest reserves shall not be entered, sold, or otherwise disposed of, but prove that the land is registerable. It should be plain, however, that the mere existence of such a plan would not
shall remain as such for forest uses, and shall be administered in the same manner as public forest. have the effect of converting the mangrove swamps, as forest land, into agricultural land. Such approval is
ineffectual because it is clearly inofficious. The Director of Lands was not authorized to act in the premises. Under
the aforecited law, it is the Director of Forestry who has the authority to determine whether forest land is more
21 | P a g e
valuable for agricultural rather than forestry uses, as a basis for its declaration as agricultural land and release for not be the subject of private ownership until and unless they are first released as forest land and classified as
private ownership. alienable agricultural land.

Thus we held in the Yngson case: WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is SET ASIDE and the application for registration of title of
private respondent is DISMISSED, with cost against him. This decision is immediately executory.
―It is elementary in the law governing the disposition of lands of the public domain that until timber or forest lands
are released as disposable and alienable neither the Bureau of Lands nor the Bureau of Fisheries has authority to SO ORDERED.
lease, grant, sell or otherwise dispose of these lands for homesteads, sales patents, leases for grazing or other
purposes, fishpond leases and other modes of utilization. Narvasa, Melencio-Herrera, Gutierrez, Jr., Paras, Feliciano, Gancayco, Padilla, Bidin, Sarmiento, Cortés, Griño-
Aquino, Medialdea and Regalado, JJ., concur.
―The Bureau of Fisheries has no jurisdiction to administer and dispose of swamplands or mangrove lands forming
part of the public domain while such lands are still classified as forest land or timber land and not released for Fernan (C.J.), no part—my brother-in-law is part of the law firm representing respondent.
fishery or other purposes.‖
Decision set aside.
The same rule was echoed in the Vallarta case, thus:
No. L-73002.December 29, 1986.*
―It is elementary in the law governing natural resources that forest land cannot be owned by private persons. It is THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, petitioner, vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and ACME
PLYWOOD & VENEER CO. INC., ETC., respondents.
not registerable. The adverse possession which can be the basis of a grant of title in confirmation of imperfect title
cases cannot commence until after the forest land has been declared alienable and disposable. Possession of forest
land, no matter how long cannot convert it into private property.‖ Land Registration; A juridical confirmation proceeding should at most be limited to ascertaining whether the
possession claimed is of the required character and length of time as it is not so much one to confer title as it is to
We find in fact that even if the land in dispute were agricultural in nature, the proof the private respondent offers
recognize a title already vested.—Nothing can more clearly demonstrate the logical inevitability of considering
of prescriptive possession thereof is remarkably meager and of dubious persuasiveness. The record contains no
possession of public land which is of the character and duration prescribed by statute as the equivalent of an
convincing evidence of the existence of the informacionposesoria allegedly obtained by the original transferor of
express grant from the State than the dictum of the statute itself that the possessor(s) "x xx shall be conclusively
the property, let alone the fact that the conditions for acquiring title thereunder have been satisfied. Nowhere has it
presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate
been shown that the informacionposesoria has been inscribed or registered in the registry of property and that the
of title x xx." No proof being admissible to overcome a conclusive presumption, confirmation proceedings would,
land has been under the actual and adverse possession of the private respondent for twenty years as required by the
in truth be little more than a formality, at the most limited to ascertaining whether the possession claimed is of the
Spanish Mortgage Law. These matters are not presumed but must be established with definite proof, which is
required character and length of time; and registration thereunder would not confer title, but simply recognize a
lacking in this case.
title already vested. The proceedings would not originally convert the land from public to private land, but only
confirm such a conversion already affected by operation of law from the moment the required period of possession
Significantly, the tax declarations made by the private respondent were practically the only basis used by the
became complete. As was so well put in Cariño, "x xx (T)here are indications that registration was expected from
appellate court in sustaining his claim of possession over the land in question. Tax declarations are, of course, not
all, but none sufficient to show that, for want of it, ownership actually gained would be lost. The effect of the
sufficient to prove possession and much less vest ownership in favor of the declarant, as we have held in countless
proof, wherever made, was not to confer title, but simply to establish it, as already conferred by the decree, if not
cases.
by earlier law."
We hold, in sum, that the private respondent has not established his right to the registration of the subject land in
Same; Constitutional Law; The 1973 Constitution cannot impair vested rights. Thus where land was acquired in
his name. Accordingly, the petition must be granted.
1962 when corporations were allowed to acquire lands not beyond 1,024 hectares, the same may be registered in
It is reiterated for emphasis that, conformably to the legislative definition embodied in Section 1820 of the 1982 although under 1973 Constitution corporations cannot acquire lands of the public domain.—Even on the
Revised Administrative Code of 1917, which remains unamended up to now, mangrove swamps or manglares proposition that the land remained technically "public" land, despite immemorial possession of the Infiels and
form part of the public forests of the Philippines. As such, they are not alienable under the Constitution and may their ancestors, until title in their favor was actually confirmed in appropriate proceedings under the Public Land

22 | P a g e
Act, there can be no serious question of Acme's right to acquire the land at the time it did, there also being nothing Same; Same; Same; Same.—While this opinion seemingly reverses an earlier ruling of comparatively recent
in the 1935 Constitution that might be construed to prohibit corporations from purchasing or acquiring interests in vintage, in a real sense, it breaks no precedent, but only reaffirms and re-established, as it were, doctrines the
public land to which the vendor had already acquired that type of so-called "incomplete" or "imperfect" title. The soundness of which has passed the test of searching examination and inquiry in many past cases. Indeed, it is
only limitation then extant was that corporations could not acquire, hold or lease public agricultural lands in worth noting that the majority opinion, as well as the concurring opinions of Chief Justice Fernando and Justice
excess of 1,024 hectares. The purely accidental circumstance that confirmation proceedings were brought under Abad Santos, in Meralco rested chiefly on the proposition that the petitioner therein, a juridical person, was
the aegis of the 1973 Constitution which forbids corporations from owning lands of the public domain cannot disqualified from applying for confirmation of an imperfect title to public land under Section 48(b) of the Public
defeat a right already vested before that law came into effect, or invalidate transactions then perfectly valid and Land Act. Reference to the 1973 Constitution and its Article XIV, Section 11, was only tangential, limited to a
proper. This Court has already held, in analogous circumstances, that the Constitution cannot impair vested rights. brief paragraph in the main opinion, and may, in that context, be considered as essentially obiter. Meralco, in
short, decided no constitutional question.
Same; Same; Same.—The fact, therefore, that the confirmation proceedings were instituted by Acme in its own
name must be regarded as simply another accidental circumstance, productive of a defect hardly more than APPEAL by certiorari to review the judgment of the Intermediate Appellate Court.
procedural and in nowise affecting the substance and merits of the right of ownership sought to be confirmed in
said proceedings, there being no doubt of Acme's entitlement to the land. As it is unquestionable that in the light The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
of the undisputed facts, the Infiels, under either the 1935 or the 1973 Constitution, could have had title in
themselves confirmed and registered, only a rigid subservience to the letter of the law would deny the same D. Nacion Law Office for private respondent.
benefit to their lawful successor-in-interest by valid conveyance which violates no constitutional mandate.
NARVASA, J.:
Same; Same; The ruling in MERALCO vs. CASTROBARTOLOME (114 SCRA 799), that public land ceases to
The Director of Lands has brought this appeal by certiorari from a judgment of the Intermediate Appellate Court
be so only upon issuance of a certificate of title, is hereby reconsidered and abandoned. Correct rule is that in Susi
affirming a decision of the Court of First Instance of Isabela, which ordered registration in favor of Acme
vs. Razon, 48 Phil 424.—The Court, in the light of the foregoing, is of the view, and so holds, that the majority
Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc. of five parcels of land measuring 481, 390 square meters, more or less, acquired by it
ruling in Meralco must be reconsidered and no longer deemed to be binding precedent. The correct rule, as
from Mariano and Acer Infiel, members of the Dumagat tribe.
enunciated in the line of cases already referred to, is that alienable public land held by a possessor, personally or
through his predecessors-in-interest, openly, continuously and exclusively for the prescribed statutory period (30 The registration proceedings were for confirmation of title under Section 48 of Commonwealth Act No. 141 (The
years under The Public Land Act, as amended) is converted to private property by the mere lapse or completion of Public Land Act). as amended; and the appealed judgment sums up the findings of the trial court in said
said period, ipso jure. Following that rule and on the basis of the undisputed facts, the land subject of this appeal proceedings in this wise:
was already private property at the time it was acquired from the Infiels by Acme. Acme thereby acquired a
registrable title, there being at the time no prohibition against said corporation's holding or owning private land. "1. That Acme Plywood & Veneer Co. Inc., represented by Mr. Rodolfo Nazario is a corporation duly
The objection that, as a juridical person, Acme is not qualified to apply for judicial confirmation of title under organized in accordance with the laws of the Republic of the Philippines and registered with the Securities and
section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is technical, rather than substantial and, again, finds its answer in the dissent Exchange Commission on December 23, 1959;
in Meralco.
2. That Acme Plywood & Veneer Co. Inc., represented by Mr. Rodolfo Nazario can acquire real properties
Same; Same; Same; A corporation that acquired private land in 1962 may have it registered in 1982 despite the pursuant to the provisions of the Articles of Incorporation particularly on the provision of its secondary purposes
prohibition in the 1973 Constitution which cannot be given retroactive effect as to impair vested rights.—There is (paragraph (9), Exhibit 'M-1');
also nothing to prevent Acme from reconveying the lands to the Infiels and the latter from themselves applying for
confirmation of title and, after issuance of the certificate/s of title in their names, deeding the lands back to Acme. 3. That the land subject of the Land Registration proceeding was ancestrally acquired by Acme Plywood &
But this would be merely indulging in empty charades, whereas the same result is more efficaciously and speedily Veneer Co., Inc., on October 29,1962, from Mariano Infiel and Acer Infiel, both members of the Dumagat tribe
obtained, with no prejudice to anyone, by a liberal application of the rule on amendment to conform to the and as such are cultural minorities;
evidence suggested in the dissent in Meralco.
4. That the constitution of the Republic of the Philippines of 1935 is applicable as the sale took place on
October 29,1962;

23 | P a g e
5. That the possession of the Infiels over the land relinquished or sold to Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., (b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-ininterest have been in open, continuous, exclusive
dates back before the Philippines was discovered by Magellan as the ancestors of the Infiels have possessed and and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of
occupied the land from generation to generation until the same came into the possession of Mariano Infiel and acquisition or ownership, for at least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the application for
Acer Infiel; confirmation of title except when prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to
have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title
6. That the possession of the applicant Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., is continuous, adverse and public under the provisions of this chapter.
from 1962 to the present and tacking the possession of the Infiels who were granted from whom the applicant
bought said land on October 29, 1962, hence the possession is already considered from time immemorial; (c) Members of the National Cultural minorities who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have
been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of lands of the public domain
7. That the land sought to be registered is a private land pursuant to the provisions of Republic Act No. 3872 suitable to agriculture, whether disposable or not, under a bona fide claim of ownership for at least 30 years shall
granting absolute ownership to members of the non-Christian Tribes on land occupied by them or their ancestral be entitled to the rights granted in subsection (b) hereof."
lands, whether with the alienable or disposable public land or within the public domain;
The Petition for Review does not dispute—indeed, in view of the quoted findings of the trial court which were
8. That applicant Acme Plywood & Veneer Co. Inc., has introduced more than Forty-Five Million cited and affirmed by the Intermediate Appellate Court, it can no longer controvert before this Court—the fact that
(P45,000,000.00) Pesos worth of improvements, said improvements were seen by the Court during its ocular Mariano and Acer Infiel, from whom Acme purchased the lands in question on October 29, 1962, are members of
investigation of the land sought to be registered on September 18,1982; the national cultural minorities who had, by themselves and through their progenitors, possessed and occupied
those lands since time immemorial, or for more than the required 30-year period and were, by reason thereof,
9. That the ownership and possession of the land sought to be registered by the applicant was duly recognized entitled to exercise the right granted in Section 48 of the Public Land Act to have their title judicially confirmed.
by the government when the Municipal Officials of Maconacon, Isabela, have negotiated for the donation of the Nor is there any pretension that Acme, as the successor-in-interest of the Infiels, is disqualified to acquire and
townsitefrom Acme Plywood & Veneer Co. Inc., and this negotiation came to reality when the Board of Directors register ownership of said lands under any provisions of the 1973 Constitution other than Section 11 of its Article
of the Acme Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc., had donated a part of the land bought by the Company from the lnfiels XIV already referred to.
for the townsite of Maconacon, Isabela (Exh. 'N') on November 15, 1979, and which donation was accepted by the
Municipal Government of Maconacon, Isabela (Exh. 'N-1'), during their special session on November 22. 1979." Given the foregoing, the question before this Court is whether or not the title that the Infiels had transferred to
Acme in 1962 could be confirmed in favor of the latter in proceedings instituted by it in 1981 when the 1973
The Director of Lands takes no issue with any of these findings except as to the applicability of the 1935 Constitution was already in effect, having in mind the prohibition therein against private corporations holding
Constitution to the matter at hand. Concerning this, he asserts that, the registration proceedings have been lands of the public domain except in lease not exceeding 1,000 hectares.
commenced only on July 17, 1981, or long after the 1973 Constitution had gone into effect, the latter is the
correctly applicable law; and since section 11 of its Article XIV prohibits private corporations or associations from The question turns upon a determination of the character of the lands at the time of institution of the registration
holding alienable lands of the public domain, except by lease not to exceed 1,000 hectares (a prohibition not found proceedings in 1981. If they were then still part of the public domain, it must be answered in the negative. If, on
in the 1935 Constitution which was in force in 1962 when Acme purchased the lands in question from the Infiels), the other hand, they were then already private lands, the constitutional prohibition against their acquisition by
it was reversible error to decree registration in favor of Acme. private corporations or associations obviously does not apply.

Section 48, paragraphs (b) and (c), of Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended, reads: In this regard, attention has been invited to Manila Electric Company vs. Castro-Bartolome, et al, where a similar
set of facts prevailed. In that case, Manila Electric Company, a domestic corporation more than 60% of the capital
"SEC. 48, The following described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of the public domain or claiming stock of which is Filipino-owned, had purchased in 1947 two lots in Tanay, Rizal from the Piguing spouses. The
to own any such lands or an interest therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply to lots had been possessed by the vendors and, before them, by their predecessor-in-interest, Olimpia Ramos, since
the Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims, and the prior to the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1941. On December 1, 1976, Meralco applied to the Court of First
issuance of a certificate of title therefor, under the Land Registration Act, to wit: Instance of Rizal, Makati Branch, for confirmation of title to said lots. The court, assuming that the lots were
public land, dismissed the application on the ground that Meralco, a juridical person, was not qualified to apply for
x xx
registration under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act which allows only Filipino citizens or natural persons to

24 | P a g e
apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect titles to public land. Meralco appealed, and a majority of this Court "x xx. In favor of Valentin Susi, there is, moreover, the presumption juris et de jure established in paragraph (b) of
upheld the dismissal. It was held that: section 45 of Act No. 2874, amending Act No. 926, that all the necessary requirements for a grant by the
Government were complied with, for he has been in actual and physical possession, personally and through his
"x xx, the said land is still public land. It would cease to be public land only upon the issuance of the certificate of predecessors, of an agricultural land of the public domain openly, continuously, exclusively and publicly since
title to any Filipino citizen claiming it under section 48(b). Because it is still public land and the Meralco, as a July 26, 1984, with a right to a certificate of title to said land under the provisions of Chapter VIII of said Act. So
juridical person, is disqualified to apply for its registration under section 48(b), Meralco's application cannot be that when Angela Razon applied for the grant in her favor, Valentin Susi had already acquired, by operation of law
given due course or has to be dismissed. not only a right to a grant, but a grant of the Government, for it is not necessary that a certificate of title should be
issued in order that said grant may be sanctioned by the courts, an application therefor is sufficient, under the
x xxx. provisions of section 47 of Act No. 2874. If by a legal fiction, Valentin Susi had acquired the land in question by a
grant of the State, it had already ceased to be of the public domain and had become private property, at least by
"Finally, it may be observed that the constitutional prohibition makes no distinction between (on the one hand)
presumption, of Valentin Susi, beyond the control of the Director of Lands. Consequently, in selling the land in
alienable agricultural public lands as to which no occupant has an imperfect title and (on the other hand) alienable
question of Angela Razon, the Director of Lands disposed of a land over which he had no longer any title or
lands of the public domain as to which an occupant has an imperfect title subject to judicial confirmation.
control, and the sale thus made was void and of no effect, and Angela Razon did not thereby acquire any right.
Since section 11 of Article XIV does not distinguish, we should not make any distinction or qualification. The
Succeeding cases, of which only some need be mentioned, like Lacaste vs. Director of Lands,Mesina vs. Vda. de
prohibition applies to alienable public lands as to which a Torrens title may be secured under section 48(b). The
Sonza,Manarpac vs. Cabanatuan, Miguel vs. Court of Appeals and Herico vs. Dar, supra, by invoking and
proceeding under section 48(b) 'presupposes that the land is public' (Mindanao vs. Director of Lands, L-19535,
affirming the Susi doctrine have firmly rooted it in jurisprudence.
July 30, 1967, 20 SCRA 641, 644)."
Herico, in particular, appears to be squarely affirmative:
The present Chief Justice entered a vigorous dissent, tracing the line of cases beginning with Cariño in 19092 thru
Susi in 1925 down to Hericoin 1980, which developed, affirmed and reaffirmed the doctrine that open, exclusive "x xx. Secondly, under the provisions of Republic Act No. 1942, which the respondent Court held to be
and undisputed possession of alienable public land f or the period prescribed by law creates the legal fiction inapplicable to the petitioner's case, with the latter's proven occupation and cultivation for more than 30 years
whereby the land, upon completion of the requisite period ipso jure and without the need of judicial or other since 1914, by himself and by his predecessors-ininterest, title over the land has vested on petitioner so as to
sanction, ceases to be public land and becomes private property. That said dissent expressed what is the better— segregate the land from the mass of public land. Thereafter, it is no longer disposable under the Public Land Act as
and, indeed, the correct, view—becomes evident from a consideration of some of the principal rulings cited by free patent. x xx.
therein.
x xxx
The main theme was given birth, so to speak, in Cariño, involving the Decree/Regulations of June 25, 1880 for
adjustment of royal lands wrongfully occupied by private individuals in the Philippine Islands. It was ruled that: As interpreted in several cases, when the conditions as specified in the foregoing provision are complied with, the
possessor is deemed to have acquired, by operation of law, a right to a grant, a government grant, without the
"It is true that the language of articles 4 and 55 attributes title to those 'who may prove' possession for the necessity of a certificate of title being issued. The land, therefore, ceases to be of the public domain and beyond
necessary time and we do not overlook the argument that this means may prove in registration proceedings. It may the authority of the Director of Lands to dispose of. The application for confirmation is mere formality, the lack of
be that an English conveyancer would have recommended an application under the foregoing decree, but certainly which does not affect the legal sufficiency of the title as would be evidenced by the patent and the Torrens title to
it was not calculated to convey to the mind of an Igorot chief the notion that ancient family possessions were in be issued upon the strength of said patent "
danger, if he had read every word of it. The words 'may prove' (acrediten), as well or better, in view of the other
provisions, might be taken to mean when called upon to do so in any litigation. There are indications that Nothing can more clearly demonstrate the logical inevitability of considering possession of public land which is of
registration was expected from all, but none sufficient to show that, for want of it, ownership actually gained the character and duration prescribed by statute as the equivalent of an express grant from the State than the
would be lost. The effect of the proof, wherever made, was not to confer title, but simply to establish it, as already dictum of the statute itself that the possessor(s) "x xx shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the
conferred by the decree, if not by earlier law. x xx." conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title x xx." No proof being
admissible to overcome a conclusive presumption, confirmation proceedings would, in truth be little more than a
That ruling assumed a more doctrinal character because expressed in more categorical language, in Susi: formality, at the most limited to ascertaining whether the possession claimed is of the required character and
25 | P a g e
length of time; and registration thereunder would not confer title, but simply recognize a title already vested. The In the instant case, it is incontestable that prior to the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution the right of the
proceedings would not originally convert the land from public to private land, but only confirm such a conversion corporation to purchase the land in question had become fixed and established and was no longer open to doubt or
already affected by operation of law from the moment the required period of possession became complete. As was controversy.
so well put in Cariño, "x xx (T)here are indications that registration was expected from all, but none sufficient to
show that, for want of it, ownership actually gained would be lost. The effect of the proof, wherever made, was Its compliance with the requirements of the Public Land Law for the issuance of a patent had the effect of
not to confer title, but simply to establish it, as already conferred by the decree, if not by earlier law." segregating the said land from the public domain. The corporation's right to obtain a patent for the land is
protected by law. It cannot be deprived of that right without due process (Director of Lands vs. CA, 123 Phil.
If it is accepted—as it must be—that the land was already private land to which the Infiels had a legally sufficient 919). "
and transferable title on October 29, 1962 when Acme acquired it from said owners, it must also be conceded that
Acme had a perfect right to make such acquisition, there being nothing in the 1935 Constitution then in force (or, The fact, therefore, that the confirmation proceedings were instituted by Acme in its own name must be regarded
for that matter, in the 1973 Constitution which came into effect later) prohibiting corporations from acquiring and as simply another accidental circumstance, productive of a defect hardly more than procedural and in nowise
owning private lands. affecting the substance and merits of the right of ownership sought to be confirmed in said proceedings, there
being no doubt of Acme's entitlement to the land. As it is unquestionable that in the light of the undisputed facts,
Even on the proposition that the land remained technically "public" land, despite immemorial possession of the the Infiels, under either the 1935 or the 1973 Constitution, could have had title in themselves confirmed and
Infiels and their ancestors, until title in their favor was actually confirmed in appropriate proceedings under the registered, only a rigid subservience to the letter of the law would deny the same benefit to their lawful successor-
Public Land Act, there can be no serious question of Acme's right to acquire the land at the time it did, there also in-interest by valid conveyance which violates no constitutional mandate.
being nothing in the 1935 Constitution that might be construed to prohibit corporations from purchasing or
acquiring interests in public land to which the vendor had already acquired that type of so-called "incomplete" or The Court, in the light of the foregoing, is of the view, and so holds, that the majority ruling in Meralco must be
"imperfect" title. The only limitation then extant was that corporations could not acquire, hold or lease public reconsidered and no longer deemed to be binding precedent. The correct rule, as enunciated in the line of cases
agricultural lands in excess of 1,024 hectares. The purely accidental circumstance that confirmation proceedings already referred to, is that alienable public land held by a possessor, personally or through his predecessors-in-
were brought under the aegis of the 1973 Constitution which forbids corporations from owning lands of the public interest, openly, continuously and exclusively for the prescribed statutory period (30 years under The Public Land
domain cannot defeat a right already vested before that law came into effect, or invalidate transactions then Act, as amended) is converted to private property by the mere lapse or completion of said period, ipso jure.
perfectly valid and proper. This Court has already held, in analogous circumstances, that the Constitution cannot
impair vested rights. Following that rule and on the basis of the undisputed facts, the land subject of this appeal was already private
property at the time it was acquired from the Infiels by Acme. Acme thereby acquired a registrable title, there
"We hold that the said constitutional prohibition14 has no retroactive application to the sales application of Biñan being at the time no prohibition against said corporation's holding or owning private land. The objection that, as a
Development Co., Inc. because it had already acquired a vested right to the land applied for at the time the 1973 juridical person, Acme is not qualified to apply for judicial confirmation of title under section 48(b) of the Public
Constitution took effect. Land Act is technical, rather than substantial and, again, finds its answer in the dissent in Meralco:

That vested right has to be respected. It could not be abrogated by the new Constitution. Section 2, Article XIII of "6. To uphold respondent judge's denial of Meralco's application on the technicality that the Public Land Act
the 1935 Constitution allows private corporations to purchase public agricultural lands not exceeding one thousand allows only citizens of the Philippines who are natural persons to apply for confirmation of their title would be
and twenty-four hectares. Petitioner' prohibition action is barred by the doctrine of vested rights in constitutional impractical and would just give rise to multiplicity of court actions. Assuming that there was a technical error in
law. not having filed the application for registration in the name of the Piguing spouses as the original owners and
vendors, still it is conceded that there is no prohibition against their sale of the land to the applicant Meralco and
* * * neither is there any prohibition against the application being refiled with retroactive effect in the name of the
original owners and vendors (as such natural persons) with the end result of their application being granted,
The due process clause prohibits the annihilation of vested rights. 'A state may not impair vested rights by because of their indisputable acquisition of ownership by operation of law and the conclusive presumption therein
legislative enactment, by the enactment or by the subsequent repeal of a municipal ordinance, or by a change in provided in their favor. It should not be necessary to go through all the rituals at the great cost of refiling of all
the constitution of the State, except in a legitimate exercise of the police power' (16 C.J.S. 1177-78). such applications in their names and adding to the overcrowded court dockets when the Court can after all these
years dispose of it here and now. (See Francisco vs. City of Davao)
* * *
26 | P a g e
The ends of justice would best be served, therefore, by considering the applications for confirmation as amended No. L-75042.November 29, 1988.*
to conform to the evidence, i.e. as filed in the names of the original persons who as natural persons are duly REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, ROMAN
qualified to apply for formal confirmation of the title that they had acquired by conclusive presumption and CATHOLIC BISHOP OF LUCENA, represented by Msgr. Jose T. Sanchez, and REGIONAL TRIAL
mandate of the Public Land Act and who thereafter duly sold to the herein corporations (both admittedly Filipino COURT, BRANCH LIII, LUCENA CITY, respondents.
corporations duly qualified to hold and own private lands) and granting the applications for confirmation of title to
the private lands so acquired and sold or exchanged." Constitutional Law; Land Registration; Whether or not private corporation can acquire alienable lands of the
public domain the character of the lands at the time of institution of the registration proceedings must first be
There is also nothing to prevent Acme from reconveying the lands to the Infiels and the latter from themselves
determined.—The questioned posed before this Court has been settled in the case of DIRECTOR OF LANDS vs.
applying for confirmation of title and, after issuance of the certificate/s of title in their names, deeding the lands
Intermediate Appellate Court (146 SCRA 509 [1986]) which reversed the ruling first enunciated in the 1982 case
back to Acme. But this would be merely indulging in empty charades, whereas the same result is more
of Manila Electric Co. vs. CASTRO BARTOLOME, (114 SCRA 789 [1982]) imposing the constitutional ban on
efficaciously and speedily obtained, with no prejudice to anyone, by a liberal application of the rule on
public land acquisition by private corporations which ruling was declared emphatically as res judicata on
amendment to conform to the evidence suggested in the dissent in Meralco.
January 7, 1986 in Director of Lands vs. Hermanos y Hermanas de Sta. Cruz de Mayo, Inc., (141 SCRA 21
While this opinion seemingly reverses an earlier ruling of comparatively recent vintage, in a real sense, it breaks [1986]). In said case, (Director of Lands v. IAC, supra), this Court stated that a determination of the character of
no precedent, but only reaffirms and re-established, as it were, doctrines the soundness of which has passed the the lands at the time of institution of the registration proceedings must be made. If they were then still part of the
test of searching examination and inquiry in many past cases. Indeed, it is worth noting that the majority opinion, public domain, it must be answered in the negative. If, on the other hand, they were already private lands, the
as well as the concurring opinions of Chief Justice Fernando and Justice Abad Santos, in Meralco rested chiefly on constitutional prohibition against their acquisition by private corporation or association obviously does not apply.
the proposition that the petitioner therein, a juridical person, was disqualified from applying for confirmation of an In affirming the Decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court in said case, this Court adopted the vigorous dissent
imperfect title to public land under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. Reference to the 1973 Constitution and of the then Justice, later Chief Justice, Claudio Teehankee, tracing the line of cases beginning with CARINO, in
its Article XIV, Section 11, was only tangential, limited to a brief paragraph in the main opinion, and may, in that 1909, thru SUSI, in 1925, down to HERICO, in 1980, which developed, affirmed and reaffirmed the doctrine that
context, be considered as essentially obiter. Meralco, in short, decided no constitutional question. open, exclusive and undisputed possession of alienable public land for the period prescribed by law creates the
legal fiction whereby the land, upon completion of the requisite period ipso jure and without the need of judicial
WHEREFORE, there being no reversible error in the appealed judgment of the Intermediate Appellate Court, the or other sanction, ceases to be public land and becomes private property.
same is hereby affirmed, without costs in this instance.
Same; Same; Possession; The possessor is conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to
SO ORDERED. a government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title.—Nothing can more clearly demonstrate the logical
inevitability of considering possession ofpublic land which is of the character and duration prescribed by statute as
Feria, Yap, Fernan, Alampay, Cruz, Paras and Feliciano, JJ., concur. the equivalent of an express grant from the state than the victim of the statute itself; that the possessor ―x xx shall
be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be
Teehankee, C.J., files a concurring opinion. entitled to a certificate of title x xx .‖ No proof being admissible to overcome a conclusive presumption,
confirmation proceedings would, in truth be little more than a formality, at the most limited to ascertaining
Melencio-Herrera, J., please see dissent. whether the possession claimed is of the required character and length of time, and registration thereunder would
not confer title, but simply recognize a title already vested. The proceedings would not ORIGINALLY convert the
Judgment affirmed .
land from public to private land, but only confirm such a conversion already effected by operation of law from the
moment the required period of possession became complete.

Same; Same; Same; Same; Open, continuous and exclusive possession of the four lots by private respondent
clearly established.—The open, continuous and exclusive possession of the four lots by private respondent can
clearly be gleaned from the following facts on record: Lot 1 and portion of lot 2 was acquired by purchase in 1928
and 1929, respectively. The remaining portion of lots 2 and 3 was already owned and possessed by private
respondent even prior to the survey of said lots in 1928. In fact, records of burial of the Roman Catholic Church of
27 | P a g e
Candelaria, Quezon showed that as early as 1919, Lot 3 has already been utilized by the Roman Catholic Church ―On February 2, 1979, the ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP of Lucena, represented by Msgr. Jose T. Sanchez, filed
as its cemetery. That at present, said three lots are utilized as the Roman Catholic Church of Candelaria, Quezon. an applicationfor confirmation of title to four (4) parcels of land. Three of said parcels, denominated as Lots 1, 2
That said lots are declared for taxation purpose in the name of the Roman Catholic Church. The fourth parcel of and 3, respectively, of plan PSU-65686 are situated in Barrio Masin, Municipality of Candelaria, Quezon
land was acquired by donation in 1941 and same lot is utilized as church site. Province. The fourth parcels under plan PSU-112592 is located in Barrio Bucal (Taguan), same municipality and
province. As basis for the application, the applicant claimed title to the various properties through either purchase
Same; Same; The lands subject of the petition were already private property at the time the application for or donation dating as far back as 1928.
confirmation of title was filed in 1979.—There is no doubt that a corporation sole by the nature of its
incorporation is vested with the right to purchase and hold real state and personal property. It need not therefore be The legal requirements of publication and posting were duly complied with, as was the service of copies of notice
treated as an ordinary private corporation because whether or not it be so treated as such, the Constitutional of initial hearing on the proper government officials.
provision involved will, nevertheless, be not applicable.
In behalf of the Director of Lands and the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development, the Solicitor General
Corporation Law; Corporation Sole; A corporation sole is by the nature of its incorporation vested with the right to filed an Opposition on April 20, 1979, alleging therein among others, that the applicant did not have an imperfect
purchase and hold real and personal property.—In the light of the facts obtaining in this case and the ruling of this title or title in fee simple to the parcel of land being applied for.
Court in Director of Lands vs. IAC, (supra,513), the lands subject of this petition were already private property at
the time the application for confirmation of title was filed in 1979. There is therefore no cogent reason to disturb At the initial hearing held on November 13, 1979, only the Provincial Fiscal in representation of the Solicitor
the findings of the appellate court. General appeared to interpose personal objection to the application. Hence, an Order of General Default against
the whole world was issued by the Court a quo except for the Director of Lands and the Director of the Bureau of
APPEAL from the decision of the Intermediate Appellate Court. Forest Development.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. The preliminaries dispensed with, the applicant then introduced its proofs in support of the petition, summed up by
the lower court as follows:
The Solicitor General for petitioner.
With respect to Lots 1, 2, and 3, plan PSU-65686:
Gilbert D. Camaligan for private respondent.
Lots 1, 2 and 3 of plan PSU-65686 respectively containing an area of 18,977, 6,910 and 16,221 square meters, are
BIDIN, J.: adjoining lots & are situated in the Barrio of Masin, Municipality of Candelaria, Province of Quezon (formerly
Tayabas) (Exhibits F, F-1, F-2 and F-3). Said lots were surveyed for the Roman Catholic Church on November 3,
This is an appeal from the 1) decision** of the FIRST CIVIL CASES DIVISION of the then Intermediate 1928 (Exhibit P-5) and the survey plan approved on October 20, 1929 (Exhibit F-6).
Appellate Court dated May 13, 1986, in AC G.R. No. 01410 entitled the ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF
Lucena, represented by Msgr. Jose T. Sanchez, applicant-appellee vs. Republic of the Philippines, et al., Lot 1 was acquired by the Roman Catholic Church thru Rev. Father RaymundoEsquenet by purchase from the
Oppositors-appellants, affirming the decision*** of the then Court of FIRST INSTANCE of Quezon, 9th Judicial spouses AtanacioYranso and Maria Coronado on October 20, 1928 (Exhibits G, G-1), portion of Lot 2 also by
District, Branch 1, dated November 4, 1980 in Land Registration Case No. N-1106 entitled the ROMAN purchase thru Rev. Father RaymundoEsquenet from the spouses Benito Maramot and VenanciaDescaller on May
CATHOLIC BISHOP of Lucena, represented by Msgr. Jose T. Sanchez, applicant vs. the Director of Lands and 22, 1969 (Exhibits M, N-1), while the remaining portion of Lot 2 and Lot 3 were already owned and possessed by
the Director, Bureau of Forest Development, oppositors, ordering the registration of title to the parcel of land the Roman Catholic Church even prior to the survey of the said three lots in 1928.
designated, as lots 1, 2 and 3 of plan PSD-65686 and its technical descriptions, and the parcel of land described in
plan PSU-112592 and its technical description, together with whatever improvements existing thereon, in the Records of burial of the Roman Catholic Church of Candelaria, Quezon showed that even as early as November
name of the ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP of Lucena and 2) its resolution Dated June 19, 1986, denying 1918, Lot 3 has already been utilized by the Roman Catholic Church as its cemetery in Candelaria, Quezon
appellant‘s ―Motion for Reconsideration for lack of merit.‖ (Exhibit N, N-1 to N-5).

The factual background of the case as found by the Intermediate Appellate Court are as follows: These three lots presently constituted the Roman Catholic Church cemetery in Candelaria, Quezon.

28 | P a g e
Lots 1, 2 and 3 are declared for taxation purposes in the name of the Roman Catholic Church under Tax Still insisting of the alleged unconstitutionality of the registration (a point which, incidentally, the appellant never
Declaration Nos. 22-19-02-079, 22-19-02-077 and 22-19-02-082 as ‗cemetery site‘ (Exhibit S, V and T). raised in the lower court prior to its Motion for Reconsideration), the Republic elevated this appeal.‖ (Rollo, pp.
25-28)
With respect to the parcel of land described in plan PSU-112592:
On May 13, 1986, the first Civil Cases Division of the Intermediate Appellate Court rendered its Decision the
This parcel of land situated in the barrio of Bucal (Taguan), Municipality of Candelaria, Province of Quezon dispositive part of which reads:
(formerly Tayabas) and more particularly described in plan PSU-112592 and its technical description with an area
of 3,221 square meters (Exhibit 1) was formerly owned and possessed by the spouses Paulo G. Macasaet and ―WHEREFORE, finding the judgment a quo to be supported by law and the evidence on record, the same is
Gabriela V. de Macasaet. Said spouses, on February 26, 1941, donated this lot to the Roman Catholic Church hereby AFFIRMED. No pronouncement as to costs.
represented by Reverend Father RaymundoEsquenet (Exhibit J, J-1 to J-4). It was surveyed for the Roman
Catholic Church on Aug. 16, 1940 as church site and the corresponding survey plan approved on Jan. 15, 1941 SO ORDERED.‖ (Rollo p. 30)
(Exhibits I-1, I-2, I-3).
A reconsideration of the aforequoted Decision was sought by Appellant Republic of the Philippines, but for lack
Previously erected on this Lot was an old chapel which was demolished and new chapel now stands in its place on of merit, its motion for reconsideration was denied on June 19, 1986, by Resolution of the First Civil Case
the same site. Division, Intermediate Appellate Court which resolution reads in full:

For his part, the Fiscal in a Manifestation dated July 22, 1980, said ‗the State will not adduce evidence in support ―Considering appellant Republic of the Philippines‘ ―Motion for reconsideration‖ filed on June 4, 1986; the Court
of its opposition and will submit the instant case for decision.‘ RESOLVED to DENY the Motion for Reconsideration for lack of merit, grounds raised therein having all been
considered in the decision.‖ (Rollo, p. 31)
Evaluating the applicant‘s submitted proofs, the court a quo concluded, on the basis of acquisitive prescription at
the very least, that the former had adequately shown title to the parcels of land being claimed. Hence, this petition.

―Since the acquisition of these four (4) lots by the applicant, it has been in continuous possession and enjoyment The following are the assigned errors raised by the petitioner in its petition:
thereof, and such possession, together with its predecessors-in interest, covering a period of more than 52 years (at
least from the date of the survey in 1928) with respect to lots 1 and 2, about 62 years with respect to lot 3, all of ―1. The decision and the resolution in question are contrary to law and decisions of this honorable Court in
plan PSU- 65686; and more than 39 years with respect to the fourth parcel described in plan PSU-112592 (at least Meralco vs. Castro-Bartolome and Republic, 114 SCRA 799 (prom. June 29, 1982); Republic vs. Judge
from the date of the survey in 1940) have been open, public, continuous, peaceful, adverse against thewhole Villanueva and Iglesiani Cristo, 114 SCRA 875, June 29, 1982); and Republic vs. Judge Gonong and Iglesiani
world, and in the concept of owner.‖ Cristo, 118 SCRA 729-733 (November 25, 1982); Director of Lands vs. Hermanos y Hermanas, Inc. 141 SCRA
21-25 (Jan. 7, 1986).
Accordingly, the court ordered the registration of the four parcels together with the improvements thereon ‗in the
name of the ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF LUCENA, INC., a religious corporation sole duly registered and ―2. The lands applied for registration were the subject of a previous registration case where a decree of
existing under the laws of the Republic of the Philippines.‖ registration was already issued.

Against this decision, the Solicitor General filed a Motion for reconsideration on the following grounds: ―3. Respondent corporation failed to establish the indentity of the lands applied for.‖ (Rollo, pp. 14-15)

1. Article XIV, Section 11 of the New Constitution (1973) disqualifies a private corporation from acquiring The issue raised in this case involves the question of whether the Roman Catholic Bishop of Lucena, as a
alienable lands for the public domain. corporation sole is qualified to apply for confirmation of its title to the four (4) parcels of land subject of this case.

2. In the case at bar the application was filed after the effectivity on the New Constitution on January 17, 1973. Corollary thereto is the question of whether or not a corporation sole should be treated as an ordinary private
corporation, for purpose of the application of Art. XIV, Sec. 11 of the 1973 Constitution.
which was denied by the lower court for lack of merit.
Article XIV, Sec. 11 of the 1973 Constitution, in part provides:
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―Sec. 11.x xx. No private corporation or association may hold alienable lands of the public domain except by lease Petitioner argues that considering such constitutional prohibition, private respondent is disqualified to own and
not to exceed one thousand hectares in area; nor may any citizen hold such lands by lease in excess of five register its title to the lots in question. Further, it argues that since the application for registration was filed only on
hundred hectares x xx .‖ February 2, 1979,long after the 1973 Constitution took effect on January 17, 1973, the application for registration
and confirmation of title is ineffectual because at the time it was filed, private corporation had been declared
Sec. 48 of the Public Land Act, in part, provides: ineligible to acquire alienable lands of the public domain pursuant to Art. XIV, Sec. 11 of the said constitution.
(Rollo, p. 41)
―Sec. 48. The following described citizens of the Philippines occupying lands of the public domain or claiming to
own any such lands or an interest therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply to the The questioned posed before this Court has been settled in the case of DIRECTOR OF LANDS vs. Intermediate
Court of First Instance of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the issuance Appellate Court (146 SCRA 509 [1986]) which reversed the ruling first enunciated in the 1982 case of Manila
of a Certificate of title therefor, under the Land Registration Act, to wit: Electric Co. vs. CASTRO BARTOLOME, (114 SCRA 789 [1982]) imposing the constitutional ban on public land
acquisition by private corporations which ruling was declared emphatically as res judicata on January 7, 1986 in
(a) xxxxxxxxx Director of Lands vs. Hermanos y Hermanas de Sta. Cruz de Mayo, Inc., (141 SCRA 21 [1986]). In said case,
(Director of Lands v. IAC, supra), this Court stated that a determination of the character of the lands at the time of
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessor-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive,
institution of the registration proceedings must be made. If they were then still part of the public domain, it must
and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of
be answered in the negative.
acquisition of ownership for at least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the application for
confirmation of title except when prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to If, on the other hand, they were already private lands, the constitutional prohibition against their acquisition by
have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title private corporation or association obviously does not apply. In affirming the Decision of the Intermediate
under the provisions of this chapter. Appellate Court in said case, this Court adopted the vigorous dissent of the then Justice, later Chief Justice
Claudio Teehankee, tracing the line of cases beginning with CARINO,1 in 1909, thru SUSI,2 in 1925, down to
(c) x xxxxxxxx.‖
HERICO, in 1980, which developed, affirmed and reaffirmed the doctrine that open, exclusive and undisputed
In its Motion for Reconsideration, petitioner contends that the Roman Catholic Bishop of Lucena (private possession of alienable public land for the period prescribed by law creates the legal fiction whereby the land,
respondent herein) which is admittedly a corporation sole is disqualified to own and register its title over the upon completion of the requisite period ipso jure and without the need of judicial or other sanction, ceases to be
parcels of land involved herein. (Rollo, p. 41) public land and becomes private property. (DIRECTOR OF LANDS vs. IAC, supra, p. 518).

In its petition it likewise argued that being a juridical entity, private respondent cannot avail of the benefits of Sec. Nothing can more clearly demonstrate the logical inevitability of considering possession of public land which is of
48(b) of the public land law which applies to FILIPINO citizens or NATURAL persons. On the other hand, the character and duration prescribed by statute as the equivalent of an express grant from the state than the dictim
private respondent in its MEMORANDUM espoused the contrary view. of the statute itself;4 that the possessor ―x xx shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions
essential to a government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title x xx.‖ No proof being admissable to
There is no merit in this petition. overcome a conclusive presumption, confirmation proceedings would, in truth be little more than a formality, at
the most limited to ascertaining whether the possession claimed is of the required character and length of time, and
The parties herein do not dispute that since the acquisition of the four (4) lots by the applicant, it has been in registration thereunder would not confer title, but simply recognize a title already vested. The proceedings would
continuous possession and enjoyment thereof, and such possession, together with its predecessors-in-interest, not ORIGINALLY convert the land from public to private land, but only confirm such a conversion already
covering a period of more than 52 years (at least from the date of survey in 1928) with respect to lots 1 and 2, effected by operation of law from the moment the required period of possession became complete. As was so well
about 62 years with respect to lot 3, all of plan PSU-65686; and more than 39 years with respect to the fourth put in Carino, ―x xx There are indications that registration was expected from all, but none sufficient to show that,
parcel described in plan PSU-112592 (at least from the date of the survey in 1940) have been open, public, for want of it, ownership actually gained would be lost. The effect of the proof, wherever made, was not to confer
continuous, peaceful, adverse against the whole world, and in the concept of owner. title, but simply to establish it, as already conferred by the decree, if not by earlier law. (DIRECTOR OF LANDS
vs. IAC, supra, p. 520).
Being disputed before this Court is the matter of the applicability of Art. XIV Sec. 11 of the 1973 Constitution to
the case at bar.

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The open, continuous and exclusive possession of the four lots by private respondent can clearly be gleaned from and personal property, such rules, regulations and discipline shall control and the intervention of the courts shall
the following facts on record: Lot 1 and portion of Lot 2 was acquired by purchase in 1928 and 1929, respectively. not be necessary.‖
The remaining portion of lots 2 and 3 was already owned and possessed by private respondent even prior to the
survey of said lots in 1928. In fact, records of burial of the Roman Catholic Church of Candelaria, Quezon showed There is no doubt that a corporation sole by the nature of its incorporation is vested with the right to purchase and
that as early as 1919, Lot 3 has already been utilized by the Roman Catholic Church as its cemetery. That at hold real estate and personal property. It need not therefore be treated as an ordinary private corporation because
present, said three lots are utilized as the Roman Catholic Church of Candelaria, Quezon. That said lots are whether or not it be so treated as such, the Constitutional provision involved will, nevertheless, be not applicable.
declared for taxation purposes in the name of the Roman Catholic Church. The fourth parcel of land was acquired
by donation in 1941 and same lot is utilized as church site. In the light of the facts obtaining in this case and the ruling of this Court in Director of Lands vs. IAC, (supra,
513), the lands subject of this petition were already private property at the time the application for confirmation of
It must be emphasized that the Court is not here saying that a corporation sole should be treated like an ordinary title was filed in 1979. There is therefore no cogent reason to disturb the findings of the appellate court.
private corporation.
WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed for lack of merit and the appealed decision and Resolution of the
In Roman Catholic Apostolic Administration of Davao, Inc. vs. Land Registration Commission, et al. (L-8451, Intermediate Appellate Court is hereby AFFIRMED.
December 20, 1957, 102 Phil. 596). We articulated:
SO ORDERED.
―In solving the problem thus submitted to our consideration, We can say the following: A corporation sole is a
special form of corporation usually associated with the clergy. Conceived and introduced into the common law by No. L-46729.November 19, 1982.*
LAUSAN AYOG, BENITO AYOG, DAMASO AYOG, JULIO AYOG, SEGUNDA AYOG, VICENTE
sheer necessity, this legal creation which was referred to as ‗that unhappy freak of English Law‘ was designed to
ABAQUETA, BERNARDINO ADORMEO, VIDAL ALBANO, FELICIANO ARIAS, ANTONIO
facilitate the exercise of the functions of ownership carried on by the clerics for and on behalf of the church which BALDOS, MAXIMO BALDOS, ROMERO BINGZON, EMILIO CADAYDAY, FRUCTUOSO CHUA,
was regarded as the property owner (See 1 Bouvier‘s Law Dictionary, p. 682-683). SR., HERACLEO CHUA, GUILLER-MO DAGOY, ABDON DEIMOS, NICASIO DE LEON, JULIANA
VDA. DE DIANNA, DEMOCRITO DEVERO, ALFREDO DIVINAGRACIA, ESTEBAN
―A corporation sole consists of one person only, and his successors (who will always be one at a time), in some DIVINAGRACIA, LEODEGARDIO DIVINAGRACIA, NELLO DIVINAGRACIA, MERQUIADES
particular station, who are incorporated by law in order to give them some legal capacities and advantages, EMBERADOR, JESUS EMPERADO, PORFERIO ENOC, SOFRONIO ENOC, RAFAEL GAETOS,
particulary that of perpetuity, which in their natural persons they could not have had. In this sense, the King is a NICOLAS GARLET, TRINIDAD GARLET, FORTUNATA GEONZON, NICOLADA NAQUILA,
sole corporation; so is a bishop, or deans, distinct from their several chapters (Reid vs. Barry, 93 fla. 849, 112 So. TORIBIO NAQUILA, EFREN OKAY, ELPIDIO OKAY, SR., DIEGO ONGRIA, ERNESTO PAÑARES,
VICENTE PATULOT, IGNACIA RIBAO, JUANO RICO, JESUS ROSALITA, ARMANDO TANTE and
846).
ANSELMO VALMORES, petitioners, vs. JUDGE VICENTE N. CUSI, JR., Court of First Instance of
Davao, Branch I, PROVINCIAL SHERIFF OF DAVAO, and BIÑAN DEVELOPMENT CO., INC.,
Pertinent to this case is the provision of Sec. 113 Batas PambansaBlg. 68 which reads as follows: respondents. MINISTER OF NATURAL RESOURCES and DIRECTOR OF LANDS, intervenors.

―Sec. 113. Acquisition and alienation of property.—Any corporation sole may purchase and hold real estate and
personal property for its church, charitable, benevolent or educational purposes, and may receive bequests or gifts Constitutional Law; Public Lands; The provision of the 1973 Constitution that no private corporation may hold
for such purposes. Such corporation may mortgage or sell real property held by it upon obtaining an order for that alienable lands of the public domain except by lease cannot be given retroactive effect so as to adversely affect
purpose from the Court of First Instance of the province where the property is situated; but before the order is rights that vested already prior to its effectivity.—We hold that the said constitutional prohibition has no
issued, proof must be made to the satisfaction of the Court that notice of the application for leave to mortgage or retroactive application to the sales application of Biñan Development Co., Inc. because it had already acquired a
sell has been given by publication or otherwise in such manner and for such time as said court may have directed, vested right to the land applied for at the time the 1973 Constitution took effect. That vested right has to be
and that it is to the interest of the corporation that leave to mortgage or sell should be granted. The application for respected. It could not be abrogated by the new Constitution. Section 2, Article XIII of the 1935 Constitution
leave to mortgage or sell must be made by petition, duly verified by the chief archbishop, bishop, priest, minister, allows private corporations to purchase public agricultural lands not exceeding one thousand and twenty-four
rabbi or presiding elder acting as corporation sole, and may be opposed by any member of the religious hectares. Petitioners‘ prohibition action is barred by the doctrine of vested rights in constitutional law.
denomination, sect or church represented by the corporation sole: Provided, That in cases where the rules,
regulations anddiscipline of the religious denomination, sect or church religious society or order concerned Same; Same; Words and Phrases; ―Vested right‖ defined.—―A right is vested when the right to enjoyment has
represented by such corporation sole regulate the method of acquiring, holding, selling and mortgaging real estate become the property of some particular person or persons as a present interest‖ (16 C.J.S. 1173). It is ―the
31 | P a g e
privilege to enjoy property legally vested, to enforce contracts, and enjoy the rights of property conferred by the order was not directed to Biñan Development Co., Inc. its officers, agents or privies. Emberador was not named
existing law ‖ (12 C.J. 955, Note 46, No. 6) or ―some right or interest in property which has become fixed and specifically in the trial court‘s judgment as one of the occupants to be ejected. For the redress of whatever wrong
established and is no longer open to doubt or controversy‖ (Downs vs. Blount, 170 Fed 15, 20, cited in Balboa vs. or delict was committed against Emberador by reason of the destruction of his improvements, his remedy is not in
Farrales, 51 Phil. 498, 502). a contempt proceeding but in some appropriate civil and criminal actions against the destroyer of the
improvements.
Same; Same; Same; Same.—It has been observed that, generally, the term ―vested right‖ expresses the concept of
present fixed interest, which in right reason and natural justice should be protected against arbitrary State action, PETITION for prohibition to review the judgment of the Court of First Instance of Davao, Br. I. Cusi, Jr., J.
or an innately just and imperative right which an enlightened free society, sensitive to inherent and irrefragable
individual rights, cannot deny (16 C.J.S. 1174, Note 71, No. 5, citing Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines, Inc. vs. The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
Rosenthal, 192 Atl. 2nd 587).
AQUINO, J.:
Same; Same; An applicant who has fulfilled all the requirements for purchase of public land and paid the price
should be deemed to have acquired it already by purchase.—In Opinion No. 140, series of 1974, he held that as This case is about the application of section 11, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution (disqualifying a private
soon as the applicant had fulfilled the construction or cultivation requirements and has fully paid the purchase corporation from purchasing public lands) to a 1953 sales award made by the Bureau of Lands, for which a sales
price, he should be deemed to have acquired by purchase the particular tract of land and to him the area limitation patent and Torrens title were issued in 1975,and to the 1964decision of the trial court, ejecting some of the
in the new Constitution would not apply. petitioners from the land purchased, which decision was affirmed in 1975by the Court, of Appeals. That legal
question arises under the following facts:
Same; Same; Agrarian Law; Administrative authorities should find ways and means to accommodate some of the
petitioners if they are landless and are tillers of the soil.—Nevertheless, in the interest of social justice, to avoid On January 21, 1953, the Director of Lands, after a bidding, awarded to Biñan Development Co., Inc. on the basis
agrarian unrest and to dispel the notion that the law grinds the faces of the poor, the administrative authorities of its 1951 Sales Application No. V-6834 Cadastral Lot No. 281 located at Barrio Tamugan, Guianga (Baguio
should find ways and means of accommodating some of the petitioners if they are landless and really tillers of the District), Davao City with an area of about two hundred fifty hectares. Some occupants of the lot protested against
soil who in the words of President Magsaysay deserve a little more food in their stomachs, a little more shelter the sale. The Director of Lands in his decision of August 30, 1957 dismissed the protests and ordered the
over their heads and a little more clothing on their backs. The State should endeavor to help the poor who find it occupants to vacate the lot and remove their improvements. No appeal was made from that decision.
difficult to make both ends meet and who suffer privations in the universal struggle for existence.
The Director found that the protestants (defendants in the 1961 ejectment suit, some of whom are now petitioners
Judgment; Ejectment; A judgment cannot be enforced against petitioners who are not defendants in the case of herein) entered the land only after it was awarded to the corporation and, therefore, they could not be regarded as
ejectment below.—Who hold that that judgment cannot be enforced against the said petitioners who were not bona fide occupants thereof. The Director characterized them as squatters. He found that some claimants were
defendants in that litigation or who were not summoned and heard in that case. Generally, ―it is an axiom of the fictitious persons (p. 30, Rollo of L-43505, Okay vs. CA). He issued a writ of execution land (p. 28, Rollo of L-
law that no man shall be affected by proceedings to which he is a stranger‖ (Ed. A. Keller & Co. vs. 43505, Okay vs. CA).**
Ellerman&Bucknall Steamship Co., 38 Phil. 514, 520).
Because the alleged occupants refused to vacate the land, the corporation filed against them on February 27, 1961
Same; Same; Same.—To enforce the judgment against those who were not parties to the case and who occupy in the Court of First Instance of Davao, Civil Case No. 3711, an ejectment suit (accionpubliciana).
portions of the disputed land distinct and separate from the portions occupied by the defendants in the ejectment
** According to respondent corporation, some of the adverse claimants or protestants were not landless farmers
suit, would be violative of due process of law, the law which, according to Daniel Webster in his argument in the
but were welleducated persons belonging to the middle class. Thus, Elpidio Okay was an elementary school
Dartmouth College case, is the law of the land, a law which hears before it condemns, which proceeds upon
principal. Vicente Rehoy was a landowner and barrio captain. Patricio de Leon was a cashier and later assistant
inquiry and renders judgment only after trial. ―The meaning is, that every citizen shall hold his life, liberty,
branch manager of the Philippine National Bank. Ernesto Pañares was a high school teacher and later a college
property, and immunities, under the protection of the general rules which govern society.‖
professor. Francisco Mateo was a former college dean (p. 105, Rollo).
Contempt; No contempt of court is committed by a party who plowed the land and destroyed the standing crops of
According to the 44 petitioners, they are tillers of the soil (p. 126, Rollo).
one of the herein petitioners who is not a party-defendant in the ejectment case below. Petitioner‘s remedy is not
contempt but a civil and/or criminal action.—We hold that no contempt was committed. The temporary restraining
32 | P a g e
That ejectment suit delayed the issuance of the patent. The trial court found that the protests of twenty of the After the record was remanded to the trial court, the corporation filed a motion for execution. The defendants,
abovenamed defendants were among those that were dismissed by the Director of Lands in his 1957 decision some of whom are now petitioners herein, opposed the motion. They contended that the adoption of the
already mentioned. Constitution, which took effect on January 17, 1973, was a supervening fact which rendered it legally impossible
to execute the lower court‘s judgment. They invoked the constitutional prohibition, already mentioned, that ―no
On July 18, 1961 the purchase price of ten thousand pesos was fully paid by Biñan Development Co., Inc. On private corporation or association may hold alienable lands of the public domain except by lease not to exceed one
November 10, 1961, an official of the Bureau of Lands submitted a final investigation report wherein it was stated thousand hectares in area.‖
that the corporation had complied with the cultivation and other requirements under the Public Land Law and had
paid the purchase price of the land (p. 248, Rollo). The lower court suspended action on the motion for execution because of the manifestation of the defendants that
they would file a petition for prohibition in this Court. On August 24, 1977, the instant prohibition action was
It was only more than thirteen years later or on August 14, 1975 when Sales Patent No. 5681 was issued to the filed. Some of the petitioners were not defendants in the ejectment case.
corporation for that lot with a reduced area of 175.3 hectares. The patent was registered. Original Certificate of
Title No. P-5176 was issued to the patentee. We hold that the said constitutional prohibition has no retroactive application to the sales application of Biñan
Development Co., Inc. because it had already acquired a vested right to the land applied for at the time the 1973
The Director of Lands in his memorandum dated June 29, 1974 for the Secretary of Natural Resources, Constitution took effect.
recommending approval of the sales patent, pointed out that the purchasercorporation had complied with the said
requirements long before the effectivity of the Constitution, that the land in question was free from claims and That vested right has to be respected. It could not be abrogated by the new Constitution. Section 2, Article XIII of
conflicts and that the issuance of the patent was in conformity with the guidelines prescribed in Opinion No. 64, the 1935 Constitution allows private corporations to purchase public agricultural lands not exceeding one thousand
series of 1973, of Secretary of Justice Vicente Abad Santos and was an exception to the prohibition in section 11, and twenty-four hectares. Petitioners‘ prohibition action is barred by the doctrine of vested rights in constitutional
Article XIV of the Constitution (p. 258, Rollo). law.

Secretary of Natural Resources Jose J. Leido, Jr., in approving the patent on August 14, 1975, noted that the ―A right is vested when the right to enjoyment has become the property of some particular person or persons as a
applicant had acquired a vested right to its issuance (p. 259, Rollo). present interest‖ (16 C.J.S. 1173). It is ―the privilege to enjoy property legally vested, to enforce contracts, and
enjoy the rights of property conferred by the existing law‖ (12 C.J. 955, Note 46, No. 6) or ―some right or interest
Before that patent was issued, there was a trial in the ejectment suit. Fifteen defendants (out of forty), namely, in property which has become fixed and established and is no longer open to doubt or controversy‖ (Downs vs.
Julio Ayog, Guillermo Bagoy, GenerosoBangonan, Jose Catibring, PorfirioEnoc, Jose Emperado, Blount, 170 Fed. 15, 20, cited in Balboa vs. Farrales, 51 Phil. 498, 502).
ArcadioLomanto, ToribioNaquila, Elpidio Okay, AlfeoSante, MelitonSante, Ramon Samsa, Rebecca Samsa,
ArcadioSarumines and Felix Tahantahan, testified that they entered the disputed land long before 1951 and that The due process clause prohibits the annihilation of vested rights. ―A state may not impair vested rights by
they planted it to coconuts, coffee, jackfruit and other fruit trees (p. 28, Record on Appeal). legislative enactment, by the enactment or by the subsequent repeal of a municipal ordinance, or by a change in
the constitution of the State, except in a legitimate exercise of the police power‖ (16 C.J.S. 1177-78).
The trial court did not give credence to their testimonies. It believed the report of an official of the Bureau of
Lands that in 1953 the land was free from private claims and conflicts and it gave much weight to the decision of It has been observed that, generally, the term ―vested right‖ expresses the concept of present fixed interest, which
the Director of Lands dismissing the protests of the defendants against the sales award (p. 30, Record on Appeal). in right reason and natural justice should be protected against arbitrary State action, or an innately just and
imperative right which an enlightened free society, sensitive to inherent and irrefragable individual rights, cannot
Furthermore, the trial court during its ocular inspection of the land on November 8, 1964 found that the plantings deny (16 C.J.S. 1174, Note 71, No. 5, citing Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines, Inc. vs. Rosenthal, 192 Atl. 2nd 587).
on the land could not be more than ten years old, meaning that they were not existing in 1953 when the sales
award was made. Hence, the trial court ordered the defendants to vacate the land and to restore the possession Secretary of Justice Abad Santos in his 1973 opinion ruled that where the applicant, before the Constitution took
thereof to the company. The Court of Appeals affirmed that judgment on December 5, 1975 in its decision in effect, had fully complied with all his obligations under the Public Land Act in order to entitle him to a sales
Biñan Development Co., Inc. vs. Sante, CA-G.R. No. 37142-R. The review of the decision was denied by this patent, there would seem to be no legal or equitable justification for refusing to issue or release the sales patent (p.
Court on May 17, 1976in Elpidio Okay vs. Court of Appeals, L-43505. 254, Rollo).

33 | P a g e
In Opinion No. 140, series of 1974, he held that as soon as the applicant had fulfilled the construction or To guarantee him that right is to discourage him from becoming a subversive or from rebelling against a social
cultivation requirements and has fully paid the purchase price, he should be deemed to have acquired by purchase order where, as the architect of the French Revolution observed, the rich are choking with the superfluities of life
the particular tract of land and to him the area limitation in the new Constitution would not apply. but the famished multitude lack the barest necessities.

In Opinion No. 185, series of 1976, Secretary Abad Santos held that where the cultivation requirements were Indeed, one purpose of the constitutional prohibition against purchases of public agricultural lands by private
fulfilled before the new Constitution took effect but the full payment of the price was completed after January 17, corporations is to equitably diffuse land ownership or to encourage ―owner-cultivatorship and the economic
1973, the applicant was, nevertheless, entitled to a sales patent (p. 256, Rollo). family-size farm‖ and to prevent a recurrence of cases like the instant case. Huge landholdings by corporations or
private persons had spawned social unrest.
Such a contemporaneous construction of the constitutional prohibition by a high executive official carries great
weight and should be accorded much respect. It is a correct interpretation of section 11 of Article XIV. Petitioners‘ counsel claims that Biñan Development Co., Inc. seeks to execute the judgment in Civil Case No.
3711, the ejectment suit from which this prohibition case arose, against some of the petitioners who were not
In the instant case, it is incontestable that prior to the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution the right of the defendants in that suit (p. 126, Rollo).
corporation to purchase the land in question had become fixed and established and was no longer open to doubt or
controversy. Those petitioners are not successors-in-interest of the defendants in the ejectment suit. Nor do they derive their
right of possession from the said defendants. Those petitioners occupy portions of the disputed land distinct and
Its compliance with the requirements of the Public Land Law for the issuance of a patent had the effect of separate from the portions occupied by the said defendants.
segregating the said land from the public domain. The corporation‘s right to obtain a patent for that land is
protected by law. It cannot be deprived of that right without due process (Director of Lands vs. CA, 123 Phil. We hold that that judgment cannot be enforced against the said petitioners who were not defendants in that
919). litigation or who were not summoned and heard in that case. Generally, ―it is an axiom of the law that no man
shall be affected by proceedings to which he is a stranger‖ (Ed. A. Keller & Co. vs. Ellerman&Bucknall
As we cannot review the factual findings of the trial court and the Court of Appeals, we cannot entertain Steamship Co., 38 Phil. 514; 520).
petitioners‘ contention that many of them by themselves and through their predecessors-in-interest have possessed
portions of land even before the war. They should have filed homestead or free patent applications. To enforce the judgment against those who were not parties to the case and who occupy portions of the disputed
land distinct and separate from the portions occupied by the defendants in the ejectment suit, would be violative of
Our jurisdiction is limited to the resolution of the legal issue as to whether the 1973 Constitution is an obstacle to due process of law, the law which, according to Daniel Webster in his argument in the Dartmouth College case, is
the implementation of the trial court‘s 1964 final and executory judgment ejecting the petitioners. On that issue, the law of the land, a law which hears before it condemns, which proceeds upon inquiry and renders judgment
we have no choice but to sustain its enforceability. only after trial. ―The meaning is, that every citizen shall hold his life, liberty, property, and immunities, under the
protection of the general rules which govern society.‖ (Cited in Lopez vs. Director of Lands, 47 Phil. 23, 32.See
Nevertheless, in the interest of social justice, to avoid agrarian unrest and to dispel the notion that the law grinds Gatchalian vs. Arlegui, L-35615 and Tang Tee vs. Arlegui, L-41360, February 17, 1977, 75 SCRA 234 and Berses
the faces of the poor, the administrative authorities should find ways and means of accommodating some of the vs. Villanueva, 25 Phil. 473.)
petitioners if they are landless and are really tillers of the soil who in the words of President Magsaysay deserve a
little more food in their stomachs, a little more shelter over their heads and a little more clothing on their backs. Contempt incident.—During the pendency of this case, or at about four o‘clock in the morning of December 12,
The State should endeavor to help the poor who find it difficult to make both ends meet and who suffer privations 1978, CiriacoTebayan, Domingo Nevasca, Rogelio Duterte and SofronioEtac, employees of the Crown Fruits and
in the universal struggle for existence. Cannery Corporation, plowed or bulldozed with their tractors a portion of the disputed land which was occupied
by MelquiadesEmberador, one of the petitioners herein. The disputed land was leased by Biñan Development Co.,
A tiller of the soil is entitled to enjoy basic human rights, particularly freedom from want. The common man Inc. to the canning corporation.
should be assisted in possessing and cultivating a piece of land for his sustenance, to give him social security and
to enable him to achieve a dignified existence and become an independent, selfreliant and responsible citizen in The four tractor drivers destroyed the improvements thereon worth about five thousand pesos consisting of coffee,
our democratic society. coconut and banana plants. Emberador was in the hospital at the time the alleged destruction of the improvements
occurred. However, it should be noted that Emberador was not expressly named as a defendant in the ejectment

34 | P a g e
suit. Apparently, he is not included in the trial court‘s decision although he was joined as a co-petitioner in this No. L-27952.February 15, 1982.*
prohibition case. TESTATE ESTATE OF JOSE EUGENIO RAMIREZ, MARIA LUISA PALACIOS, Administratrix,
petitioner-appellee, vs. MARCELLE D. VDA.DE RAMIREZ, ET AL., oppositors, JORGE and ROBERTO
The petitioners in their motion of January 11, 1979 asked that the four tractor drivers and Honesto Garcia, the RAMIREZ, legatees, oppositors-appellants.
manager of Biñan Development Co., Inc., be declared in contempt of court for having disregarded the restraining
order issued by this Court on August 29, 1977, enjoining specifically Judge Vicente N. Cusi and the provincial
Testate Succession, The testator cannot impose any lien, substitution, or condition on his widow‘s legitime.—The
sheriff from enforcing the decision in the ejectment suit, Civil Case No. 3711 (pp. 46-47, 138-141, Rollo).
appellant‘s do not question the legality of giving Marcelle one-half of the estate in full ownership. They adroit that
Garcia and the four drivers answered the motion. The incident was assigned for hearing to Judge Antonio M. the testator‘s dispositions impaired his widow‘s legitime. Indeed, under Art. 900 of the Civil Code
Martinez of the Court of First Instance of Davao. Judge Martinez found that the plowing was made at the instance
―If the only survivor is the widow or widower, she or he shall be entitled to one-half of the hereditary estate.‖ And
of Garcia who told the barrio captain, petitioner LausanAyog, a Bagobo, that he (Garcia) could not wait anymore
since Marcelle alone survived the deceased, she is entitled to one-half of his estate over which he could impose no
for the termination of this case.
burden, encumbrance, condition or substitution of any kind whatsoever. (Art. 904, par. 2, Civil Code.)
The record shows that on April 30, 1979 or four months after the said incident, Emberador, in consideration of
Same; The proposed creation by the administratrix in favor of the testator‘s widow of a usufruct over 113 of the
P3,500, as the value of the improvements on his land, executed a quitclaim in favor of the Crown Fruits and
free portion of the testator‘s estate cannot be made where it will run counter to testator‘s express will.—It is the
Cannery Corporation (Exh. 1, 2 and 3).
one-third usufruct over the free portion which the appellants question and justifiably so. It appears that the court a
We hold that no contempt was committed. The temporary restraining order was not directed to Biñan quo approved the usufruct in favor of Marcelle because the testament provides for a usufruct in her favor of one-
Development Co., Inc. its officers, agents or privies. Emberador was not named specifically in the trial court‘s third of the estate. The court a quo erred for Marcelle who is entitled to one-half of the estate ―en plenodominio‖
judgment as one of the occupants to be ejected. as her legitime and which is more than what she is given under the will is not entitled to have any additional share
in the estate. To give Marcelle more than her legitime will run counter to the testator‘s intention for as stated
For the redress of whatever wrong or delict was committed against Emberador by reason of the destruction of his above his dispositions even impaired her legitime and tended to favor Wanda.
improvements, his remedy is not in a contempt proceeding but in some appropriate civil and criminal actions
against the destroyer of the improvements. Same; A vulgar substitution of heirs is valid even if the heir designated survives the testator inasmuch us vulgar
substitution can take place also by refusal or incapacity to inherit of the first heir.—They allege that the
In resume, we find that there is no merit in the instant prohibition action. The constitutional prohibition relied substitution in its vulgar aspect is void because Wanda survived the testator or stated differently because she did
upon by the petitioners as a ground to stop the execution of the judgment in the ejectment suit has no retroactive not predecease the testator. But dying before the testator is not the only case for vulgar substitution for it also
application to that case and does not divest the trial court of jurisdiction to enforce that judgment. includes refusal or incapacity to accept the inheritance as provided in Art. 859 of the Civil Code, supra. Hence, the
vulgar substitution is valid.
WHEREFORE, the petition is dismissed for lack of merit but with the clarification that the said judgment cannot
be enforced against those petitioners herein who were not defen-dants in the ejectment case, Civil Case No. 3711, Same; A fideicommissary substitution is void if first heir is not related in the 1st degree to the second heir.—As
and over whom the lower court did not acquire jurisdiction. The contempt proceeding is also dismissed. No costs. regards the substitution in its fideicommissary aspect, the appellants are correct in their claim that it is void for the
following reasons: The substitutes (Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horace V. Ramirez) are not related to Wanda, the
SO ORDERED. heir originally instituted. Art 863 of the Civil Code validates a fideicommissary substitution ―provided such
substitution does not go beyond one degree from the heir originally instituted.‖

Same; Constitutional Law; The Constitutional provision which allows aliens to acquire lands by succession does
not apply to testamentary succession.—We are of the opinion that the Constitutional provision which enables
aliens to acquire private lands does not extend to testamentary succession for otherwise the prohibition will be for
naught and meaningless. Any alien would be able to circumvent the prohibition by paying money to a Philippine
landowner in exchange for a devise of a piece of land.

35 | P a g e
Same; Same; An alien may be bestowed usufructuary rights over a parcel of land in the Philippines.—We uphold The appellant‘s do not question the legality of giving Marcelle one-half of the estate in full ownership. They admit
the usufruct in favor of Wanda because a usufruct, albeit a real right, does not vest title to the land in the that the testator‘s dispositions impaired his widow‘s legitime. Indeed, under Art. 900 of the Civil Code ―If the only
usufructuary and it is the vesting of title to land in favor of aliens which is proscribed by the Constitution. survivor is the widow or widower, she or he shall be entitled to one-half of the hereditary estate.‖ And since
Marcelle alone survived the deceased, she is entitled to one-half of his estate over which he could impose no
APPEAL from the decision of the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch X. burden, encumbrance, condition or substitution of any kind whatsoever. (Art. 904, par. 2, Civil Code.)

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. It is the one-third usufruct over the free portion which the appellants question and justifiably so. It appears that the
court a quo approved the usufruct in favor of Marcelle because the testament provides for a usufruct in her favor
ABAD SANTOS, J.: of one-third of the estate. The court a quo erred for Marcelle who is entitled to one-half of the estate ―en
plenodominio‖ as her legitime and which is more than what she is given under the will is not entitled to have any
The main issue in this appeal is the manner of partitioning the testate estate of Jose Eugenio Ramirez among the
additional share in the estate. To give Marcelle more than her legitime will run counter to the testator‘s intention
principal beneficiaries, namely: his widow MarcelleDemoron de Ramirez; his two grandnephews Roberto and
for as stated above his dispositions even impaired her legitime and tended to favor Wanda.
Jorge Ramirez; and his companion Wanda de Wrobleski.
2. The substitutions.
The task is not trouble-free because the widow Marcelle is a French who lives in Paris, while the companion
Wanda is an Austrian who lives in Spain. Moreover, the testator provided for substitutions. It may be useful to recall that ―Substitution is the appointment of another heir so that he may enter into the
inheritance in default of the heir originally instituted.‖ (Art. 857, Civil Code.) And that there are several kinds of
Jose Eugenio Ramirez, a Filipino national, died in Spain on December 11, 1964, with only his widow as
substitutions, namely: simple or common, brief or compendious, reciprocal, and fideicommissary. (Art. 858, Civil
compulsory heir. His will was admitted to probate by the Court of First Instance of Manila, Branch X, on July 27,
Code.) According to Tolentino, ―Although the Code enumerates four classes, there are really only two principal
1965. Maria Luisa Palacios was appointed administratrix of the estate.
classes of substitutions: the simple and the fideicommissary. The others are merely variations of these two.‖ (III
On June 23, 1966, the administratrix submitted a project of partition as follows: the property of the deceased is to Civil Code, p. 185 [1973].)
be divided into two parts. One part shall go to the widow ―en plenodominio‖ in satisfaction of her legitime; the
The simple or vulgar is that provided in Art. 859 of the Civil Code which reads:
other part or ―free portion‖ shall go to Jorge and Roberto Ramirez ―en nudapropriedad.‖ Furthermore, one third
(1/3) of the free portion is charged with the widow‘s usufruct and the remaining two-third (2/3) with a usufruct in ―ART. 859. The testator may designate one or more persons to substitute the heir or heirs instituted in case such
favor of Wanda. heir or heirs should die before him, or should not wish, or should be incapacitated to accept the inheritance.

Jorge and Roberto opposed the project of partition on the grounds: (a) that the provisions for vulgar substitution in ―A simple substitution, without a statement of the cases to which it refers, shall comprise the three mentioned in
favor of Wanda de Wrobleski with respect to the widow‘s usufruct and in favor of Juan Pablo Jankowski and the preceding paragraph, unless the testator has otherwise provided.‖
Horacio V. Ramirez, with respect to Wanda‘s usufruct are invalid because the first heirs (Marcelle and Wanda)
survived the testator; (b) that the provisions for fideicommissary substitutions are also invalid because the first The fideicommissary substitution is described in the Civil Code as follows:
heirs are not related to the second heirs or substitutes within the first degree, as provided in Article 863 of the Civil
Code; (c) that the grant of a usufruct over real property in the Philippines in favor of Wanda Wrobleski, who is an ―ART. 863. A fideicommissary substitution by virtue of which the fiduciary or first heir instituted is entrusted
alien, violates Section 5, Article III of the Philippine Constitution; and that (d) the proposed partition of the with the obligation to preserve and to transmit to a second heir the whole or part of inheritance, shall be valid and
testator‘s interest in the Santa Cruz (Escolta) Building between the widow Marcelle, and the appellants, violates shall take effect, provided such substitution does not go beyond one degree from the heir originally instituted, and
the testator‘s express will to give this property to them. Nonetheless, the lower court approved the project of provided further that the fiduciary or first heir and the second heir are living at time of the death of the testator.‖
partition in its order dated May 3, 1967. It is this order which Jorge and Roberto have appealed to this Court.
It will be noted that the testator provided for a vulgar substitution in respect of the legacies of Roberto and Jorge
1. The widow‘s legitime. Ramirez, the appellants, thus: ―con sustitucion vulgar a favor de susrespectivosdescendientes, y, en sudefecto, con
substitution vulgar reciproca entre ambos.‖ The appellants do not question the legality of the substitution so
provided.

36 | P a g e
The appellants question the ―sustitucion vulgar y fideicomisaria a favor de Da. Wanda de Wrobleski‖ in The 1935 Constitution which is controlling provides as follows:
connection with the one-third usufruct over the estate given to the widow Marcelle. However, this question has
become moot because as We have ruled above, the widow is not entitled to any usufruct. ―SEC. 5. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private agricultural land shall be transferred or assigned except
to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain in the
The appellants also question the ―sustitucion vulgar y fideicomisaria‖ in connection with Wanda‘s usufruct over Philippines.‖ (Art. XIII.)
two-thirds of the estate in favor of Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horace V. Ramirez.
The court a quo upheld the validity of the usufruct given to Wanda on the ground that the Constitution covers not
They allege that the substitution in its vulgar aspect as void because Wanda survived the testator or stated only succession by operation of law but also testamentary succession. We are of the opinion that the Constitutional
differently because she did not predecease the testator. But dying before the testator is not the only case for vulgar provision which enables aliens to acquire private lands does not extend to testamentary succession for otherwise
substitution for it also includes refusal or incapacity to accept the inheritance as provided in Art. 859 of the Civil the prohibition will be for naught and meaningless. Any alien would be able to circumvent the prohibition by
Code, supra. Hence, the vulgar substitution is valid. paying money to a Philippine landowner in exchange for a devise of a piece of land.

As regards the substitution in its fideicommissary aspect, the appellants are correct in their claim that it is void for This opinion notwithstanding, We uphold the usufruct in favor of Wanda because a usufruct, albeit a real right,
the following reasons: does not vest title to the land in the usufructuary and it is the vesting of title to land in favor of aliens which is
proscribed by the Constitution.
(a) The substitutes (Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horace V. Ramirez) are not related to Wanda, the heir originally
instituted. Art. 863 of the Civil Code validates a fideicommissary substitution ―provided such substitution does not IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the estate of Jose Eugenio Ramirez is hereby ordered distributed as follows:
go beyond one degree from the heir originally instituted.‖
One-half (1/2) thereof to his widow as her legitime;
What is meant by ―one degree‖ from the first heir is explained by Tolentino as follows:
One-half (1/2) thereof which is the free portion to Roberto and Jorge Ramirez in naked ownership and the usufruct
―Scaevola, Maura, and Traviesas construe ‗degree‘ as designation, substitution, or transmission. The Supreme to Wanda de Wrobleski with a simple substitution in favor of Juan Pablo Jankowski and Horace V. Ramirez.
Court of Spain has decidedly adopted this construction. From this point of view, there can be only one
transmission or substitution, and the substitute need not be related to the first heir. Manresa, Morell, and Sanchez The distribution herein ordered supersedes that of the court a quo. No special pronouncement as to costs.
Roman, however, construe the word ‗degree‘ as generation, and the present Code has obviously followed this
interpretation, by providing that the substitution shall not go beyond one degree ‗from the heir originally SO ORDERED.
instituted.‘ The Code thus clearly indicates that the second heir must be related to and be one generation from the
G.R. No. 74833. January 21, 1991.*
first heir.
THOMAS C. CHEESMAN, petitioner, vs. INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT and ESTELITA
PADILLA, respondents.
―From this, it follows that the fideicommissary can only be either a child or a parent of the first heir. These are the
only relatives who are one generation or degree from the fiduciary.‖ (Op cit, pp. 193-194.)
Appeals; Question of Law; Question of Fact; A question of law exists when the doubt or difference arises as to
(b) There is no absolute duty imposed on Wanda to transmit the usufruct to the substitutes as required by Arts. 865 what the law is on a certain state of facts; whereas, a question of fact exists when the doubt or difference arises as
and 867 of the Civil Code. In fact, the appellee admits ―that the testator contradicts the establishment of a to the truth or the falsehood of alleged facts.—Such conclusions as that (1) fraud, mistake or excusable negligence
fideicommissary substitution when he permits the properties subject of the usufruct to be sold upon mutual existed in the premises justifying relief to Estelita Padilla under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court, or (2) that
agreement of the usufructuaries and the naked owners.‖ (Brief, p. 26.) CriseldaCheesman had used money she had brought into her marriage to Thomas Cheesman to purchase the lot
and house in question, or (3) that Estelita Padilla believed in good faith that CriseldaCheesman was the exclusive
3. The usufruct of Wanda.
owner of the property that she (Estelita) intended to and did in fact buy—derived from the evidence adduced by
the parties, the facts set out in the pleadings or otherwise appearing on record—are conclusions or findings of fact.
The appellants claim that the usufruct over real properties of the estate in favor of Wanda is void because it
As distinguished from a question of law—which exists ―when the doubt or difference arises as to what the law is
violates the constitutional prohibition against the acquisition of lands by aliens.
on a certain state of facts‖—―there is a question of fact when the doubt or difference arises as to the truth or the
37 | P a g e
falsehood of alleged facts;‖ or when the ―query necessarily invites calibration of the whole evidence considering her with unauthorized disposition or expenditure of conjugal funds is not now inquired into; that would be, in the
mainly the credibility of witnesses, existence and relevancy of specific surrounding circumstances, their relation; premises, a purely academic exercise.
to each other and to the whole and the probabilities of the situation.‖
PETITION to review the decision of the then Intermediate Appellate Court.
Civil Procedure; Relief from Judgment; The prayer in a petition for relief from judgment under Rule 38 is not
necessarily the same prayer in the petitioner‘s complaint, answer or other basic pleading.—An order of a Court of The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) granting a petition for relief under Rule 38 is interlocutory and is not
appealable. Hence, the failure of the party who opposed the petition to appeal from said order, or his participation Estanislao L. Cesa, Jr. for petitioner.
in the proceedings subsequently had, cannot be construed as a waiver of his objection to the petition for relief so
Benjamin I. Fernandez for private respondent.
as to preclude his raising the same question on an appeal from the judgment on the merits of the main case. Such a
party need not repeat his objections to the petition for relief, or perform any act thereafter (e.g., take formal NARVASA, J.:
exception) in order to preserve his right to question the same eventually, on appeal, it being sufficient for this
purpose that he has made of record ―the action which he desires the court to take or his objection to the action of This appeal concerns the attempt by an American citizen (petitioner Thomas Cheesman) to annul—for lack of
the court and his grounds therefor.‖ Again, the prayer in a petition for relief from judgment under Rule 38 is not consent on his part—the sale by his Filipino wife (Criselda) of a residential lot and building to Estelita Padilla,
necessarily the same prayer in the petitioner‘s complaint, answer or other basic pleading. This should be obvious. also a Filipino.
Equally obvious is that once a petition for relief is granted and the judgment subject thereof set aside, and further
proceedings are thereafter had, the Court in its judgment on the merits may properly grant the relief sought in the Thomas Cheesman and Criselda P. Cheesman were married on December 4, 1970 but have been separated since
petitioner‘s basic pleadings, although different from that stated in his petition for relief. February 15, 1981.

Constitutional Law; Prohibition against Aliens to Acquire Residential Lands; Even if it were a fact that On June 4, 1974, a ―Deed of Sale and Transfer of Possessory Rights‖ was executed by Armando Altares
petitioner‘s Filipina wife used conjugal funds to purchase the lot in question, petitioner, who is an alien, cannot conveying a parcel of unregistered land and the house thereon (at No. 7 Neptune Street, Gordon Heights,
recover or hold the lot so acquired, in view of the prohibition in the Constitution as to the sale to aliens of Olongapo City) in favor of ―Criselda P. Cheesman, of legal age, Filipino citizen, married to Thomas Cheesman,
residential lands.—Finally, the fundamental law prohibits the sale to aliens of residential land. Section 14, Article and residing at Lot No. 1, Blk. 8, Filtration Road, Sta. Rita, Olongapo City x x.‖ Thomas Cheesman, although
XIV of the 1973 Constitution ordains that, ―Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private land shall be aware of the deed, did not object to the transfer being made only to his wife.
transferred or conveyed except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of
the public domain.‖ Petitioner Thomas Cheesman was, of course, charged with knowledge of this prohibition. Thereafter—and again with the knowledge of Thomas Cheesman and also without any protest by him—tax
Thus, assuming that it was his intention that the lot in question be purchased by him and his wife, he acquired no declarations for the property purchased were issued in the name only of CriseldaCheesman and Criselda assumed
right whatever over the property by virtue of that purchase; and in attempting to acquire a right or interest in land, exclusive management and administration of said property, leasing it to tenants. On July 1, 1981,
vicariously and clandestinely, he knowingly violated the Constitution; the sale as to him was null and void. In any CriseldaCheesman sold the property to Estelita M. Padilla, without the knowledge or consent of Thomas
event, he had and has no capacity or personality to question the subsequent sale of the same property by his wife Cheesman. The deed described Criselda as being‖ . . . . of legal age, married to an American citizen, x x.‖
on the theory that in so doing he is merely exercising the prerogative of a husband in respect of conjugal property.
To sustain such a theory would permit indirect controversion of the constitutional prohibition. If the property were Thirty days later, or on July 31, 1981, Thomas Cheesman brought suit in the Court of First Instance at Olongapo
to be declared conjugal, this would accord to the alien husband a not insubstantial interest and right over land, as City against his wife, Criselda, and Estelita Padilla, praying for the annulment of the sale on the ground that the
he would then have a decisive vote as to its transfer or disposition. This is a right that the Constitution does not transaction had been executed without his knowledge and consent. An answer was filed in the names of both
permit him to have. As already observed, the finding that his wife had used her own money to purchase the defendants, alleging that (1) the property sold was paraphernal, having been purchased by Criselda with funds
property cannot, and will not, at this stage of the proceedings be reviewed and overturned. But even if it were a exclusively belonging to her (―her own separate money‖); (2) Thomas Cheesman, being an American, was
fact that said wife had used conjugal funds to make the acquisition, the considerations just set out militate, on high disqualified to have any interest or right of ownership inthe land; and (3) Estelita Padilla was a buyer in good
constitutional grounds, against his recovering and holding the property so acquired, or any part thereof. And faith.
whether in such an event, he may recover from his wife any share of the money used for the purchase or charge

38 | P a g e
During the pre-trial conference, the parties agreed upon certain facts which were subsequently set out in a pre-trial ordering him ―to immediately turn over the possession of the house and lot subject of x x (the) case to x xEstelita
Order dated October 22, 1981, as follows: Padilla x x.‖

―1. Both parties recognize the existence of the Deed of Sale over the residential house located at No. 7 Granada The Trial Court found that—
St., Gordon Heights, Olongapo City, which was acquired from Armando Altares on June 4, 1974 and sold by
defendant CriseldaCheesman to Estelita Padilla on July 12, 1981; and 1) the evidence on record satisfactorily overcame the disputable presumption in Article 160 of the Civil Code—
that all property of the marriage belongs to the conjugal partnership ―unless it be proved that it pertains
―2. That the transaction regarding the transfer of their property took place during the existence of their marriage exclusively to the husband or to the wife‖—and that the immovable in question was in truth Criselda‘sparaphernal
as the couple were married on December 4, 1970 and the questioned property was acquired sometime on June 4, property;
1974.‖
2) that moreover, said legal presumption in Article 160 could not apply ―inasmuch as the husband-plaintiff is an
The action resulted in a judgment dated June 24, 1982, declaring void ab initio the sale executed by American citizen and therefore disqualified under the Constitution to acquire and own real properties;‖ and
CriseldaCheesman in favor of Estelita M. Padilla, and ordering the delivery of the property to Thomas Cheesman
as administrator of the conjugal partnership property, and the payment to him of P5,000.00 as attorney‘s fees and 3) that the exercise by Criselda of exclusive acts of dominion with the knowledge of her husband ―had led x
expenses of litigation. xEstelita Padilla to believe that the properties were the exclusive properties of CriseldaCheesman and on the faith
of such a belief she bought the properties from her and for value,‖ and therefore, Thomas Cheesman was, under
The judgment was however set aside as regards Estelita Padilla on a petition for relief filed by the latter, grounded Article 1473 of the Civil Code, estopped to impugn the transfer to Estelita Padilla.
on ―fraud, mistake and/or excusable negligence‖ which had seriously impaired her right to present her case
adequately. ―After the petition for relief from judgment was given due course,‖ according to petitioner, ―a new Thomas Cheesman appealed to the Intermediate Appellate Court. There he assailed the Trial Court acts (1) of
judge presided over the case.‖ granting Estelita Padilla‘s petition for relief, and its resolution of matters not subject of said petition; (2) of
declaring valid the sale to Estelita Padilla despite the lack of consent thereto by him, and the presumption of the
Estelita Padilla filed a supplemental pleading on December 20, 1982 as her own answer to the complaint, and a conjugal character of the property in question pursuant to Article 160 of the Civil Code; (3) of disregarding the
motion for summary judgment on May 17, 1983. Although there was initial opposition by Thomas Cheesman to judgment of June 24, 1982 which, not having been set aside as against CriseldaCheesman, continued to be binding
the motion, the parties ultimately agreed on the rendition by the court of a summary judgment after entering into a on her; and (4) of making findings of fact not supported by evidence. All of these contentions were found to be
stipulation of facts, at the hearing of the motion on June 21, 1983, the stipulation being of the following tenor: without merit by the Appellate Tribunal which, on January 7, 1986, promulgated a decision (erroneously
denominated, ―Report‖) affirming the ―Summary Judgment complained of,‖ ―having found no reversible error‖
―(1) that the property in question was bought during the existence of the marriage between the plaintiff and the therein.
defendant Criselda P. Cheesman;
Once more, Thomas Cheesman availed of the remedy of appeal, this time to this Court. Here, he argues that it was
(2) that the property bought during the marriage was registered in the name of CriseldaCheesman and that the reversible error for the Intermediate Appellate Court—
Deed of Sale and Transfer of Possessory Rights executed by the former owner-vendor Armando Altares in favor
of CriseldaCheesman made no mention of the plaintiff; 1) to find that the presumption that the property in question is conjugal in accordance with Article 160 had been
satisfactorily overcome by Estelita Padilla;
(3) that the property, subject of the proceedings, was sold by defendant CriseldaCheesman in favor of the other
defendant Estelita M. Padilla, without the written consent of the plaintiff.‖ 2) to rule that Estelita Padilla was a purchaser of said property in good faith, it appearing:

Obviously upon the theory that no genuine issue existed any longer and there was hence no need of a trial, the a) that the deed by which the property was conveyed to CriseldaCheesman described her as ―married to Thomas
parties having in fact submitted, as also stipulated, their respective memoranda each praying for a favorable
verdict, the Trial Court rendered a ―Summary Judgment‖ dated August 3, 1982 declaring ―the sale executed by x C. Cheesman,‖ as well as the deed by which the property was later conveyed to Estelita Padilla by
xCriseldaCheesman in favor of x xEstelita Padilla to be valid,‖ dismissing Thomas Cheesman‘s complaint and CriseldaCheesman also described her as ―married to an American citizen,‖ and both said descriptions had thus
―placed Estelita on knowledge of the conjugal nature of the property;‖ and

39 | P a g e
b) that furthermore, Estelita had admitted to stating in the deed by which she acquired the property a price much Estelita Padilla did believe in good faith that CriseldaCheesman was the sole owner of the property in question.
lower than that actually paid ―in order to avoid payment of more obligation to the government;‖ Consequently, these determinations of fact will not be here disturbed, this Court having been cited to no reason for
doing so.
3) to decline to declare that the evidence did not warrant the grant of Estelita Padilla‘s petition for relief on the
ground of ―fraud, mistake and/or excusable negligence;‖ These considerations dispose of the first three (3) points that petitioner Cheesman seeks to make in his appeal.
They also make unnecessary an extended discussion of the other issues raised by him. As to them, it should suffice
4) to hold that Thomas Cheesman had waived his objection to Estelita‘s petition for relief by failing to appeal to restate certain fundamental propositions.
from the order granting the same;
An order of a Court of First Instance (now Regional Trial Court) granting a petition for relief under Rule 38 is
5) to accord to Estelita Padilla a relief other than that she had specifically prayed for in her petition for relief, interlocutory and is not appealable. Hence, the failure of the party who opposed the petition to appeal from said
i.e., ―the restoration of the purchase price which Estelita allegedly paid to Criselda;‖ and order, or his participation in the proceedings subsequently had, cannot be construed as a waiver of his objection to
the petition for relief so as to preclude his raising the same question on appeal from the judgment on the merits of
6) to fail to declare that Thomas Cheesman‘s citizenship is not a bar to his action to recover the lot and house the main case. Such a party need not repeat his objections to the petition for relief, or perform any act thereafter
for the conjugal partnership. (e.g., take formal exception) in order to preserve his right to question the same eventually, on appeal, it being
sufficient for this purpose that he has made of record ―the action which he desires the court to take or his objection
Such conclusions as that (1) fraud, mistake or excusable negligence existed in the premises justifying relief to
to the action of the court and his grounds therefor.‖
Estelita Padilla under Rule 38 of the Rules of Court, or (2) that CriseldaCheesman had used money she had
brought into her marriage to Thomas Cheesman to purchase the lot and house in question, or (3) that Estelita Again, the prayer in a petition for relief from judgment under Rule 38 is not necessarily the same prayer in the
Padilla believed in good faith that CriseldaCheesman was the exclusive owner of the property that she (Estelita) petitioner‘s complaint, answer or other basic pleading. This should be obvious. Equally obvious is that once a
intended to and did in fact buy—derived from the evidence adduced by the parties, the facts set out in the petition for relief is granted and the judgment subject thereof set aside, and further proceedings are thereafter had,
pleadings or otherwise appearing on record—are conclusions or findings of fact. As distinguished from a question the Court in its judgment on the merits may properly grant the relief sought in the petitioner‘s basic pleadings,
of law—which exists ―when the doubt or difference arises as to what the law is on a certain state of facts‖—―there although different from that stated in his petition for relief.
is a question of fact when the doubt or difference arises as to the truth or the falsehood of alleged facts;‖23 or
when the ―query necessarily invites calibration of the whole evidence considering mainly the credibility of Finally, the fundamental law prohibits the sale to aliens of residential land. Section 14, Article XIV of the 1973
witnesses, existence and relevancy of specific surrounding circumstances, their relation; to each other and to the Constitution ordains that, ―Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private land shall be transferred or conveyed
whole and the probabilities of the situation.‖ except to individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.‖30
Petitioner Thomas Cheesman was, of course, charged with knowledge of this prohibition. Thus, assuming that it
Now, it is axiomatic that only questions of law, distinctly set forth, may be raised in a petition for the review on was his intention that the lot in question be purchased by him and his wife, he acquired no right whatever over the
certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals presented to this Court. As everyone knows or ought to know, the property by virtue of that purchase; and in attempting to acquire a right or interest in land, vicariously and
appellate jurisdiction of this Court is limited to reviewing errors of law, accepting as conclusive the factual clandestinely, he knowingly violated the Constitution; the sale as to him was null and void. In any event, he had
findings of the lower court upon its own assessment of the evidence. The creation of the Court of Appeals was and has no capacity or personality to question the subsequent sale of the same property by his wife on the theory
precisely intended to take away from the Supreme Court the work of examining the evidence, and confine its task that in so doing he is merely exercising the prerogative of a husband in respect of conjugal property. To sustain
to the determination of questions which do not call for the reading and study of transcripts containing the such a theory would permit indirect controversion of the constitutional prohibition. If the property were to be
testimony of witnesses. The rule of conclusiveness of the factual findings or conclusions of the Court of Appeals declared conjugal, this would accord to the alien husband a not insubstantial interest and right over land, as he
is, to be sure, subject to certain exceptions, none of which however obtains in the case at bar. would then have a decisive vote as to its transfer or disposition.

It is noteworthy that both the Trial Court and the Intermediate Appellate Court reached the same conclusions on This is a right that the Constitution does not permit him to have.
the three (3) factual matters above set forth, after assessment of the evidence and determination of the probative
value thereof. Both Courts found that the facts on record adequately proved fraud, mistake or excusable As already observed, the finding that his wife had used her own money to purchase the property cannot, and will
negligence by which Estelita Padilla‘s rights had been substantially impaired; that the funds used by not, at this stage of the proceedings be reviewed and overturned. But even if it were a fact that said wife had used
CriseldaCheesman was money she had earned and saved prior to her marriage to Thomas Cheesman, and that conjugal funds to make the acquisition, the considerations just set out militate, on high constitutional grounds,
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against his recovering and holding the property so acquired, or any part thereof. And whether in such an event, he SANGGUNIANG PANLUNGSOD NG PUERTO PRINCESA, ALL MEMBERS OF BANTAY DAGAT,
may recover from his wife any share of the money used for the purchase or charge her with unauthorized MEMBERS OF PHILIPPINE NATIONAL POLICE OF PALAWAN, PROVINCIAL AND CITY
disposition or expenditure of conjugal funds is not now inquired into; that would be, in the premises, a purely PROSECUTORS OF PALAWAN and PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, and ALL JUDGES OF PALAWAN,
academic exercise. An equally decisive consideration is that Estelita Padilla is a purchaser in good faith, both the REGIONAL, MUNICIPAL AND METROPOLITAN, respondents.
Trial Court and the Appellate Court having found that Cheesman‘s own conduct had led her to believe the
property to be exclusive property of the latter‘s wife, freely disposable by her without his consent or intervention. Remedial Law; Special Civil Action; Certiorari; The general rule is that where a motion to quash is denied, the
An innocent buyer for value, she is entitled to the protection of the law in her purchase, particularly as against remedy therefrom is not certiorari, but for the party aggrieved thereby to go to trial without prejudice to reiterating
Cheesman, who would assert rights to the property denied him by both letter and spirit of the Constitution itself. special defenses involved in said motion, and if, after trial on the merits an adverse decision is rendered, to appeal
therefrom in the manner authorized by law.—As to the first set of petitioners, this special civil for certiorari must
WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is AFFIRMED, with costs against petitioner.
fail on the ground of prematurity amounting to a lack of cause of action. There is no showing that said petitioners,
SO ORDERED. as the accused in the criminal cases, have filed motions to quash the informations therein and that the same were
denied. The ground available for such motions is that the facts charged therein do not constitute an offense
G.R. No. 110249. August 21, 1997.* because the ordinances in question are unconstitutional. It cannot then be said that the lower courts acted without
ALFREDO TANO, BALDOMERO TANO, DANILO TANO, ROMUALDO TANO, TEOCENES or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of discretion to justify recourse to the extraordinary remedy of
MIDELLO, ANGEL DE MESA, EULOGIO TREMOCHA, FELIPE ONGONION, JR., ANDRES certiorari or prohibition. It must further bestressed that even if petitioners did file motions to quash, the denial
LINIJAN, ROBERT LIM, VIRGINIA LIM, FELIMON DE MESA, GENEROSO ARAGON, thereof would not forthwith give rise to a cause of action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. The general rule is
TEODORICO ANDRE, ROMULO DEL ROSARIO, CHOLITO ANDRE, ERICK MONTANO, ANDRES that where a motion to quash is denied, the remedy therefrom is not certiorari, but for the party aggrieved thereby
OLIVA, VITTORIO SALVADOR, LEOPOLDO ARAGON, RAFAEL RIBA, ALEJANDRO LEONILA,
to go to trial without prejudice to reiterating special defenses involved in said motion, and if, after trial on the
JOSE DAMACINTO, RAMIRO MANAEG, RUBEN MARGATE, ROBERTO REYES, DANILO
PANGARUTAN, NOE GOLPAN, ESTANISLAO ROMERO, NICANOR DOMINGO, ROLDAN merits an adverse decision is rendered, to appeal therefrom in the manner authorized by law. And, even where in
TABANG, ADRIANO TABANG, FREDDIE SACAMAY, MIGUEL TRIMOCHA, PACENCIO LABABIT, an exceptional circumstance such denial may be the subject of a special civil action for certiorari, a motion for
PABLO H. OMPAD, CELESTINO A. ABANO, ALLAN ALMODAL, BILLY D. BARTOLAY, ALBINO reconsideration must have to be filed to allow the court concerned an opportunity to correct its errors, unless such
D. LIQUE, MELCHOR J. LAYSON, MELANIE AMANTE, CLARO E. YATOC, MERGELDO B. motion may be dispensed with because of existing exceptional circumstances. Finally, even if a motion for
BALDEO, EDGAR M. ALMASETA, JOSELITO MANAEG, LIBERATO ANDRADA, JR., ROBERTO reconsideration has been filed and denied, the remedy under Rule 65 is still unavailable absent any showing of the
BERRY, RONALD VILLANUEVA, EDUARDO VALMORIA, WILFREDO MENDOZA, NAPOLEON grounds provided for in Section 1 thereof. For obvious reasons, the petition at bar does not, and could not have,
BABANGGA, ROBERTO TADEPA, RUBEN ASINGUA, SILVERIO GABO, JERRY ROMERO, DAVID
alleged any of such grounds.
PANGGARUTAN, DANIEL PANGGARUTAN, ROMEO AGAWIN, FERNANDO EQUIZ, DITO
LEQUIZ, RONILO MODERABLE, BENEDICTO TORRES, ROSITO A. VALDEZ, CRESENCIO A.
SAYANG, NICOMEDES S. ACOSTA, ERENEO A. SEGARINO, JR., WILFREDO A. RAUTO, Same; Same; Same; While the Court has concurrent jurisdiction with Regional Trial Courts and with the Court of
DIOSDADO A. ACOSTA, BONIFACIO G. SISMO, TACIO ALUBA, DANIEL B. BATERZAL, ELISEO Appeals to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction, such
YBAÑEZ, DIOSDADO E. HANCHIC, EDDIE ESCALICAS, ELEAZAR B. BATERZAL, DOMINADOR concurrence gives petitioners no unrestricted freedom of choice of court forum.—Even granting arguendo that the
HALICHIC, ROOSEVELT RISMO-AN, ROBERT C. MERCADER, TIRSO ARESGADO, DANIEL first set of petitioners have a cause of action ripe for the extraordinary writ of certiorari, there is here a clear
CHAVEZ, DANILO CHAVEZ, VICTOR VILLAROEL, ERNESTO C. YBAÑEZ, ARMANDO T. disregard of the hierarchy of courts, and no special and important reason or exceptional and compelling
SANTILLAN, RUDY S. SANTILLAN, JODJEN ILUSTRISIMO, NESTOR SALANGRON, ALBERTO circumstance has been adduced why direct recourse to us should be allowed. While we have concurrent
SALANGRON, ROGER L. ROXAS, FRANCISCO T. ANTICANO, PASTOR SALANGRON,
jurisdiction with Regional Trial courts and with the Court of Appeals to issue writs of certiorari, prohibition,
BIENVENIDO SANTILLAN, GILBUENA LADDY, FIDEL BENJAMIN, JOVELITO BELGANO,
HONEY PARIOL, ANTONIO SALANGRON, NICASIO SALANGRON, & AIRLINE SHIPPERS mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction, such concurrence gives petitioners no unrestricted
ASSOCIATION OF PALAWAN, petitioners, vs. HON. GOV. SALVADOR P. SOCRATES, MEMBERS freedom of choice of court forum.
OF SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN OF PALAWAN, namely, VICE-GOVERNOR JOEL T. REYES,
JOSE D. ZABALA, ROSALINO R. ACOSTA, JOSELITO A. CADLAON, ANDRES R. BAACO, NELSON Same; Same; Same; The judicial policy that the Court will not entertain direct resort to it unless the redress desired
P. PENEYRA, CIPRIANO C. BARROMA, CLARO E. ORDINARIO, ERNESTO A. LLACUNA, cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts or where exceptional and compelling circumstances justify availment
RODOLFO C. FLORDELIZA, GILBERT S. BAACO, WINSTON G. ARZAGA, NAPOLEON F. of a remedy within and calling for the exercise of a primary jurisdiction.—In Santiago v. Vasquez, this Court
ORDONEZ and GIL P. ACOSTA, CITY MAYOR EDWARD HAGEDORN, MEMBERS OF forcefully expressed that the propensity of litigants and lawyers to disregard the hierarchy of courts must be put to
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a halt, not only because of the imposition upon the precious time of this Court, but also because of the inevitable Petitioners caption their petition as one for ―Certiorari, Injunction With Preliminary and Mandatory Injunction,
and resultant delay, intended or otherwise, in the adjudication of the case which often has to be remanded or with Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order‖ and pray that this Court: (1) declare as unconstitutional: (a)
referred to the lower court, the proper forum under the rules of procedure, or as better equipped to resolve the Ordinance No. 15-92, dated 15 December 1992, of the SangguniangPanlungsod of Puerto Princesa; (b) Office
issues since this Court is not a trier of facts. We reiterated ―the judicial policy that this Court will not entertain Order No. 23, Series of 1993, dated 22 January 1993, issued by Acting City Mayor Amado L. Lucero of Puerto
direct resort to it unless the redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts or where exceptional and Princesa City; and (c) Resolution No. 33, Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993, dated 19 February 1993, of the
compelling circumstances justify availment of a remedy within and calling for the exercise of [its] primary SangguniangPanlalawigan of Palawan; (2) enjoin the enforcement thereof; and (3) restrain respondents Provincial
jurisdiction.‖ and City Prosecutors of Palawan and Puerto Princesa City and Judges of the Regional Trial Courts, Metropolitan
Trial Courts1 and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts in Palawan from assuming jurisdiction over and hearing cases
Same; Same; Declaratory Relief; Supreme Court is not possessed of original jurisdiction over petitions for concerning the violation of the Ordinances and of the Office Order.
declaratory relief even if only questions of law are involved.—As to the second set of petitioners, the instant
petition is obviously one for DECLARATORY RELIEF, i.e., for a declaration that the Ordinances in question are More appropriately, the petition is, and shall be treated as, a special civil action for certiorari and prohibition.
a ―nullity. . . for being unconstitutional.‖ As such, their petition must likewise fail, as this Court is not possessed of
original jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory relief even if only questions of law are involved, it being settled The following is petitioners‘ summary of the factual antecedents giving rise to the petition:
that the Court merely exercises appellate jurisdiction over such petitions.
1. On December 15, 1992, the SangguniangPanlungsodng Puerto Princesa City enacted Ordinance No. 15-92
Constitutional Law; Statute; Statutory Construction; It is settled that laws (including ordinances enacted by local which took effect on January 1, 1993 entitled: ―AN ORDINANCE BANNING THE SHIPMENT OF ALL LIVE
government units) enjoy the presumption of constitutionality.—It is of course settled that laws (including FISH AND LOBSTER OUTSIDE PUERTO PRINCESA CITY FROM JANUARY 1, 1993 TO JANUARY 1,
ordinances enacted by local government units) enjoy the presumption of constitutionality. To overthrow this 1998 AND PROVIDING EXEMPTIONS, PENALTIES AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES THEREOF,‖ the full
presumption, there must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution, not merely a doubtful or text of which reads as follows:
argumentative contradiction. In short, the conflict with the Constitution must be shown beyond reasonable doubt.
Where doubt exists, even if well-founded, there can be no finding of unconstitutionality. To doubt is to sustain. ―Section 1. Title of the Ordinance.—This Ordinance is entitled: AN ORDINANCE BANNING THE SHIPMENT
OF ALL LIVE FISH AND LOBSTER OUTSIDE PUERTO PRINCESA CITY FROM JANUARY 1, 1993 TO
Same; Same; Same; Court finds petitioners‘ contentions baseless and holds that the Ordinances do not suffer from JANUARY 1, 1998 AND PROVIDING EXEMPTIONS, PENALTIES AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES
any infirmity both under the Constitution and applicable laws.—After a scrutiny of the challenged Ordinances and THEREOF.
the provisions of the Constitution petitioners claim to have been violated, we find petitioners‘ contentions baseless
and so hold that the former do not suffer from any infirmity, both under the Constitution and applicable laws. Section 2. Purpose, Scope and Coverage.—To effectively free our City Sea Waters from Cyanide and other
Obnoxious substance[s], and shall cover all persons and/or entities operating within and outside the City of Puerto
SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court.Certiorari and Prohibition. Princesa who is are (sic) directly or indirectly in the business or shipment of live fish and lobster outside the City.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. Section 3. Definition of terms.—For purpose of this Ordinance the following are hereby defined:

Arturo S. Santos for petitioners. A. SEA BASS—A kind of fish under the family of Centropomidae, better known as APAHAP;

Agustin M. Rocamora for Edward S. Hagedorn, SanggunianPanlungsod of Puerto Princesa City and B. CATFISH—A kind of fish under the family of Plotosidae, better known as HITO-HITO;
BantayDagat of Puerto Princesa City.
C. MUDFISH—A kind of fish under the family of Orphicaphalisae better known as DALAG;
Romeo M. Seratubas, Robert Y. Peneyra and Martin E. Ruelo for Salvador P. Socrates.
D. ALL LIVE FISH—All alive, breathing not necessarily moving of all specie[s] use[d] for food and for
DAVIDE, JR., J.: aquarium purposes.

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E. LIVE LOBSTER—Several relatively, large marine crusteceans [sic] of the genus Homarus that are alive and Any cargo containing live fish and lobster without the required documents as stated herein must be held for proper
breathing not necessarily moving. disposition.

Section 4. It shall be unlawful [for] any person or any business enterprise or company to ship out from Puerto In the pursuit of this Order, you are hereby authorized to coordinate with the PAL Manager, the PPA Manager, the
Princesa City to any point of destination either via aircraft or seacraft of any live fish and lobster except SEA local PNP Station and other offices concerned for the needed support and cooperation. Further, that the usual
BASS, CATFISH, MUDFISH, AND MILKFISH FRIES. courtesy and diplomacy must be observed at all times in the conduct of the inspection.

Section 5. Penalty Clause.—Any person/s and or business entity violating this Ordinance shall be penalized with a Please be guided accordingly.‖
fine of not more than P5,000.00 or imprisonment of not more than twelve (12) months, cancellation of their permit
to do business in the City of Puerto Princesa or all of the herein stated penalties, upon the discretion of the court. x xx

Section 6. If the owner and/or operator of the establishment found violating the provisions of this ordinance is a 3. On February 19, 1993, the SangguniangPanlalawigan, Provincial Government of Palawan enacted Resolution
corporation or a partnership, the penalty prescribed in Section 5 hereof shall be imposed upon its president and/or No. 33 entitled: ―A RESOLUTION PROHIBITING THE CATCHING, GATHERING, POSSESSING, BUYING,
General Manager or Managing Partner and/or Manager, as the case maybe [sic]. SELLING AND SHIPMENT OF LIVE MARINE CORAL DWELLING AQUATIC ORGANISMS, TO WIT:
FAMILY: SCARIDAE (MAMENG), EPINE PHELUS FASCIATUS (SUNO). CROMILEPTES ALTIVELIS
Section 7. Any existing ordinance or any provision of any ordinance inconsistent to [sic] this ordinance is deemed (PANTHER OR SENORITA), LOBSTER BELOW 200 GRAMS AND SPAWNING, TRIDACNA GIGAS
repealed. (TAKLOBO), PINCTADA MARGARITEFERA (MOTHER PEARL, OYSTERS, GIANT CLAMS AND
OTHER SPECIES), PENAEUS MONODON (TIGER PRAWN-BREEDER SIZE OR MOTHER),
Section 8. This Ordinance shall take effect on January 1, 1993. EPINEPHELUS SUILLUS (LOBA OR GREEN GROUPER) AND FAMILY: BALISTIDAE (TROPICAL
AQUARIUM FISHES) FOR A PERIOD FIVE (5) YEARS IN AND COMING FROM PALAWAN WATERS,‖
SO ORDAINED.‖ the full text of which reads as follows:

x xx ―WHEREAS, scientific and factual researches [sic] and studies disclose that only five (5) percent of the corals of
our province remain to be in excellent condition as [a] habitat of marine coral dwelling aquatic organisms;
2. To implement said city ordinance, then Acting City Mayor Amado L. Lucero issued Office Order No. 23, Series
of 1993 dated January 22, 1993 which reads as follows: WHEREAS, it cannot be gainsaid that the destruction and devastation of the corals of our province were
principally due to illegal fishing activities like dynamite fishing, sodium cyanide fishing, use of other obnoxious
―In the interest of public service and for purposes of City Ordinance No. PD426-14-74, otherwise known as ‗AN
substances and other related activities;
ORDINANCE REQUIRING ANY PERSON ENGAGED OR INTENDING TO ENGAGE IN ANY BUSINESS,
TRADE, OCCUPATION, CALLING OR PROFESSION OR HAVING IN HIS POSSESSION ANY OF THE WHEREAS, there is an imperative and urgent need to protect and preserve the existence of the remaining
ARTICLES FOR WHICH A PERMIT IS REQUIRED TO BE HAD, TO OBTAIN FIRST A MAYOR‘S excellent corals and allow the devastated ones to reinvigorate and regenerate themselves into vitality within the
PERMIT‖ and ―City Ordinance No. 15-92, AN ORDINANCE BANNING THE SHIPMENT OF ALL LIVE FISH span of five (5) years;
AND LOBSTER OUTSIDE PUERTO PRINCESA CITY FROM JANUARY 1, 1993 TO JANUARY 1, 1998,
you are hereby authorized and directed to check or conduct necessary inspections on cargoes containing live fish WHEREAS, Sec. 468, Par. 1, Sub-Par. VI of the [sic] R.A. 7160 otherwise known as the Local Government Code
and lobster being shipped out from the Puerto Princesa Airport, Puerto Princesa Wharf or at any port within the of 1991 empowers the SangguniangPanlalawigan to protect the environment and impose appropriate penalties
jurisdiction of the City to any point of destinations [sic] either via aircraft or seacraft. [upon] acts which endanger the environment such as dynamite fishing and other forms of destructive fishing,
among others.
The purpose of the inspection is to ascertain whether the shipper possessed the required Mayor‘s Permit issued by
this Office and the shipment is covered by invoice or clearance issued by the local office of the Bureau of NOW, THEREFORE, on motion by Kagawad Nelson P. Peneyra and upon unanimous decision of all the
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and as to compliance with all other existing rules and regulations on the matter. members present;

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Be it resolved as it is hereby resolved, to approve Resolution No. 33, Series of 1993 of the generation but with [the] proper perspective and consideration of [sic] their prosperity, and to attain this end, the
SangguniangPanlalawigan and to enact Ordinance No. 2 for the purpose, to wit: SangguniangPanlalawigan henceforth declares that is [sic] shall be unlawful for any person or any business entity
to engage in catching, gathering, possessing, buying, selling and shipment of live marine coral dwelling aquatic
ORDINANCE NO. 2 organisms as enumerated in Section 1 hereof in and coming out of Palawan Waters for a period of five (5) years;

Series of 1993 Section IV. PENALTY CLAUSE.—Any person and/or business entity violating this Ordinance shall be penalized
with a fine of not more than Five Thousand Pesos (P5,000.00), Philippine Currency, and/or imprisonment of six
BE IT ORDAINED BY THE SANGGUNIANG PANLALAWIGAN IN SESSION ASSEMBLED: (6) months to twelve (12) months and confiscation and forfeiture of paraphernalias [sic] and equipment in favor of
the government at the discretion of the Court;
Section 1. TITLE—This Ordinance shall be known as an ―Ordinance Prohibiting the catching, gathering,
possessing, buying, selling and shipment of live marine coral dwelling aquatic organisms, to wit: 1. Family: Section V. SEPARABILITY CLAUSE.—If for any reason, a Section or provision of this Ordinance shall be held
Scaridae (Mameng), 2. EpinephelusFasciatus (Suno), 3. Cromileptesaltivelis (Panther or Senorita), lobster below as unconditional [sic] or invalid, it shall not affect the other provisions hereof.
200 grams and spawning), 4. TridacnaGigas (Taklobo), 5. PinctadaMargaretefera (Mother Pearl, Oysters, Giant
Clams and other species), 6.PenaeusMonodon (Tiger Prawn-breeder size or mother), 7.EpinephelusSuillus (Loba Section VI. REPEALING CLAUSE.—Any existing Ordinance or a provision of any ordinance inconsistent
or Green Grouper) and 8. Family: Balistidae (T[r]opical Aquarium Fishes) for a period of five (5) years in and herewith is deemed modified, amended or repealed. Section VII. EFFECTIVITY.—This Ordinance shall take
coming from Palawan Waters. effect ten (10) days after its publication.

Section II. PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS SO ORDAINED.‖

1. Sec. 2-A (Rep. Act 7160). It is hereby declared, the policy of the state that the territorial and political x xx
subdivisions of the State shall enjoy genuine and meaningful local autonomy to enable them to attain their fullest
development as selfreliant communities and make them more effective partners in the attainment of national goals. 4. The respondents implemented the said ordinances, Annexes ―A‖ and ―C‖ hereof thereby depriving all the
Toward this end, the State shall provide for [a] more responsive and accountable local government structure fishermen of the whole province of Palawan and the City of Puerto Princesa of their only means of livelihood and
instituted through a system of decentralization whereby local government units shall be given more powers, the petitioners Airline Shippers Association of Palawan and other marine merchants from performing their lawful
authority, responsibilities and resources. occupation and trade;

2. Sec. 5-A (R.A. 7160). Any provision on a power of [a] local Government Unit shall be liberally interpreted in 5. Petitioners Alfredo Tano, BaldomeroTano, TeocenesMidello, Angel de Mesa, EulogioTremocha, and Felipe
its favor, and in case of doubt, any question thereon shall be resolved in favor of devolution of powers and of the Ongonion, Jr. were even charged criminally under criminal case no. 93-05-C in the 1st Municipal Circuit Trial
lower government units. ―Any fair and reasonable doubts as to the existence of the power shall be interpreted in Court of Cuyo-Agutaya-Magsaysay, an original carbon copy of the criminal complaint dated April 12, 1993 is
favor of the Local Government Unit concerned.‖ hereto attached as Annex ―D‖; while xerox copies are attached as Annex ―D‖ to the copies of the petition;

3. Sec. 5-C (R.A. 7160). The general welfare provisions in this Code shall be liberally interpreted to give more
powers to local government units in accelerating economic development and upgrading the quality of life for the
people in the community. 6. Petitioners Robert Lim and Virginia Lim, on the other hand, were charged by the respondent PNP with the
respondent City Prosecutor of Puerto Princesa City, a xerox copy of the complaint is hereto attached as Annex
4. Sec. 16 (R.A. 7160). General Welfare.—Every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly ―E‖;
granted, those necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its
efficient and effective governance; and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. Without seeking redress from the concerned local government units, prosecutor‘s office and courts, petitioners
directly invoked our original jurisdiction by filing this petition on 4 June 1993. In sum, petitioners contend that:
Section III. DECLARATION OF POLICY.—It is hereby declared to be the policy of the Province of Palawan to
protect and conserve the marine resources of Palawan not only for the greatest good of the majority of the present

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First, the Ordinances deprived them of due process of law, their livelihood, and unduly restricted them from the On 25 October 1993 petitioners filed an Urgent Plea for the Immediate Issuance of a Temporary Restraining
practice of their trade, in violation of Section 2, Article XII and Sections 2 and 7 of Article XIII of the 1987 Order, claiming that despite the pendency of this case, Branch 50 of the Regional Trial Court of Palawan was bent
Constitution. on proceeding with Criminal Case No. 11223 against petitioners DaniloTano, Alfredo Tano, EulogioTremocha,
RomualdoTano, BaldomeroTano, Andres Linijan and Angel de Mesa for violation of Ordinance No. 2 of the
Second, Office Order No. 23 contained no regulation nor condition under which the Mayor‘s permit could be SangguniangPanlalawigan of Palawan. Acting on said plea, we issued on 11 November 1993 a temporary
granted or denied; in other words, the Mayor had the absolute authority to determine whether or not to issue the restraining order directing Judge Angel Miclat of said court to cease and desist from proceeding with the
permit. arraignment and pre-trial of Criminal Case No. 11223.

Third, as Ordinance No. 2 of the Province of Palawan ―altogether prohibited the catching, gathering, possession, On 12 July 1994, we excused the Office of the Solicitor General from filing a comment, considering that as
buying, selling and shipping of live marine coral dwelling organisms, without any distinction whether it was claimed by said office in its Manifestation of 28 June 1994, respondents were already represented by counsel.
caught or gathered through lawful fishing method,‖ the Ordinance took away the right of petitioners-fishermen to
earn their livelihood in lawful ways; and insofar as petitioners-members of Airline Shippers Association are The rest of the respondents did not file any comment on the petition.
concerned, they were unduly prevented from pursuing their vocation and entering ―into contracts which are
proper, necessary, and essential to carry out their business endeavors to a successful conclusion.‖ In the resolution of 15 September 1994, we resolved to consider the comment on the petition as the Answer, gave
due course to the petition and required the parties to submit their respective memoranda.
Finally, as Ordinance No. 2 of the SangguniangPanlalawigan is null and void, the criminal cases based thereon
against petitioners Tano and the others have to be dismissed. On 22 April 1997 we ordered impleaded as party respondents the Department of Agriculture and the Bureau of
Fisheries and Aquatic Resources and required the Office of the Solicitor General to comment on their behalf. But
In the Resolution of 15 June 1993 we required respondents to comment on the petition, and furnished the Office of in light of the latter‘s motion of 9 July 1997 for an extension of time to file the comment which would only result
the Solicitor General with a copy thereof. in further delay, we dispensed with said comment.

In their comment filed on 13 August 1993, public respondents Governor Socrates and Members of the After due deliberation on the pleadings filed, we resolved to dismiss this petition for want of merit, and on 22 July
SangguniangPanlalawigan of Palawan defended the validity of Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993, as a valid 1997, assigned it to the ponente to write the opinion of the Court.
exercise of the Provincial Government‘s power under the general welfare clause (Section 16 of the Local
Government Code of 1991 [hereafter, LGC]), and its specific power to protect the environment and impose I
appropriate penalties for acts which endanger the environment, such as dynamite fishing and other forms of
destructive fishing under Section 447(a)(1)(vi), Section 458(a)(1)(vi), and Section 468(a)(1)(vi), of the LGC. They There are actually two sets of petitioners in this case. The first is composed of Alfredo Tano, BaldomeroTano,
claimed that in the exercise of such powers, the Province of Palawan had ―the right and responsibility. . . to insure DaniloTano, RomualdoTano, TeocenesMidello, Angel de Mesa, EulogioTremocha, Felipe Ongonion, Jr., Andres
that the remaining coral reefs, where fish dwells [sic], within its territory remain healthy for the future generation.‖ Linijan, and Felimon de Mesa, who were criminally charged with violating SangguniangPanlalawigan Resolution
The Ordinance, they further asserted, covered only live marine coral dwelling aquatic organisms which were No. 33 and Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993, of the Province of Palawan, in Criminal Case No. 93-05-C of the 1st
enumerated in the ordinance and excluded other kinds of live marine aquatic organisms not dwelling in coral Municipal Circuit Trial Court (MCTC) of Palawan; and Robert Lim and Virginia Lim who were charged with
reefs; besides the prohibition was for only five (5) years to protect and preserve the pristine coral and allow those violating City Ordinance No. 15-92 of Puerto Princesa City and Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993, of the Province
damaged to regenerate. of Palawan before the Office of the City Prosecutor of Puerto Princesa. All of them, with the exception of
TeocenesMidello, Felipe Ongonion, Jr., Felimon de Mesa, Robert Lim and Virginia Lim, are likewise the accused
Aforementioned respondents likewise maintained that there was no violation of the due process and equal in Criminal Case No. 11223 for the violation of Ordinance No. 2 of the SangguniangPanlalawigan of Palawan,
protection clauses of the Constitution. As to the former, public hearings were conducted before the enactment of pending before Branch 50 of the Regional Trial Court of Palawan.
the Ordinance which, undoubtedly, had a lawful purpose and employed reasonable means; while as to the latter, a
substantial distinction existed ―between a fisherman who catches live fish with the intention of selling it live, and a The second set of petitioners is composed of the rest of the petitioners numbering seventy-seven (77), all of whom,
fisherman who catches live fish with no intention at all of selling it live,‖ i.e., ―the former uses sodium cyanide except the Airline Shippers Association of Palawan—an alleged private association of several marine merchants—
while the latter does not.‖ Further, the Ordinance applied equally to all those belonging to one class. are natural persons who claim to be fishermen.

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The primary interest of the first set of petitioners is, of course, to prevent the prosecution, trial and determination (―inferior‖) courts should be filed with the Regional Trial Court, and those against the latter, with the Court of
of the criminal cases until the constitutionality or legality of the Ordinances they allegedly violated shall have Appeals. A direct invocation of the Supreme Court‘s original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed
been resolved. The second set of petitioners merely claim that being fishermen or marine merchants, they would only when there are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in the petition. This is
be adversely affected by the ordinances. established policy. It is a policy necessary to prevent inordinate demands upon the Court‘s time and attention
which are better devoted to those matters within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to prevent further over-crowding of
As to the first set of petitioners, this special civil for certiorari must fail on the ground of prematurity amounting to the Court‘s docket. . . .
a lack of cause of action. There is no showing that said petitioners, as the accused in the criminal cases, have filed
motions to quash the informations therein and that the same were denied. The ground available for such motions is The Court feels the need to reaffirm that policy at this time, and to enjoin strict adherence thereto in the light of
that the facts charged therein do not constitute an offense because the ordinances in question are unconstitutional.6 what it perceives to be a growing tendency on the part of litigants and lawyers to have their applications for the so-
It cannot then be said that the lower courts acted without or in excess of jurisdiction or with grave abuse of called extraordinary writs, and sometimes even their appeals, passed upon and adjudicated directly and
discretion to justify recourse to the extraordinary remedy of certiorari or prohibition. It must further be stressed immediately by the highest tribunal of the land. . . .
that even if petitioners did file motions to quash, the denial thereof would not forthwith give rise to a cause of
action under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court. The general rule is that where a motion to quash is denied, the remedy In Santiago v. Vasquez, this Court forcefully expressed that the propensity of litigants and lawyers to disregard the
therefrom is not certiorari, but for the party aggrieved thereby to go to trial without prejudice to reiterating special hierarchy of courts must be put to a halt, not only because of the imposition upon the precious time of this Court,
defenses involved in said motion, and if, after trial on the merits an adverse decision is rendered, to appeal but also because of the inevitable and resultant delay, intended or otherwise, in the adjudication of the case which
therefrom in the manner authorized by law. And, even where in an exceptional circumstance such denial may be often has to be remanded or referred to the lower court, the proper forum under the rules of procedure, or as better
the subject of a special civil action for certiorari, a motion for reconsideration must have to be filed to allow the equipped to resolve the issues since this Court is not a trier of facts. We reiterated ―the judicial policy that this
court concerned an opportunity to correct its errors, unless such motion may be dispensed with because of existing Court will not entertain direct resort to it unless the redress desired cannot be obtained in the appropriate courts or
exceptional circumstances.8 Finally, even if a motion for reconsideration has been filed and denied, the remedy where exceptional and compelling circumstances justify availment of a remedy within and calling for the exercise
under Rule 65 is still unavailable absent any showing of the grounds provided for in Section 1 thereof. For obvious of [its] primary jurisdiction.‖
reasons, the petition at bar does not, and could not have, alleged any of such grounds.
III
As to the second set of petitioners, the instant petition is obviously one for DECLARATORY RELIEF, i.e., for a
declaration that the Ordinances in question are a ―nullity. . . for being unconstitutional.‖ As such, their petition Notwithstanding the foregoing procedural obstacles against the first set of petitioners, we opt to resolve this case
must likewise fail, as this Court is not possessed of original jurisdiction over petitions for declaratory relief even if on its merits considering that the lifetime of the challenged Ordinances is about to end. Ordinance No. 15-92 of
only questions of law are involved, it being settled that the Court merely exercises appellate jurisdiction over such the City of Puerto Princesa is effective only up to 1 January 1998, while Ordinance No. 2 of the Province of
petitions. Palawan, enacted on 19 February 1993, is effective for only five (5) years. Besides, these Ordinances were
undoubtedly enacted in the exercise of powers under the new LGC relative to the protection and preservation of
Even granting arguendo that the first set of petitioners have a cause of action ripe for the extraordinary writ of the environment and are thus novel and of paramount importance. No further delay then may be allowed in the
certiorari, there is here a clear disregard of the hierarchy of courts, and no special and important reason or resolution of the issues raised.
exceptional and compelling circumstance has been adduced why direct recourse tous should be allowed. While we
have concurrent jurisdiction with Regional Trial courts and with the Court of Appeals to issue writs of certiorari, It is of course settled that laws (including ordinances enacted by local government units) enjoy the presumption of
prohibition, mandamus, quo warranto, habeas corpus and injunction, such concurrence gives petitioners no constitutionality. To overthrow this presumption, there must be a clear and unequivocal breach of the Constitution,
unrestricted freedom of choice of court forum, so we held in People v. Cuaresma: not merely a doubtful or argumentative contradiction. In short, the conflict with the Constitution must be shown
beyond reasonable doubt. Where doubt exists, even if well-founded, there can be no finding of unconstitutionality.
This concurrence of jurisdiction is not . . . to be taken as according to parties seeking any of the writs an absolute To doubt is to sustain.
unrestrained freedom of choice of the court to which application therefor will be directed. There is after all
hierarchy of courts. That hierarchy is determinative of the venue of appeals, and should also serve as a general After a scrutiny of the challenged Ordinances and the provisions of the Constitution petitioners claim to have been
determinant of the appropriate forum for petitions for the extraordinary writs. A becoming regard for that judicial violated, we find petitioners‘ contentions baseless and so hold that the former do not suffer from any infirmity,
hierarchy most certainly indicates that petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs against first level both under the Constitution and applicable laws.

46 | P a g e
Petitioners specifically point to Section 2, Article XII and Sections 2 and 7, Article XIII of the Constitution as family.‖ It bears repeating that nothing in the record supports a finding that any petitioner falls within these
having been transgressed by the Ordinances. definitions.

The pertinent portion of Section 2 of Article XII reads: Besides, Section 2 of Article XII aims primarily not to bestow any right to subsistence fishermen, but to lay stress
on the duty of the State to protect the nation‘s marine wealth. What the provision merely recognizes is that the
SEC. 2. x xx State may allow, by law, cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fishworkers in
rivers, lakes, bays and lagoons. Our survey of the statute books reveals that the only provision of law which speaks
The State shall protect the nation‘s marine wealth in its archipelagic waters, territorial sea, and exclusive economic of a preferential right of marginal fishermen is Section 149 of the LGC, which pertinently provides:
zone, and reserve its use and enjoyment exclusively to Filipino citizens.

The Congress may, by law, allow small-scale utilization of natural resources by Filipino citizens, as well as SEC. 149. Fishery Rentals, Fees and Charges.—x xx
cooperative fish farming, with priority to subsistence fishermen and fishworkers in rivers, lakes, bays, and
lagoons. (b) The sangguniangbayan may:

Sections 2 and 7 of Article XIII provide: (1) Grant fishery privileges to erect fish corrals, oyster, mussels or other aquatic beds or bangus fry areas,
within a definite zone of the municipal waters, as determined by it: Provided, however, That duly registered
SEC. 2. The promotion of social justice shall include the commitment to create economic opportunities based on organizations and cooperatives of marginal fishermen shall have the preferential right to such fishery privileges. . .
freedom of initiative and self-reliance. .

x xx In a Joint Administrative Order No. 3 dated 25 April 1996, the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and the
Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government prescribed guidelines concerning the preferential
SEC. 7. The State shall protect the rights of subsistence fishermen, especially of local communities, to the
treatment of small fisherfolk relative to the fishery right mentioned in Section 149. This case, however, does not
preferential use of the communal marine and fishing resources, both inland and offshore. It shall provide support
involve such fishery right.
to such fishermen through appropriate technology and research, adequate financial, production, and marketing
assistance, and other services. The State shall also protect, develop, and conserve such resources. The protection Anent Section 7 of Article XIII, it speaks not only of the use of communal marine and fishing resources, but of
shall extend to offshore fishing grounds of subsistence fishermen against foreign intrusion. Fishworkers shall their protection, development and conservation. As hereafter shown, the ordinances in question are meant
receive a just share from their labor in the utilization of marine and fishing resources. precisely to protect and conserve our marine resources to the end that their enjoyment may be guaranteed not only
for the present generation, but also for the generations to come.
There is absolutely no showing that any of the petitioners qualifies as a subsistence or marginal fisherman. In their
petition, petitioner Airline Shippers Association of Palawan is self-described as ―a private association composed The so-called ―preferential right‖ of subsistence or marginal fishermen to the use of marine resources is not at all
of Marine Merchants;‖ petitioners Robert Lim and Virginia Lim, as ―merchants;‖ while the rest of the petitioners absolute. In accordance with the Regalian Doctrine, marine resources belong to the State, and, pursuant to the first
claim to be ―fishermen,‖ without any qualification, however, as to their status. paragraph of Section 2, Article XII of the Constitution, their ―exploration, development and utilization . . . shall be
under the full control and supervision of the State.‖ Moreover, their mandated protection, development and
Since the Constitution does not specifically provide a definition of the terms ―subsistence‖ or ―marginal‖
conservation as necessarily recognized by the framers of the Constitution, imply certain restrictions on whatever
fishermen,18 they should be construed in their general and ordinary sense. A marginal fisherman is an individual
right of enjoyment there may be in favor of anyone. Thus, as to the curtailment of the preferential treatment of
engaged in fishing whose margin of return or reward in his harvest of fish as measured by existing price levels is
marginal fishermen, the following exchange between Commissioner Francisco Rodrigo and Commissioner Jose
barely sufficient to yield a profit or cover the cost of gathering the fish, while a subsistence fisherman is one
F.S. Bengzon, Jr., took place at the plenary session of the Constitutional Commission:
whose catch yields but the irreducible minimum for his livelihood. Section 131(p) of the LGC (R.A. No. 7160)
defines a marginal farmer or fisherman as ―an individual engaged in subsistence farming or fishing which shall be MR. RODRIGO:
limited to the sale, barter or exchange of agricultural or marine products produced by himself and his immediate

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Let us discuss the implementation of this because I would not raise the hopes of our people, and afterwards fail in The right to a balanced and healthful ecology carries with it a correlative duty to refrain from impairing the
the implementation. How will this be implemented? Will there be a licensing or giving of permits so that environment. . .
government officials will know that one is really a marginal fisherman? Or if policeman say that a person is not a
marginal fisherman, he can show his permit, to prove that indeed he is one. The LGC provisions invoked by private respondents merely seek to give flesh and blood to the right of the people
to a balanced and healthful ecology. In fact, the General Welfare Clause, expressly mentions this right:
MR. BENGZON:
SEC. 16. General Welfare.—Every local government unit shall exercise the powers expressly granted, those
Certainly, there will be some mode of licensing insofar as this is concerned and this particular question could be necessarily implied therefrom, as well as powers necessary, appropriate, or incidental for its efficient and effective
tackled when we discuss the Article on Local Governments—whether we will leave to the local governments or to governance, and those which are essential to the promotion of the general welfare. Within their respective
Congress on how these things will be implemented. But certainly, I think our congressmen and our local officials territorial jurisdictions, local government units shall ensure and support, among other things, the preservation and
will not be bereft of ideas on how to implement this mandate. enrichment of culture, promote health and safety, enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology, encourage
and support the development of appropriate and self-reliant scientific and technological capabilities, improve
x xx public morals, enhance economic prosperity and social justice, promote full employment among their residents,
maintain peace and order, and preserve the comfort and convenience of their inhabitants. (italics supplied).
MR. RODRIGO:
Moreover, Section 5(c) of the LGC explicitly mandates that the general welfare provisions of the LGC ―shall be
So, once one is licensed as a marginal fisherman, he can go anywhere in the Philippines and fish in any fishing liberally interpreted to give more powers to the local government units in accelerating economic development and
grounds. upgrading the quality of life for the people of the community.‖

MR. BENGZON The LGC vests municipalities with the power to grant fishery privileges in municipal waters and impose rentals,
fees or charges therefor; to penalize, by appropriate ordinances, the use of explosives, noxious or poisonous
Subject to whatever rules and regulations and local laws that may be passed, may be existing or will be passed.21
substances, electricity, muro-ami, and other deleterious methods of fishing; and to prosecute any violation of the
(italics supplied)
provisions of applicable fishery laws. Further, the sangguniangbayan, the sangguniangpanlungsod and the
What must likewise be borne in mind is the state policy enshrined in the Constitution regarding the duty of the sangguniangpanlalawigan are directed to enact ordinances for the general welfare of the municipality and its
State to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm inhabitants, which shall include, inter alia, ordinances that ―[p]rotect the environment and impose appropriate
and harmony of nature. On this score, in Oposa v. Factoran, this Court declared: penalties for acts which endanger the environment such as dynamite fishing and other forms of destructive fishing.
. . and such other activities which result in pollution, acceleration of eutrophication of rivers and lakes, or of
While the right to a balanced and healthful ecology is to be found under the Declaration of Principles and State ecological imbalance.‖
Policies and not under the Bill of Rights, it does not follow that it is less important than any of the civil and
political rights enumerated in the latter. Such a right belongs to a different category of rights altogether for it Finally, the centerpiece of LGC is the system of decentralization26 as expressly mandated by the Constitution.
concerns nothing less than self-preservation and self-perpetuation—aptly and fittingly stressed by the Indispensable to decentralization is devolution and the LGC expressly provides that ―[a]nyprovision on a power of
petitioners—the advancement of which may even be said to predate all governments and constitutions. As a matter a local government unit shall be liberally interpreted in its favor, and in case of doubt, any question thereon shall
of fact, these basic rights need not even be written in the Constitution for they are assumed to exist from the be resolved in favor of devolution of powers and of the lower local government unit. Any fair and reasonable
inception of humankind. If they are now explicitly mentioned in the fundamental charter, it is because of the well- doubt as to the existence of the power shall be interpreted in favor of the local government unit concerned.‖
founded fear of its framers that unless the rights to a balanced and healthful ecology and to health are mandated as Devolution refers to the act by which the National Government confers power and authority upon the various local
state policies by the Constitution itself, thereby highlighting their continuing importance and imposing upon the government units to perform specific functions and responsibilities.
state a solemn obligation to preserve the first and protect and advance the second, the day would not be too far
One of the devolved powers enumerated in the section of the LGC on devolution is the enforcement of fishery
when all else would be lost not only for the present generation, but also for those to come—generations which
laws in municipal waters including the conservation of mangroves. This necessarily includes the enactment of
stand to inherit nothing but parched earth incapable of sustaining life.
ordinances to effectively carry out such fishery laws within the municipal waters.

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The term ―municipal waters,‖ in turn, includes not only streams, lakes, and tidal waters within the municipality, 447(a)(1)(vi), 458(a)(1)(vi) and 468(a)(1)(vi), which unquestionably involve the exercise of police power, the
not being the subject of private ownership and not comprised within the national parks, public forest, timber lands, validity of the questioned Ordinances cannot be doubted.
forest reserves, or fishery reserves, but also marine waters included between two lines drawn perpendicularly to
the general coastline from points where the boundary lines of the municipality or city touch the sea at low tide and Parenthetically, we wish to add that these Ordinances find full support under R.A. No. 7611, otherwise known as
a third line parallel with the general coastline and fifteen kilometers from it. Under P.D. No. 704, the marine the Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) for Palawan Act, approved on 19 June 1992. This statute adopts a
waters included in municipal waters is limited to three nautical miles from the general coastline using the above ―comprehensive framework for the sustainable development of Palawan compatible with protecting and enhancing
perpendicular lines and a third parallel line. the natural resources and endangered environment of the province,‖ which ―shall serve to guide the local
government of Palawan and the government agencies concerned in the formulation and implementation of plans,
These ―fishery laws‖ which local government units may enforce under Section 17(b)(2)(i) in municipal waters programs and projects affecting said province.‖
include: (1) P.D. No. 704; (2) P.D. No. 1015 which, inter alia, authorizes the establishment of a ―closed season‖ in
any Philippine water if necessary for conservation or ecological purposes; (3) P.D. No. 1219 which provides for At this time then, it would be appropriate to determine the relation between the assailed Ordinances and the
the exploration, exploitation, utilization and conservation of coral resources; (4) R.A. No. 5474, as amended by aforesaid powers of the SangguniangPanlungsod of the City of Puerto Princesa and the SangguniangPanlalawigan
B.P. Blg. 58, which makes it unlawful for any person, association or corporation to catch or cause to be caught, of the Province of Palawan to protect the environment. To begin, we ascertain the purpose of the Ordinances as set
sell, offer to sell, purchase, or have in possession any of the fish species called gobiidae or ―ipon‖ during closed forth in the statement of purposes or declaration of policies quoted earlier.
season; and (5) R.A. No. 6451 which prohibits and punishes electrofishing, as well as various issuances of the
BFAR. It is clear to the Court that both Ordinances have two principal objectives or purposes: (1) to establish a ―closed
season‖ for the species of fish or aquatic animals covered therein for a period of five years; and (2) to protect the
To those specifically devolved insofar as the control and regulation of fishing in municipal waters and the coral in the marine waters of the City of Puerto Princesa and the Province of Palawan from further destruction due
protection of its marine environment are concerned, must be added the following: to illegal fishing activities.

1. Issuance of permits to construct fish cages within municipal waters; The accomplishment of the first objective is well within the devolved power to enforce fishery laws in municipal
waters, such as P.D. No. 1015, which allows the establishment of ―closed seasons.‖ The devolution of such power
2. Issuance of permits to gather aquarium fishes within municipal waters; has been expressly confirmed in the Memorandum of Agreement of 5 April 1994 between the Department of
Agriculture and the Department of Interior and Local Government.
3. Issuance of permits to gather kapis shells within municipal waters;
The realization of the second objective clearly falls within both the general welfare clause of the LGC and the
4. Issuance of permits to gather/culture shelled mollusks within municipal waters; express mandate thereunder to cities and provinces to protect the environment and impose appropriate penalties
for acts which endanger the environment.
5. Issuance of licenses to establish seaweed farms within municipal waters;
The destruction of coral reefs results in serious, if not irreparable, ecological imbalance, for coral reefs are among
6. Issuance of licenses to establish culture pearls within municipal waters; nature‘s life-support systems. They collect, retain and recycle nutrients for adjacent nearshore areas such as
mangroves, seagrass beds, and reef flats; provide food for marine plants and animals; and serve as a protective
7. Issuance of auxiliary invoice to transport fish and fishery products; and
shelter for aquatic organisms. It is said that ―[e]cologically, the reefs are to the oceans what forests are to
8. Establishment of ―closed season‖ in municipal waters. continents: they are shelter and breeding grounds for fish and plant species that will disappear without them.‖

These functions are covered in the Memorandum of Agreement of 5 April 1994 between the Department of The prohibition against catching live fish stems, in part, from the modern phenomenon of live-fish trade which
Agriculture and the Department of Interior and Local Government. entails the catching of so-called exotic species of tropical fish, not only for aquarium use in the West, but also for
―the market for live banquet fish [which] is virtually insatiable in ever more affluent Asia.37 These exotic species
In light then of the principles of decentralization and devolution enshrined in the LGC and the powers granted are coral-dwellers, and fishermen catch them by ―diving in shallow water with corraline habitats and squirting
therein to local government units under Section 16 (the General Welfare Clause), and under Sections 149, sodium cyanide poison at passing fish directly or onto coral crevices; once affected the fish are immobilized
[merely stunned] and then scooped by hand.‖38 The diver then surfaces and dumps his catch into a submerged net
49 | P a g e
attached to the skiff. Twenty minutes later, the fish can swim normally. Back on shore, they are placed in holding In Executive Order No. 116 of 30 January 1987, which reorganized the MAF, the BFAR was retained as an
pens, and within a few weeks, they expel the cyanide from their system and are ready to be hauled. They are then attached agency of the MAF. And under the Administrative Code of 1987,43 the BFAR is placed under the Title
placed in saltwater tanks or packaged in plastic bags filled with seawater for shipment by air freight to major concerning the Department of Agriculture.
markets for live food fish. While the fish are meant to survive, the opposite holds true for their former home as
―[a]fter the fisherman squirts the cyanide, the first thing to perish is the reef algae, on which fish feed. Days later, Therefore, it is incorrect to say that the challenged Ordinance of the City of Puerto Princesa is invalid or
the living coral starts to expire. Soon the reef loses its function as habitat for the fish, which eat both the algae and unenforceable because it was not approved by the Secretary of the DENR. If at all, the approval that should be
invertebrates that cling to the coral. The reef becomes an underwater graveyard, its skeletal remains brittle, sought would be that of the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture. However, the requirement of approval by
bleached of all color and vulnerable to erosion from the pounding of the waves.‖ It has been found that cyanide the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture (not DENR) of municipal ordinances affecting fishing and fisheries
fishing kills most hard and soft corals within three months of repeated application. in municipal waters has been dispensed with in view of the following reasons: (1) Section 534 (Repealing Clause)
of the LGC expressly repeals or amends Sections 16 and 29 of P.D. No. 70445 insofar as they are inconsistent
The nexus then between the activities barred by Ordinance No. 15-92 of the City of Puerto Princesa and the with the provisions of the LGC.
prohibited acts provided in Ordinance No. 2, Series of 1993 of the Province of Palawan, on one hand, and the use
of sodium cyanide, on the other, is painfully obvious. In sum, the public purpose and reasonableness of the (2) As discussed earlier, under the general welfare clause of the LGC, local government units have the power,
Ordinances may not then be controverted. inter alia, to enact ordinances to enhance the right of the people to a balanced ecology. It likewise specifically
vests municipalities with the power to grant fishery privileges in municipal waters, and impose rentals, fees or
As to Office Order No. 23, Series of 1993, issued by Acting City Mayor Amado L. Lucero of the City of Puerto charges therefor; to penalize, by appropriate ordinances, the use of explosives, noxious or poisonous substances,
Princesa, we find nothing therein violative of any constitutional or statutory provision. The Order refers to the electricity, muro-ami, and other deleterious methods of fishing; and to prosecute any violation of the provisions of
implementation of the challenged ordinance and is not the Mayor‘s Permit. applicable fishery laws.46 Finally, it imposes upon the sangguniangbayan, the sangguniangpanlungsod, and the
sangguniangpanlalawigan the duty to enact ordinances to ―[p]rotect the environment and impose appropriate
The dissenting opinion of Mr. Justice Josue N. Bellosillo relies upon the lack of authority on the part of the penalties for acts which endanger the environment such as dynamite fishing and other forms of destructive fishing.
SangguniangPanlungsod of Puerto Princesa to enact Ordinance No. 15, Series of 1992, on the theory that the . . and such other activities which result in pollution, acceleration of eutrophication of rivers and lakes or of
subject thereof is within the jurisdiction and responsibility of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources ecological imbalance.‖
(BFAR) under P.D. No. 704, otherwise known as the Fisheries Decree of 1975; and that, in any event, the
Ordinance is unenforceable for lack of approval by the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), In closing, we commend the SangguniangPanlungsod of the City of Puerto Princesa and
likewise in accordance with P.D. No. 704. SangguniangPanlalawigan of the Province of Palawan for exercising the requisite political will to enact urgently
needed legislation to protect and enhance the marine environment, thereby sharing in the herculean task of
The majority is unable to accommodate this view. The jurisdiction and responsibility of the BFAR under P.D. No. arresting the tide of ecological destruction. We hope that other local government units shall now beroused from
704, over the management, conservation, development, protection, utilization and disposition of all fishery and their lethargy and adopt a more vigilant stand in the battle against the decimation of our legacy to future
aquatic resources of the country is not all-encompassing. First, Section 4 thereof excludes from such jurisdiction generations. At this time, the repercussions of any further delay in their response may prove disastrous, if not,
and responsibility municipal waters, which shall be under the municipal or city government concerned, except irreversible.
insofar as fishpens and seaweed culture in municipal centers are concerned. This section provides, however, that
all municipal or city ordinances and resolutions affecting fishing and fisheries and any disposition thereunder shall WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit and the temporary restraining order issued on
be submitted to the Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources for appropriate action and shall have full 11 November 1993 is LIFTED.
force and effect only upon his approval.
No pronouncement as to costs.
Second, it must at once be pointed out that the BFAR is no longer under the Department of Natural Resources
(now Department of Environment and Natural Resources). Executive Order No. 967 of 30 June 1984 transferred SO ORDERED.
the BFAR from the control and supervision of the Minister (formerly Secretary) of Natural Resources to the
Ministry of Agriculture and Food (MAF) and converted it into a mere staff agency thereof, integrating its
functions with the regional offices of the MAF.

50 | P a g e
Nos. L-49634-36.July 25, 1981.* the transferee already owns 29 hectares acquired under the Public Land Act, is null and void ab initio.—Now, the
BENJAMIN V. GUIANG and NATIVIDAD H. GUIANG; AURELIO B. HIQUIANA and PASTORA O. compromise agreement, executed on August 20, 1975 and here in dispute, provides for the transfer of a total of
HIQUIANA, petitioners, vs. FILOMENO C. KINTANAR and CORAZON B. KINTANAR; CORA ANN B. 146 hectares. It inevitably follows then that said compromise agreement contravenes not only a statute but the
KINTANAR, CORA LOU B. KINTANAR, FIL ROGER B. KINTANAR, private respondents, and Hon. fundamental law of the land. Adding to its being contrary to law, which undoubtedly is also covered by the public
Judge SERGIO APOSTOL, Quezon City Court of First Instance, Branch XVI, Quezon City, respondent.
policy expressed in the Constitution, is the fact that private respondents, the Kintanars, already owned at the time
Constitutional Law; Public Lands; Section 122 of the Public Land Act, on the maximum area of public lands that of the agreement a lot of 29 hectares which they had acquired also from the government pursuant to the Public
may be held, has been amended by Sec. 11, Art. XIV of the 1973 Constitution.—After mature deliberation and Land Act. Such being the situation, it is incontestable that under Paragraph (1) of Article 1409 of the Civil Code
consideration of pertinent principles of statutory and constitutional construction together with what appears to be said agreement is "inexistent and void from the beginning" since its "object or purpose is contrary to law—or
the obvious intent and objective of the legal and constitutional provisions relevant to the above issue, We public policy".
encounter no difficulty at all in holding that, as contended by petitioners, Section 122 of the Public Land Act has
been amended by no less than Section 11, Article XIV of the 1973 Constitution of the Philippines by reducing Same; Same; Same; Contracts; Prescription; The delay in asking for nullification of the approved compromise
agreement is of no consequence, as an action or defense for declaration of the inexistence of a contract does not
correspondingly the areas of the disposable public lands mentioned therein.
prescribe.—It is of no consequence, pursuant to the same article, that petitioners, the Guiang spouses, executed on
Same; Same; Same.—The argument about unintended "coincidence" in the limit of purchasable areas is too August 21, 1975, apparently in ratification of the impugned agreement, the deeds of sale covering the two lots
speculative, even puerile, to require any refutation. What to Us is clear and obvious is that when the Constitution already referred to and that petitioners actually received in part or in whole the money consideration stipulated
fixes a limit of the area of public lands that can be "acquired" by purchase by an individual, it follows as a matter therein, for according to the same Article 1409, contracts contemplated therein, as the one We are dealing with,
of logic that such is also the maximum area of land originating from the public domain that can be transferred to "cannot be ratified nor the defense of its illegality be waived." Neither is it material, much less decisive, that
him. True, lands once acquired from the government under the Act do become private property, as private petitioners had not earlier judicially moved to have the same annulled or set aside. Under Article 1410 of the Civil
respondent argues, but for reasons of public policy and interest implicit in Section 122 itself, such private Code, "(t)he action or defense for declaration of the inexistence of a contract does not prescribe.''
ownership is subject to the limitations stated therein. Proof of the strictness of the policy is that the prohibition or
injunction is automatically embodied in the Torrens Title issued to the purchaser. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; A conveyance of public land in excess of the Constitutional limitation is
malumprohibitum only not malum in se.—ln regard to the requirement that the agreement must not be illegal per
Same; Same; Same.—lt is Our considered opinion, and We so hold, consistently with the view of the Legal se, it might be contended that Our holding that the compromise under consideration is contrary to public policy
Division of the Bureau of Lands cited by petitioners in their petition (p. 14) that after the ratification of the removes the recovery of the two delivered lots and the further nonenforcement of the impugned orders of the trial
Philippine Constitution of 1973 on January 17, 1973, the maximum area of land acquired from the disposable court from the application of Article 1416. We hold it is not so. Any act in violation of the limitations and
public domain that can be transferred or assigned to another party by the original patentee, purchaser or prohibitions herein involved is malumprohibitum, not malum in se.
homesteader became 24 hectares (instead of the 144 hectares under the 1973 Constitution), thereby reducing
Same; Same; Contracts; A contract illegal per se defined and distinguished by contracts against public policy.—
correspondingly the 144-hectare limitation set in Section 122 to only 24 hectares. We hereby adopt as Our own the
subsequent opinion of the Director of Lands quoted not only in the petition, as already stated, but also in An act or contract that is illegal per se is one that by universally recognized standards is inherently or by its very
petitioners' "Motion Ex-Parte for Earliest Decision of the Above-Entitled Case" dated October 7, 1980. nature bad, improper, immoral or contrary to good conscience. On the other hand, what is contrary to public policy
may not be necessarily universally so, for public policy, like public interests, whether expressed in a Constitution
Same; Same; Same; The 1973 Constitution reduced to only 24 hectares (formerly 144) the maximum area of or in any statute or official declaration of the duly constituted authorities or evinced from the situation or
public land that may be transferred by any purchaser, patentee or homesteader thereof.—Earlier, in resolving the circumstances of the time concerned, is something dictared by the conditions obtaining within each country or
first issue between the parties, as formulated by Us, We came to the inevitable conclusion that Section 122 of the nation. Indeed, in respect to the very matter under discussion, namely, the limitation and control of the disposition
Public Land Act has been amended by the 1973 Constitution by reducing the area of land acquired under the Act of lands of the public domain, every government in the world can have its own distinct policy suitable and peculiar
that could be transferred by any purchaser, patentee or homesteader to only 24 hectares instead of the 144 hectares to its internal interests, including the history, mores, customs and traditions of the people thereof. For instance, the
allowed under the 1935 Constitution. provisions of our Constitution and our laws covering such matter and the others relative to the conservation of our
natural resources exclusively for us, Filipinos, are easily distinguishable from those of the Constitutions and laws
Same; Same; Judgments; A compromise agreement approved by the trial court under which one party conveys to of the United States, Russia, England, Singapore, Malaysia, etc., etc. Thus, the juridical concept of what is illegal
the other an area of land, previously acquired from the Government, of more than 24 hectares, especially where per se cannot be necessarily equated with what is contrary to public policy in all instances.

51 | P a g e
Same; Same; Same; Article 1416 of the new Civil Code is applicable to conveyances of public land made in G.R. No. 135385. December 6, 2000.*
excess of Constitutional limitations.—As already stated earlier, under Article 1410 of the Civil Code, "the action ISAGANI CRUZ and CESAR EUROPA, petitioners, vs. SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT AND
or defense for the declaration of inexistence of a contract does not prescribe" just as under Article 1409, "(n)either NATURAL RESOURCES, SECRETARY OF BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT and CHAIRMAN and
can the right to set up such defense of illegality be waived." From which it is clearly implicit that one against COMMISSIONERS OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES,respondents.
x ----------------------------------------------------------------------- x
whom the doctrine is invoked may deny its application whether he be plaintiff or defendant, or the movant or
oppositor. Here, private respondents are the movants for enforcement. We hold that as oppositors to such motion, HON. JUAN M. FLAVIER, HON. PONCIANO BENNAGEN, BAYANI ASCARRAGA, EDTAMI
petitioners are in the right in putting up the defense that the agreement and orders sought to be enforced are MANSAYANGAN, BASILIO WANDAG, EVELYN DUNUAN, YAOM TUGAS, ALFREMO CARPIANO,
contrary to public policy and that the said agreement is not illegal per se, hence, Article 1416 affords relief to LIBERATO A. GABIN, MATERNIDAD M. COLAS, NARCISA M. DALUPINES, BAI KIRAM-CONNIE
them. SATURNO, BAE MALOMO-BEATRIZ T. ABASALA, DATU BALITUNGTUNG-ANTONIO D.
LUMANDONG, DATU MANTUMUKAW TEOFISTO SABASALES, DATU EDUARDO BANDA, DATU
Contracts; Leases; A contract that is clearly a sale cannot be characterized as a lease to avoid being declared null
JOEL UNAD, DATU RAMON BAYAAN, TIMUAY JOSE ANOY, TIMUAY MACARIO D. SALACAO,
and void.—Petitioners suggest that to avoid entire invalidity of the questioned agreement, it be construed merely
TIMUAY EDWIN B. ENDING, DATU SAHAMPONG MALANAW VI, DATU BEN PENDAO CABIGON,
as a lease. We are loath to follow the suggestion for the simple reason that it is juridicallydoubtful how a contract
BAI NANAPNAY-LIZA SAWAY, BAI INAY DAYA-MELINDA S. REYMUNDO, BAI TINANGHAGA
worded in the clearest tenor as one of transfer or conveyance of the title or ownership of the property concerned
HELINITA T. PANGAN, DATU MAKAPUKAW ADOLINO L. SAWAY, DATU MAUDAYAW-CRISPEN
itself could be construed as merely a lease thereof . We believe and so hold that it would be simplest and best to let
SAWAY, VICKY MAKAY, LOURDES D. AMOS, GILBERT P. HOGGANG, TERESA GASPAR, MANUEL
the natural consequence of the constitutional invalidity, which We here declare, of the compromise agreement and
S. ONALAN, MIA GRACE L. GIRON, ROSEMARIE G. PE, BENITO CARINO, JOSEPH JUDE CARANTES,
of the decision based thereon as well as the subsequent orders of execution of such decision be allowed to f ollow
LYNETTE CARANTES-VIVAL, LANGLEY SEGUNDO, SATUR S. BUGNAY, CARLING DOMULOT,
its natural course.
ANDRES MENDIGORIN, LEOPOLDO ABUGAN, VIRGILIO CAYETANO, CONCHITA G. DESCAGA,
PETITION for certiorari and mandamus to review the decision of the Court of First Instance of Quezon City, LEVY ESTEVES, ODETTE G. ESTEVEZ, RODOLFO C. AGUILAR, MAURO VALONES, PEPE H. ATONG,
Branch XVI.Apostol, J. OFELIA T. DAVI, PERFECTO B. GUINOSAO, WALTER N. TIMOL, MANUEL T. SELEN, OSCAR
DALUNHAY, RICO O. SULATAN, RAFFY MALINDA, ALFREDO ABILLANOS, JESSIE ANDILAB,
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. MIRLANDO H. MANGKULINTAS, SAMIE SATURNO, ROMEO A. LINDAHAY, ROEL S.
MANSANGCAGAN, PAQUITO S. LIESES, FILIPE G. SAWAY, HERMINIA S. SAWAY, JULIUS S.
BARREDO, J.: SAWAY, LEONARDA SAWAY, JIMMY UGYUB, SALVADOR TIONGSON, VENANCIO APANG,
MADION MALID, SUKIM MALID, NENENG MALID, MANGKATADONG AUGUSTO DIANO,
Petition filed on January 15, 1979 for certiorari and mandamus seeking the setting aside of the decision and the JOSEPHINE M. ALBESO, MORENO MALID, MARIO MANGCAL, FELAY DIAMILING, SALOME P.
two orders subsequent thereto of respondent judge dated August 20, 1975 and November 14, 1978 and December SARZA, FELIFE P. BAGON, SAMMY SALNUNGAN, ANTONIO D. EMBA, NORMA MAPANSA GONOS,
27, 1978, respectively, as acts committed in grave abuse of discretion, the compromise agreement on which said ROMEO SALIGA, SR., JERSON P. GERADA, RENATO T. BAGON, JR., SARING MASALONG, SOLEDAD
decision was based being allegedly in contravention of the Constitution and the Public Land Act, hence the M. GERARDA, ELIZABETH L. MENDI, MORANTE S. TIWAN, DANILO M. MALUDAO, MINORS
execution thereof under the two questioned subsequent orders had no legal basis. MARICEL MALID, represented by her father CORNELIO MALID, MARCELINO M. LADRA, represented by
her father MONICO D. LADRA, JENNYLYN MALID, represented by her father TONY MALID, ARIEL M.
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered granting the herein petition and declaring the rights of the parties to EVANGELISTA, represented by her mother LINAY BALBUENA, EDWARD M. EMUY, SR., SUSAN
be as they are stated above in the paragraph preceding the penultimate one of the above opinion. Costs against BOLANIO, OND, PULA BATO B‘LAAN TRIBAL FARMER‘S ASSOCIATION, INTER-PEOPLE‘S
private respondents. It is so ordered. EXCHANGE, INC. and GREEN FORUM-WESTERN VISAYAS, intervenor.

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COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, intervenor.

x ----------------------------------------------------------------------- x
52 | P a g e
IKALAHAN INDIGENOUS PEOPLE and HARIBON FOUNDATION FOR THE CONSERVATION OF PER CURIAM:
NATURAL RESOURCES, INC., intervenor.
Petitioners Isagani Cruz and Cesar Europa brought this suit for prohibition and mandamus as citizens and
Supreme Court; Judgments; Judicial Review; Where the votes in the Court en banc are equally divided and the taxpayers, assailing the constitutionality of certain provisions of Republic Act No. 8371 (R.A. 8371), otherwise
necessary majority is not obtained, the case is redeliberated upon, but if after deliberation, the votingremains the known as the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA), and its Implementing Rules and Regulations
same, the petition is dismissed pursuant to Rule 56, Section 7 of the Rules of Civil Procedure.—After due (Implementing Rules).
deliberation on the petition, the members of the Court voted as follows: Seven (7) voted to dismiss the petition.
Justice Kapunan filed an opinion, which the Chief Justice and Justices Bellosillo, Quisumbing, and Santiago join, In its resolution of September 29, 1998, the Court required respondents to comment.1 In compliance, respondents
sustaining the validity of the challenged provisions of R.A. 8371. Justice Puno also filed a separate opinion Chairperson and Commissioners of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), the government
sustaining all challenged provisions of the law with the exception of Section 1, Part II, Rule III of NCIP agency created under the IPRA to implement its provisions, filed on October 13, 1998 their Comment to the
Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1998, the Rules and Regulations Implementing the IPRA, and Section 57 of Petition, in which they defend the constitutionality of the IPRA andpray that thepetitionbedismissed for lack of
the IPRA which he contends should be interpreted as dealing with the large-scale exploitation of natural resources merit.
and should be read in conjunction with Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. On the other hand, Justice
Mendoza voted to dismiss the petition solely on the ground that it does not raise a justiciable controversy and On October 19, 1998, respondents Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)
petitioners do not have standing to question the constitutionality of R.A. 8371. Seven (7) other members of the and Secretary of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) filed through the Solicitor General a
Court voted to grant the petition. Justice Panganiban filed a separate opinion expressing the view that Sections 3 consolidated Comment. The Solicitor General is of the view that the IPRA is partly unconstitutional on the ground
(a)(b), 5, 6, 7 (a)(b), 8, and related provisions of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional. He reserves judgment on the that it grants ownership over natural resources to indigenouspeoples and prays thatthepetitionbegranted in part.
constitutionality of Sections 58, 59, 65, and 66 of the law, which he believes must await the filing of specific cases
On November 10, 1998, a group of intervenors, composed of Sen. Juan Flavier, one of the authors of the IPRA,
by those whose rights may have been violated by the IPRA. Justice Vitug also filed a separate opinion expressing
Mr. PoncianoBennagen, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, and the leaders and members of 112
the view that Sections 3(a), 7, and 57 of R.A. 8371 are unconstitutional. Justices Melo, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-
groups of indigenous peoples (Flavier, et al.), filed their Motion for Leave to Intervene. They join the NCIP in
Reyes, and De Leon join in the separate opinions of Justices Panganiban and Vitug. As the votes were equally
defending the constitutionality of IPRA and praying for the dismissal of the petition.
divided (7 to 7) and the necessary majority was not obtained, the case was redeliberated upon. However, after
redeliberation, the voting remained the same. Accordingly, pursuant to Rule 56, Section 7 of the Rules of Civil On March 22, 1999, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) likewise filed a Motion to Intervene and/or to
Procedure, the petition is DISMISSED. Appear as Amicus Curiae. The CHR asserts that IPRA is an expression of the principle of parenspatriae and that
the State has the responsibility to protect and guarantee the rights of those who are at a serious disadvantage like
SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court.Certiorari and Prohibition.
indigenous peoples. For this reason it prays that the petition be dismissed.
The facts are stated in the resolution of the Court.
On March 23, 1999, another group, composed of the Ikalahan Indigenous People and the Haribon Foundation for
Barbara Anne C. Migallos& Troy A. Luna, Raymond Parsifal A. Fortun&Bienvenido O. Bulatao for petitioners. the Conservation of Natural Resources, Inc. (Haribon, et al.), filed a Motion to Intervene with attached Comment-
in-Intervention. They agree with the NCIP and Flavier, et al. that IPRA is consistent with the Constitution and
The Solicitor General for respondents. pray that the petition for prohibition and mandamus be dismissed.

Luna, Bonpin,Perez& Associates for intervenors. The motions for intervention of the aforesaid groups and organizations were granted.

Rodolfo C. Rapista for intervenors-oppositors. Oral arguments were heard on April 13, 1999. Thereafter, the parties and intervenors filed their respective
memoranda in which they reiterate the arguments adduced in their earlier pleadings and during the hearing.
LeileneCarantes-San Juan for Sioco-Cariño Family.
Petitioners assail the constitutionality of the following provisions of the IPRA and its Implementing Rules on the
R E S O L U TI O N ground that they amount to an unlawful deprivation of the State‘s ownership over lands of the public domain as

53 | P a g e
well as minerals and other natural resources therein, in violation of the regalian doctrine embodied in Section 2, ―(3) Section 63 which provides the customary law, traditions and practices of indigenous peoples shall be
Article XII of the Constitution: applied first with respect to property rights, claims of ownership, hereditary succession and settlement of land
disputes, and that any doubt or ambiguity in the interpretation thereof shall be resolvedinfavorof the indigenous
―(1) Section 3(a) which defines the extent and coverage of ancestral domains, and Section 3(b) which, in turn, peoples;
defines ancestral lands;
―(4) Section 65 which states that customary laws and practices shall be used to resolve disputes involving
―(2) Section 5, in relation to section 3(a), which provides that ancestral domains including inalienable public indigenous peoples; and
lands, bodies of water, mineral and other resources found within ancestral domains are private but community
property of the indigenous peoples; ―(5) Section 66 which vests on the NCIP the jurisdiction over all claims and disputes involving rights of
theindigenous peoples.‖
―(3) Section 6 in relation to Section 3(a) and 3(b) which defines the composition of ancestral domains and
ancestral lands; Finally, petitioners assail the validity of Rule VII, Part II, Section 1 of the NCIP Administrative Order No. 1,
series of 1998, which provides that ―the administrative relationship of the NCIP to the Office of the President is
―(4) Section 7 which recognizes and enumerates the rights of the indigenous peoples over theancestral domains; characterized as a lateral but autonomous relationship for purposes of policy and program coordination.‖ They
contend that said Rule infringes upon the President‘s power of control over executive departments under Section
―(5) Section 8 which recognizes and enumerates the rights of the indigenous peoples over theancestrallands; 17,Article VII of the Constitution.

―(6) Section 57 which provides for priority rights of the indigenous peoples in the harvesting, extraction, Petitionerspray for the following:
development or exploration of minerals and other natural resources within the areas claimed to be their ancestral
domains, and the right to enter into agreements with non-indigenous peoples for the development and utilization ―(1) A declaration that Sections 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 52[i], 57, 58, 59, 63, 65 and 66 and other related provisions of R.A.
of natural resources therein for a period not exceeding 25 years, renewable for not more than 25 years;and 8371 are unconstitutional and invalid;

―(7) Section 58 which gives the indigenous peoples the responsibility to maintain, develop, protect and conserve ―(2) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Chairperson and Commissioners of the NCIP to cease
the ancestral domains and portions thereof which are found to be necessary for critical watersheds, mangroves, and desist from implementing theassailed provisions of R.A.8371 and its Implementing Rules;
wildlife sanctuaries, wilderness, protected areas, forest cover or reforestation.‖2
―(3) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural
Petitioners also contend that, by providing for an allencompassing definition of ―ancestral domains‖ and ―ancestral Resources to cease and desist from implementing Department of Environment and Natural Resources CircularNo.
lands‖ which might even include private lands found within said areas, Sections 3(a) and 3(b) violate the rights of 2, series of 1998;
private landowners.
―(4) The issuance of a writ of prohibition directing the Secretary of Budget and Management to cease and desist
In addition, petitioners question the provisions of the IPRA defining the powers and jurisdiction of the NCIP and from disbursing public funds for the implementation of the assailed provisions of R.A. 8371; and
making customary law applicable to the settlement of disputes involving ancestral domains and ancestral lands on
the ground that these provisions violate the due process clause of the Constitution. These provisions are: ―(5) The issuance of a writ of mandamus commanding the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources to
comply with his duty of carrying out the State‘s constitutional mandate to control and supervise the exploration,
―(1) Sections 51 to 53 and 59 which detail the process of delineation and recognition of ancestral domains and development, utilization and conservation of Philippine natural resources.‖
which vest on the NCIP the sole authority todelineateancestraldomainsand ancestral lands;
After due deliberation on the petition, the members of the Court voted as follows:
―(2) Section 52[i] which provides that upon certification by the NCIP that a particular area is an ancestral
domain and upon notification to the following officials, namely, the Secretary of Environment and Natural Seven (7) voted to dismiss the petition. Justice Kapunan filed an opinion, which the Chief Justice and Justices
Resources, Secretary of Interior and Local Governments, Secretary of Justice and Commissioner of the National Bellosillo, Quisumbing, and Santiago join, sustaining the validity of the challenged provisions of R.A. 8371.
Development Corporation, the jurisdiction of said officials oversaid area terminates; Justice Puno also filed a separate opinion sustaining all challenged provisions of the law with the exception of

54 | P a g e
Section 1, Part II, Rule III of NCIP Administrative Order No. 1, series of 1998, the Rules and Regulations expressly or impliedly, evincing a direct intention to create a trust, but one that arises in order to satisfy the
Implementing the IPRA, and Section 57 of the IPRA which he contends should be interpreted as dealing with the demands of justice. It does not come about by agreement or intention but in main by operation of law construed
large-scale exploitation of natural resources and should be read in conjunction with Section 2, Article XII of the against one who, by fraud, duress or abuse of confidence, obtains or holds the legal right to property which he
1987 Constitution. On the other hand, Justice Mendoza voted to dismiss the petition solely on the ground that it ought not, in equity and good conscience, to hold.
does not raise a justiciable controversy and petitioners do not have standing toquestion the constitutionality of
R.A. 8371. Same; Same; In order to establish an implied trust in real property by parol evidence, the proof should be as fully
convincing as if the acts giving rise to the trust obligation are proven by an authentic document.–One basic
Seven (7) other members of the Court voted to grant the petition. Justice Panganiban filed a separate opinion distinction between an implied trust and an express trust is that while the former may be established by parol
expressing the view that Sections 3 (a)(b), 5, 6, 7 (a)(b), 8, and related provisions of R.A. 8371 are evidence, the latter cannot. Even then, in order to establish an implied trust in real property by parol evidence, the
unconstitutional. He reserves judgment on the constitutionality of Sections 58, 59, 65, and 66 of the law, which he proof should be as fully convincing as if the acts giving rise to the trust obligation are proven by an authentic
believes must await the filing of specific cases by those whose rights may have been violated by the IPRA. Justice document. An implied trust, in fine, cannot be established upon vague and inconclusive proof.
Vitug also filed a separate opinion expressing the view that Sections 3(a), 7, and 57 of R.A. 8371 are
unconstitutional. Justices Melo, Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, and De Leon join in the separate opinions of PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals.
Justices Panganiban and Vitug.
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
As the votes were equally divided (7 to 7) and the necessary majority was not obtained, the case was redeliberated
upon. However, after redeliberation, the voting remained the same. Accordingly, pursuant to Rule 56, Section 7 of Siruelo, Muyco& Associates for petitioners.
the Rules of Civil Procedure, thepetition is DISMISSED.
Rico & Associates for private respondents.
Attached hereto and made integral parts thereof are the separate opinions of Justices Puno, Vitug, Kapunan,
VITUG, J.:
Mendoza, and Panganiban.
What in essence petitioners seek is the enforcement of an alleged trust agreement between Lorenzo Yap, now
SO ORDERED.Davide, Jr. (C.J.), Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Panganiban, Quisumbing,
deceased, and his brothers Ramon and Benjamin, herein co-respondents, covering a piece of land and its
Pardo, Buena, Gonzaga-Reyes, Ynares-Santiago and De Leon, Jr., JJ., concur.
improvement. The case and factual settings found by the Court of Appeals do not appear to deviate significantly
G.R. No. 133047. August 17, 1999.* from that priorly made by the trial court.
HEIRS OF LORENZO YAP, namely SALLY SUN YAP, MARGARET YAP-UY and MANUEL YAP,
petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, RAMON YAP and BENJAMIN YAP, Sometime in February 1966, Ramon Yap purchased a parcel of land situated at 123 (formerly 75) Batanes Street,
respondents. Galas, Quezon City, covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. 82001/T-414, from the spouses Carlos and
Josefina Nery. The lot was thereupon registered in the name of Ramon Yap under Transfer Certificate of Title No.
Civil Law; Trust; A trust may either be express or implied; Implied trusts are ordinarily subdivided into resulting 102132; forthwith, he also declared the property in his name for tax purposes and paid the real estate taxes due
and constructive trusts.–A trust may either be express or implied. Express trusts are those which are created by the thereon from 1966 to 1992. In 1967, Ramon Yap constructed a two-storey 3-door apartment building for the use of
direct and positive acts of the parties, by some writing or deed, or will, or by words evincing an intention to create the Yap family. One-fifth (1/5) of the cost of the construction was defrayed by Ramon Yap while the rest was
a trust. Implied trusts are those which, without being express, are deducible from the nature of the transaction as shouldered by Chua Mia, the mother of Lorenzo, Benjamin and Ramon. Upon its completion, the improvement
matters of intent or, independently of the particular intention of the parties, as being superinduced on the was declared for real estate tax purposes in the name of Lorenzo Yap in deference to the wishes of the old woman.
transaction by operation of law basically by reason of equity. These species of implied trust are ordinarily
subdivided into resulting and constructive trusts. A resulting trust is one that arises by implication of law and Lorenzo Yap died on 11 July 1970. A few months later, his heirs (herein petitioners) left their family dwelling in
presumed always to have been contemplated by the parties, the intention as to which can be found in the nature of LucenaCity to reside permanently in Manila. Ramon Yap allowed petitioners to use one unit of the apartment
their transaction although not expressed in a deed or instrument of conveyance. Resulting trusts are based on the building.
equitable doctrine that it is the more valuable consideration than the legal title that determines the equitable
interest in property. Upon the other hand, a constructive trust is a trust not created by any word or phrase, either

55 | P a g e
On 18 March 1992, Ramon Yap sold the land and his share of the 3-door apartment to his brother, his herein co- ―I
respondent Benjamin Yap, for the sum of P337,500.00 pursuant to a Deed of Sale, recorded on even date in the
Memorandum of Encumbrances of the title to said property. Transfer Certificate of Title No. 73002 was in due ―THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT HOLDS
time issued in the name of Benjamin Yap. THAT DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS FATHER, LORENZO YAP, BEING CHINESE CAN NOT ENTER
INTO A TRUST AGREEMENT AND THE EXISTENCE OF A TRUST AGREEMENT CAN NOT BE
The controversy started when herein petitioners, by a letter of 08 June 1992, advised respondents of the former‘s PROVEN BEING CHINESE.
claim of ownership over the property and demanded that respondents execute the proper deed necessary to transfer
the title to them. At about the same time, petitioners filed a case for ejectment against one of the bonafide tenants ―II
of the property.
―THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT HOLDS
On 29 July 1992, respondents filed an action with the Regional Trial Court (―RTC–) of Quezon City, docketed THAT THE FAILURE TO SHOW WRITTEN TRUST AGREEMENT RENDERS THE ALLEGED
Civil Case No. Q-92-12899, for quieting of title against petitioners. In their answer, petitioners averred that AGREEMENT UNENFORCEABLE BY NOT CONSIDERING THE SAME AS ONE UNDER IMPLIED
sometime in 1966 the spouses Carlos and Josefina Nery offered to sell the disputed parcel of land to their TRUST.
predecessor-in-interest, Lorenzo Yap, for the sum of P15,000.00. Since Lorenzo and his wife Sally Yap were at
that time Chinese citizens, Lorenzo requested his brother Ramon to allow the use of the latter‘s name in the ―III
purchase, registration, and declaration for tax purposes of the subject lot to which Ramon Yap consented. It was
―THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT HOLDS
agreed that the property would remain registered in the name of Ramon Yap until such time as Lorenzo would
THAT PAROL EVIDENCE AND/OR STATUTE OF FRAUDS APPLIED IN THE CASE AT BAR.
have acquired Philippine citizenship but that, should Lorenzo pre-decease, the lot would then be transferred to
Lorenzo‘s heirs upon the latter‘s naturalization. Petitioner‘s contended that it was Lorenzo who had caused the ―IV
construction of the 3-door apartment on the property, merely entrusting the money therefor to Ramon Yap. The
death of Lorenzo in 1970 prompted petitioners to move in and occupy the apartment and lot, without any objection ―THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT HOLDS
from Ramon and Benjamin, although the latter were allowed to stay in the premises since they had no other place THAT APPELLANTS HAVE TO REFUTE THE DEED OF SALE EXECUTED BY THE NERY SPOUSES IN
to live in. In 1991, petitioners acquired Philippine citizenship and, forthwith, they requested Ramon Yap to have FAVOR OF RAMON YAP BY CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE NOTWITHSTANDING
the title to the lot transferred to their names but to their chagrin they discovered that Ramon had sold the lot to his ADMISSION OF THE SAID DEED OF SALE.
co-respondent Benjamin.
―V
Assessing the evidence before it, the trial court found for the respondents and adjudged Benjamin Yap to be the
true and lawful owner of the disputed property. ―THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT DID NOT
CONSIDER THAT IN TRUST THE TITLE IS IN THE NAME OF THE TRUSTEE AND NOT IN THE NAME
On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the decision of the trial court and debunked the claim of petitioners that OF THE NAKED OWNER.
Ramon Yap was merely so used as a dummy by Lorenzo Yap. Giving full weight and credit to the Deed of Sale
executed by the Nery spouses in favor of Ramon Yap, the appellate court stressed that to overcome the ―VI
presumption of regularity in the execution of a public document, the evidence to the contrary should be clear and
convincing even as it was equally incumbent upon petitioners to show that the subsequent sale of the property to ―THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED WHEN IT HOLDS THAT RAMON YAP CAN NOT BE
Benjamin had only been simulated and fictitious. The appellate court, however, deleted the award of attorney‘s A DUMMY OF LORENZO YAP BEING ALIEN AND DISQUALIFIED TO OWN REAL PROPERTY.
fees in favor of respondents for, in its view, it was not adequately shown that petitioners had acted in bad faith in
pursuing their case. ―VII

Petitioners are now before this Court seeking a reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals and contending ―THE RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN NOT DECLARING THE TITLE IN THE NAME OF
that– RAMON YAP VOID BEING ACQUIRED AS DUMMY.

56 | P a g e
―VIII tolerate bad faith nor to subvert, directly or indirectly, the law. The trust agreement between Ramon and Lorenzo,
if indeed extant, would have been in contravention of, in fact, the fundamental law. Then Section 5, Article XIII,
―THAT RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT RULED of the 1935 Constitution has provided that–
THAT BENJAMIN YAP HAS POSSESSION OF APARTMENT UNIT 123 LIKEWISE OWNERSHIP
PERSONAL PROPERTIES THEREIN ON THE BASIS OF THE INVENTORY OF THE SHERIFF OF THE ―Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private agricultural land shall be transferred or assigned except to
COURT A QUO BY WAY OF A SUBSEQUENT MANDATORY INJUNCTION WHICH WAS DENIED.–1 individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain in the
Philippines.–
The Court finds no merit in the appeal.
The mandate has also been adopted in Section 14, Article XIV, of the 1973 Constitution and now reiterated under
To begin with, a brief discussion on the trust relation between two parties could be helpful. A trust may either be Section 7, Article XII, of the 1987 Constitution. A trust or a provision in the terms of a trust would be invalid if
express or implied. Express trusts are those which are created by the direct and positive acts of the parties, by the enforcement of the trust or provision is against the law even though its performance does not involve the
some writing or deed, or will, or by words evincing an intention to create a trust. Implied trusts are those which, commission of a criminal or tortuous act. It likewise must follow that what the parties are not allowed to do
without being express, are deducible from the nature of the transaction as matters of intent or, independently of the expressly is one that they also may not do impliedly as, for instance, in the guise of a resulting trust.
particular intention of the parties, as being superinduced on the transaction by operation of law basically by reason
of equity. These species of implied trust are ordinarily subdivided into resulting and constructive trusts. A The foregoing disquisition renders unnecessary the resolution of the incidental issues raised in the petition.
resulting trust is one that arises by implication of law and presumed always to have been contemplated by the
parties, the intention as to which can be found in the nature of their transaction although not expressed in a deed or WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED, and the decision of the respondent Court of Appeals of 08 January
instrument of conveyance.6 Resulting trusts are based on the equitable doctrine that it is the more valuable 1998 in C.A.-G.R. CV No. 46838 is AFFIRMED. Costs against petitioners.
consideration than the legal title that determines the equitable interest in property. Upon the other hand, a
constructive trust is a trust not created by any word or phrase, either expressly or impliedly, evincing a direct SO ORDERED.
intention to create a trust, but one that arises in order to satisfy the demands of justice. It does not come about by
G.R. No. 128195. October 3, 2001.*
agreement or intention but in main by operation of law construed against one who, by fraud, duress or abuse of
ELIZABETH LEE and PACITA YU LEE, HON. JUDGE JOSE D. ALOVERA,** Presiding Judge,
confidence, obtains or holds the legal right to property which he ought not, in equity and good conscience, to hold. Regional Trial Court, Branch 17, Roxas City, THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF ROXAS CITY, petitioners,
vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS AND THE
One basic distinction between an implied trust and an express trust is that while the former may be established by ADMINISTRATOR, LAND REGISTRATION AUTHORITY and THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS,**
parol evidence, the latter cannot. Even then, in order to establish an implied trust in real property by parol respondents.
evidence, the proof should be as fully convincing as if the acts giving rise to the trust obligation are proven by an
authentic document. An implied trust, in fine, cannot be established upon vague and inconclusive proof.
Land Titles; Reconstitution; Words and Phrases; The reconstitution of a certificate of title denotes restoration in
Unfortunately for petitioners, the issues they submit in the case at bar boil down to the appreciation of the the original form and condition of a lost or destroyed instrument attesting the title of a person to a piece of land.—
evidence presented. The Court of Appeals, sustaining the court a quo, has found the evidence submitted by The reconstitution of a certificate of title denotes restoration in the original form and condition of a lost or
petitioners to be utterly wanting, consisting mainly of the self-serving testimony of Sally Yap. She herself destroyed instrument attesting the title of a person to a piece of land. The purpose of the reconstitution of title is to
admitted that the business establishment of her husband Lorenzo was razed by fire in 1964 that would somehow have, after observing the procedures prescribed by law, the title reproduced in exactly the same way it has been
place to doubt the claim that he indeed had the means to purchase the subject land about two years later from the when the loss or destruction occurred.‖
Nery spouses. Upon the other hand, Ramon Yap was by then an accountant with apparent means to buy the
property himself. At all events, findings of fact by the Court of Appeals, particularly when consistent with those Same; Sales; In Pari Delicto; Prescription; In sales of real estate to aliens incapable of holding title thereto by
made by the trial court, should deserve utmost regard when not devoid of evidentiary support. No cogent reason virtue of the provisions of the Constitution, both the vendor and the vendee are deemed to have committed the
had been shown by petitioners for the Court to now hold otherwise. constitutional violation and being thus in pari delicto the courts will not afford protection to either party;
Prescription never lies against the State.—The fact that the Court did not annul the sale of the land to an alien did
Not to be dismissed, furthermore, is the long standing and broad doctrine of clean hands that will not allow the not validate the transaction, for it was still contrary to the constitutional proscription against aliens acquiring lands
creation or the use of a juridical relation, a trust whether express or implied included, to perpetrate fraud or of the public or private domain. However, the proper party to assail the illegality of the transaction was not the
57 | P a g e
parties to the transaction. ―In sales of real estate to aliens incapable of holding title thereto by virtue of the PARDO, J.:
provisions of the Constitution, both the vendor and the vendee are deemed to have committed the constitutional
violation and being thus in pari delicto the courts will not afford protection to either party.‖ The proper party to The case under consideration is a petition for review on certiorari of the decision1 of the Court of Appeals
assail the sale is the Solicitor General. This was what was done in this case when the Solicitor General initiated an nullifying that of the Regional Trial Court, Roxas City, in Reconstitution Case No. R- 1928, pertaining to Lot 398,
action for annulment of judgment of reconstitution of title. While it took the Republic more than sixty years to CapizCadastre, covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 3389.
assert itself, it is not barred from initiating such action. Prescription never lies against the State.
Sometime in March 1936, Rafael, Carmen, Francisco, Jr., Ramon, Lourdes, Mercedes, Concepcion, Mariano,
Same; Same; Same; If land is invalidly transferred to an alien who subsequently becomes a citizen or transfers it Jose, Loreto, Manuel, Rizal and Jimmy, all surnamed Dinglasan sold to Lee Liong, a Chinese citizen, a parcel of
to a citizen, the flaw in the original transaction is considered cured and the title of the transferee is rendered land with an approximate area of 1,631 square meters, designated as Lot 398 and covered by Original Certificate
valid.—The constitutional proscription on alien ownership of lands of the public or private domain was intended of Title No. 3389, situated at the corner of Roxas Avenue and Pavia Street, Roxas City.
to protect lands from falling in the hands of non-Filipinos. In this case, however, there would be no more public
policy violated since the land is in the hands of Filipinos qualified to acquire and own such land. ―If land is However, in 1948, the former owners filed with the Court of First Instance, Capiz an action against the heirs of
invalidly transferred to an alien who subsequently becomes a citizen or transfers it to a citizen, the flaw in the Lee Liong for annulment of sale and recovery of land.4 The plaintiffs assailed the validity of the sale because of
original transaction is considered cured and the title of the transferee is rendered valid.‖ Thus, the subsequent the constitutional prohibition against aliens acquiring ownership of private agricultural land, including residential,
transfer of the property to qualified Filipinos may no longer be impugned on the basis of the invalidity of the commercial or industrial land. Rebuffed in the trial court and the Court of Appeals, plaintiffs appealed to the
initial transfer. The objective of the constitutional provision to keep our lands in Filipino hands has been achieved. Supreme Court. On June 27, 1956, the Supreme Court ruled thus:

Same; Reconstitution; Reconstitution of the original certificate of title must be based on an owner‘s duplicate, ―. . . granting the sale to be null and void and cannot give title to the vendee, it does not necessarily follow
secondary evidence thereof, or other valid sources of title to be reconstituted, and where reconstitution was based therefrom that the title remained in the vendor, who had also violated the constitutional prohibition, or that he
on the plan and technical description approved by the Land Registration Authority, the order of reconstitution is (vendor) has the right to recover the title of which he has divested himself by his act in ignoring the prohibition. In
void for lack of factual support.—Incidentally, it must be mentioned that reconstitution of the original certificate such contingency another principle of law sets in to bar the equally guilty vendor from recovering the title which
of title must be based on an owner‘s duplicate, secondary evidence thereof, or other valid sources of the title to be he had voluntarily conveyed for a consideration, that of pari delicto.‖
reconstituted. In this case, reconstitution was based on the plan and technical description approved by the Land
On July 1, 1968, the same former owners Rafael A. Dinglasan, together with Francisco, Carmen, Ramon, Lourdes,
Registration Authority. This renders the order of reconstitution void for lack of factual support. A judgment with
Mercedes, Concepcion, Mariano, Jose, Loreto, Rizal, Jimmy, and Jesse Dinglasan filed with the Court of First
absolutely nothing to support it is void.
Instance, Capiz an action for recovery of the same parcel of land. Citing the case of Philippine Banking
Same; Same; A proceeding for reconstitution of title does not pass upon the ownership of the land covered by the Corporation v. Lui She, they submitted that the sale to Lee Liong was null and void for being violative of the
lost or destroyed title—any change in the ownership of the property must be the subject of a separate suit.—As Constitution. On September 23, 1968, the heirs of Lee Liong filed with the trial court a motion to dismiss the case
earlier mentioned, a reconstitution of title is the re-issuance of a new certificate of title lost or destroyed in its on the ground of res judicata. On October 10, 1968, and November 9, 1968, the trial court denied the motion.The
original form and condition. It does not pass upon the ownership of the land covered by the lost or destroyed title. heirs of Lee Liongelevated the case to the Supreme Court by petition for certiorari. On April 22, 1977, the
Any change in the ownership of the property must be the subject of a separate suit. Thus, although petitioners are Supreme Court annulled the orders of the trial court and directed it to dismiss the case, holding that the suit was
in possession of the land, a separate proceeding is necessary to thresh out the issue of ownership of the land. barred by res judicata.

PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals. On September 7, 1993, Elizabeth Manuel-Lee and Pacita Yu Lee filed with the Regional Trial Court, Roxas City a
petition for reconstitution of title of Lot No. 398 of the CapizCadastre, formerly covered by Original Certificate of
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. Title No. 3389 of the Register of Deeds of Roxas City. Petitioners alleged that they were the widows of the
deceased Lee Bing Hoo and Lee Bun Ting, who were the heirs of Lee Liong, the owner of the lot. Lee Liong died
Patrocinio S. Palanog for petitioners. intestate in February 1944. On June 30, 1947, Lee Liong‘s widow, Ang Chia, and his two sons, Lee Bun Ting and
Lee Bing Ho, executed an extra-judicial settlement of the estate of Lee Liong, adjudicating to themselves the
The Solicitor General for respondents. subject parcel of land. Petitioner Elizabeth Lee acquired her share in Lot No. 398 through an extra-judicial
settlement and donation executed in her favor by her deceased husband Lee Bing Hoo. Petitioner Pacita Yu Lee
58 | P a g e
acquired her share in the same lot by succession from her deceased husband Lee Bun Ting, as evidenced by a deed Hence, this petition.
of extra-judicial settlement.
Petitioners submitted that the Solicitor General was estopped from seeking annulment of the judgment of
Previously, on December 9, 1948, the Register of Deeds, Capiz, Salvador Villaluz, issued a certification that a reconstitution after failing to object during the reconstitution proceedings before the trial court, despite due notice.
transfer certificate of title over the property was issued in the name of Lee Liong. However, the records of the Petitioners alleged that the Solicitor General merely acted on the request of private and politically powerful
Register of Deeds, Roxas City were burned during the war. Thus, as heretofore stated, on September 7, 1968, individuals who wished to capitalize on the prime location of the subject land.
petitioners filed a petition for reconstitution of title.
Petitioners emphasized that the ownership of the land had been settled in two previous cases of the Supreme
On June 10, 1994, the Regional Trial Court, Roxas City, Branch 17, ordered the reconstitution of the lost or Court, where the Court ruled in favor of their predecessor-in-interest, Lee Liong. Petitioners also pointed out that
destroyed certificate of title in the name of Lee Liong on the basis of an approved plan and technical description. they acquired ownership of the land through actual possession of the lot and their consistent payment of taxes over
The dispositive portion of the trial court‘s decision reads thus: the land for more than sixty years.

―WHEREFORE, in reiteration, the Register of Deeds for the City of Roxas is ordered to reconstitute the lost or On the other hand, the Solicitor General submitted that the decision in the reconstitution case was void; otherwise,
destroyed certificate of title in the name of Lee Liong, deceased, of Roxas City, with all the conditions stated in it would amount to circumventing the constitutional proscription against aliens acquiring ownership of private or
paragraph 2 of this decision. This decision shall become final after the lapse of thirty (30) days from receipt by the public agricultural lands.
Register of Deeds and by the Commissioner of LRA of a notice of such judgment without any appeal having been
filed by any of such officials. We grant the petition.

―SO ORDERED. The reconstitution of a certificate of title denotes restoration in the original form and condition of a lost or
destroyed instrument attesting the title of a person to a piece of land.23 The purpose of the reconstitution of title is
―Given at Roxas City, Philippines, to have, after observing the procedures prescribed by law, the title reproduced in exactly the same way it has been
when the loss or destruction occurred.‖
―June 10, 1994.
In this case, petitioners sought a reconstitution of title in the name of Lee Liong, alleging that the transfer
―JOSE O. ALOVERA certificate of title issued to him was lost or destroyed during World War II. All the documents recorded and issued
by the Register of Deeds, Capiz, which include the transfer certificate of title issued in the name of Lee Liong,
―Judge‖ were all destroyed during the war. The fact that the original of the transfer certificate of title was not in the files of
the Office of the Register of Deeds did not imply that a transfer certificate of title had not been issued. In the trial
On August 18, 1994, the Clerk of Court, Regional Trial Court, Roxas City, Branch 17 issued an Entry of
court proceedings, petitioners presented evidence proving the sale of the land from the Dinglasans to Lee Liong
Judgment.
and the latter‘s subsequent possession of the property in the concept of owner. Thus, the trial court, after
On January 25, 1995, the Solicitor General filed with the Court of Appeals a petition for annulment of judgment in examining all the evidence before it, ordered the reconstitution of title in the name of Lee Liong.
Reconstitution Case No. 1928, alleging that the Regional Trial Court,Roxas City had no jurisdiction over the
However, there is a question as to whether Lee Liong has the qualification to own land in the Philippines.
case.The Solicitor General contended that the petitioners were not the proper parties in the reconstitution of title,
since their predecessor-in-interest Lee Liong did not acquire title to the lot because he was a Chinese citizen and The sale of the land in question was consummated sometime in March 1936, during the effectivity of the 1935
was constitutionally not qualified to own the subject land. Constitution. Under the 1935 Constitution, aliens could not acquire private agricultural lands, save in cases of
hereditary succession. Thus, Lee Liong, a Chinese citizen, was disqualified to acquire the land in question.
On April 30, 1996, the Court of Appeals promulgated its decision declaring the judgment of reconstitution void.
The fact that the Court did not annul the sale of the land to an alien did not validate the transaction, for it was still
On May 24, 1996, Elizabeth Manuel-Lee and Pacita Yu Lee filed with the Court of Appeals a motion for
contrary to the constitutional proscription against aliens acquiring lands of the public or private domain. However,
reconsideration of the decision. On February 18, 1997, the Court of Appeals denied the motion.
the proper party to assail the illegality of the transaction was not the parties to the transaction.―In sales of real

59 | P a g e
estate to aliens incapable of holding title thereto by virtue of the provisions of the Constitution both the vendor and SO ORDERED.
the vendee are deemed to have committed the constitutional violation and being thus in pari delicto the courts will
not afford protection to either party.‖The proper party to assail the sale is the Solicitor General. This was what was No. L-33048.April 16, 1982.*
done in this case when the Solicitor General initiated an action for annulment of judgment of reconstitution of EPIFANIA SARSOSA VDA. DE BARSOBIA and PACITA W. VALLER, petitioners, vs. VICTORIANO
T. CUENCO, respondent.
title. While it took the Republic more than sixty years to assert itself, it is not barred from initiating such action.
Prescription never lies against the State.
Civil Law; Sales; Sale of land to a Chinese citizen in 1936 renders sale inexistent and void from the beginning;
Although ownership of the land cannot revert to the original sellers, because of the doctrine of pari delicto, the
Reason.—There should be no question that the sale of the land in question in 1936 by Epifania to Ong King Po
Solicitor General may initiate an action for reversion or escheat of the land to the State, subject to other defenses,
was inexistent and void from the beginning (Art. 1409 [7], Civil Code) because it was a contract executed against
as hereafter set forth.
the mandatory provision of the 1935 Constitution, which is an expression of public policy to conserve lands for
the Filipinos.
In this case, subsequent circumstances militate against escheat proceedings because the land is now in the hands of
Filipinos. The original vendee, Lee Liong, has since died and the land has been inherited by his heirs and
Same; Same; Same; Exception is, where land previously sold by the Filipino citizen to the Chinese, a disqualified
subsequently their heirs, petitioners herein. Petitioners are Filipino citizens, a fact the Solicitor General does not
vendee, was later sold by the Chinese to a qualified person, a naturalized Filipino citizen, Reason.—But the
dispute.
factual set-up has changed. The litigated property is now in the hands of a naturalized Filipino. It is no longer
owned by a disqualified vendee. Respondent, as a naturalized citizen, was constitutionally qualified to own the
The constitutional proscription on alien ownership of lands of the public or private domain was intended to protect
subject property. There would be no more public policy to be served in allowing petitioner Epifania to recover the
lands from falling in the hands of non-Filipinos. In this case, however, there would be no more public policy
land as it is already in the hands of a qualified person.
violated since the land is in the hands of Filipinos qualified to acquire and own such land. ―If land is invalidly
transferred to an alien who subsequently becomes a citizen or transfers it to a citizen, the flaw in the original
Same; Same; Laches; Filipino landowner barred from asserting claim of ownership over the land for inexcusable
transaction is considered cured and the title of the transferee is rendered valid.‖ Thus, the subsequent transfer of
neglect, despite absence of rights of ownership of Chinese to transmit the property.—While, strictly speaking, Ong
the property to qualified Filipinos may no longer be impugned on the basis of the invalidity of the initial transfer.
King Po, private respondent‘s vendor, had no rights of ownership to transmit, it is likewise inescapable that
The objective of the constitutional provision to keep our lands in Filipino hands has been achieved.
petitioner Epifania had slept on her rights for 26 years from 1936 to 1962. By her long inaction or inexcusable
neglect, she should be held barred from asserting her claim to the litigated property (Sotto vs. Teves, 86 SCRA
Incidentally, it must be mentioned that reconstitution of the original certificate of title must be based on an
157 [1978]).
owner‘s duplicate, secondary evidence thereof, or other valid sources of the title to be reconstituted. In this case,
reconstitution was based on the plan and technical description approved by the Land Registration Authority.36
Same; Same; Damages; Award of actual damages to owner of land for having been deprived of possession of land;
This renders the order of reconstitution void for lack of factual support. A judgment with absolutely nothing to
Vendee in good faith not liable to award of actual damages.—The award of actual damages in respondent‘s favor
support it is void.‖
of P10,000.00, as well as of attorney‘s fees and expenses of litigation of P2,000.00, is justified. Respondent was
deprived of the possession of his land and the enjoyment of its fruits from March, 1962. The Court of Appeals
As earlier mentioned, a reconstitution of title is the re-issuance of a new certificate of title lost or destroyed in its
fixed respondent‘s share of the sale of copra at P10,000.00 for eight years at four (4) harvests a year. The accuracy
original form and condition. It does not pass upon the ownership of the land covered by the lost or destroyed title.
of this finding has not been disputed. However, we find merit in the assigned error that petitioner, PacitaVallar,
Any change in the ownership of the property must be the subject of a separate suit. Thus, although petitioners are
should not be held also liable for actual damages to respondent. In the absence of contrary proof, she, too, must be
in possession of the land, a separate proceeding is necessary to thresh out the issue of ownership of the land.
considered as a vendee in good faith of petitioner Epifania.
WHEREFORE, the Court REVERSES and SETS ASIDE the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No.
Same; Same; Attorney‘s fees and litigation expenses, awarded where respondent was compelled to litigate for
36274. In lieu thereof, the Court sets aside the order of reconstitution of title in Reconstitution Case No. R-1928,
protection of his interests.—The award of attorney‘s fees and litigation expenses in the sum of P2,000.00 in
Regional Trial Court, Roxas City, and dismisses the petition, without prejudice.
respondent‘s favor is in order considering that both petitioners compelled respondent to litigate for the protection
No costs. of his interests. Moreover, the amount is reasonable.

60 | P a g e
PETITION to review the judgment of the Court of Appeals. In their Answer below, petitioners insisted that they were the owners and possessors of the litigated land; that its
sale to Ong King Po, a Chinese, was inexistent and/or void ab initio; and that the deed of sale between them was
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. only an evidence of Epifania‘s indebtedness to Ong King Po.

MELENCIO-HERRERA, J.: The trial Court rendered judgment:

Sought to be reviewed herein is the judgment dated August18, 1970, of the Court of Appeals, rendered in CA- ―1. Dismissing the complaint with costs against plaintiff (respondent herein).
G.R. No. 41318-R, entitled ―Victoriano T. Cuenco, Plaintiff-appellant,versusEpifaniaSarsosaVda. deBarsobia and
PacitaW.Vallar, Defendants-appellees,‖ declaring Victoriano T. Cuenco(now the respondent) as the absolute ―2. Declaring the two Deeds of Sale, Exhibits A and B, respectively, inexistent and void from the beginning;
owner of the coconut land in question. and

The lot in controversy is a one-half portion (on the northern side) of two adjoining parcels of coconut land located ―3. Declaring defendant Pacita W. Vallar as the lawful owner and possessor of the portion of land she bought
at Barrio Mancapagao, Sagay, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental (now Camiguin province), with an area of 29,150 from Emeteria Bar-sobia (pp. 57, 67, Record.)‖
square meters, more or less.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed the aforementioned Decision and decreed instead that respondent was
The entire land was owned previously by a certain LeocadiaBalisado, who had sold it to the spouses Patricio the owner of the litigated property, thus:
Barsobia (now deceased) and EpifaniaSarsosa, one of the petitioners herein. They are Filipino citizens.
―x xx.
On September 5, 1936, EpifaniaSarsosa, then a widow, sold the land in controversy to a Chinese, Ong King Po,
for the sum of P1,050.00 (Exhibit ―B‖). Ong King Po took actual possession and enjoyed the fruits thereof. In view of all the foregoing considerations, the judgment appealed from is hereby reversed. In lieu thereof, we
render judgment:
On August 5, 1961, Ong King Po sold the litigated property to Victoriano T. Cuenco (respondent herein), a
naturalized Filipino, for the sum of P5,000.00 (Exhibit ―A‖). Respondent immediately took actual possession and (a) Declaring the plaintiff-appellant Victoriano T. Cuenco the absolute owner of the land in question, with the
harvested the fruits therefrom. right of possession thereof;

On March 6, 1962, Epifania ―usurped‖ the controverted property, and on July 26, 1962, Epifania (through her only (b) Ordering the defendants-appellees to restore the possession of said land to the plaintiff;
daughter and child, EmeteriaBarsobia), sold a one-half (1/2) portion of the land in question to Pacita W. Vallar,
the other petitioner herein (Exhibit ―2‖). Epifania claimed that it was not her intention to sell the land to Ong King (c) Dismissing the defendants‘ counterclaim;
Po and that she signed the document of sale merely to evidence her indebtedness to the latter in the amount of
(d) Condemning the defendants to pay to the plaintiff the sum of P10,000.00 representing the latter‘s share from
P1,050.00. Epifania has been in possession ever since except for the portion sold to the other petitioner Pacita.
the sale of copra which he failed to receive since March, 1962 when he was deprived of his possession over the
On September 19, 1962, respondent filed a Forcible Entry case against Epifania before the Municipal Court of land, and which defendants illegally appropriated it to their own use and benefit, plus legal interest from the filing
Sagay, Camiguin. The case was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction since, as the laws then stood, the question of of the complaint until fully paid, plus P2,000.00 representing expenses and attorney‘s fees.
possession could not be properly determined without first settling that of ownership.
(e) Sentencing the defendants to pay the costs.
On December 27, 1966, respondent instituted before the Court of First Instance of Misamis Oriental a Complaint
SO ORDERED.‖
for recovery of possession and ownership of the litigated land, against Epifania and PacitaVallar (hereinafter
referred to simply as petitioners). Following the denial of their Motion for Reconsideration, petitioners filed the instant Petition for Review on
Certiorari with this Court on January 21, 1971. Petitioners claim that the Court of Appeals erred:

61 | P a g e
―I. x xx when it reversed the judgment of the trial court declaring petitioner Pacita W. Vallar as the lawful But the factual set-up has changed. The litigated property is now in the hands of a naturalized Filipino. It is no
possessor and owner of the portion of land she purchased from EmeteriaBarsobia, not a party to this case, there longer owned by a disqualified vendee. Respondent, as a naturalized citizen, was constitutionally qualified to own
being no evidence against her. the subject property. There would be no more public policy to be served in allowing petitioner Epifania to recover
the land as it is already in the hands of a qualified person. Applying by analogy the ruling of this Court in Vasquez
―II. x xx when it included petitioner Pacita W. Vallar to pay P10,000.00, with legal interest from the filing of vs.Giap and Li SengGiap& Sons:
the complaint, representing respondent‘s share in the harvest and to pay the costs, there being no evidence against
her. ―x xx if the ban on aliens from acquiring not only agricultural but also urban lands, as construed by this Court in
the Krivenko case, is to preserve the nation‘s lands for future generations of Filipinos, that aim or purpose would
―III. xxx when it condemned petitioners to pay P2,000.00 representing expenses and attorney‘s fees, there being not be thwarted but achieved by making lawful the acquisition of real estate by aliens who became Filipino
no factual, legal and equitable justification. citizens by naturalization.‖

―IV. xxx in not applying the rule on pan delicto to the facts of the case or the doctrine enunciated x xx in the While, strictly speaking, Ong King Po, private respondent‘s vendor, had no rights of ownership to transmit, it is
case of Philippine Banking Corporation vs. Lui She, L-17587, September 12, 1967, to x xx Petitioner likewise inescapable that petitioner Epifania had slept on her rights for 26 years from 1936 to 1962. By her long
EpifaniaSarsosaVda. deBarsobia. inaction or inexcusable neglect, she should be held barred from asserting her claim to the litigated property (Sotto
vs. Teves, 86 SCRA 157 11978]).

―V. x xx in denying, for lack of sufficient merits, petitioners‘ motion for rehearing or reconsideration of its ―Laches has been defined as the failure or neglect, for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that
decision.‖ which by exercising due diligence could or should have been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a
right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it
As the facts stand, a parcel of coconut land was sold by its Filipino owner, petitioner Epifania, to a Chinese, Ong or declined to assert it. (Tijam, et al. vs. Sibonghanoy, et al., No.L-21450, April 15, 1968, 23 SCRA 29, 35).‖
King Po, and by the latter to a naturalized Filipino, respondent herein. In the meantime, the Filipino owner had (cited in Sotto vs. Teves, 86 SCRA 154 [1978]).
unilaterally repudiated the sale she had made to the Chinese and had resold the property to another Filipino. The
basic issue is: Who is the rightful owner of the property? Respondent, therefore, must be declared to be the rightful owner of the property.

There should be no question that the sale of the land in question in 1936 by Epifania to Ong King Po was The award of actual damages in respondent‘s favor of P10,000.00, as well as of attorney‘s fees and expenses of
inexistent and void from the beginning (Art. 1409 [7], Civil Code)6 because it was a contract executed against the litigation of P2,000.00, is justified. Respondent was deprived of the possession of his land and the enjoyment of its
mandatory provision of the 1935 Constitution, which is an expression of public policy to conserve lands for the fruits from March, 1962. The Court of Appeals fixed respondent‘s share of the sale of copra at P10,000.00 for
Filipinos. Said provision reads: eight years at four (4) harvests a year. The accuracy of this finding has not been disputed.

―Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private agricultural land shall be transferred or assigned except to However, we find merit in the assigned error that petitioner, PacitaVallar, should not be held also liable for actual
individuals, corporations, or associations, qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.‖ damages to respondent. In the absence of contrary proof, she, too, must be considered as a vendee in good faith of
petitioner Epifania.
Had this been a suit between Epifania and Ong King Po, she could have been declared entitled to the litigated land
on the basis, as claimed, of the ruling in Philippine Banking Corporation vs. Lui She,8 reading: The award of attorney‘s fees and litigation expenses in the sum of P2,000.00 in respondent‘s favor is in order
considering that both petitioners compelled respondent to litigate for the protection of his interests. Moreover, the
―x xxFor another thing, and this is not only cogent but also important. Article 1416 of the Civil Code provides as amount is reasonable.
an exception to the rule on pari delicto that when the agreement is not illegal per se but is merely prohibited, and
the prohibition by the law is designed for the protection of the plaintiff, he may, if public policy is thereby WHEREFORE, except for that portion holding petitioner, Pacita W. Vallar, also liable for damages of P10,000.00,
enhanced, recover what he has sold or delivered. x xx‖ the appealed judgment is hereby affirmed. Costs against petitioners.SO ORDERED.

62 | P a g e
No. L-31956.April 30, 1984.* In 1938, petitioner Filomena Gerona de Castro sold a 1,258 sq. m. residential lot in Bulan, Sorsogon to Tan Tai, a
FILOMENA GERONA DE CASTRO, petitioner, vs. JOAQUIN TENG QUEEN TAN, TAN TENG BIO, Chinese. In 1956, Tan Tai died leaving herein respondents—his widow, To O. Hiap, and children Joaquin Teng
DOLORES TAN, ROSARIO TAN HUA ING, and TO O. HIAP, respondents. Queen Tan, Tan Teng Bio, Dolores Tan and Rosario Tan HuaIng.

Before the death of Tan Tai or on August 11, 1956, one of his sons, Joaquin, became a naturalized Filipino. Six
Constitutional Law; Aliens; Sale of residential land to an alien but now already in the hands of a naturalized
years after Tan Tai‘s death, or on November 18, 1962, his heirs executed an extra-judicial settlement of estate with
Filipino citizen valid.—Independently of the doctrine of pari delicto, the petitioner cannot have the sale annulled
sale, whereby the disputed lot in its entirety was alloted to Joaquin.
and recover the lot she herself has sold. While the vendee was an alien at the time of the sale, the land has since
become the property of respondent Joaquin Teng, a naturalized Philippine citizen, who is constitutionally qualified On July 15, 1968, petitioner commenced suit against the heirs of Tan Tai for annulment of the sale for alleged
to own land. violation of the 1935 Constitution prohibiting the sale of land to aliens.

Same; Same; Same; Laches; Annulment of sale; Filing of an action on July 15, 1968 to annul sale of land made in Except for respondent Tan Teng Bio who filed an answer to the complaint, respondents moved to dismiss the
1938, barred by laches.—Laches also militates against petitioner‘s cause. She sold the disputed lot in 1938. She complaint on the grounds of (a) lack of cause of action, the plaintiff being in pari delicto with the vendee, and the
instituted the action to annul the sale only on July 15, 1968. What the Court said in the cited Sarsosa case applies land being already owned by a Philippine citizen; (b) laches; and (c) acquisitive prescription.
with equal force to the petitioner.
Over the opposition of petitioner, the court a quo dismissed the complaint, sustaining the first two grounds
Same; Same; Same; Same; Concept of laches.—‗Laches has been defined as the failure or neglect, for an invoked by the movants. It is this order of dismissal that is now the subject of this review.
unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which by exercising due diligence could or should have
been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption The assailed order must be sustained.
that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. (Tijam, et al. vs. Sibonghanoy, et
al., No.L-21450, April 15, 1968, 23 SCRA 29, 35).‘ (cited in Sotto vs. Teves, 86 SCRA 154 Independently of the doctrine of pari delicto, the petitioner cannot have the sale annulled and recover the lot she
herself has sold. While the vendee was an alien at the time of the sale, the land has since become the property of
[1978]). respondent Joaquin Teng, a naturalized Philippine citizen, who is constitutionally qualified to own land.

PETITION for certiorari to review the order of the Court of First Instance of Sorsogon. ―. . . The litigated property is now in the hands of a naturalized Filipino. It is no longer owned by a disqualified
vendee. Respondent, as a naturalized citizen, was constitutionally qualified to own the subject property. There
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. would be no more public policy to be served in allowing petitioner Epifania to recover the land as it is already in
the hands of a qualified person. Applying by analogy the ruling of this Court in Vasquez vs. Giap and Li
Pascual G. Mier for petitioner.
SengGiap& Sons:
Eddie Tamondong for respondent Joaquin Teng Queen Tan.
‗x xx if the ban on aliens from acquiring not only agricultural but also urban lands, as construed by this Court in
the Krivenko case, is to preserve the nation‘s lands for future generations of Filipinos, that aim or purpose would
Carlos Buenviaje for respondent Tan Teng Bio.
not be thwarted but achieved by making lawful the acquisition of real estate by aliens who became Filipino
Arnulfo L. Perete for respondent Ong Shi (To O. Hiap). citizens by naturalization.‘ ‖ (SarsosaVda.deBarsobia vs.Cuenco, 113 SCRA 547, at 553.)

PLANA, J.: Laches also militates against petitioner‘s cause. She sold the disputed lot in 1938. She instituted the action to annul
the sale only on July 15, 1968. What the Court said in the cited Sarsosa case applies with equal force to the
Review on certiorari of the order of the former Court of First Instance of Sorsogon dismissing petitioner‘s action petitioner.
for annulment of contract with damages.
―. . . it is likewise inescapable that petitioner Epifania had slept on her rights for 26 years from 1936 to 1962. By
her long inaction of inexcusable neglect, she should be held barred from asserting her claim to the litigated

63 | P a g e
property (Sotto vs. Teves, 86 SCRA 157 [1978]). ‗Laches has been defined as the failure or neglect, for an by an applicant and his predecessors-in-interest, vest title on such applicant so as to segregate the land from the
unreasonable and unexplained length of time, to do that which by exercising due diligence could or should have mass of public land (National Power Corporation v. CA, 218 SCRA 41 [1993]).
been done earlier; it is negligence or omission to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption
that the party entitled to assert it either has abandoned it or declined to assert it. (Tijam, et al. vs. Sibonghanoy, et Same; Same; Same; Torrens System; When the conditions set by law are complied with, the possessor of the land,
al., No.L-21450, April 15, 1968, 23 SCRA 29, 35).‘ (cited in Sotto vs. Teves, 86 SCRA 154 [1978]). by operation of law, acquires a right to a grant, a government grant, without the necessity of a certificate of title
being issued; The Torrens system was not established as a means for the acquisition of title to private land, as it
―Respondent, therefore, must be declared to be the rightful owner of the property.‖ (p. 553.) merely confirms, but does not confer ownership.—The Public Land Act requires that the applicant must prove that
(a) the land is alienable public land and (b) his possession, in the concept above stated, must be either since time
WHEREFORE, the appealed order is affirmed. Costs against petitioner. immemorial or for the period prescribed in the Public Land Act (Director of Lands v. Buyco, 216 SCRA 78
[1992]). When the conditions set by law are complied with, the possessor of the land, by operation of law,
acquires a right to a grant, a government grant, without the necessity of a certificate of title being issued (National
Power Corporation v. CA, supra). As such, the land ceases to be a part of the public domain and goes beyond the
G.R. No. 108998. August 24, 1994.*
authority of the Director of Lands to dispose of. In other words, the Torrens system was not established as a means
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. THE COURT OF APPEALS AND SPOUSES MARIO for the acquisition of title to private land (Municipality of Victorias v. CA, 149 SCRA 32 [1987]). It merely
B. LAPIÑA AND FLOR DE VEGA, respondents. confirms, but does not confer ownership.

Same; Same; Same; The Constitution allows natural-born citizens who have lost their Philippine citizenship to
acquire private lands; BP 185 governs the disposition of private lands in favor of natural-born Filipino citizens
Natural Resources; Land Registration; Confirmation of Imperfect Title; It matters not whether the who have lost their Philippine citizenship.—But what should not be missed in the disposition of this case is the
vendee/applicant has been in possession of the subject property for only a day so long as the period and/or legal fact that the Constitution itself allows private respondents to register the contested parcels of land in their favor.
requirements for confirmation of title has been complied by his predecessor-in-interest, the said period being Sections 7 and 8 of Article XII of the Constitution contain the pertinent provisions. Section 8 is similar to Section
tacked to his possession.—It must be noted that with respect to possession and occupation of the alienable and 15, Article XIV of the then 1973 Constitution. Pursuant thereto, B.P. 185 was passed into law. From the adoption
disposable lands of the public domain, the law employs the terms ―by themselves,‖ ―the applicant himself or of the 1987 Constitution up to the present, no other law has been passed by the legislature on the same subject.
through his pre-decessor-in-interest.‖ Thus, it matters not whether the vendee/applicant has been in possession of Thus, what governs the disposition of private lands in favor of a natural-born Filipino citizen who has lost his
the subject property for only a day so long as the period and/or legal requirements for confirmation of title has Philippine citizenship remains to be BP 185.
been complied with by his predecessor-in-interest, the said period is tacked to his possession. In the case at bar,
respondents‘ predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the Same; Same; Same; A foreign national may apply for registration of title over a parcel of land which he acquired
disputed land not only since June 12, 1945, but even as early as 1937. Petitioner does not deny this except that by purchase while still a citizen of the Philippines from a vendor who has complied with the requirements for
respondent spouses, in its perception, were in possession of the land sought to be registered only in 1978 and registration under the law.—Even if private respondents were already Canadian citizens at the time they applied
therefore short of the required length of time. As aforesaid, the disputed parcels of land were acquired by private for registration of the properties in question, said properties as discussed above were already private lands;
respondents through their predecessors-in-interest, who, in turn, have been in open and continued possession consequently, there could be no legal impediment for the registration thereof by respondents in view of what the
thereof since 1937. Private respondents stepped into the shoes of their predecessors-in-interest and by virtue Constitution ordains. The parcels of land sought to be registered no longer form part of the public domain. They
thereof, acquired all the legal rights necessary to confirm what could otherwise be deemed as an imperfect title. are already private in character since private respondents‘ predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous
and exclusive possession and occupation thereof under claim of ownership prior to June 12, 1945 or since 1937.
Same; Same; Same; Occupation and cultivation for more than 30 years by an applicant and his predecessors-in- The law provides that a natural-born citizen of the Philippines who has lost his Philippine citizenship may be a
interest, vest title on such applicant so as to segregate the land from the mass of public land.—Subsequent cases transferee of a private land up to a maximum area of 1,000 sq. m., if urban, or one (1) hectare in case of rural land,
have hewed to the above pronouncement such that open, continuous and exclusive possession for at least 30 years to be used by him as his residence (BP 185). It is undisputed that private respondents, as vendees of a private land,
of alienable public land ipso jure converts the same to private property (Director of Lands v. IAC, 214 SCRA 604 were natural-born citizens of the Philippines. For the purpose of transfer and/or acquisition of a parcel of
[1992]; Pineda v. CA, 183 SCRA 602 [1990]). This means that occupation and cultivation for more than 30 years residential land, it is not significant whether private respondents are no longer Filipino citizens at the time they
purchased or registered the parcels of land in question. What is important is that private respondents were formerly

64 | P a g e
natural-born citizens of the Philippines, and as transferees of a private land, they could apply for registration in On February 5, 1987, the spouses filed an application for registration of title of the two (2) parcels of land before
accordance with the mandate of Section 8, Article XII of the Constitution. Considering that private respondents the Regional Trial Court of San Pablo City, Branch XXXI. This time, however, they were no longer Filipino
were able to prove the requisite period and character of possession of their predecessors-in-interest over the citizens and have opted to embrace Canadian citizenship through naturalization.
subject lots, their application for registration of title must perforce be approved.
An opposition was filed by the Republic and after the parties have presented their respective evidence, the court a
Same; Same; Same; The requirements in Sec. 6 of BP 185 are primarily directed to the register of deeds before quo rendered a decision confirming private respondents‘ title to the lots in question, the dispositive portion of
whom compliance therewith is to be submitted.—The Court is of the view that the requirements in Sec. 6 of BP which reads as follows:
185 do not apply in the instant case since said requirements are primarily directed to the register of deeds before
whom compliance therewith is to be submitted. Nowhere in the provision is it stated, much less implied, that the ―WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, this Court hereby approves the said application and confirms the title
requirements must likewise be submitted before the land registration court prior to the approval of an application and possession of herein applicants over Lots 347 and 348, Ap-04-003755 in the names of spouses Mario B.
for registration of title. An application for registration of title before a land registration court should not be Lapiña and Flor de Vega, all of legal age, Filipino citizens by birth but now Canadian citizens by naturalization
confused with the issuance of a certificate of title by the register of deeds. It is only when the judgment of the land and residing at 14 A. Mabini Street, San Pablo City and/or 201-1170-124 Street, Edmonton, Alberta T5M-OK9,
registration court approving the application for registration has become final that a decree of registration is issued. Canada.
And that is the time when the requirements of Sec. 6, BP 185, before the register of deeds should be complied with
by the applicants. This decree of registration is the one that is submitted to the office of the register of deeds for ―Once this Decision becomes final, let the corresponding decree of registration be issued. In the certificate of title
issuance of the certificate of title in favor of the applicant. Prior to the issuance of the decree of registration, the to be issued, there shall be annotated an easement of .265 meters road right-of-way.‖
register of deeds has no participation in the approval of the application for registration of title as the decree of
―SO ORDERED.‖ (Rollo, p. 25)
registration is yet to be issued.
On appeal, respondent court affirmed the decision of the trial court based on the following ratiocination:
PETITION for review on certiorari to nullify a decision of the Court of Appeals.
―In the present case, it is undisputed that both applicants were still Filipino citizens when they bought the land in
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
controversy from its former owner. For this reason, the prohibition against the acquisition of private lands by
Byron V. Belarmino and Juan B. Belarmino for private respondents. aliens could not apply. In justice and equity, they are the rightful owners of the subject realty considering also that
they had paid for it quite a large sum of money. Their purpose in initiating the instant action is merely to confirm
BIDIN, J.: their title over the land, for, as has been passed upon, they had been the owners of the same since 1978. It ought to
be pointed out that registration is not a mode of acquiring ownership. The Torrens System was not established as a
Can a foreign national apply for registration of title over a parcel of land which he acquired by purchase while still means for the acquisition of title to private land. It is intended merely to confirm and register the title which one
a citizen of the Philippines, from a vendor who has complied with the requirements for registration under the may already have (Municipality of Victorias vs. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. L-31189, March 31, 1987). With
Public Land Act (CA 141)? particular reference to the main issue at bar, the High Court has ruled that title and ownership over lands within
the meaning and for the purposes of the constitutional prohibition dates back to the time of their purchase, not
The Republic would have us rule on the negative and asks this Court to nullify the decision of the appellate court later. The fact that the applicants-appellees are not Filipino citizens now cannot be taken against them for they
which affirmed the judgment of the court a quo in granting the application of respondent spouses for registration were not disqualified from acquiring the land in question (Bollozos vs. Yu Tieng Su, G.R. No. L-29442,
over the lots in question. November 11, 1987).‖ (Rollo, pp. 27-28)

On June 17, 1978, respondent spouses bought Lots 347 and 348, Cad. s38-D, as their residence with a total area of Expectedly, respondent court‘s disposition did not merit petitioner‘s approval, hence this present recourse, which
91.77 sq. m. situated in San Pablo City, from one Cristeta Dazo Belen (Rollo, p. 41). At the time of the purchase, was belatedly filed.
respondent spouses were then natural-born Filipino citizens.
Ordinarily, this petition would have been denied outright for having been filed out of time had it not been for the
constitutional issue presented therein.

65 | P a g e
At the outset, petitioner submits that private respondents have not acquired proprietary rights over the subject amending Sec. 48[b], CA No. 141; see also Sec. 14, PD No. 1529). So there is a void in respondents‘ possession.
properties before they acquired Canadian citizenship through naturalization to justify the registration thereof in They fall short of the required possession since June 12, 1945 or prior thereto. And, even if they needed only to
their favor. It maintains that even privately owned unregistered lands are presumed to be public lands under the prove thirty (30) years possession prior to the filing of their application (on February 5, 1987), they would still be
principle that lands of whatever classification belong to the State under the Regalian doctrine. Thus, before the short of the required possession if the starting point is 1979 when, according to the Court of Appeals, the land was
issuance of the certificate of title, the occupant is not in the juridical sense the true owner of the land since it still declared for taxation purposes in their name.‖ (Rollo, pp. 14-15)
pertains to the State. Petitioner further argued that it is only when the court adjudicates the land to the applicant for
con-firmation of title would the land become privately owned land, for in the same proceeding, the court may The argument is myopic, to say the least. Following the logic of petitioner, any transferee is thus foreclosed to
declare it public land, depending on the evidence. apply for registration of title over a parcel of land notwithstanding the fact that the transferor, or his predecessor-
in-interest has been in open, notorious and exclusive possession thereof for thirty (30) years or more. This is not,
As found by the trial court: however, what the law provides.

―The evidence thus presented established that applicants, by themselves and their predecessors-in-interest, had As petitioner itself argues, Section 48 of the Public Land Act (CA 141) reads:
been in open, public, peaceful, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the two adjacent
parcels of land applied for registration of title under a bona-fide claim of ownership long before June 12, 1945. ―Sec. 48. The following-described citizens of the Philippines, occupying lands of the public domain or claiming
Such being the case, it is conclusively presumed that all the conditions essential to the confirmation of their title interest therein, but whose titles have not been perfected or completed, may apply to the Court of First Instance
over the two adjacent parcels of land are sought to be registered have been complied with thereby entitling them to (now Regional Trial Court) of the province where the land is located for confirmation of their claims and the
the issuance of the corresponding certificate of title pursuant to the provisions of Presidential Decree No. 1529, issuance of a certificate of title therefor under the Land Registration Act, to wit:
otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree.‖ (Rollo, p. 26)
xxx
Respondent court echoed the court a quo‘s observation, thus:
(b) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive,
―The land sought to be registered has been declared to be within the alienable and disposable zone established by and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of
the Bureau of Forest Development (Exhibit ‗P‘). The investigation conducted by the Bureau of Lands, Natural acquisition or ownership, for at least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the application for
Resources District (IV-2) reveals that the disputed realty had been occupied by the applicants ‗whose house of confirmation of title except when prevented by wars or force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to
strong materials stands thereon‘; that it had been declared for taxation purposes in the name of applicants-spouses have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title
since 1979; that they acquired the same by means of a public instrument entitled ‗Kasulatan ng Bilihang Tuluyan‘ under the provisions of this chapter.‖ (Italics supplied)
duly executed by the vendor, Cristeta Dazo Belen, on June 17, 1978 (Exhibits ‗I‘ and ‗J‘); and that applicants and
their predecessors in interest had been in possession of the land for more than 30 years prior to the filing of the As amended by PD 1073:
application for registration. But what is of great significance in the instant case is the circumstance that at the time
―Sec. 4. The provisions of Section 48(b) and Section 48(c), Chapter VIII, of the Public Land Act are hereby
the applicants purchased the subject lot in 1978, both of them were Filipino citizens such that when they filed their
amended in the sense that these provisions shall apply only to alienable and disposable lands of the public domain
application for registration in 1987, ownership over the land in dispute had already passed to them.‖ (Rollo, p., 27)
which have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation by the applicant himself
The Republic disagrees with the appellate court‘s concept of possession and argues: or thru his predecessor-in-interest, under a bona fide claim of acquisition or ownership, since June 12, 1945.‖

―17. The Court of Appeals found that the land was declared for taxation purposes in the name of respondent It must be noted that with respect to possession and occupation of the alienable and disposable lands of the public
spouses only since 1979. However, tax declarations or realty tax payments of property are not conclusive evidence domain, the law employs the terms ―by themselves,‖ ―the applicant himself or through his predecessor-in-
of ownership. (citing cases) interest.‖ Thus, it matters not whether the vendee/applicant has been in possession of the subject property for only
a day so long as the period and/or legal requirements for confirmation of title has been complied with by his
―18. Then again, the appellate court found that ‗applicants (respondents) and their predecessors-in-interest had predecessor-in-interest, the said period is tacked to his possession. In the case at bar, respondents‘ predecessors-in-
been in possession of the land for more than 30 years prior to the filing of the application for registration.‘ This is interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the disputed land not only since June
not, however, the same as saying that respondents have been in possession ‗since June 12, 1945.‘ (PD No. 1073, 12, 1945, but even as early as 1937. Petitioner does not deny this except that respondent spouses, in its perception,

66 | P a g e
were in possession of the land sought to be registered only in 1978 and therefore short of the required length of more than a formality, at the most limited to ascertaining whether the possession claims is of the required
time. As aforesaid, the disputed parcels of land were acquired by private respondents through their predecessors- character and length of time; and registration thereunder would not confer title, but simply recognize a title already
in-interest, who, in turn, have been in open and continued possession thereof since 1937. Private respondents vested. The proceedings would not originally convert the land from public to private land, but only confirm such a
stepped into the shoes of their predecessors-in-interest and by virtue thereof, acquired all the legal rights necessary conversion already affected by operation of law from the moment the required period of possession became
to confirm what could otherwise be deemed as an imperfect title. complete. As was so well put in Cariño, ‗x x x (There are indications that registration was expected from all, but
none sufficient to show that, for want of it, ownership actually gained would be lost. The effect of the proof,
At this juncture, petitioner‘s reliance in Republic v. Villanueva (114 SCRA 875 [1982]) deserves scant wherever made, was not to confer title, but simply to establish it, as already conferred by the decree, if not by
consideration. There, it was held that before the issuance of the certificate of title, the occupant is not in the earlier law.‘ ‖ (Italics supplied)
juridical sense the true owner of the land since it still pertains to the State.
Subsequent cases have hewed to the above pronouncement such that open, continuous and exclusive possession
Suffice it to state that the ruling in Republic v. Villanueva (supra), has already been abandoned in the 1986 case of for at least 30 years of alienable public land ipso jure converts the same to private property (Director of Lands v.
Director of Lands v. Intermediate Appellate Court (146 SCRA 509; and reiterated in Director of Lands v. Iglesia IAC, 214 SCRA 604 [1992]; Pineda v. CA, 183 SCRA 602 [1990]). This means that occupation and cultivation
ni Cristo, 200 SCRA 606 [1991]) where the Court, through then Associate Justice, now for more than 30 years by an applicant and his predecessors-in-interest, vest title on such applicant so as to
segregate the land from the mass of public land (National Power Corporation v. CA, 218 SCRA 41 [1993]).
Chief Justice Narvasa, declared that:
The Public Land Act requires that the applicant must prove that (a) the land is alienable public land and (b) his
―(The weight of authority is) that open, exclusive and undisputed possession of alienable public land for the period possession, in the concept above stated, must be either since time immemorial or for the period prescribed in the
prescribed by law creates the legal fiction whereby the land, upon completion of the requisite period ipso jure and Public Land Act (Director of Lands v. Buyco, 216 SCRA 78 [1992]). When the conditions set by law are complied
without the need of judicial or other sanction, ceases to be public land and becomes private property. x x x ―Herico with, the possessor of the land, by operation of law, acquires a right to a grant, a government grant, without the
in particular, appears to be squarely affirmative: necessity of a certificate of title being issued (National Power Corporation v. CA, supra). As such, the land ceases
to be a part of the public domain and goes beyond the authority of the Director of Lands to dispose of.
―x x x. Secondly, under the provisions of Republic Act No. 1942, which the respondent Court held to be
inapplicable to the petitioner‘s case, with the latter‘s proven occupation and cultivation for more than 30 years In other words, the Torrens system was not established as a means for the acquisition of title to private land
since 1914, by himself and by his predecessors-in-interest, title over the land has vested on petitioner so as to (Municipality of Victorias v. CA, 149 SCRA 32 [1987]). It merely confirms, but does not confer ownership. As
segregate the land from the mass of public land. Thereafter, it is no longer disposable under the Public Land Act as could be gleaned from the evidence adduced, private respondents were able to establish the nature of possession of
by free patent. x x x their predecessors-in-interest. Evidence was offered to prove that their predecessors-in-interest had paid taxes on
the subject land and introduced improvements thereon (Exhibits ―F‖ to ―F9‖). A certified true copy of the affidavit
x x x
executed by Cristeta Dazo and her sister Simplicia was also formally offered to prove that the subject parcels of
‗As interpreted in several cases, when the conditions as specified in the foregoing provision are complied with, the land were inherited by vendor Cristeta Dazo from her father Pedro Dazo with the conformity of her only sister
possessor is deemed to have acquired, by operation of law, a right to a grant, a government grant, without the Simplicia (Exhibit ―G‖). Likewise, a report from the Bureau of Lands was presented in evidence together with a
necessity of a certificate of title being issued. The land, therefore, ceases to be of the public domain and beyond letter from the Bureau of Forest Development, to prove that the questioned lots were part of the alienable and
the authority of the Director of Lands to dispose of. The application for confirmation is mere formality, the lack of disposable zone of the government and that no forestry interest was affected (CA GR No. 28953, Records, p. 33).
which does not affect the legal sufficiency of the title as would be evidenced by the patent and the Torrens title to
In the main, petitioner seeks to defeat respondents‘ application for registration of title on the ground of foreign
be issued upon the strength of said patent.‘
nationality. Accordingly, the ruling in Director of Lands v. Buyco (supra) supports petitioner‘s thesis.
―Nothing can more clearly demonstrate the logical inevitability of considering possession of public land which is
We disagree.
of the character and duration prescribed by the statute as the equivalent of an express grant from the State than the
dictum of the statute itself (Section 48 [b]) that the possessor(s) ‗x x x shall be conclusively presumed to have In Buyco, the applicants therein were likewise foreign nationals but were natural-born Filipino citizens at the time
performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title x x x.‘ No of their supposed acquisition of the property. But this is where the similarity ends. The applicants in Buyco sought
proof being admissible to overcome a conclusive presumption, confirmation proceedings would, in truth be little to register a large tract of land under the provisions of the Land Registration Act, and in the alternative, under the
67 | P a g e
provisions of the Public Land Act. The land registration court decided in favor of the applicants and was affirmed ―x x x (P)rivate respondents‘ evidence miserably failed to establish their imperfect title to the property in question.
by the appellate court on appeal. The Director of Lands brought the matter before us on review and we reversed. Their allegation of possession since time immemorial, x x x, is patently baseless. x x x When referring to
possession, specifically ‗immemorial possession,‘ it means possession of which no man living has seen the
This Court, speaking through Justice Davide, Jr., stated: beginning, and the existence of which he has learned from his elders (Susi v. Razon, supra). Such possession was
never present in the case of private respondents. x x x
―As could be gleaned from the evidence adduced, the private respondents do not rely on fee simple ownership
based on a Spanish grant or possessory information title under Section 19 of the Land Registration Act; the private ―x x x, there does not even exist a reasonable basis for the finding that the private respondents and their
respondents did not present any proof that they or their predecessors-in-interest derived title from an old Spanish predecessors-in-interest possessed the land for more than eighty (80) years, x x x.
grant such as (a) the ‗titulo real‘ or royal grant (b) the ‗con-cession especial‘ or special grant; (c) the ‗composicion
con el estado‘ title or adjustment title; (d) the ‗titulo de compra‘ or title by purchase; and (e) the ‗informacion x x x
posesoria‘ or possessory information title, which could become a ‗titulo gratuito‘ or a gratuitous title (Director of
Forestry v. Muñoz, 23 SCRA 1183 [1968]). The primary basis of their claim is possession, by themselves and ―To this Court‘s mind, private respondents failed to prove that (their predecessor-in-interest) had possessed the
their predecessors-in-interest, since time immemorial. property___allegedly covered by Tax Declaration No. 15853 and made the subject of both his last will and
testament and the project of partition of his estate among his heirs—in such manner as to remove the same from
―If indeed private respondents and their predecessors have been in possession since time immemorial, the rulings the public domain under the Cariño and Susi doctrines. Thus, (when the pre-decessor-in-interest) died on 31 May
of both courts could be upheld for, as this Court stated in Oh Cho v. Director of Lands (75 Phil. 890 [1946]): 1937, he transmitted no right whatsoever, with respect to the said property, to his heirs. This being the case, his
possession cannot be tacked to that of the private respondents for the latter‘s benefit pursuant to Section 48(b) of
‗x x x All lands that were not acquired from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public the Public Land Act, the alternative ground relied upon in their application. x x x
domain. An exception to the rule would be any land that should have been in the possession of an occupant and of
his predecessors in interest since time immemorial, for such possession would justify the presumption that the land x x x
had never been part of the public domain or that it had been a private property even before the Spanish conquest.
(Cariño v. Insular Government, 41 Phil. 935 [1909]; 212 U.S. 449; 53 Law. Ed., 594) The applicant does not come ―Considering that the private respondents became American citizens before such filing, it goes without saying that
under the exception, for the earliest possession of the lot by his first predecessor in interest began in 1880.‘ they had acquired no vested right, consisting of an imperfect title, over the property before they lost their
Philippine citizenship.‖ (Italics supplied)
‗x x x alienable public land held by a possessor, personally or through his predecessors-in-interest, openly,
continuously and exclusively for the prescribed statutory period (30 years under the Public Land Act, as amended) Clearly, the applicants in Buyco were denied registration of title not merely because they were American citizens
is converted to private property by the mere lapse or completion of said period, ipso jure‘. (Director of Lands v. at the time of their application therefor. Respondents therein failed to prove possession of their predecessor-in-
Intermediate Appellate Court, supra) interest since time immemorial or possession in such a manner that the property has been segregated from public
domain; such that at the time of their application, as American citizens, they have acquired no vested rights over
―It is obvious from the foregoing rule that the applicant must prove that (a) the land is alienable public land and the parcel of land.
(b) his possession, in the concept above stated, must be either since time immemorial, as ruled in both Cariño and
Susi, or for the period prescribed in the Public Land Act. As to the latter, this Court, in Gutierrez Hermanos v. In the case at bar, private respondents were undoubtedly natural-born Filipino citizens at the time of the
Court of Appeals (178 SCRA 37 [1989]), adopted the rule enunciated by the Court of Appeals, per then Associate acquisition of the properties and by virtue thereof, acquired vested rights thereon, tacking in the process, the
Justice Hugo R. Gutierrez, Jr., x x x, that an applicant for registration under Section 48 of the Public Land Act possession in the concept of owner and the prescribed period of time held by their predecessors-in-interest under
must secure a certification from the Government that the lands which he claims to have possessed as owner for the Public Land Act. In addition, private respon-dents have constructed a house of strong materials on the
more than thirty (30) years are alienable and disposable. It is the burden of the applicant to prove its positive contested property, now occupied by respondent Lapiña‘s mother.
averments.
But what should not be missed in the disposition of this case is the fact that the Constitution itself allows private
―In the instant case, private respondents offered no evidence at all to prove that the property subject of the respondents to register the contested parcels of land in their favor. Sections 7 and 8 of Article XII of the
application is an alienable and disposable land. On the contrary, the entire property x x x was pasture land (and Constitution contain the following pertinent provisions, to wit:
therefore inalienable under the then 1973 Constitu-tion).
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―Sec. 7. Save in cases of hereditary succession, no private lands shall be transferred or conveyed except to It is undisputed that private respondents, as vendees of a private land, were natural-born citizens of the
individuals, corporations, or associations qualified to acquire or hold lands of the public domain.‖ Philippines. For the purpose of transfer and/or acquisition of a parcel of residential land, it is not significant
whether private respondents are no longer Filipino citizens at the time they purchased or registered the parcels of
―Sec. 8. Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 7 of this Article, a natural-born citizen of the Philippines who land in question. What is important is that private respondents were formerly natural-born citizens of the
has lost his Philippine citizenship may be a transferee of private lands, subject to limitations provided by law.‖ Philippines, and as transferees of a private land, they could apply for registration in accordance with the mandate
(Italics supplied) of Section 8, Article XII of the Constitution. Considering that private respondents were able to prove the requisite
period and character of possession of their predecessors-in-interest over the subject lots, their application for
Section 8, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution above quoted is similar to Section 15, Article XIV of the then 1973 registration of title must perforce be approved.
Constitution which reads:
The dissenting opinion, however, states that the requirements in BP 185, must also be complied with by private
―Sec. 15. Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 14 of this Article, a natural-born citizen of the Philippines respondents. Specifically, it refers to Section 6, which provides:
who has lost his citizenship may be a transferee of private land, for use by him as his residence, as the Batasang
Pambansa may provide.‖ ―Sec. 6. In addition to the requirements provided for in other laws for the registration of titles to lands, no private
land shall be transferred under this Act, unless the transferee shall submit to the register of deeds of the province
Pursuant thereto, Batas Pambansa Blg. 185 was passed into law, the relevant provision of which provides: or city where the property is located a sworn statement showing the date and place of his birth; the names and
addresses of his parents, of his spouse and children, if any; the area, the location and the mode of acquisition of his
―Sec. 2. Any natural-born citizen of the Philippines who has lost his Philippine citizenship and who has the legal
landholdings in the Philippines, if any; his intention to reside permanently in the Philippines; the date he lost his
capacity to enter into a contract under Philippine laws may be a transferee of a private land up to a maximum area
Philippine citizenship and the country of which he is presently a citizen; and such other information as may be
of one thousand square meters, in the case of urban land, or one hectare in the case of rural land, to be used by him
required under Section 8 of this Act.‖
as his residence. In the case of married couples, one of them may avail of the privilege herein granted; Provided,
That if both shall avail of the same, the total area acquired shall not exceed the maximum herein fixed. The Court is of the view that the requirements in Sec. 6 of BP 185 do not apply in the instant case since said
requirements are primarily directed to the register of deeds before whom compliance therewith is to be submitted.
―In case the transferee already owns urban or rural lands for residential purposes, he shall still be entitled to be a
Nowhere in the provision is it stated, much less implied, that the requirements must likewise be submitted before
transferee of an additional urban or rural lands for residential purposes which, when added to those already owned
the land registration court prior to the approval of an application for registration of title. An application for
by him, shall not exceed the maximum areas herein authorized.‖
registration of title before a land registration court should not be confused with the issuance of a certificate of title
From the adoption of the 1987 Constitution up to the present, no other law has been passed by the legislature on by the register of deeds. It is only when the judgment of the land registration court approving the application for
the same subject. Thus, what governs the disposition of private lands in favor of a natural-born Filipino citizen registration has become final that a decree of registration is issued. And that is the time when the requirements of
who has lost his Philippine citizenship remains to be BP 185. Sec. 6, BP 185, before the register of deeds should be complied with by the applicants. This decree of registration
is the one that is submitted to the office of the register of deeds for issuance of the certificate of title in favor of the
Even if private respondents were already Canadian citizens at the time they applied for registration of the applicant. Prior to the issuance of the decree of registration, the register of deeds has no participation in the
properties in question, said properties as discussed above were already private lands; consequently, there could be approval of the application for registration of title as the decree of registration is yet to be issued.
no legal impediment for the registration thereof by respondents in view of what the Constitution ordains. The
parcels of land sought to be registered no longer form part of the public domain. They are already private in WHEREFORE, the petition is DISMISSED and the decision appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED.
character since private respondents‘ predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous and exclusive
SO ORDERED.
possession and occupation thereof under claim of ownership prior to June 12, 1945 or since 1937. The law
provides that a natural-born citizen of the Philippines who has lost his Philippine citizenship may be a transferee Narvasa (C.J.), Regalado, Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Quiason, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan and Mendoza, JJ., concur.
of a private land up to a maximum area of 1,000 sq. m., if urban, or one (1) hectare in case of rural land, to be used
by him as his residence (BP 185). Cruz, J., See dissent.

Feliciano, J., Please see concurring statement.

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Padilla and Davide, Jr., JJ., I join Mr. Justice Cruz in his dissent. Same; Same; Same; Unless it is expressly provided that a legislative act is necessary to enforce a constitutional
mandate, the presumption now is that all provisions of the constitution are self-executing.—As against
constitutions of the past, modern constitutions have been generally drafted upon a different principle and have
often become in effect extensive codes of laws intended to operate directly upon the people in a manner similar to
G.R. No. 122156. February 3, 1997. *
that of statutory enactments, and the function of constitutional conventions has evolved into one more like that of
MANILA PRINCE HOTEL, petitioner, vs. GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM, MANILA a legislative body. Hence, unless it is expressly provided that a legislative act is necessary to enforce a
HOTEL CORPORATION, COMMITTEE ON PRIVATIZATION and OFFICE OF THE constitutional mandate, the presumption now is that all provisions of the constitution are self-executing. If the
GOVERNMENT CORPORATE COUNSEL, respondents. constitutional provisions are treated as requiring legislation instead of self-executing, the legislature would have
the power to ignore and practically nullify the mandate of the fundamental law. This can be cataclysmic.

Same; Same; Same; Minor details may be left to the legislature without impairing the self-executing nature of
Constitutional Law; Statutes; Contracts; Words and Phrases; A constitution is a system of fundamental laws for
constitutional provisions.—Quite apparently, Sec. 10, second par., of Art. XII is couched in such a way as not to
the governance and administration of a nation—it is supreme, imperious, absolute and unalterable except by the
make it appear that it is non-self-executing but simply for purposes of style. But, certainly, the legislature is not
authority from which it emanates. Since the Constitution is the fundamental, paramount and supreme Iaw of the
precluded from enacting further laws to enforce the constitutional provision so long as the contemplated statute
nation, it is deemed written in every statute and contract.—We now resolve. A constitution is a system of
squares with the Constitution. Minor details may be left to the legislature without impairing the self-executing
fundamental laws for the governance and administration of a nation. It is supreme, imperious, absolute and
nature of constitutional provisions.
unalterable except by the authority from which it emanates. It has been defined as the fundamental and paramount
law of the nation. lt prescribes the permanent framework of a system of government, assigns to the different Same; Same; Same; The omission from a constitution of any express provision for a remedy for enforcing a right
departments their respective powers and duties, and establishes certain fixed principles on which government is or liability is not necessarily an indication that it was not intended to be self-executing—the rule is that a self-
founded. The fundamental conception in other words is that it is a supreme law to which all other laws must executing provision of the constitution does not necessarily exhaust legislative power on the subject, but any
conform and in accordance with which all private rights must be determined and all public authority administered. legislation must be in harmony with the constitution, further the exercise of constitutional right and make it more
Under the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if a law or contract violates any norm of the constitution that law available.—In self-executing constitutional provisions, the legislature may still enact legislation to facilitate the
or contract whether promulgated by the legislative or by the executive branch or entered into by private persons exercise of powers directly granted by the constitution, further the operation of such a provision, prescribe a
for private purposes is null and void and without any force and effect. Thus, since the Constitution is the practice to be used for its enforcement, provide a convenient remedy for the protection of the rights secured or the
fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation, it is deemed written in every statute and contract. determination thereof, or place reasonable safeguards around the exercise of the right. The mere fact that
legislation may supplement and add to or prescribe a penalty for the violation of a self-executing constitutional
Same; Same; Statutory Construction; A constitutional provision is self-executing if the nature and extent of the
provision does not render such a provision ineffective in the absence of such legislation. The omission from a
right conferred and the liability imposed are fixed by the constitution itself, so that they can be determined by an
constitution of any express provision for a remedy for enforcing a right or liability is not necessarily an indication
examination and.construction of its terms, and there is no language indicating that the subject is referred to the
that it was not intended to be self-executing. The rule is that a self-executing provision of the constitution does not
legislature for action.—Admittedly, some constitutions are merely declarations of policies and principles. Their
necessarily exhaust legislative power on the subject, but any legislation must be in harmony with the constitution,
provisions command the legislature to enact laws and carry out the purposes of the framers who merely establish
further the exercise of constitutional right and make it more available. Subsequent legislation however does not
an outline of government providing for the different departments of the governmental machinery and securing
necessarily mean that the subject constitutional provision is not, by itself, fully enforceable.
certain fundamental and inalienable rights of citizens. A provision which lays down a general principle, such as
those found in Art. II of the 1987 Constitution, is usually not self-executing. But a provision which is complete in Same; Same; Same; A constitutional provision may be selfexecuting in one part and non-self-executing in
itself and becomes operative without the aid of supplementary or enabling legislation, or that which supplies another.—Respondents also argue that the non-self-executing nature of Sec. 10, second par., of Art. XII is implied
sufficient rule by means of which the right it grants may be enjoyed or protected, is self-executing. Thus a from the tenor of the first and third paragraphs of the same section which undoubtedly are not selfexecuting. The
constitutional provision is selfexecuting if the nature and extent of the right conferred and the liability imposed are argument is flawed. If the first and third paragraphs are not self-executing because Congress is still to enact
fixed by the constitution itself, so that they can be determined by an examination and construction of its terms, and measures to encourage the formation and operation of enterprises fully owned by Filipinos, as in the first
there is no language indicating that the subject is referred to the legislature for action. paragraph, and the State still needs legislation to regulate and exercise authority over foreign investments within
its national jurisdiction, as in the third paragraph, then a fortiori, by the same logic, the second paragraph can only

70 | P a g e
be selfexecuting as it does not by its language require any legislation in order to give preference to qualified comprises the majority and controlling stock, so that anyone who acquires or owns the 51% will have actual
Filipinos in the grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony. A control and management of the hotel. In this instance, 51% of the MHC cannot be disassociated from the hotel and
constitutional provision may be self-executing in one part and non-self-executing in another. the land on which the hotel edifice stands.

Same; National Economy and Patrimony; When the Constitution mandates that in the grant of rights, privileges, Same; Same; Same; Filipino First Policy; Words and Phrases; The term ―qualified Filipinos‖ as used in the
and concessions covering national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos, it Constitution also includes corporations at least 60% of which is owned by Filipinos.— Consequently, we cannot
means just that—qualified Filipinos shall be preferred.—On the other hand, Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII of the sustain respondents‘ claim that the Filipino First Policy provision is not applicable since what is being sold is only
1987 Constitution is a mandatory, positive command which is complete in itself and which needs no further 51% of the outstanding shares of the corporation, not the Hotel building nor the land upon which the building
guidelines or implementing laws or rules for its enforcement. From its very words the provision does not require stands. The argument is pure sophistry. The term qualified Filipinos as used in our Constitution also includes
any legislation to put it in operation. It is per se judicially enforceable. When our Constitution mandates that [i]n corporations at least 60% of which is owned by Filipinos. This is very clear from the proceedings of the 1986
the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions covering national economy and patrimony, the State shall give Constitutional Commission.
preference to qualified Filipinos, it means just that—qualified Filipinos shall be preferred.
Same; Statutory Construction; Even some of the provisions of the Constitution which evidently need
Same; Same; When the Constitution declares that a right exists in certain specified circumstances, an action may implementing legislation have juridical life of their own and can be the source of judicial remedy.— The penchant
be maintained to enforce such right notwithstanding the absence of any legislation on the subject—such right to try to whittle away the mandate of the Constitution by arguing that the subject provision is not self-executory
enforces itself by its own inherent potency and puissance.—And when our Constitution declares that a right exists and requires implementing legislation is quite disturbing. The attempt to violate a clear constitutional provision—
in certain specified circumstances an action may be maintained to enforce such right notwithstanding the absence by the government itself—is only too distressing. To adopt such a line of reasoning is to renounce the duty to
of any legislation on the subject; consequently, if there is no statute especially enacted to enforce such ensure faithfulness to the Constitution, For, even some of the provisions of the Constitution which evidently need
constitutional right, such right enforces itself by its own inherent potency and puissance, and from which all implementing legislation have juridical life of their own and can be the source of a judicial remedy. We cannot
legislations must take their bearings. Where there is a right there is a remedy. Ubi jus ibi remedium. simply afford the government a defense that arises out of the failure to enact further enabling, implementing or
guiding legislation.
Same; Same; Words and Phrases; When the Constitution speaks of ―national patrimony,‖ it refers not only to the
natural resources of the Philippines but also to the cultural heritage of the Filipinos.—In its plain and ordinary Same; Same; Words and Phrases; In constitutional jurisprudence, the acts of a person distinct from the
meaning, the term patrimony pertains to heritage. When the Constitution speaks of national patrimony, it refers government are considered ―state action‖ covered by the Constitution (1) when the activity it engages in is a
not only to the natural resources of the Philippines, as the Constitution could have very well used the term natural ―public function‖; (2) when the government is so significantly involved with the private actor as to make the
resources, but also to the cultural heritage of the Filipinos. government responsible for his action; and, (3) when the government has approved or authorized the action.—
Respondents further argue that the constitutional provision is addressed to the State, not to respondent GSIS which
Same; Same; Manila Hotel; Manila Hotel has become a landmark—a living testimonial of Philippine heritage.— by itself possesses a separate and distinct personality. This argument again is at best specious. It is undisputed that
Manila Hotel has become a landmark—a living testimonial of Philippine heritage. While it was restrictively an the sale of 51% of the MHC could only be carried out with the prior approval of the State acting through
American hotel when it first opened in 1912, it immediately evolved to be truly Filipino. Formerly a concourse for respondent Committee on Privatization. As correctly pointed out by Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., this fact alone
the elite, it has since then become the venue of various significant events which have shaped Philippine history. It makes the sale of the assets of respondents GSIS and MHC a ―state action.‖ In constitutional jurisprudence, the
was called the Cultural Center of the 1930‘s. It was the site of the festivities during the inauguration of the acts of persons distinct from the government are considered ―state action‖ covered by the Constitution (1) when
Philippine Commonwealth, Dubbed as the Official Guest House of the Philippine Government it plays host to the activity it engages in is a ―public function‖; (2) when the government is so significantly involved with the
dignitaries and official visitors who are accorded the traditional Philippine hospitality. private actor as to make the government responsible for his action; and, (3) when the government has approved or
authorized the action. It is evident that the act of respondent GSIS in selling 51% of its share in respondent MHC
Same; Same; Same; Verily, Manila Hotel has become part of our national economy and patrimony.—For more comes under the second and third categories of ―state action.‖ Without doubt therefore the transaction, although
than eight (8) decades Manila Hotel has bore mute witness to the triumphs and failures, loves and frustrations of entered into by respondent GSIS, is in fact a transaction of the State and therefore subject to the constitutional
the Filipinos; its existence is impressed with public interest; its own historicity associated with our struggle for command.
sovereignty, independence and nationhood. Verily, Manila Hotel has become part of our national economy and
patrimony. For sure, 51% of the equity of the MHC comes within the purview of the constitutional shelter for it

71 | P a g e
Same; Same; Same; When the Constitution addresses the State it refers not only to the people but also to the the instant case, where a foreign firm submits the highest bid in a public bidding concerning the grant of rights,
government as elements of the State.—When the Constitution addresses the State it refers not only to the people privileges and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony, thereby exceeding the bid of a Filipino,
but also to the government as elements of the State. After all, government is composed of three (3) divisions of there is no question that the Filipino will have to be allowed to match the bid of the foreign entity. And if the
power—legislative, executive and judicial. Accordingly, a constitutional mandate directed to the State is Filipino matches the bid of a foreign firm the award should go to the Filipino. It must be so if we are to give life
correspondingly directed to the three (3) branches of government. It is undeniable that in this case the subject and meaning to the Filipino First Policy provision of the 1987 Constitution. For, while this may neither be
constitutional injunction is addressed among others to the Executive Department and respondent GSIS, a expressly stated nor contemplated in the bidding rules, the constitutional fiat is omnipresent to be simply
government instrumentality deriving its authority from the State. disregarded. To ignore it would be to sanction a perilous skirting of the basic law.

Same; National Economy and Patrimony; Filipino First Policy; Bids and Bidding; Since the Filipino First Policy Same; Any person desiring to do business in the Philippines or with any of its agencies or instrumentalities is
provision of the Constitution bestows preference on qualified Filipinos, the mere tending of the highest bid is not presumed to know his rights and obligations under the Constitution and the laws of the forum.—This Court does
an assurance that the highest bidder will be declared the winning bidder.—It should be stressed that while the not discount the apprehension that this policy may discourage foreign investors. But the Constitution and laws of
Malaysian firm offered the higher bid it is not yet the winning bidder. The bidding rules expressly provide that the the Philippines are understood to be always open to public scrutiny. These are given factors which investors must
highest bidder shall only be declared the winning bidder after it has negotiated and executed the necessary consider when venturing into business in a foreign jurisdiction. Any person therefore desiring to do business in the
contracts, and secured the requisite approvals. Since the Filipino First Policy provision of the Constitution bestows Philippines or with any of its agencies or instrumentalities is presumed to know his rights and obligations under
preference on qualified Filipinos the mere tending of the highest bid is not an assurance that the highest bidder the Constitution and the laws of the forum.
will be declared the winning bidder. Resultantly, respondents are not bound to make the award yet, nor are they
under obligation to enter into one with the highest bidder. For in choosing the awardee respondents are mandated Same; Statutory Construction; The miscomprehension of the Constitution is regrettable, thus the Supreme Court
to abide by the dictates of the 1987 Constitution the provisions of which are presumed to be known to all the would rather remedy the indiscretion while there is still an opportunity to do so than let the government develop
bidders and other interested parties. the habit of forgetting that the Constitution lays down the basic conditions and parameters for its actions.—
Besides, there is no time frame for invoking the constitutional safeguard unless perhaps the award has been finally
Same; Same; Same; Same; Adhering to the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, the Filipino First Policy made. To insist on selling the Manila Hotel to foreigners when there is a Filipino group willing to match the bid of
constitutional provision is, as it should be, impliedly written in the bidding rules issued by GSIS, lest the bidding the foreign group is to insist that government be treated as any other ordinary market player, and bound by its
rules be nullified for being violative of the Constitution.—Adhering to the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, mistakes or gross errors of judgment, regardless of the consequences to the Filipino people. The
the subject constitutional provision is, as it should be, impliedly written in the bidding rules issued by respondent miscomprehension of the Constitution is regrettable. Thus we would rather remedy the indiscretion while there is
GSIS, lest the bidding rules be nullified for being violative of the Constitution. It is a basic principle in still an opportunity to do so than let the government develop the habit of forgetting that the Constitution lays down
constitutional law that all laws and contracts must conform with the fundamental law of the land. Those which the basic conditions and parameters for its actions.
violate the Constitution lose their reason for being.
Same; Same; National Economy and Patrimony; Filipino First Policy; Nationalism; The Filipino First Policy is a
Same; Same; Same; Same; Certainly, the constitutional mandate itself is reason enough not to award the block of product of Philippine nationalism, embodied in the 1987 Constitution not merely to be used as a guideline for
shares immediately to the foreign bidder notwithstanding its submission of a higher, or even the highest, bid— future legislation but primarily to be enforced—so must it be enforced.—The Filipino First Policy is a product of
Paragraph V.J.1 of the bidding rules provides that [i]f for any reason the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the Philippine nationalism. lt is embodied in the 1987 Constitution not merely to be used as a guideline for future
Block of Shares, GSIS may offer this to other Qualified Bidders that have validly submitted bids provided that legislation but primarily to be enforced; so must it be enforced. This Court as the ultimate guardian of the
these Qualified Bidders are willing to match the highest bid in terms of price per share. Certainly, the Constitution will never shun, under any reasonable circumstance, the duty of upholding the majesty of the
constitutional mandate itself is reason enough not to award the block of shares immediately to the foreign bidder Constitution which it is tasked to defend. It is worth emphasizing that it is not the intention of this Court to impede
notwithstanding its submission of a higher, or even the highest, bid. In fact, we cannot conceive of a stronger and diminish, much less undermine, the influx of foreign investments. Far from it, the Court encourages and
reason than the constitutional injunction itself. welcomes more business opportunities but avowedly sanctions the preference for Filipinos whenever such
preference is ordained by the Constitution.
Same; Same; Same; Where a foreign firm submits the highest bid in a public bidding concerning the grant of
rights, privileges and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony, thereby exceeding the bid of a Same; Same; Same; The Supreme Court will always defer to the Constitution in the proper governance of a free
Filipino, there is no question that the Filipino will have to be allowed to match the bid of the foreign entity.—ln society, after all, there is nothing so sacrosanct in any economic policy as to draw itself beyond judicial review

72 | P a g e
when the Constitution is involved.—Privatization of a business asset for purposes of enhancing its business the Philippine Constitution. And this Court, heeding the clarion call of the Constitution and accepting the duty of
viability and preventing further losses, regardless of the character of the asset, should not take precedence over being the elderly watchman of the nation, will continue to respect and protect the sanctity of the Constitution.
non-material values. A commercial, nay even a budgetary, objective should not be pursued at the expense of
national pride and dignity. For the Constitution enshrines higher and nobler non-material values. Indeed, the Court PADILLA, J ., Concurring Opinion:
will always defer to the Constitution in the proper governance of a free society; after all, there is nothing so
sacrosanct in any economic policy as to draw itself beyond judicial review when the Constitution is involved. Constitutional Law; National Economy and Patrimony; Manila Hotel; There is no doubt that the Manila Hotel is
very much a part of our national patrimony and, as such, deserves constitutional protection as to who shall own it
Same; Same; Same; Nationalism; Nationalism is inherent in the very concept of the Philippines being a and benefit from its operation.—There is no doubt in my mind that the Manila Hotel is very much a part of our
democratic and republican state, with sovereignty residing in the Filipino people and from whom all government national patrimony and, as such, deserves constitutional protection as to who shall own it and benefit from its
authority emanates.—Nationalism is inherent in the very concept of the Philippines being a democratic and operation. This institution has played an important role in our nation‘s history, having been the venue of many a
republican state, with sovereignty residing in the Filipino people and from whom all government authority historical event, and serving as it did, and as it does, as the Philippine Guest House for visiting foreign heads of
emanates. In nationalism, the happiness and welfare of the people must be the goal. The nation-state can have no state, dignitaries, celebrities, and others.
higher purpose. Any interpretation of any constitutional provision must adhere to such basic concept. Protection of
foreign investments, while laudible, is merely a policy. It cannot override the demands of nationalism. Same; Same; Same; Bids and Bidding; The Constitutional preference should give the qualified Filipino an
opportunity to match or equal the higher bid of the non-Filipino bidder if the preference of the qualified Filipino
Same; Same; Same; Same; Manila Hotel; Manila Hotel has played and continues to play a significant role as an bidder is to be significant at all.—Now, a word on preference. In my view ―preference to qualified Filipinos,‖ to
authentic repository of twentieth century Philippine history and culture, and in this sense, it has become truly a be meaningful, must refer not only to things that are peripheral, collateral, or tangential. It must touch and affect
reflection of the Filipino soul—a place with a history of grandeur, a most historical setting that has played a part in the very ―heart of the existing order.‖ In the field of public bidding in the acquisition of things that pertain to the
the shaping of a country.—The Manila Hotel or, for that matter, 51% of the MHC, is not just any commodity to be national patrimony, preference to qualified Filipinos must allow a qualified Filipino to match or equal the higher
sold to the highest bidder solely for the sake of privatization. We are not talking about an ordinary piece of bid of a non-Filipino; the preference shall not operate only when the bids of the qualified Filipino and the non-
property in a commercial district. We are talking about a historic relic that has hosted many of the most important Filipino are equal in which case, the award should undisputedly be made to the qualified Filipino. The
events in the short history of the Philippines as a nation. We are talking about a hotel where heads of states would Constitutional preference should give the qualified Filipino an opportunity to match or equal the higher bid of the
prefer to be housed as a strong manifestation of their desire to cloak the dignity of the highest state function to non-Filipino bidder if the preference of the qualified Filipino bidder is to be significant at all.
their official visits to the Philippines. Thus the Manila Hotel has played and continues to play a significant role as
an authentic repository of twentieth century Philippine history and culture. In this sense, it has become truly a Same; Same; Same; It is true that in this present age of globalization of attitude towards foreign investments in our
reflection of the Filipino soul—a place with a history of grandeur; a most historical setting that has played a part in country, stress is on the elimination of barriers to foreign trade and investment in the country, yet we should not
the shaping of a country. preclude ourselves from reserving to us Filipinos certain areas where our national identity, culture and heritage are
involved.—It is true that in this present age of globalization of attitude towards foreign investments in our country,
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; The conveyance of Manila Hotel, an epic exponent of the Filipino psyche, to stress is on the elimination of barriers to foreign trade and investment in the country. While government agencies,
alien hands cannot be less than mephistophelian for it is, in whatever manner viewed, a veritable alienation of a including the courts should recondition their thinking to such a trend, and make it easy and even attractive for
nation‘s soul for some pieces of foreign silver.—This Court cannot extract rhyme nor reason from the determined foreign investors to come to our shores, yet we should not preclude ourselves from reserving to us Filipinos
efforts of respondents to sell the historical landmark—this Grand Old Dame of hotels in Asia—to a total stranger. certain areas where our national identity, culture and heritage are involved. In the hotel industry, for instance,
For, indeed, the conveyance of this epic exponent of the Filipino psyche to alien hands cannot be less than foreign investors have established themselves creditably, such as in the Shangri-La, the Nikko, the Peninsula, and
mephistophelian for it is, in whatever manner viewed, a veritable alienation of a nation‘s soul for some pieces of Mandarin Hotels. This should not stop us from retaining 51% of the capital stock of the Manila Hotel Corporation
foreign silver. And so we ask: What advantage, which cannot be equally drawn from a qualified Filipino, can be in the hands of Filipinos. This would be in keeping with the intent of the Filipino people to preserve our national
gained by the Filipinos if Manila Hotel—and all that it stands for—is sold to a non-Filipino? How much of patrimony, including our historical and cultural heritage in the hands of Filipinos.
national pride will vanish if the nation‘s cultural heritage is entrusted to a foreign entity? On the other hand, how
much dignity will be preserved and realized if the national patrimony is safekept in the hands of a qualified, VITUG, J., Separate Opinion:
zealous and wellmeaning Filipino? This is the plain and simple meaning of the Filipino First Policy provision of
Constitutional Law; National Economy and Patrimony; Manila Hotel; Bids and Bidding; In this particular case
before us, the only meaningful preference, it seems, would realty be to allow the qualified Filipino to match the
73 | P a g e
foreign bid.—On the pivotal issue of the degree of preference to qualified Filipinos,‖ I find it somewhat difficult should not be placed in the auction block of a purely business transaction, where profit subverts the cherished
to take the same path traversed by the forceful reasoning of Justice Puno. In the particular case before us, the only historical values of our people.
meaningful preference it seems, would really be to allow the qualified Filipino to match the foreign bid for, as a
practical matter, I cannot see any bid that literally calls for millions of dollars to be at par (to the last cent) with PUNO, J., Dissenting Opinion:
another. The magnitude of the bids is such that it becomes hardly possible for the competing bids to stand exactly
―equal‖ which alone, under the dissenting view, could trigger the right of preference. Constitutional Law; Statutory Construction; To determine whether a particular provision of a Constitution is self-
executing, a searching inquiry should be made to find out if the provision is intended as a present enactment,
Same; Separation of Powers; Supreme Court; Judicial Review; It is regrettable that the Supreme Court at times is complete in itself as a definite law, or if it needs future legislation for completion and enforcement.—To
seen to be the refuge for bureaucratic inadequacies which create the perception that it even takes on non- determine whether a particular provision of a Constitution is selfexecuting is a hard row to hoe. The key lies on
justiciable controversies.—It is most unfortunate that Renong Berhad has not been spared this great the intent of the framers of the fundamental law oftentimes submerged in its language. A searching inquiry should
disappointment, a letdown that it did not deserve, by a simple and timely advise of the proper rules of bidding be made to find out if the provision is intended as a present enactment, complete in itself as a definitive law, or if
along with the peculiar constitutional implications of the proposed transaction. It is also regrettable that. the Court it needs future legislation for completion and en-forcement. The inquiry demands a micro-analysis of the text and
at times is seen to, instead, be the refuge for bureaucratic inadequacies which create the perception that it even the context of the provision in question.
takes on nonjusticiable controversies.
Same; Same; Suffused with wisdom of the ages is the unyielding rule that legislative actions may give breath to
MENDOZA, J., Concurring in the Judgment: constitutional rights but congressional inaction should not suffocate them.—Courts as a rule consider the
provisions of the Constitution as selfexecuting, rather than as requiring future legislation for their enforcement.
Constitutional Law; National Economy and Patrimony; Manila Hotel; Bids and Bidding; In the context of the The reason is not difficult to discern. For if they are not treated as self-executing, the mandate of the fundamental
present controversy the only way to enforce the constitutional mandate that "[i]n the grant of rights, privileges and law ratified by the sovereign people can be easily ignored and nullified by Congress. Suffused with wisdom of the
concessions covering the national patrimony the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos‖ is to allow ages is the unyielding rule that legislative actions may give breath to constitutional rights but congressional
petitioner ioner Philippine corporation to equal the bid of the Malaysian firm for the purchase of the controlling inaction should not suffocate them.
shares of stocks in the Manila Hotel Corporation.—I take the view that in the context of the present contro-versy
the only way to enforce the constitutional mandate that "[i]n the grant of rights, privileges and concessions Same; Same; A constitutional provision is not self-executing where it merely announces a policy and its language
covering the national patrimony the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos‖ is to allow petitioner empowers the Legislature to prescribe the means by which the policy shall be carried into effect.—Contrariwise,
Philippine corporation to equal the bid of the Malaysian firm Renong Berhad for the purchase of the controlling case law lays down the rule that a constitutional provision is not self-executing where it merely announces a policy
shares of stocks in the Manila Hotel Corporation. Indeed, it is the only way a qualified Filipino or Philippine and its language empowers the Legislature to prescribe the means by which the policy shall be carried into effect.
corporation can be given preference in the enjoyment of a right, privilege or concession given by the State, by
favoring it over a foreign national or corporation. Same; Government-Owned and Controlled Corporations; Government Service Insurance System; As a state-
owned and controlled corporation, the GSIS is skin-bound to adhere to the policies spelled out in the Constitution
TORRES, JR., J., Separate Opinion: especially those designed to promote the general welfare of the people.—The submission is unimpressive. The
GSIS is not a pure private corporation. It is essentially a public corporation created by Congress and granted an
Constitutional Law; National Economy and Patrimony; Manila Hotel; Bids and Bidding; The history of the Manila original charter to serve a public purpose. It is subject to the jurisdictions of the Civil Service Commission and the
Hotel should not be placed in the auction block of a purely business transaction, where profit subverts the Commission on Audit. As a state-owned and controlled corporation, it is skin-bound to adhere to the policies
cherished historical values of our people.—I subscribe to the view that history, culture, heritage, and tradition are spelled out in the Constitution especially those designed to promote the general welfare of the people. One of
not legislated and is the product of events, customs, usages and practices. It is actually a product of growth and these policies is the Filipino First Policy which the people elevated as a constitutional command.
acceptance by the collective mores of a race. It is the spirit and soul of a people. The Manila Hotel is part of our
history, culture and heritage. Every inch of the Manila Hotel is witness to historic events (too numerous to Same; Only a constitution strung with elasticity can grow as a living constitution.—The fourth issue demands that
mention) which shaped our history for almost 84 years. As I intimated earlier, it is not my position in this opinion, we look at the content of the phrase ―qualified Filipinos‖ and their ―preferential right.‖ The Constitution desisted
to examine the single instances of the legal largesse which have given rise to this controversy, as I believe that has from defining their contents. This is as it ought to be for a Constitution only lays down flexible policies and
been exhaustively discussed in the ponencia. Suffice it to say at this point, that the history of the Manila Hotel principles which can be bent to meet today‘s manifest needs and tomorrow‘s unmanifested demands. Only a
constitution strung with elasticity can grow as a living constitution.
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Same; National Economy and Patrimony; Filipino First Policy; The second paragraph of Section 10, Article XII of Claro M. Recto has warned us that the greatest tragedy that can befall a Filipino is to be an alien in his own land.
the Constitution is pro-Filipino but not anti-alien—it is pro-Filipino for it gives preference to Filipinos but it is not The Constitution has embodied Recto‘s counsel as a state policy and our decision should be in sync with this
anti-alien per se for it does not absolutely bar aliens in the grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering the policy. But while the Filipino First Policy requires that we incline to a Filipino, it does not demand that we wrong
national economy and patrimony.—Thus, we come to the critical issue of the degree of preference which GSIS an alien. Our policy makers can write laws and rules giving favored treatment to the Filipino but we are not free to
should have accorded petitioner, a qualified Filipino, over Renong Berhad, a foreigner, in the purchase of the be unfair to a foreigner after writing the laws and the rules. After the laws are written, they must be obeyed as
controlling shares of the Manila Hotel. Petitioner claims that after losing the bid, this right of preference gives it a written, by Filipinos and foreigners alike. The equal protection clause of the Constitution protects all against
second chance to match the highest bid of Renong Berhad. With due respect, I cannot sustain petitioner‘s unfairness. We can be pro-Filipino without unfairness to foreigners.
submission. I prescind from the premise that the second paragraph of Section 10, Article XII of the Constitution is
pro-Filipino but not anti-alien. It is pro-Filipino for it gives preference to Filipinos. It is not, however, anti-alien PANGANIBAN, J., Dissenting Opinion:
per se for it does not absolutely bar aliens in the grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering the national
economy and patrimony. Indeed, in the absence of qualified Filipinos, the State is not prohibited from granting Constitutional Law; National Economy and Patrimony; Filipino First Policy; Bids and Bidding; The majority‘s
these rights, privileges and concessions to foreigners if the act will promote the weal of the nation. strained interpretation constitutes unadulterated judicial legislation, which makes bidding a ridiculous sham where
no Filipino can lose and where no foreigner can win.—The majority contends the Constitution should be
Same; Same; Same; In implementing the policy articulated in Section 10, Article XII of the Constitution, the interpreted to mean that, after a bidding process is concluded, the losing Filipino bidder should be given the right
stellar task of our State policy-makers is to maintain a creative tension between two desiderata—first, the need to to equal the highest foreign bid, and thus to win. However, the Constitution [Sec. 10(2), Art. XII] simply states
develop our economy and patrimony with the help of foreigners if necessary, and, second, the need to keep our that ―in the grant of rights x x x covering the national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to
economy controlled by Filipinos.—In implementing the policy articulated in Section 10, Article XII of the qualified Filipinos.‖ The majority concedes that there is no law defining the extent or degree of such preference.
Constitution, the stellar task of our State policy-makers is to maintain a creative tension between two desiderata— Specifically, no statute empowers a losing Filipino bidder to increase his bid and equal that of the winning
first, the need to develop our economy and patrimony with the help of foreigners if necessary, and, second, the foreigner. In the absence of such empowering law, the majority‘s strained interpretation, I respectfully submit,
need to keep our economy controlled by Filipinos. Rightfully, the framers of the Constitution did not define the constitutes unadulterated judicial legislation, which makes bidding a ridiculous sham where no Filipino can lose
degree of the right of preference to be given to qualified Filipinos. They knew that for the right to serve the and where no foreigner can win. Only in the Philippines!
general welfare, it must have a malleable content that can be adjusted by our policy-makers to meet the changing
needs of our people. In fine, the right of preference of qualified Filipinos is to be determined by degree as time SPECIAL CIVIL ACTION in the Supreme Court. Prohibition and Mandamus.
dictates and circumstances warrant. The lesser the need for alien assistance, the greater the degree of the right of
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
preference can be given to Filipinos and vice versa.
Arturo M. Tolentino for petitioner.
Same; Same; Same; Bids and Bidding; 1 submit that the right of preference of a Filipino bidder arises only if it
tied the bid of the foreign bidder.—To date, Congress has not enacted a law defining the degree of the preferential Napoleon G. Rama, Adolfo S. Azcuna, Perla Y. Duque & Francis Y. Gaw for Manila Prince Hotel Corp.
right. Consequently, we must turn to the rules and regulations of respondents Committee on Privatization and
GSIS to determine the degree of preference that petitioner is entitled to as a qualified Filipino in the subject sale. The Government Corporate Counsel for G.S.I.S.
A tearless look at the rules and regulations will show that they are silent on the degree of preferential right to be
accorded a qualified Filipino bidder. Despite their silence, however, they cannot be read to mean that they do not Yulo, Torres, Tarriela & Bello Law Office for Manila Hotel Corporation.
grant any degree of preference to petitioner for paragraph 2, Section 10, Article XII of the Constitution is deemed
part of said rules and regulations. Pursuant to legal hermeneutics which demand that we interpret rules to save Jooaquin Bernas and Enrique M. Fernando amici curiae.
them from unconstitutionality, I submit that the right of preference of petitioner arises only if it tied the bid of
Renong Berhad. In that instance, all things stand equal, and petitioner, as a qualified Filipino bidder, should be BELLOSILLO, J.:
preferred.
The Filipino First Policy enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, i.e., in the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions
Same; Same; Same; While the Filipino First Policy requires that we incline to a Filipino, it does not demand that covering the national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos,1 is invoked by
we wrong an alien.—We support the Filipino First Policy without any reservation. The visionary nationalist Don petitioner in its bid to acquire 51% of the shares of the Manila Hotel Corporation (MHC) which owns the historic

75 | P a g e
Manila Hotel. Opposing, respondents maintain that the provision is not selfexecuting but requires an implementing manager‘s check issued by Philtrust Bank for Thirty-three Million Pesos (P33,000,000.00) as Bid Security to
legislation for its enforcement. Corollarily, they ask whether the 51% shares form part of the national economy match the bid of the Malaysian Group, Messrs. Renong Berhad x x x x5 which respondent GSIS refused to accept.
and patrimony covered by the protective mantle of the Constitution.
On 17 October 1995, perhaps apprehensive that respondent GSIS has disregarded the tender of the matching bid
The controversy arose when respondent Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), pursuant to the and that the sale of 51% of the MHC may be hastened by respondent GSIS and consummated with Renong
privatization program of the Philippine Government under Proclamation No. 50 dated 8 December 1986, decided Berhad, petitioner came to this Court on prohibition and mandamus. On 18 October 1995 the Court issued a
to sell through public bidding 30% to 51% of the issued and outstanding shares of respondent MHC. The winning temporary restraining order enjoining respondents from perfecting and consummating the sale to the Malaysian
bidder, or the eventual ―strategic partner,‖ is to provide management expertise and/or an international marketing / firm.
reservation system, and financial support to strengthen the profitability and performance of the Manila Hotel.2 In a
close bidding held on 18 September 1995 only two (2) bidders participated: petitioner Manila Prince Hotel On 10 September 1996 the instant case was accepted by the Court En Banc after it was was referred to it by the
Corporation, a Filipino corporation, which offered to buy 51% of the MHC or 15,300,000 shares at P41.58 per First Division. The case was then set for oral arguments with former Chief Justice Enrique M. Fernando and Fr.
share, and Renong Berhad, a Malaysian firm, with ITT-Sheraton as its hotel operator, which bid for the same Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., as amici curiae.
number of shares at P44.00 per share, or P2.42 more than the bid of petitioner.
In the main, petitioner invokes Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, of the 1987 Constitution and submits that the Manila
Pertinent provisions of the bidding rules prepared by respondent GSIS state— Hotel has been identified with the Filipino nation and has practically become a historical monument which reflects
the vibrancy of Philippine heritage and culture. It is a proud legacy of an earlier generation of Filipinos who
I. EXECUTION OF THE NECESSARY CONTRACTS WITH GSIS/MHC— believed in the nobility and sacredness of independence and its power and capacity to release the full potential of
the Filipino people. To all intents and purposes, it has become a part of the national patrimony.6 Petitioner also
1. The Highest Bidder must comply with the conditions set forth below by October 23, 1995 (reset to November 3, argues that since 51% of the shares of the MHC carries with it the ownership of the business of the hotel which is
1995) or the Highest Bidder will lose the right to purchase the Block of Shares and GSIS will instead offer the owned by respondent GSIS, a government-owned and controlled corporation, the hotel business of respondent
Block of Shares to the other Qualified Bidders: GSIS being a part of the tourism industry is unquestionably a part of the national economy. Thus, any transaction
involving 51% of the shares of stock of the MHC is clearly covered by the term national economy, to which Sec.
a. The Highest Bidder must negotiate and execute with the GSIS/MHC the Management Contract, International 10, second par., Art. XII, 1987 Constitution, applies.7
Marketing/Reservation System Contract or other type of contract specified by the Highest Bidder in its strategic
plan for the Manila Hotel x x x x It is also the thesis of petitioner that since Manila Hotel is part of the national patrimony and its business also
unquestionably part of the national economy petitioner should be preferred after it has matched the bid offer of the
b. The Highest Bidder must execute the Stock Purchase and Sale Agreement with GSIS x x x x Malaysian firm. For the bidding rules mandate that if for any reason, the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the
Block of Shares, GSIS may offer this to the other Qualified Bidders that have validly submitted bids provided that
K. DECLARATION OF THE WINNING BIDDER/STRATEGIC PARTNER—
these Qualified Bidders are willing to match the highest bid in terms of price per share.8
The Highest Bidder will be declared the Winning Bidder/Strategic Partner after the following conditions are met:
Respondents except. They maintain that: First. Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, of the 1987 Constitution is merely a
a. Execution of the necessary contracts with GSIS/MHC not later than October 23, 1995 (reset to November 3, statement of principle and policy since it is not a self-executing provision and requires implementing legislation(s)
1995); and x x x x Thus, for the said provision to operate, there must be existing laws ―to lay down conditions under which
business may be done."9
b. Requisite approvals from the GSIS/MHC and COP (Committee on Privatization)/OGCC (Office of the
Government Corporate Counsel) are obtained."3 Second. granting that this provision is self-executing, Manila Hotel does not fall under the term national patrimony
which only refers to lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum and other mineral oils, all forces
Pending the declaration of Renong Berhad as the winning bidder/strategic partner and the execution of the of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna and all marine wealth in its territorial sea,
necessary contracts, petitioner in a letter to respondent GSIS dated 28 September 1995 matched the bid price of and exclusive marine zone as cited in the first and second paragraphs of Sec. 2, Art. XII, 1987 Constitution.
P44.00 per share tendered by Renong Berhad.4 In a subsequent letter dated 10 October 1995 petitioner sent a According to respondents, while petitioner speaks of the guests who have slept in the hotel and the events that
have transpired therein which make the hotel historic, these alone do not make the hotel fall under the patrimony
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of the nation. What is more, the mandate of the Constitution is addressed to the State, not to respondent GSIS inalienable rights of citizens.12 A provision which lays down a general principle, such as those found in Art. II of
which possesses a personality of its own separate and distinct from the Philippines as a State, the 1987 Constitution, is usually not self-executing. But a provision which is complete in itself and becomes
operative without the aid of supplementary or enabling legislation, or that which supplies sufficient rule by means
Third, granting that the Manila Hotel forms part of the national patrimony, the constitutional provision invoked is of which the right it grants may be enjoyed or protected, is self-executing. Thus a constitutional provision is self-
still inapplicable since what is being sold is only 51% of the outstanding shares of the corporation, not the hotel executing if the nature and extent of the right conferred and the liability imposed are fixed by the constitution
building nor the land upon which the building stands. Certainly, 51% of the equity of the MHC cannot be itself, so that they can be determined by an examination and construction of its terms, and there is no language
considered part of the national patrimony. Moreover, if the disposition of the shares of the MHC is really contrary indicating that the subject is referred to the legislature for action.13
to the Constitution, petitioner should have questioned it right from the beginning and not after it had lost in the
bidding. As against constitutions of the past, modern constitutions have been generally drafted upon a different principle
and have often become in effect extensive codes of laws intended to operate directly upon the people in a manner
Fourth. the reliance by petitioner on par. V., subpar. J. 1., of the bidding rules which provides that if for any similar to that of statutory enactments, and the function of constitutional conventions has evolved into one more
reason, the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the Block of Shares, GSIS may offer this to the other Qualified like that of a legislative body. Hence, unless it is expressly provided that a legislative act is necessary to enforce a
Bidders that have validly submitted bids provided that these Qualified Bidders are willing to match the highest bid constitutional mandate, the presumption now is that all provisions of the constitution are self-executing. If the
in terms of price per share, is misplaced. Respondents postulate that the privilege of submitting a matching bid has constitutional provisions are treated as requiring legislation instead of self-executing, the legislature would have
not yet arisen since it only takes place if for any reason, the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the Block of the power to ignore and practically nullify the mandate of the fundamental law.14 This can be cataclysmic. That is
Shares. Thus the submission by petitioner of a matching bid is premature since Renong Berhad could still very why the prevailing view is, as it has always been, that—
well be awarded the block of shares and the condition giving rise to the exercise of the privilege to submit a
matching bid had not yet taken place. x x x x in case of doubt, the Constitution should be considered self-executing rather than non-self-executing x x x
x Unless the contrary is clearly intended, the provisions of the Constitution should be considered self-executing, as
Finally, the prayer for prohibition grounded on grave abuse of discretion should fail since respondent GSIS did not a contrary rule would give the legislature discretion to determine when, or whether, they shall be effective. These
exercise its discretion in a capricious, whimsical manner, and if ever it did abuse its discretion it was not so patent provisions would be subordinated to the will of the lawmaking body, which could make them entirely meaningless
and gross as to amount to an evasion of a positive duty or a virtual refusal to perform a duty enjoined by law. by simply refusing to pass the needed implementing statute.15
Similarly, the petition for mandamus should fail as petitioner has no clear legal right to what it demands and
respondents do not have an imperative duty to perform the act required of them by petitioner. Respondents argue that Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII, of the 1987 Constitution is clearly not self-executing, as
they quote from discussions on the floor of the 1986 Constitutional Commission—
We now resolve. A constitution is a system of fundamental laws for the governance and administration of a nation.
It is supreme, imperious, absolute and unalterable except by the authority from which it emanates. It has been MR. RODRIGO. Madam President, I am asking this question as the Chairman of the Committee on Style. If the
defined as the fundamental and paramount law of the nation.10 It prescribes the permanent framework of a system wording of ―PREFERENCE" is given to QUALIFIED FILIPINOS," can it be understood as a preference to
of government, assigns to the different departments their respective powers and duties, and establishes certain qualified Filipinos vis-à-vis Filipinos who are not qualified. So, why do we not make it clear? To qualified
fixed principles on which government is founded. The fundamental conception in other words is that it is a Filipinos as against aliens?
supreme law to which all other laws must conform and in accordance with which all private rights must be
determined and all public authority administered.11 Under the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, if a law or THE PRESIDENT. What is the question of Commissioner Rodrigo? Is it to remove the word ―QUALIFIED?"
contract violates any norm of the constitution that law or contract whether promulgated by the legislative or by the
executive branch or entered into by private persons for private purposes is null and void and without any force and MR. RODRIGO; No, no, but say definitely ―TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS" as against whom? As against aliens or
effect. Thus, since the Constitution is the fundamental, paramount and supreme law of the nation, it is deemed over aliens?
written in every statute and contract.
MR. NOLLEDO. Madam President, I think that is understood. We use the word ―QUALIFIED" because the
Admittedly, some constitutions are merely declarations of policies and principles. Their provisions command the existing laws or prospective laws will always lay down conditions under which business may be done. For
legislature to enact laws and carry out the purposes of the framers who merely establish an outline of government example, qualifications on capital, qualifications on the setting up of other financial structures, et cetera (italics
providing for the different departments of the governmental machinery and securing certain fundamental and supplied by respondents).

77 | P a g e
MR. RODRIGO. It is just a matter of style. human liberation and development.33 A reading of these provisions indeed clearly shows that they are not
judicially enforceable constitutional rights but merely guidelines for legislation. The very terms of the provisions
MR. NOLLEDO. Yes.16 manifest that they are only principles upon which legislations must be based. Res ipsa loquitur.

Quite apparently, Sec. 10, second par., of Art. XII is couched in such a way as not to make it appear that it is On the other hand, Sec. 10, second par., Art. XII of the 1987 Constitution is a mandatory, positive command
nonself-executing but simply for purposes of style. But, certainly, the legislature is not precluded from enacting which is complete in itself and which needs no further guidelines or implementing laws or rules for its
further laws to enforce the constitutional provision so long as the contemplated statute squares with the enforcement. From its very words the provision does not require any legislation to put it in operation. lt is per se
Constitution. Minor details may be left to the legislature without impairing the selfexecuting nature of judicially enforceable. When our Constitution mandates that [i]n the grant of rights, privileges, and concessions
constitutional provisions. covering national economy and patrimony, the State shall give preference to qualified Filipinos, it means just
that—qualified Filipinos shall be preferred. And when our Constitution declares that a right exists in certain
In self-executing constitutional provisions, the legislature may still enact legislation to facilitate the exercise of specified circumstances an action may be maintained to enforce such right notwithstanding the absence of any
powers directly granted by the constitution, further the operation of such a provision, prescribe a practice to be legislation on the subject; consequently, if there is no statute especially enacted to enforce such constitutional
used for its enforcement, provide a convenient remedy for the protection of the rights secured or the determination right, such right enforces itself by its own inherent potency and puissance, and from which all legislations must
thereof, or place reasonable safeguards around the exercise of the right. The mere fact that legislation may take their bearings. Where there is a right there is a remedy. Ubi jus ibi remedium.
supplement and add to or prescribe a penalty for the violation of a self-executing constitutional provision does not
render such a provision ineffective in the absence of such legislation. The omission from a constitution of any As regards our national patrimony, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission34 explains—
express provision for a remedy for enforcing a right or liability is not necessarily an indication that it was not
intended to be self-executing. The rule is that a self-executing provision of the constitution does not necessarily The patrimony of the Nation that should be conserved and developed refers not only to our rich natural resources
exhaust legislative power on the subject, but any legislation must be in harmony with the constitution, further the but also to the cultural heritage of our race. It also refers to our intelligence in arts, sciences and letters. Therefore,
exercise of constitutional right and make it more available.17 Subsequent legislation however does not necessarily we should develop not only our lands, forests, mines and other natural resources but also the mental ability or
mean that the subject constitutional provision is not, by itself, fully enforceable. faculty of our people.

Respondents also argue that the non-self-executing nature of Sec. 10, second par., of Art. XII is implied from the We agree. In its plain and ordinary meaning, the term patrimony pertains to heritage.35 When the Constitution
tenor of the first and third paragraphs of the same section which undoubtedly are not self-executing.18 The speaks of national patrimony, it refers not only to the natural resources of the Philippines, as the Constitution
argument is flawed. If the first and third paragraphs are not self-executing because Congress is still to enact could have very well used the term natural resources, but also to the cultural heritage of the Filipinos.
measures to encourage the formation and operation of enterprises fully owned by Filipinos, as in the first
paragraph, and the State still needs legislation to regulate and exercise authority over foreign investments within Manila Hotel has become a landmark—a living testimonial of Philippine heritage. While it was restrictively an
its national jurisdiction, as in the third paragraph, then a fortiori, by the same logic, the second paragraph can only American hotel when it first opened in 1912, it immediately evolved to be truly Filipino. Formerly a concourse for
be self-executing as it does not by its language require any legislation in order to give preference to qualified the elite, it has since then become the venue of various significant events which have shaped Philippine history. It
Filipinos in the grant of rights, privileges and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony. A was called the Cult ural Center of the 1930‘s. It was the site of the festivities during the inauguration of the
constitutional provision may be self-executing in one part and non-self-executing in another.19 Philippine Commonwealth. Dubbed as the Official Guest House of the Philippine Government it plays host to
dignitaries and official visitors who are accorded the traditional Philippine hospitality.36
Even the cases cited by respondents holding that certain constitutional provisions are merely statements of
principles and policies, which are basically not self-executing and only placed in the Constitution as moral The history of the hotel has been chronicled in the book The Manila Hotel: The Heart and Memory of a City.37
incentives to legislation, not as judicially enforceable rights—are simply not in point. Basco v. Philippine During World War II the hotel was converted by the Japanese Military Administration into a military
Amusements and Gaming Corporation20 speaks of constitutional provisions on personal dignity,21 the sanctity of headquarters, When the American forces returned to recapture Manila the hotel was selected by the Japanese
family life,22 the vital role of the youth in nation-building,23 the promotion of social justice,24 and the values of together with Intramuros as the two (2) places for their final stand. Thereafter, in the 1950‘s and 1960‘s, the hotel
education.25 Tolentino v. Secretary of Finance26 refers to constitutional provisions on social justice and human became the center of political activities, playing host to almost every political convention. In 1970 the hotel
rights27 and on education.28 Lastly, Kilosbayan, Inc. v. Morato29 cites provisions on the promotion of general reopened after a renovation and reaped numerous international recognitions, an acknowledgment of the Filipino
welfare,30 the sanctity of family life,31 the vital role of the youth in nation-building32 and the promotion of total talent and ingenuity. In 1986 the hotel was the site of a failed coup d‘etat where an aspirant for vice-president was
―proclaimed‖ President of the Philippine Republic.
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For more than eight (8) decades Manila Hotel has bore mute witness to the triumphs and failures, loves and The exchange of views in the sessions of the Constitutional Commission regarding the subject provision was still
frustrations of the Filipinos; its existence is impressed with public interest; its own historicity associated with our further clarified by Commissioner Nolledo43—
struggle for sovereignty, independence and nationhood. Verily, Manila Hotel has become part of our national
economy and patrimony. For sure, 51% of the equity of the MHC comes within the purview of the constitutional Paragraph 2 of Section 10 explicitly mandates the ―Pro-Filipino‖ bias in all economic concerns. It is better known
shelter for it comprises the majority and controlling stock, so that anyone who acquires or owns the 51% will have as the FILIPINO FIRST Policy x x x x This provision was never found in previous Constitutions x x x x
actual control and management of the hotel. In this instance, 51% of the MHC cannot be disassociated from the
hotel and the land on which the hotel edifice stands. Consequently, we cannot sustain respondents‘ claim that the The term ―qualified Filipinos‖ simply means that preference shall be given to those citizens who can make a
Filipino First Policy provision is not applicable since what is being sold is only 51% of the outstanding shares of viable contribution to the common good, because of credible competence and efficiency. It certainly does NOT
the corporation, not the Hotel building nor the land upon which the building stands.38 mandate the pampering and preferential treatment to Filipino citizens or organizations that are incompetent or
inefficient, since such an indiscriminate preference would be counterproductive and inimical to the common good.
The argument is pure sophistry. The term qualified Filipinos as used in our Constitution also includes corporations
at least 60% of which is owned by Filipinos. This is very clear from the proceedings of the 1986 Constitutional In the granting of economic rights, privileges, and concessions, when a choice has to be made between a
Commission ―qualified foreigner‖ and a ―qualified Filipino,‖ the latter shall be chosen over the former.‖

THE PRESIDENT. Commissioner Davide is recognized. Lastly, the word qualified is also determinable, Petitioner was so considered by respondent GSIS and selected as
one of the qualified bidders. It was pre-qualified by respondent GSIS in accordance with its own guidelines so that
MR. DAVIDE. I would like to introduce an amendment to the Nolledo amendment. And the amendment would the sole inference here is that petitioner has been found to be possessed of proven management expertise in the
consist in substituting the words ―QUALIFIED FILIPINOS" with the following: ―CITIZENS OF THE hotel industry, or it has significant equity ownership in another hotel company, or it has an overall management
PHILIPPINES OR CORPORATIONS OR ASSOCIATIONS WHOSE CAPITAL OR CONTROLLING STOCK and marketing proficiency to successfully operate the Manila Hotel.44
IS WHOLLY OWNED BY SUCH CITIZENS."
The penchant to try to whittle away the mandate of the Constitution by arguing that the subject provision is not
xxxx selfexecutory and requires implementing legislation is quite disturbing. The attempt to violate a clear
constitutional provision—by the government itself—is only too distressing. To adopt such a line of reasoning is to
MR. FOZ. In connection with that amendment, if a foreign enterprise is qualified and a Filipino enterprise is also renounce the duty to ensure faithfulness to the Constitution. For, even some of the provisions of the Constitution
qualified, will the Filipino enterprise still be given a preference? which evidently need implementing legislation have juridical life of their own and can be the source of a judicial
remedy. We cannot simply afford the government a defense that arises out of the failure to enact further enabling,
MR. NOLLEDO. Obviously. implementing or guiding legislation. In fine, the discourse of Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., on constitutional
government is apt—
MR. FOZ. If the foreigner is more qualified in some aspects than the Filipino enterprise, will the Filipino still be
preferred? The executive department has a constitutional duty to implement laws, including the Constitution, even before
Congress acts—provided that there are discoverable legal standards for executive action. When the executive acts,
MR. NOLLEDO. The answer is ―yes.‖ it must be guided by its own understanding of the constitutional command and of applicable laws. The
responsibility for reading and understanding the Constitution and the laws is not the sole prerogative of Congress.
MR. FOZ. Thank you.41
If it were, the executive would have to ask Congress, or perhaps the Court, for an interpretation every time the
Expounding further on the Filipino First Policy provision Commissioner Nolledo continues— executive is confronted by a constitutional command. That is not how constitutional government operates.45

MR. NOLLEDO. Yes, Madam President. Instead of ―MUST," it will be ―SHALL—THE STATE SHALL GIVE Respondents further argue that the constitutional provision is addressed to the State, not to respondent GSIS which
PREFERENCE TO QUALIFIED FILIPINOS." This embodies the so-called ―Filipino First‖ policy. That means by itself possesses a separate and distinct personality. This argument again is at best specious. It is undisputed that
that Filipinos should be given preference in the grant of concessions, privileges and rights covering the national the sale of 51% of the MHC could only be carried out with the prior approval of the State acting through
patrimony.42 respondent Committee on Privatization. As correctly pointed out by Fr. Joaquin G. Bernas, S.J., this fact alone
makes the sale of the assets of respondents GSIS and MHC a ―state action.‖ In constitutional jurisprudence, the
79 | P a g e
acts of persons distinct from the government are considered ―state action‖ covered by the Constitution (1) when expressly stated nor contemplated in the bidding rules, the constitutional fiat is omnipresent to be simply
the activity it engages in is a ―public function‖; (2) when the government is so significantly involved with the disregarded. To ignore it would be to sanction a perilous skirting of the basic law.
private actor as to make the government responsible for his action; and, (3) when the government has approved or
authorized the action. It is evident that the act of respondent GSIS in selling 51% of its share in respondent MHC This Court does not discount the apprehension that this policy may discourage foreign investors. But the
comes under the second and third categories of ―state action.‖ Without doubt therefore the transaction, although Constitution and laws of the Philippines are understood to be always open to public scrutiny. These are given
entered into by respondent GSIS, is in fact a transaction of the State and therefore subject to the constitutional factors which investors must consider when venturing into business in a foreign jurisdiction. Any person therefore
command.46 desiring to do business in the Philippines or with any of its agencies or instrumentalities is presumed to know his
rights and obligations under the Constitution and the laws of the forum.
When the Constitution addresses the State it refers not only to the people but also to the government as elements
of the State. After all, government is composed of three (3) divisions of power—legislative, executive and judicial. The argument of respondents that petitioner is now estopped from questioning the sale to Renong Berhad since
Accordingly, a constitutional mandate directed to the State is correspondingly directed to the three (3) branches of petitioner was well aware from the beginning that a foreigner could participate in the bidding is meritless.
government. It is undeniable that in this case the subject constitutional injunction is addressed among others to the Undoubtedly, Filipinos and foreigners alike were invited to the bidding. But foreigners may be awarded the sale
Executive Department and respondent GSIS, a government instrumentality deriving its authority from the State. only if no Filipino qualifies, or if the qualified Filipino fails to match the highest bid tendered by the foreign
entity. In the case before us, while petitioner was already preferred at the inception of the bidding because of the
It should be stressed that while the Malaysian firm offered the higher bid it is not yet the winning bidder. The constitutional mandate, petitioner had not yet matched the bid offered by Renong Berhad. Thus it did not have the
bidding rules expressly provide that the highest bidder shall only be declared the winning bidder after it has right or personality then to compel respondent GSIS to accept its earlier bid. Rightly, only after it had matched the
negotiated and executed the necessary contracts, and secured the requisite approvals. Since the Filipino First bid of the foreign firm and the apparent disregard by respondent GSIS of petitioner‘s matching bid did the latter
Policy provision of the Constitution bestows preference on qualified Filipinos the mere tending of the highest bid have a cause of action.
is not an assurance that the highest bidder will be declared the winning bidder. Resultantly, respondents are not
bound to make the award yet, nor are they under obligation to enter into one with the highest bidder. For in Besides, there is no time frame for invoking the constitutional safeguard unless perhaps the award has been finally
choosing the awardee respondents are mandated to abide by the dictates of the 1987 Constitution the provisions of made. To insist on selling the Manila Hotel to foreigners when there is a Filipino group willing to match the bid of
which are presumed to be known to all the bidders and other interested parties. the foreign group is to insist that government be treated as any other ordinary market player, and bound by its
mistakes or gross errors of judgment, regardless of the consequences to the Filipino people. The
Adhering to the doctrine of constitutional supremacy, the subject constitutional provision is, as it should be, miscomprehension of the Constitution is regrettable. Thus we would rather remedy the indiscretion while there is
impliedly written in the bidding rules issued by respondent GSIS, lest the bidding rules be nullified for being still an opportunity to do so than let the government develop the habit of forgetting that the Constitution lays down
violative of the Constitution. It is a basic principle in constitutional law that all laws and contracts must conform the basic conditions and parameters for its actions.
with the fundamental law of the land. Those which violate the Constitution lose their reason for being.
Since petitioner has already matched the bid price tendered by Renong Berhad pursuant to the bidding rules,
Paragraph V.J.1 of the bidding rules provides that [i]f for any reason the Highest Bidder cannot be awarded the respondent GSIS is left with no alternative but to award to petitioner the block of shares of MHC and to execute
Block of Shares, GSIS may offer this to other Qualified Bidders that have validly submitted bids provided that the necessary agreements and documents to effect the sale in accordance not only with the bidding guidelines and
these Qualified Bidders are willing to match the highest bid in terms of price per share.47 Certainly, the procedures but with the Constitution as well. The refusal of respondent GSIS to execute the corresponding
constitutional mandate itself is reason enough not to award the block of shares immediately to the foreign bidder documents with petitioner as provided in the bidding rules after the latter has matched the bid of the Malaysian
notwithstanding its submission of a higher, or even the highest, bid. In fact, we cannot conceive of a stronger firm clearly constitutes grave abuse of discretion.
reason than the constitutional injunction itself.
The Filipino First Policy is a product of Philippine nationalism. It is embodied in the 1987 Constitution not merely
In the instant case, where a foreign firm submits the highest bid in a public bidding concerning the grant of rights, to be used as a guideline for future legislation but primarily to be enforced; so must it be enforced. This Court as
privileges and concessions covering the national economy and patrimony, thereby exceeding the bid of a Filipino, the ultimate guardian of the Constitution will never shun, under any reasonable circumstance, the duty of
there is no question that the Filipino will have to be allowed to match the bid of the foreign entity. And if the upholding the majesty of the Constitution which it is tasked to defend. It is worth emphasizing that it is not the
Filipino matches the bid of a foreign firm the award should go to the Filipino. lt must be so if we are to give life intention of this Court to impede and diminish, much less undermine, the influx of foreign investments. Far from
and meaning to the Filipino First Policy provision of the 1987 Constitution. For, while this may neither be it, the Court encourages and welcomes more business opportunities but avowedly sanctions the preference for

80 | P a g e
Filipinos whenever such preference is ordained by the Constitution. The position of the Court on this matter could exponent of the Filipino psyche to alien hands cannot be less than mephistophelian for it is, in whatever manner
have not been more appropriately articulated by Chief Justice Narvasa— viewed, a veritable alienation of a nation‘s soul for some pieces of foreign silver. And so we ask: What advantage,
which cannot be equally drawn from a qualified Filipino, can be gained by the Filipinos if Manila Hotel—and all
As scrupulously as it has tried to observe that it is not its function to substitute its judgment for that of the that it stands for—is sold to a nonFilipino? How much of national pride will vanish if the nation‘s cultural heritage
legislature or the executive about the wisdom and feasibility of legislation economic in nature, the Supreme Court is entrusted to a foreign entity? On the other hand, how much dignity will be preserved and realized if the national
has not been spared criticism for decisions perceived as obstacles to economic progress and development x x x x patrimony is safekept in the hands of a qualified, zealous and well-meaning Filipino? This is the plain and simple
in connection with a temporary injunction issued by the Court‘s First Division against the sale of the Manila Hotel meaning of the Filipino First Policy provision of the Philippine Constitution. And this Court, heeding the clarion
to a Malaysian Firm and its partner, certain statements were published in a major daily to the effect that that call of the Constitution and accepting the duty of being the elderly watchman of the nation, will continue to
injunction ―again demonstrates that the Philippine legal system can be a major obstacle to doing business here.‖ respect and protect the sanctity of the Constitution.

Let it be stated for the record once again that while it is no business of the Court to intervene in contracts of the WHEREFORE, respondents GOVERNMENT SERVICE INSURANCE SYSTEM, MANILA HOTEL
kind referred to or set itself up as the judge of whether they are viable or attainable, it is its bounden duty to make CORPORATION, COMMITTEE ON PRIVATIZATION and OFFICE OF THE GOVERNMENT CORPORATE
sure that they do not violate the Constitution or the laws, or are not adopted or implemented with grave abuse of COUNSEL are directed to CEASE and DESIST from selling 51% of the shares of the Manila Hotel Corporation
discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. It will never shirk that duty, no matter how buffeted by to RENONG BERHAD, and to ACCEPT the matching bid of petitioner MANILA PRINCE HOTEL
winds of unfair and ill-informed criticism.48 CORPORATION to purchase the subject 51% of the shares of the Manila Hotel Corporation at P44.00 per share
and thereafter to execute the necessary agreements and documents to effect the sale, to issue the necessary
Privatization of a business asset for purposes of enhancing its business viability and preventing further losses, clearances and to do such other acts and deeds as may be necessary for the purpose.
regardless of the character of the asset, should not take precedence over non-material values. A commercial, nay
even a budgetary, objective should not be pursued at the expense of national pride and dignity. For the SO ORDERED.
Constitution enshrines higher and nobler non-material values. Indeed, the Court will always defer to the
Constitution in the proper governance of a free society; after all, there is nothing so sacrosanct in any economic Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Kapunan, Francisco and Hermosisima, Jr., JJ., concur.
policy as to draw itself beyond judicial review when the Constitution is involved.49
Narvasa (C.J.), I join Justice Puno in his dissent.
Nationalism is inherent in the very concept of the Philippines being a democratic and republican state, with
sovereignty residing in the Filipino people and from whom all government authority emanates. In nationalism, the Padilla, J., See concurring opinion.
happiness and welfare of the people must be the goal. The nation-state can have no higher purpose. Any
interpretation of any constitutional provision must adhere to such basic concept, Protection of foreign investments, Melo, J., I join in the dissent of Justice Puno.
while laudible, is merely a policy. It cannot override the demands of nationalism.50
Puno, J., Please see dissent.
The Manila Hotel or, for that matter, 51% of the MHC, is not just any commodity to be sold to the highest bidder
Vitug, J., Please see separate (concurring) opinion.
solely for the sake of privatization. We are not talking about an ordinary piece of property in a commercial district.
We are talking about a historic relic that has hosted many of the most important events in the short history of the Mendoza, J., See concurring opinion.
Philippines as a nation. We are talking about a hotel where heads of states would prefer to be housed as a strong
manifestation of their desire to cloak the dignity of the highest state function to their official visits to the Panganiban, J., Please see separate (dissenting) opinion.
Philippines. Thus the Manila Hotel has played and continues to play a significant role as an authentic repository of
twentieth century Philippine history and culture. In this sense, it has become truly a reflection of the Filipino Torres, Jr., J., With separate opinion.
soul—a place with a history of grandeur; a most historical setting that has played a part in the shaping of a
country.51 RA 408(1997)]

This Court cannot extract rhyme nor reason from the determined efforts of respondents to sell the historical
landmark—this Grand Old Dame of hotels in Asia—to a total stranger. For, indeed, the conveyance of this epic
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Same; Same; Courts will not interfere in matters which are addressed to the sound discretion of government
agencies entrusted with the regulation of activities under the special technical knowledge and training of such
G.R. No. 79538. October 18, 1990.* agencies.—Thus, while the administration grapples with the complex and multifarious problems caused by
unbridled exploitation of these resources, the judiciary will stand clear. A long line of cases establish the basic rule
FELIPE YSMAEL, JR. & CO., INC., petitioner, vs. THE DEPUTY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, THE
that the courts will not interfere in matters which are addressed to the sound discretion of government agencies
SECRETARY OF ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES, THE DIRECTOR OF THE
BUREAU OF FOREST DEVELOPMENT and TWIN PEAKS DEVELOPMENT AND REALTY entrusted with the regulation of activities coming under the special technical knowledge and training of such
CORPORATION, respondents. agencies [See Espinosa v. Makalintal, 79 Phil. 134 (1947); Coloso v. Board of Accountancy, 92 Phil. 938 (1953);
Pajo v. Ago, 108 Phil. 905 (1960); Suarez v. Reyes, G.R. No. L-19828, February 28, 1963, 7 SCRA 461; Ganitano
v. Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, G.R. No. L-21167, March 31, 1966, 16 SCRA 543; Villegas v.
Auditor General, G.R. No. L21352, November 29,1966,18 SCRA 877; Manuel v. Villena, G.R. No. L-28218,
Administrative Law; Administrative Agencies; Judgments; Res Judicata; Decisions and orders of administrative
February 27, 1971, 37 SCRA 745; Lacuesta v. Herrera, G.R. No. L-33646, January 28, 1975, 62 SCRA 115;
agencies have upon their finality, the force and binding effect of a final judgment within the purview of the
Lianga Bay Logging Co., Inc. v. Enage, G.R. No. L-30637, July 16, 1987, 152 SCRA 80]. More so where, as in
doctrine of resjudicata.—It is an established doctrine in this jurisdiction that the decisions and orders of
the present case, the interests of a private logging company are pitted against that of the public at large on the
administrative agencies have upon their finality, the force and binding effect of a final judgment within the
pressing public policy issue of forest conservation. For this Court recognizes the wide latitude of discretion
purview of the doctrine of res judicata. These decisions and orders are as conclusive upon the rights of the affected
possessed by the government in determining the appropriate actions to be taken to preserve and manage natural
parties as though the same had been rendered by a court of general jurisdiction. The rule of resjudicata thus forbids
resources, and the proper parties who should enjoy the privilege of utilizing these resources.
the reopening of a matter once determined by competent authority acting within their exclusive jurisdiction [See
Brillantes v. Castro, 99 Phil. 497 (1956); Ipekdjian Merchandising Co., Inc. v. Court of Tax Appeals, G.R. No. L- Same; Same; Due Process; Department of Natural Resources; Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are
15430, September 30, 1963, 9 SCRA 72; San Luis v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 80160, June 26,1989]. merely evidence of a privilege granted by the State to qualified entities; they are not deemed contracts within the
purview of the due process clause.—Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal instruments
Same; Same; Civil Procedure; Certiorari; Laches; A special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 must be filed
by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is
within a "reasonable time" otherwise laches may set in.—Once again, the fact that petitioner failed to seasonably
promoted. And it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege granted by the State to qualified
take judicial recourse to have the earlier administrative actions reviewed by the courts through a petition for
entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent or irrevocable right to the particular concession area and the
certiorari is prejudicial to its cause. For although no specific time frame is fixed for the institution of a special civil
forest products therein. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the Chief Executive
action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of Court, the same must nevertheless be done within a
when national interests so require. Thus, they are not deemed contracts within the purview of the due process of
"reasonable time". The yardstick to measure the timeliness of a petition for certiorari is the "reasonableness of the
law clause [See Sections 3 (ee) and 20 of Pres. Decree No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Director of Forestry,
length of time that had expired from the commission of the acts complained of up to the institution of the
G.R. No. L-24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302].
proceeding to annul the same" [Toledo v. Pardo, G.R. No. 56761, November 19, 1982, 118 SCRA 566, 571]. And
failure to file the petition for certiorari within a reasonable period of time renders the petitioner susceptible to the Same; Same; Same; Same; Judicial Powers; The Court will not hesitate to step in and wield its authority when
adverse legal consequences of laches [Municipality of Carcar v. Court of First Instance of Cebu, G.R. No. L- invoked if an appropriate case is brought showing a clear grave abuse of discretion on the part of the DENR
31628, December 27, 1982, 119 SCRA 392]. Laches is defined as the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and officials and related bureaus with respect to the implementation of the public policy concerning the conservation
unexplained length of time to do that which by exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier, of natural resources.—Nevertheless, the Court cannot help but express its concern regarding alleged irregularities
or to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a presumption that the party entitled thereto has either in the issuance of timber license agreements to a number of logging concessionaires. The grant of licenses or
abandoned it or declined to assert it [Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, G.R. No. L-21450, April 15, 1968, 23 SCRA 29; permits to exploit the country's timber resources, if done in contravention of the procedure outlined in the law, or
Seno v. Mangubat, G.R. No. L-44339, December 2, 1987,156 SCRA 113]. The rule is that unreasonable delay on as a result of fraud and undue influence exerted on department officials, is indicative of an arbitrary and whimsical
the part of a plaintiff in seeking to enforce an alleged right may, depending upon the circumstances, be destructive exercise of the State's power to regulate the use and exploitation of forest resources. The alleged practice of
of the right itself. Verily, the laws aid those who are vigilant, not those who sleep upon their rights (Vigilantibus et bestowing "special favors" to preferred individuals, regardless of merit, would be an abuse of this power. And this
non dormientibus jura subveniunt) (See Buenaventura v. David, 37 Phil. 435 (1918)]. Court will not be a party to a flagrant mockery of the avowed public policy of conservation enshrined in the 1987
Constitution. Therefore, should the appropriate case be brought showing a clear grave abuse of discretion on the
part of officials in the DENR and related bureaus with respect to the implementation of this public policy, the

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Court will not hesitate to step in and wield its authority, when invoked, in the exercise of judicial powers under the RESPECTIVE DISTRICT FORESTERS FOR THE INVENTORY OF LOGS CUT PRIOR TO THIS ORDER
Constitution [Section 1, Article VIII]. THE SUBMISSION OF A COMPLIANCE REPORT WITHIN THIRTY DAYS SHALL BE APPRECIATED—
[Annex "4" of the Petition; Rollo, p. 48];
PETITION for certiorari to review the decision of the Deputy Executive Secretary.
(d) That after the cancellation of its timber license agreement, it immediately sent a letter addressed to then
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court'. President Ferdinand Marcos which sought reconsideration of the Bureau's directive, citing in support thereof its
contributions to forest conservation and alleging that it was not given the opportunity to be heard prior to the
Tañada, Vivo & Tan for petitioner. cancellation of its logging operations [Annex "6" of the Petition; Rollo, pp. 50-53], but no favorable action was
taken on this letter;
Antonio E. Escober and Jurado Law Office for respondent Twin Peaks Development Corporation.
(e) That barely one year thereafter, approximately one-half or 26,000 hectares of the area formerly covered by
CORTÉS, J.:
TLA No. 87 was re-awarded to Twin Peaks Development and Realty Corporation under TLA No. 356 which was
Soon after the change of government in February 1986, petitioner sent a letter dated March 17, 1986 to the Office set to expire on July 31,2009, while the other half was allowed to be logged by Filipinas Loggers, Inc. without the
of the President, and another letter dated April 2, 1986 to Minister Ernesto Maceda of the Ministry of Natural benefit of a formal award or license; and,
Resources [MNR], seeking: (1) the reinstatement of its timber license agreement which was cancelled in August
(f) That the latter entities were controlled or owned by relatives or cronies of deposed President Ferdinand Marcos.
1983 during the Marcos administration; (2) the revocation of TLA No. 356 which was issued to Twin Peaks
Development and Realty Corporation without public bidding and in violation of forestry laws, rules and Acting on petitioner's letter, the MNR through then Minister Ernesto Maceda issued an order dated July 22, 1986
regulations; and, (3) the issuance of an order allowing petitioner to take possession of all logs found in the denying petitioner's request. The Ministry ruled that a timber license was not a contract within the due process
concession area [Annexes "6" and "7" of the Petition; Rollo, pp. 54-63]. clause of the Constitution, but only a privilege which could be withdrawn whenever public interest or welfare so
demands, and that petitioner was not discriminated against in view of the fact that it was among ten
Petitioner made the following allegations:
concessionaires whose licenses were revoked in 1983. Moreover, emphasis was made of the total ban of logging
(a) That on October 12, 1965, it entered into a timber license agreement designated as TLA No. 87 with the operations in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Ifugao imposed on April 2,1986, thus:
Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, represented by then Secretary Jose Feliciano, wherein it was
x x x
issued an exclusive license to cut, collect and remove timber except prohibited species within a specified portion
of public forest land with an area of 54,920 hectares located in the municipality of Maddela, province of Nueva It should be recalled that [petitioner's] earlier request for reinstatement has been denied in view of the total ban of
Vizcaya** from October 12, 1965 until June 30, 1990; all logging operations in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Ifugao which was imposed for
reasons of conservation and national security.
(b) That on August 18, 1983, the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development [hereinafter referred to as
"Bureau"], Director Edmundo Cortes, issued a memorandum order stopping all logging operations in Nueva The Ministry imposed the ban because it realizes the great responsibility it bear [sic] in respect to forests. It
Vizcaya and Quirino provinces, and cancelling the logging concession of petitioner and nine other forest considers itself the trustee thereof. This being the case, it has to ensure the availability of forest resources not only
concessionaires, pursuant to presidential instructions and a memorandum order of the Minister of Natural for the present, but also for the future generations of Filipinos.
Resources Teodoro Pena [Annex "5" of the Petition; Rollo, p. 49];
On the other hand, the activities of the insurgents in these parts of the country are well documented. Their
(c) that on August 25, 1983, petitioner received a telegram from the Bureau, the contents of which were as financial demands on logging concessionaires are well known. The government, therefore, is well within its right
follows: to deprive its enemy of sources of funds in order to preserve itself, its established institutions and the liberty and
democratic way of life of its people.
PURSUANT TO THE INSTRUCTIONS OF THE PRESIDENT YOU ARE REQUESTED TO STOP ALL
LOGGING OPERATIONS TO CONSERVE REMAINING FORESTS PLEASE CONDUCT THE ORDERLY x x x
PULLOUT OF LOGGING MACHINERIES AND EQUIPMENT AND COORDINATE WITH THE

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[Annex "9" of the Petition, pp. 2-4; Rollo, pp. 65-67.] petitioner filed its consolidated reply thereto. In a resolution dated May 22,1989, the Court resolved to give due
course to the petition.
Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the aforestated order reiterating, among others, its request that TLA No.
356 issued to private respondent be declared null and void. The MNR however denied this motion in an order After a careful study of the circumstances in the case at bar, the Court finds several factors which militate against
dated September 15, 1986, stating in part: the issuance of a writ of certiorari in favor of petitioner.

x x x 1. Firstly, the refusal of public respondents herein to reverse final and executory administrative orders does not
constitute grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
Regarding [petitioner's] request that the award of a 26,000 hectare portion of TLA No. 87 to Twin Peaks Realty
Development Corporation under TLA No. 356 be declared null and void, suffice it to say that the Ministry is now It is an established doctrine in this jurisdiction that the decisions and orders of administrative agencies have upon
in the process of reviewing all contracts, permits or other form of privileges for the exploration, development, their finality, the force and binding effect of a final judgment within the purview of the doctrine of res judicata.
exploitation, or utilization of natural resources entered into, granted, issued or acquired before the issuance of These decisions and orders are as conclusive upon the rights of the affected-parties as though the same had been
Proclamation No. 3, otherwise known as the Freedom Constitution for the purpose of amending, modifying or rendered by a court of general jurisdiction. The rule of res judicata thus forbids the reopening of a matter once
revoking them when the national interest so requires. determined by competent authority acting within their exclusive jurisdiction [See Brillantes v. Castro, 99 Phil. 497
(1956); Ipekdjian Merchandising Co., Inc. v. Court of Tax Appeals, G.R. No. L-15430, September 30, 1963, 9
x x x SCRA 72; San Luis v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 80160, June 26, 1989].

The Ministry, through the Bureau of Forest Development, has jurisdiction and authority over all forest lands. On In the case at bar, petitioner's letters to the Office of the President and the MNR [now the Department of
the basis of this authority, the Ministry issued the order banning all logging operations/activities in Quirino Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)] dated March 17, 1986 and April 2, 1986, respectively, sought the
province, among others, where movant's former concession area is located. Therefore, the issuance of an order reconsideration of a memorandum order issued by the Bureau of Forest Development which cancelled its timber
disallowing any person or entity from removing cut or uncut logs from the portion of TLA No. 87, now under license agreement in 1983, as well as the revocation of TLA No. 356 subsequently issued by the Bureau to private
TLA No. 356, would constitute an unnecessary or superfluous act on the part of the Ministry. respondents in 1984.

x x x But as gleaned from the record, petitioner did not avail of its remedies under the law, i.e. Section 8 of Pres. Dec.
No. 705 as amended, for attacking the validity of these administrative actions until after 1986. By the time
[Annex "11" of the Petition, pp. 3-4; Rollo, pp. 77-78.] petitioner sent its letter dated April 2, 1986 to the newly appointed Minister of the MNR, requesting
reconsideration of the above Bureau actions, these were already settled matters as far as petitioner was concerned
On November 26,1986, petitioner's supplemental motion for reconsideration was likewise denied. Meanwhile, per
[See Rueda v. Court of Agrarian Relations, 106 Phil. 300 (1959); Danan v. Aspillera, G.R. No. L-17305,
MNR Administrative Order No. 54, series of 1986, issued on November 26, 1986, the logging ban in the province
November 28, 1962, 6 SCRA 609; Ocampo v. Arboleda, G.R. No. L-48190, August 31, 1987, 153 SCRA 374].
of Quirino was lifted.
No particular significance can be attached to petitioner's letter dated September 19, 1983 which petitioner claimed
Petitioner subsequently appealed from the orders of the MNR to the Office of the President. In a resolution dated
to have sent to then President Marcos [Annex "6" of Petition, Rollo, pp. 50-53], seeking the reconsideration of the
July 6, 1987, the Office of the President, acting through then Deputy Executive Secretary Catalino Macaraig,
1983 order issued by Director Cortes of the Bureau. It must be pointed out that the averments in this letter are
denied petitioner's appeal for lack of merit. The Office of the President ruled that the appeal of petitioner was
entirely different from the charges of fraud against officials under the previous regime made by petitioner in its
prematurely filed, the matter not having been terminated in the MNR. Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was
letters to public respondents herein. In the letter to then President Marcos, petitioner simply contested its inclusion
denied on August 14, 1987.
in the list of concessionaires, whose licenses were cancelled, by defending its record of selective logging and
Hence, petitioner filed directly with this Court a petition for certiorari, with prayer for the issuance of a restraining reforestation practices in the subject concession area. Yet, no other administrative steps appear to have been taken
order or writ of preliminary injunction, on August 27, 1987. On October 13, 1987, it filed a supplement to its by petitioner until 1986, despite the fact that the alleged fraudulent scheme became apparent in 1984 as evidenced
petition for certiorari. Thereafter, public and private respondents submitted their respective comments, and by the awarding of the subject timber concession area to other entities in that year.

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2. Moreover, petitioner is precluded from availing of the benefits of a writ of certiorari in the present case because Public respondents herein, upon whose shoulders rests the task of implementing the policy to develop and
he failed to file his petition within a reasonable period. conserve the country's natural resources, have indicated an ongoing department evaluation of all timber license
agreements entered into, and permits or licenses issued, under the previous dispensation. In fact, both the
The principal issue ostensibly presented for resolution in the instant petition is whether or not public respondents executive and legislative departments of the incumbent administration are presently taking stock of its
herein acted with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in refusing to overturn environmental policies with regard to the utilization of timber lands and developing an agenda for future programs
administrative orders issued by their predecessors in the past regime. Yet, what the petition ultimately seeks is the for their conservation and rehabilitation.
nullification of the Bureau orders cancelling TLA No. 87 and granting TLA No. 356 to private respondent, which
were issued way back in 1983 and 1984, respectively. The ongoing administrative reassessment is apparently in response to the renewed and growing global concern
over the despoliation of forest lands and the utter disregard of their crucial role in sustaining a balanced ecological
Once again, the fact that petitioner failed to seasonably take judicial recourse to have the earlier administrative system. The legitimacy of such concern can hardly be disputed, most especially in this country. The Court takes
actions reviewed by the courts through a petition for certiorari is prejudicial to its cause. For although no specific judicial notice of the profligate waste of the country's forest resources which has not only resulted in the
time frame is fixed for the institution of a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised Rules of irreversible loss of flora and fauna peculiar to the region, but has produced even more disastrous and lasting
Court, the same must nevertheless be done within a "reasonable time". The yardstick to measure the timeliness of economic and social effects. The delicate balance of nature having been upset, a vicious cycle of floods and
a petition for certiorari is the "reasonableness of the length of time that had expired from the commission of the droughts has been triggered and the supply of food and energy resources required by the people seriously depleted.
acts complained of up to the institution of the proceeding to annul the same" [Toledo v. Pardo, G.R. No. 56761,
November 19,1982, 118 SCRA 566, 571]. And failure to file the petition for certiorari within a reasonable period While there is a desire to harness natural resources to amass profit and to meet the country's immediate financial
of time renders the petitioner susceptible to the adverse legal consequences of laches [Municipality of Carcar v. requirements, the more essential need to ensure future generations of Filipinos of their survival in a viable
Court of First Instance of Cebu, G.R. No. L-31628, December 27, 1982, 119 SCRA 392]. environment demands effective and circumspect action from the government to check further denudation of
whatever remains of the forest lands. Nothing less is expected of the government, in view of the clear
Laches is defined as the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained length of time to do that which by constitutional command to maintain a balanced and healthful ecology. Section 16 of Article II of the 1987
exercising due diligence, could or should have been done earlier, or to assert a right within a reasonable time, Constitution provides:
warranting a presumption that the party entitled thereto has either abandoned it or declined to assert it [Tijam v.
Sibonghanoy, G.R. No. L-21450, April 15, 1968, 23 SCRA 29; Seno v. Mangubat, G.R. No. L44339, December 2, SEC. 16. The State shall protect and promote the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord
1987, 156 SCRA 113]. The rule is that unreasonable delay on the part of a plaintiff in seeking to enforce an with the rhythm and harmony of nature.
alleged right may, depending upon the circumstances, be destructive of the right itself. Verily, the laws aid those
who are vigilant, not those who sleep upon their rights (Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt) [See Thus, while the administration grapples with the complex and multifarious problems caused by unbridled
Buenaventura v. David, 37 Phil. 435 (1918)]. exploitation of these resources, the judiciary will stand clear. A long line of cases establish the basic rule that the
courts will not interfere in matters which are addressed to the sound discretion of government agencies entrusted
In the case at bar, petitioner waited for at least three years before it finally filed a petition for certiorari with the with the regulation of activities coming under the special technical knowledge and training of such agencies [See
Court attacking the validity of the assailed Bureau actions in 1983 and 1984. Considering that petitioner, Espinosa v. Makalintal, 79 Phil. 134 (1947); Coloso v. Board of Accountancy, 92 Phil. 938 (1953); Pajo v. Ago,
throughout the period of its inaction, was not deprived of the opportunity to seek relief from the courts which were 108 Phil. 905 (1960); Suarez v. Reyes, G.R. No. L-19828, February 28, 1963, 7 SCRA 461; Ganitano v. Secretary
normally operating at the time, its delay constitutes unreasonable and inexcusable neglect, tantamount to laches. of Agriculture and Natural Resources, G.R. No. L-21167, March 31, 1966, 16 SCRA 543; Villegas v. Auditor
Accordingly, the writ of certiorari requiring the reversal of these orders will not lie. General, G.R. No. L-21352, November 29,1966,18 SCRA 877; Manuel v. Villena, G.R. No. L-28218, February
27, 1971, 37 SCRA 745; Lacuesta v. Herrera, G.R. No. L-33646, January 28, 1975, 62 SCRA 115; Lianga Bay
3. Finally, there is a more significant factor which bars the issuance of a writ of certiorari in favor of petitioner and Logging Co., Inc. v. Enage, G.R. No. L-30637, July 16, 1987, 152 SCRA 80]. More so where, as in the present
against public respondents herein. It is precisely this factor which prevents the Court from departing from the case, the interests of a private logging company are pitted against that of the public at large on the pressing public
general application of the rules enunciated above. policy issue of forest conservation. For this Court recognizes the wide latitude of discretion possessed by the
government in determining the appropriate actions to be taken to preserve and manage natural resources, and the
A cursory reading of the assailed orders issued by public respondent Minister Maceda of the MNR, which were proper parties who should enjoy the privilege of utilizing these resources [Director of Forestry v. Muñoz, G.R. No.
affirmed by the Office of the President, will disclose public policy considerations which effectively forestall L-24796, June 28, 1968, 23 SCRA 1183; Lim, Sr. v. The Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, G.R.
judicial interference in the case at bar.
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No. L26990, August 31, 1970, 34 SCRA 751]. Timber licenses, permits and license agreements are the principal Note.—General rule that factual findings of trial courts and administrative tribunals are accorded finality. (Ateneo
instruments by which the State regulates the utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public de Manila vs. Court of Appeals, 145 SCRA 100.)
welfare is promoted. And it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege granted by the State to
qualified entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent or irrevocable right to the particular concession area
and the forest products therein. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the Chief
Executive when national interests so require. Thus, they are not deemed contracts within the purview of the due
process of law clause [See Sections 3 (ee) and 20 of Pres. Decree No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Director of
Forestry, G.R. No. L-24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302].

In fine, the legal precepts highlighted in the foregoing discussion more than suffice to justify the Court's refusal to
interfere in the DENR evaluation of timber licenses and permits issued under the previous regime, or to pre-empt
the adoption of appropriate corrective measures by the department.
G.R. No. 111107. January 10, 1997.*
Nevertheless, the Court cannot help but express its concern regarding alleged irregularities in the issuance of
LEONARDO A. PAAT, in his capacity as Officer-in-Charge (OIC), Regional Executive Director (RED),
timber license agreements to a number of logging concessionaires. Region 2 and JOVITO LAYUGAN, JR., in his capacity as Community Environment and Natural
Resources Officer (CENRO), both of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR),
The grant of licenses or permits to exploit the country's timber resources, if done in contravention of the procedure petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. RICARDO A. BACULI in his capacity as Presiding Judge of
outlined in the law, or as a result of fraud and undue influence exerted on department officials, is indicative of an Branch 2, Regional Trial Court at Tuguegarao, Cagayan, and SPOUSES BIENVENIDO and VICTORIA
arbitrary and whimsical exercise of the State's power to regulate the use and exploitation of forest resources. The DE GUZMAN, respondents.
alleged practice of bestowing "special favors" to preferred individuals, regardless of merit, would be an abuse of
this power. And this Court will not be a party to a flagrant mockery of the avowed public policy of conservation
enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. Therefore, should the appropriate case be brought showing a clear grave abuse Administrative Law; Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies; Before a party is allowed to seek the intervention of
of discretion on the part of officials in the DENR and related bureaus with respect to the implementation of this the court, it is a pre-condition that he should have availed of all the means of administrative processes afforded
public policy, the Court will not hesitate to step in and wield its authority, when invoked, in the exercise of him.—This Court in a long line of cases has consistently held that before a party is allowed to seek the
judicial powers under the Constitution [Section 1, Article VIII]. intervention of the court, it is a pre-condition that he should have availed of all the means of administrative
processes afforded him. Hence, if a remedy within the administrative machinery can still be resorted to by giving
However, petitioner having failed to make out a case showing grave abuse of discretion on the part of public
the administrative officer concerned every opportunity to decide on a matter that comes within his jurisdiction
respondents herein, the Court finds no basis to issue a writ of certiorari and to grant any of the affirmative reliefs
then such remedy should be exhausted first before court‘s judicial power can be sought. The premature invocation
sought.
of court‘s intervention is fatal to one‘s cause of action. Accordingly, absent any finding of waiver or estoppel the
WHEREFORE, the present petition is DISMISSED. case is susceptible of dismissal for lack of cause of action. This doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies
was not without its practical and legal reasons, for one thing, availment of administrative remedy entails lesser
SO ORDERED. expenses and provides for a speedier disposition of controversies. It is no less true to state that the courts of justice
for reasons of comity and convenience will shy away from a dispute until the system of administrative redress has
Fernan (C.J.), Gutierrez Jr. and Bidin, JJ., concur. been completed and complied with so as to give the administrative agency concerned every opportunity to correct
its error and to dispose of the case.
Feliciano, J., On leave.
Same; Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies; Exceptions.—However, we are not amiss to reiterate that the
Petition dismissed. principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies as tested by a battery of cases is not an ironclad rule. This
doctrine is a relative one and its flexibility is called upon by the peculiarity and uniqueness of the factual and
circumstantial settings of a case. Hence, it is disregarded (1) when there is a violation of due process, (2) when the

86 | P a g e
issue involved is purely a legal question, (3) when the administrative action is patently illegal amounting to lack or instant case, when private respondents were undisputedly given the opportunity to present their side when they
excess of jurisdiction, (4) when there is estoppel on the part of the administrative agency concerned, (5) when filed a letter of reconsideration dated June 28, 1989 which was,however, denied in an order of July 12, 1989 of
there is irreparable injury, (6) when the respondent is a department secretary whose acts as an alter ego of the Executive Director Baggayan.
President bears the implied and assumed approval of the latter, (7) when to require exhaustion of administrative
remedies would be unreasonable, (8) when it would amount to a nullification of a claim, (9) when the subject Statutes; Statutory Construction; Statutes should be construed in the light of the object to be achieved and the evil
matter is a private land in land case proceedings, (10) when the rule does not provide a plain, speedy and adequate or mischief to be suppressed, and they should be given such construction as will advance the object, suppress the
remedy, and (11) when there are circumstances indicating the urgency of judicial intervention. mischief, and secure the benefits intended.—The Secretary and his duly authorized representatives are given the
authority to confiscate and forfeit any conveyances utilized in violating the Code or other forest laws, rules and
Same; Same; A party cannot, without violating the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies, seek court‘s regulations. The phrase ―to dispose of the same‖ is broad enough to cover the act of forfeiting conveyances in
intervention by filing an action for replevin for the grant of their relief during the pendency of an administrative favor of the government. The only limitation is that it should be made ―in accordance with pertinent laws,
proceedings.—It was easy to perceive then that the private respondents looked up to the Secretary for the review regulations or policies on the matter.‖ In the construction of statutes, it must be read in such a way as to give effect
and disposition of their case. By appealing to him, they acknowledged the existence of an adequate and plain to the purpose projected in the statute. Statutes should be construed in the light of the object to be achieved and the
remedy still available and open to them in the ordinary course of the law. Thus, they cannot now, without violating evil or mischief to be suppressed, and they should be given such construction as will advance the object, suppress
the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies, seek court‘s intervention by filing an action for replevin for the mischief, and secure the benefits intended.
the grant of their relief during the pendency of an administrative proceedings.
Same; Same; When the statute is clear and explicit, there is hardly room for any extended court ratiocination or
Same; Same; Doctrine of Primary Jurisdiction; Doctrine of primary jurisdiction does not warrant a court to rationalization of the law.—With the introduction of Executive Order No. 277 amending Section 68 of P.D. 705,
arrogate unto itself the authority to resolve a controversy the jurisdiction over which is initially lodged with an the act of cutting, gathering, collecting, removing, or possessing forest products without authority constitutes a
administrative body of special competence.—Moreover, it is important to point out that the enforcement of distinct offense independent now from the crime of theft under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code,
forestry laws, rules and regulations and the protection, development and management of forest lands fall within but the penalty to be imposed is that provided for under Article 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code. This is
the primary and special responsibilities of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. By the very clear from the language of Executive Order No. 277 when it eliminated the phrase ―shall be guilty of qualified
nature of its function, the DENR should be given a free hand unperturbed by judicial intrusion to determine a theft as defined and punished under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code‖ and inserted the words
controversy which is well within its jurisdiction. The assumption by the trial court, therefore, of the replevin suit ―shall be punished with the penalties imposed under Article 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code.‖ When the
filed by private respondents constitutes an unjustified encroachment into the domain of the administrative statute is clear and explicit, there is hardly room for any extended court ratiocination or rationalization of the law.
agency‘s prerogative. The doctrine of primary jurisdiction does not warrant a court to arrogate unto itself the
authority to resolve a controversy the jurisdiction over which is initially lodged with an administrative body of Administrative Law; Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies; Exhaustion of the remedies in the administrative
special competence. forum, being a condition precedent prior to one‘s recourse to the courts and more importantly, being an element of
private respondent‘s right of action,is too significant to be waylaid by the lower court.—From the foregoing
Same; Same; Due Process; Deprivation of due process cannot be successfully invoked where a party was given the disquisition, it is clear that a suit for replevin can not be sustained against the petitioners for the subject truck taken
chance to be heard on his motion for reconsideration.—To sustain the claim of private respondents would in effect and retained by them for administrative forfeiture proceedings in pursuant to Section 68-A of the P.D. 705, as
bring the instant controversy beyond the pale of the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies and fall amended. Dismissal of the replevin suit for lack of cause of action in view of the private respondents‘ failure to
within the ambit of excepted cases heretofore stated. However, considering the circumstances prevailing in this exhaust administrative remedies should have been the proper course of action by the lower court instead of
case, we can not but rule out these assertions of private respondents to be without merit. First, they argued that assuming jurisdiction over the case and consequently issuing the writ ordering the return of the truck. Exhaustion
there was violation of due process because they did not receive the May 23, 1989 order of confiscation of petiioner of the remedies in the administrative forum, being a condition precedent prior to one‘s recourse to the courts and
Layugan. This contention has no leg to stand on. Due process does not necessarily mean or require a hearing, but more importantly, being an element of private respondents‘ right of action, is too significant to be waylaid by the
simply an opportunity or right to be heard. One may be heard, not solely by verbal presentation but also, and lower court.
perhaps many times more creditably and practicable than oral argument, through pleadings. In administrative
proceedings moreover, technical rules of procedure and evidence are not strictly applied; administrative process Remedial Law; Replevin; Under the Rules of Court, it is indispensable in replevin proceeding that the plaintiff
cannot be fully equated with due process in its strict judicial sense. Indeed, deprivation of due process cannot be must show by his own affidavit that he is entitled to the possession of property, that the property is wrongfully
successfully invoked where a party was given the chance to be heard on his motion for reconsideration, as in the detained by the defendant, alleging the cause of detention, that the same has not been taken for tax assessment, or

87 | P a g e
seized under execution, or attachment, or if so seized, that it is exempt from such seizure, and the actual value of Without violating the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies, may an action for replevin prosper to
the property.—It is worth stressing at this point, that a suit for replevin is founded solely on the claim that the recover a movable property which is the subject matter of an administrative forfeiture proceeding in the
defendant wrongfully withholds the property sought to be recovered. It lies to recover possession of personal Department of Environment and Natural Resources pursuant to Section 68-A of P.D. 705, as amended, entitled
chattels that are unlawfully detained. ―To detain‖ is defined as to mean ―to hold or keep in custody,‖ and it has The Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines?
been held that there is tortious taking whenever there is an unlawful meddling with the property, or an exercise or
claim of dominion over it, without any pretense of authority or right; this, without manual seizing of the property Are the Secretary of DENR and his representatives empowered to confiscate and forfeit conveyances used in
is sufficient. Under the Rules of Court, it is indispensable in replevin proceeding that the plaintiff must show by transporting illegal forest products in favor of the government?
his own affidavit that he is entitled to the possession of property, that the property is wrongfully detained by the
defendant, alleging the cause of detention, that the same has not been taken for tax assessment, or seized under These are two fundamental questions presented before us for our resolution.
execution, or attachment, or if so seized, that it is exempt from such seizure, and the actual value of the property.
The controversy on hand had its incipiency on May 19, 1989 when the truck of private respondent Victoria de
Private respondents miserably failed to convince this Court that a wrongful detention of the subject truck obtains
Guzman while on its way to Bulacan from San Jose, Baggao, Cagayan, was seized by the Department of
in the instant case. It should be noted that the truck was seized by the petitioners because it was transporting forest
Environment and Natural Resources (DENR, for brevity) personnel in Aritao, Nueva Vizcaya because the driver
products without the required permit of the DENR in manifest contravention of Section 68 of P.D. 705 as
could not produce the required documents for the forest products found concealed in the truck. Petitioner Jovito
amended by E.O. 277. Section 68-A of P.D. 705, as amended, unquestionably warrants the confiscation as well as
Layugan, the Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO) in Aritao, Cagayan, issued on
the disposition by the Secretary of DENR or his duly authorized representatives of the conveyances used in
May 23, 1989 an order of confiscation of the truck and gave the owner thereof fifteen (15) days within which to
violating the provision of forestry laws. Evidently, the continued possession or detention of the truck by the
submit an explanation why the truck should not be forfeited. Private respondents, however, failed to submit the
petitioners for administrative forfeiture proceeding is legally permissible, hence, no wrongful detention exists in
required explanation. On June 22, 1989,1 the Regional Executive Director Rogelio Baggayan of DENR sustained
the case at bar.
petitioner of Layugan‘s action of confiscation and ordered the forfeiture of the truck invoking Section 68-A of
Same; Certiorari; Courts may not review the decisions of the Secretary except through a special civil action for Presidential Decree No. 705 as amended by Executive Order No. 277. Private respondents filed a letter of
certiorari or prohibition.—Moreover, the suit for replevin is never intended as a procedural tool to question the reconsideration dated June 28, 1989 of the June 22, 1989 order of Executive Director Baggayan, which was,
orders of confiscation and forfeiture issued by the DENR in pursuance to the authority given under P.D. 705, as however, denied in a subsequent order of July 12, 1989.2 Subsequently, the case was brought by the petitioners to
amended. Section 8 of the said law is explicit that actions taken by the Director of the Bureau of Forest the Secretary of DENR pursuant to private respondents‘ statement in their letter dated June 28, 1989 that in case
Development concerning the enforcement of the provisions of the said law are subject to review by the Secretary their letter for reconsideration would be denied then ―this letter should be considered as an appeal to the
of DENR and that courts may not review the decisions of the Secretary except through a special civil action for Secretary.‖3 Pending resolution however of the appeal, a suit for replevin, docketed as Civil Case 4031, was filed
certiorari or prohibition. It reads: SECTION 8. REVIEW—All actions and decisions of the Director are subject to by the private respondents against petitioner Layugan and Executive Director Baggayan4 with the Regional Trial
review, motu propio or upon appeal of any person aggrieved thereby, by the Department Head whose decision Court, Branch 2 of Cagayan,5 which issued a writ ordering the return of the truck to private respondents.6
shall be final and executory after the lapse of thirty (30) days from the receipt of the aggrieved party of said Petitioner Layugan and Executive Director Baggayan filed a motion to dismiss with the trial court contending,
decision, unless appealed to the President in accordance with Executive Order No. 19, Series of 1966. The inter alia, that private respondents had no cause of action for their failure to exhaust administrative remedies. The
Decision of the Department Head may not be reviewed by the courts except through a special civil action for trial court denied the motion to dismiss in an order dated December 28, 1989.7 Their motion for reconsideration
certiorari or prohibition. having been likewise denied, a petition for certiorari was filed by the petitioners with the respondent Court of
Appeals which sustained the trial court‘s order ruling that the question involved is purely a legal question.8 Hence,
PETITION for review on certiorari of a decision of the Court of Appeals. this present petition,9 with prayer for temporary restraining order and/or preliminary injunction, seeking to reverse
the decision of the respondent Court of Appeals was filed by the petitioners on September 9, 1993. By virtue of
The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court. the Resolution dated September 27, 1993,10 the prayer for the issuance of temporary restraining order of
petitioners was granted by this Court.
Pedro R. Perez, Jr. for private respondents.
Invoking the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies, petitioners aver that the trial court could not
TORRES, JR., J.: legally entertain the suit for replevin because the truck was under administrative seizure proceedings pursuant to
Section 68-A of P.D. 705, as amended by E.O. 277. Private respondents, on the other hand, would seek to avoid

88 | P a g e
the operation of this principle asserting that the instant case falls within the exception of the doctrine upon the If this motion for reconsideration does not merit your favorable action, then this letter should be considered as an
justification that (1) due process was violated because they were not given the chance to be heard, and (2) the appeal to the Secretary.‖24
seizure and forfeiture was unlawful on the grounds: (a) that the Secretary of DENR and his representatives have
no authority to confiscate and forfeit conveyances utilized in transporting illegal forest products, and (b) that the It was easy to perceive then that the private respondents looked up to the Secretary for the review and disposition
truck as admitted by petitioners was not used in the commission of the crime. of their case. By appealing to him, they acknowledged the existence of an adequate and plain remedy still
available and open to them in the ordinary course of the law. Thus, they cannot now, without violating the
Upon a thorough and delicate scrutiny of the records and relevant jurisprudence on the matter, we are of the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies, seek the court‘s intervention by filing an action for replevin for
opinion that the plea of petitioners for reversal is in order. the grant of their relief during the pendency of an administrative proceedings.

This Court in a long line of cases has consistently held that before a party is allowed to seek the intervention of the Moreover, it is important to point out that the enforcement of forestry laws, rules and regulations and the
court, it is a pre-condition that he should have availed of all the means of administrative processes afforded him. protection, development and management of forest lands fall within the primary and special responsibilities of the
Hence, if a remedy within the administrative machinery can still be resorted to by giving the administrative officer Department of Environment and Natural Resources. By the very nature of its function, the DENR should be given
concerned every opportunity to decide on a matter that comes within his jurisdiction then such remedy should be a free hand unperturbed by judicial intrusion to determine a controversy which is well within its jurisdiction. The
exhausted first before court‘s judicial power can be sought. The premature invocation of court‘s intervention is assumption by the trial court, therefore, of the replevin suit filed by private respondents constitutes an unjustified
fatal to one‘s cause of action.11 Accordingly, absent any finding of waiver or estoppel the case is susceptible of encroachment into the domain of the administrative agency‘s prerogative. The doctrine of primary jurisdiction
dismissal for lack of cause of action.12 This doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies was not without its does not warrant a court to arrogate unto itself the authority to resolve a controversy the jurisdiction over which is
practical and legal reasons, for one thing, availment of administrative remedy entails lesser expenses and provides initially lodged with an administrative body of special competence.25 In Felipe Ismael, Jr. and Co. vs. Deputy
for a speedier disposition of controversies. It is no less true to state that the courts of justice for reasons of comity Executive Secretary,26 which was reiterated in the recent case of Concerned Officials of MWSS vs. Vasquez,27
and convenience will shy away from a dispute until the system of administrative redress has been completed and this Court held:
complied with so as to give the administrative agency concerned every opportunity to correct its error and to
dispose of the case. However, we are not amiss to reiterate that the principle of exhaustion of administrative ―Thus, while the administration grapples with the complex and multifarious problems caused by unbriddled
remedies as tested by a battery of cases is not an ironclad rule. This doctrine is a relative one and its flexibility is exploitation of these resources, the judiciary will stand clear. A long line of cases establish the basic rule that the
called upon by the peculiarity and uniqueness of the factual and circumstantial settings of a case. Hence, it is courts will not interfere in matters which are addressed to the sound discretion of government agencies entrusted
disregarded (1) when there is a violation of due process,13 (2) when the issue involved is purely a legal with the regulation of activities coming under the special technical knowledge and training of such agencies.‖
question,14 (3) when the administrative action is patently illegal amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction,15 (4)
when there is estoppel on the part of the administrative agency concerned,16 (5) when there is irreparable To sustain the claim of private respondents would in effect bring the instant controversy beyond the pale of the
injury,17 (6) when the respondent is a department secretary whose acts as an alter ego of the President bears the principle of exhaustion of administrative remedies and fall within the ambit of excepted cases heretofore stated.
implied and assumed approval of the latter,18 (7) when to require exhaustion of administrative remedies would be However, considering the circumstances prevailing in this case, we can not but rule out these assertions of private
unreasonable,19 (8) when it would amount to a nullification of a claim,20 (9) when the subject matter is a private respondents to be without merit. First, they argued that there was violation of due process because they did not
land in land case proceedings,21 (10) when the rule does not provide a plain, speedy and adequate remedy, and receive the May 23, 1989 order of confiscation of petitioner Layugan. This contention has no leg to stand on. Due
(11) when there are circumstances indicating the urgency of judicial intervention.22 In the case at bar, there is no process does not necessarily mean or require a hearing, but simply an opportunity or right to be heard.28 One may
question that the controversy was pending before the Secretary of DENR when it was forwarded to him following be heard, not solely by verbal presentation but also, and perhaps many times more creditably and practicable than
the denial by the petitioners of the motion for reconsideration of private respondents through the order of July 12, oral argument, through pleadings.29 In administrative proceedings moreover, technical rules of procedure and
1989. In their letter of reconsideration dated June 28, 1989,23 private respondents clearly recognize the presence evidence are not strictly applied; administrative process cannot be fully equated with due process in its strict
of an administrative forum to which they seek to avail, as they did avail, in the resolution of their case. The letter, judicial sense.30 Indeed, deprivation of due process cannot be successfully invoked where a party was given the
reads, thus: chance to be heard on his motion for reconsideration,31 as in the instant case, when private respondents were
undisputedly given the opportunity to present their side when they filed a letter of reconsideration dated June 28,
―x x x 1989 which was, however, denied in an order of July 12, 1989 of Executive Director Baggayan. In Navarro III vs.
Damasco,32 we ruled that:

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―The essence of due process is simply an opportunity to be heard, or as applied to administrative proceedings, an suppress the mischief, and secure the benefits intended.34 In this wise, the observation of the Solicitor General is
opportunity to explain one‘s side or an opportunity to seek a reconsideration of the action or ruling complained of. significant, thus:
A formal or trial type hearing is not at all times and in all instances essential. The requirements are satisfied when
the parties are afforded fair and reasonable opportunity to explain their side of the controversy at hand. What is ―But precisely because of the need to make forestry laws ‗more responsive to present situations and realities‘ and
frowned upon is the absolute lack of notice or hearing.‖ in view of the ‗urgency to conserve the remaining resources of the country,‘ that the government opted to add
Section 68-A. This amendatory provision is an administrative remedy totally separate and distinct from criminal
Second, private respondents imputed the patent illegality of seizure and forfeiture of the truck because the proceedings. More than anything else, it is intended to supplant the inadequacies that characterize enforcement of
administrative officers of the DENR allegedly have no power to perform these acts under the law. They insisted forestry laws through criminal actions. The preamble of EO 277—the law that added Section 68-A to PD 705—is
that only the court is authorized to confiscate and forfeit conveyances used in transporting illegal forest products most revealing:
as can be gleaned from the second paragraph of Section 68 of P.D. 705, as amended by E.O. 277. The pertinent
provision reads as follows: ‗WHEREAS, there is an urgency to conserve the remaining forest resources of the country for the benefit and
welfare of the present and future generations of Filipinos;
―SECTION 68. x x x
WHEREAS, our forest resources may be effectively conserved and protected through the vigilant enforcement and
xxx implementation of our forestry laws, rules and regulations;

The court shall further order the confiscation in favor of the government of the timber or any forest products cut, WHEREAS, the implementation of our forestry laws suffers from technical difficulties, due to certain
gathered, collected, removed, or possessed, as well as the machinery, equipments, implements and tools illegaly inadequacies in the penal provisions of the Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines; and
[sic] used in the area where the timber or forest products are found.‖ (Italics ours)
WHEREAS, to overcome this difficulties, there is a need to penalize certain acts more responsive to present
A reading, however, of the law persuades us not to go along with private respondents‘ thinking not only because situations and realities;‘
the aforequoted provision apparently does not mention nor include ―conveyances‖ that can be the subject of
confiscation by the courts, but to a large extent, due to the fact that private respondents‘ interpretation of the It is interesting to note that Section 68-A is a new provision authorizing the DENR to confiscate, not only
subject provision unduly restricts the clear intention of the law and inevitably reduces the other provision of ‗conveyances,‘ but forest products as well. On the other hand, confiscation of forest products by the ‗court‘ in a
Section 68-A, which is quoted herein below: criminal action has long been provided for in Section 68. If as private respondents insist, the power of confiscation
cannot be exercised except only through the court under Section 68, then Section 68-A would have no purpose at
―SECTION 68-A. Administrative Authority of the Department or His Duly Authorized Representative To Order all. Simply put, Section 68-A would not have provided any solution to the problem perceived in EO 277,
Confiscation. In all cases of violation of this Code or other forest laws, rules and regulations, the Department Head supra.‖35
or his duly authorized representative, may order the confiscation of any forest products illegally cut, gathered,
removed, or possessed or abandoned, and all conveyances used either by land, water or air in the commission of Private respondents, likewise, contend that the seizure was illegal because the petitioners themselves admitted in
the offense and to dispose of the same in accordance with pertinent laws, regulations and policies on the matter.‖ the Order dated July 12, 1989 of Executive Director Baggayan that the truck of private respondents was not used
(Italics ours) in the commission of the crime. This order, a copy of which was given to and received by the counsel of private
respondents, reads in part, viz.:
It is thus clear from the foregoing provision that the Secretary and his duly authorized representatives are given the
authority to confiscate and forfeit any conveyances utilized in violating the Code or other forest laws, rules and ―x x x while it is true that the truck of your client was not used by her in the commission of the crime, we uphold
regulations. The phrase ―to dispose of the same‖ is broad enough to cover the act of forfeiting conveyances in your claim that the truck owner is not liable for the crime and in no case could a criminal case be filed against her
favor of the government. The only limitation is that it should be made ―in accordance with pertinent laws, as provided under Article 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code. x x x‖36
regulations or policies on the matter.‖ In the construction of statutes, it must be read in such a way as to give effect
to the purpose projected in the statute.33 Statutes should be construed in the light of the object to be achieved and We observed that private respondents misread the content of the aforestated order and obviously misinterpreted
the evil or mischief to be suppressed, and they should be given such construction as will advance the object, the intention of petitioners. What is contemplated by the petitioners when they stated that the truck ―was not used
in the commission of the crime‖ is that it was not used in the commission of the crime of theft, hence, in no case

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can a criminal action be filed against the owner thereof for violation of Article 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal From the foregoing disquisition, it is clear that a suit for replevin can not be sustained against the petitioners for
Code. Petitioners did not eliminate the possibility that the truck was being used in the commission of another the subject truck taken and retained by them for administrative forfeiture proceedings in pursuant to Section 68-A
crime, that is, the breach of Section 68 of P.D. 705 as amended by E.O 277. In the same order of July 12, 1989, of the P.D. 705, as amended. Dismissal of the replevin suit for lack of cause of action in view of the private
petitioners pointed out: respondents‘ failure to exhaust administrative remedies should have been the proper course of action by the lower
court instead of assuming jurisdiction over the case and consequently issuing the writ ordering the return of the
―x x x However, under Section 68 of P.D. 705 as amended and further amended by Executive Order No. 277 truck. Exhaustion of the remedies in the administrative forum, being a condition precedent prior to one‘s recourse
specifically provides for the confiscation of the conveyance used in the transport of forest products not covered by to the courts and more importantly, being an element of private respondents‘ right of action, is too significant to be
the required legal documents. She may not have been involved in the cutting and gathering of the product in waylaid by the lower court.
question but the fact that she accepted the goods for a fee or fare the same is therefor liable. x x x‖37
It is worth stressing at this point, that a suit for replevin is founded solely on the claim that the defendant
Private respondents, however, contended that there is no crime defined and punishable under Section 68 other than wrongfully withholds the property sought to be recovered. It lies to recover possession of personal chattels that are
qualified theft, so that, when petitioner admitted in the July 12, 1989 order that private respondents could not be unlawfully detained.39 ―To detain‖ is defined as to mean ―to hold or keep in custody,‖40 and it has been held that
charged for theft as provided for under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code, then necessarily private there is tortious taking whenever there is an unlawful meddling with the property, or an exercise or claim of
respondents could not have committed an act constituting a crime under Section 68. We disagree. For clarity, the dominion over it, without any pretense of authority or right; this, without manual seizing of the property is
provision of Section 68 of P.D. 705 before its amendment by E.O. 277 and the provision of Section 1 of E.O. No. sufficient.41 Under the Rules of Court, it is indispensable in replevin proceeding that the plaintiff must show by
277 amending the aforementioned Section 68 are reproduced herein, thus: his own affidavit that he is entitled to the possession of property, that the property is wrongfully detained by the
defendant, alleging the cause of detention, that the same has not been taken for tax assessment, or seized under
―SECTION 68. Cutting, gathering and/or collecting timber or other products without license.—Any person who execution, or attachment, or if so seized, that it is exempt from such seizure, and the actual value of the
shall cut, gather, collect, or remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from alienable property.42 Private respondents miserably failed to convince this Court that a wrongful detention of the subject
and disposable public lands, or from private lands, without any authority under a license agreement, lease, license truck obtains in the instant case. It should be noted that the truck was seized by the petitioners because it was
or permit, shall be guilty of qualified theft as defined and punished under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised transporting forest products without the required permit of the DENR in manifest contravention of Section 68 of
Penal Code x x x.‖ (Italics ours; Section 68, P.D. 705 before its amendment by E.O. 277) P.D. 705 as amended by E.O 277. Section 68-A of P.D. 705, as amended, unquestionably warrants the
confiscation as well as the disposition by the Secretary of DENR or his duly authorized representatives of the
―SECTION 1. Section 68 of Presidential Decree No. 705, as amended, is hereby amended to read as follows:
conveyances used in violating the provision of forestry laws. Evidently, the continued possession or detention of
‗Section 68. Cutting, gathering and/or collecting timber or other forest products without license.—Any person the truck by the petitioners for administrative forfeiture proceeding is legally permissible, hence, no wrongful
who shall cut, gather, collect, remove timber or other forest products from any forest land, or timber from detention exists in the case at bar.
alienable or disposable public land, or from private land, without any authority, or possess timber or other forest
Moreover, the suit for replevin is never intended as a procedural tool to question the orders of confiscation and
products without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and regulations, shall be punished
forfeiture issued by the DENR in pursuance to the authority given under P.D. 705, as amended. Section 8 of the
with the penalties imposed under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code x x x‖ (Italics ours; Section 1,
said law is explicit that actions taken by the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development concerning the
E.O. No. 277 amending Section 68, P.D. 705 as amended)
enforcement of the provisions of the said law are subject to review by the Secretary of DENR and that courts may
With the introduction of Executive Order No. 277 amending Section 68 of P.D. 705, the act of cutting, gathering, not review the decisions of the Secretary except through a special civil action for certiorari or prohibition. It reads:
collecting, removing, or possessing forest products without authority constitutes a distinct offense independent
SECTION 8. REVIEW—All actions and decisions of the Director are subject to review, motu propio or upon
now from the crime of theft under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code, but the penalty to be imposed
appeal of any person aggrieved thereby, by the Department Head whose decision shall be final and executory after
is that provided for under Article 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code. This is clear from the language of
the lapse of thirty (30) days from the receipt of the aggrieved party of said decision, unless appealed to the
Executive Order No. 277 when it eliminated the phrase ―shall be guilty of qualified theft as defined and punished
President in accordance with Executive Order No. 19, Series of 1966. The Decision of the Department Head may
under Articles 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code‖ and inserted the words ―shall be punished with the
not be reviewed by the courts except through a special civil action for certiorari or prohibition.
penalties imposed under Article 309 and 310 of the Revised Penal Code.‖ When the statute is clear and explicit,
there is hardly room for any extended court ratiocination or rationalization of the law.38

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WHEREFORE, the Petition is GRANTED; the Decision of the respondent Court of Appeals dated October 16, the seized articles. Only an inventory of the articles is taken and signed by the owner or his representative. The
1991 and its Resolution dated July 14, 1992 are hereby SET ASIDE AND REVERSED; the Restraining Order owner is prohibited from disposing them until further orders.
promulgated on September 27, 1993 is hereby made permanent; and the Secretary of DENR is directed to resolve
the controversy with utmost dispatch. Criminal Procedure; Informations; Motion to Quash; The test for the correctness of the ground that the facts
alleged in the information do not constitute an offense is the sufficiency of the averments in the information, that
SO ORDERED. is, whether the facts alleged, if hypothetically admitted, constitute the elements of the offense.—Under paragraph
(a), Section 3, Rule 117 of the Rules of Court, an information may be quashed on the ground that the facts alleged
Regalado (Chairman), Romero, Puno and Mendoza, JJ., concur. therein do not constitute an offense. It has been said that ―the test for the correctness of this ground is the
sufficiency of the averments in the information, that is, whether the facts alleged, if hypothetically admitted,
Petition granted. constitute the elements of the offense, and matters aliunde will not be considered.‖ Anent the sufficiency of the
information, Section 6, Rule 110 of the Rules of Court requires, inter alia, that the information state the acts or
Note.—When the language of the statute is clear it should be given its natural meaning. (Basbacio vs. Office of the
omissions complained of as constituting the offense.
Secretary, Department of Justice, 238 SCRA 5 [1994])
Administrative Law; Natural Resources; Forestry Laws; IllegalLogging; Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines
——o0o——
(P.D. 705); Words and Phrases; Possession of lumber without the required legal documents is penalized in Section
68 of P.D. No. 705 because lumber is included in the term timber.—The foregoing disquisitions should not, in any
manner, be construed as an affirmance of the respondent Judge‘s conclusion that lumber is excluded from the
G.R. No. 104988. June 18, 1996.* coverage of Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, and thus possession thereof without the required legal
documents is not a crime. On the contrary, this Court rules that such possession is penalized in the said section
MUSTANG LUMBER, INC., petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. FULGENCIO S. because lumber is included in the term timber.
FACTORAN, JR., Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and ATTY.
VINCENT A. ROBLES, Chief, Special Actions and Investigation Division, DENR, respondents. Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Simply put, lumber is processed log or timber.—The Revised Forestry
Code contains no definition of either timber or lumber. While the former is included in forest products as defined
in paragraph (q) of Section 3, the latter is found in paragraph (aa) of the same section in the definition of
G.R. No. 106424. June 18, 1996. ―Processing plant,‖ which reads: (aa) Processing plant is any mechanical set-up, machine or combination of
machine used for the processing of logs and other forest raw materials into lumber, veneer, plywood, wallboard,
PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. HON. TERESITA DIZON-CAPULONG, in her capacity blockboard, paper board, pulp, paper or other finished wood products. This simply means that lumber is a
as the Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, National Capital Judicial Region, Branch 172, Valenzuela, processed log or processed forest raw material. Clearly, the Code uses the term lumber in its ordinary or common
Metro Manila, and RI CHUY PO, respondents. usage. In the 1993 copyright edition of Webster‘s Third New International Dictionary, lumber is defined, inter
alia, as ―timber or logs after being prepared for the market.‖ Simply put, lumber is a processed log or timber.
G.R. No. 123784. June 18, 1996.

MUSTANG LUMBER, INC., petitioner, vs. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, ATTY. VINCENT A. ROBLES, Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Statutory Construction; In the absence of legislative intent to the
Chief, Special Actions and Investigation Division, Department of Environment and Natural Resources contrary, words and phrases used in a statute should be given their plain, ordinary, and common usage meaning.—
(DENR), ATTY. NESTOR V. GAPUSAN, TIRSO P. PARIAN, JR., and FELIPE H. CALLORINA, JR., It is settled that in the absence of legislative intent to the contrary, words and phrases used in a statute should be
respondents. given their plain, ordinary, and common usage meaning. And insofar as possession of timber without the required
legal documents is concerned, Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, makes no distinction between raw or
processed timber. Neither should we. Ubi lex non distinguit nec nos distinguere debemus.
Administrative Law; Natural Resources; Forestry Laws; Illegal Logging; Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines
Same; Same; Same; Same; Same; Constitutional Law; Searches and Seizures; Seizure of a truck loaded with lauan
(P.D. 705); Under an administrative seizure, the owner retains the physical possession of the seized articles.—
and almaciga lumber not accompanied with the required invoices and transport documents is a valid exercise of
Parenthetically, it may be stated that under an administrative seizure the owner retains the physical possession of

92 | P a g e
the power vested upon a forest officer or employee by Section 80 of P.D. No. 705; A search could be lawfully Criminal Procedure; Informations; Motion to Quash; While generally factual matters outside of the information
conducted on a moving vehicle without a search warrant.—It was duly established that on 1 April 1990, the should not weigh in resolving a motion to quash, there should, however, be no serious objections to taking into
petitioner‘s truck with Plate No. CCK-322 was coming out from the petitioner‘s lumberyard loaded with lauan and account additional and clarificatory facts which, although not made out in the information, are admitted, conceded,
almaciga lumber of different sizes and dimensions which were not accompanied with the required invoices and or not denied by the parties.—While generally factual matters outside of the information should not weigh in
transport documents. The seizure of such truck and its cargo was a valid exercise of the power vested upon a forest resolving a motion to quash following the standing rule that the allegations of the information must alone be
officer or employee by Section 80 of P.D. No. 705, as amended by P.D. No. 1775. Then, too, as correctly held by considered and should not be challenged, there should, however, be no serious objections to taking into account
the trial court and the Court of Appeals in the FIRST CIVIL CASE, the search was conducted on a moving additional and clarificatory facts which, although not made out in the information, are admitted, conceded, or not
vehicle. Such a search could be lawfully conducted without a search warrant. denied by the parties.

Constitutional Law; Searches and Seizures; Exceptions to the constitutional mandate that no search or seizure PETITIONS for review of a decision of the Court of Appeals.
shall be made except by virtue of a warrant issued by a judge after personally determining the existence of
probable cause.—Search of a moving vehicle is one of the five doctrinally accepted exceptions to the The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.
constitutional mandate that no search or seizure shall be made except by virtue of a warrant issued by a judge after
personally determining the existence of probable cause. The other exceptions are: (1) search as an incident to a Francisco D. Estrada for Mustang Lumber.
lawful arrest, (2) seizure of evidence in plain view, (3) customs searches, and (4) consented warrantless search.
DAVIDE, JR., J.:
Same; Same; Search Warrants; A search warrant has a lifetime of ten days and it could be served at any time
The first and third cases, G.R. No. 104988 and G.R. No. 123784, were originally assigned to the Second and Third
within the said period, and if its object or purpose cannot be accomplished in one day, the same may be continued
Divisions of the Court, respectively. They were subsequently consolidated with the second, a case of the Court en
the following day or days until completed.—We also affirm the rulings of both the trial court and the Court of
banc.
Appeals that the search on 4 April 1990 was a continuation of the search on 3 April 1990 done under and by virtue
of the search warrant issued on 3 April 1990 by Executive Judge Osorio. Under Section 9, Rule 126 of the Rules Petitioner, a domestic corporation with principal office at Nos. 1350-1352 Juan Luna Street, Tondo, Manila, and
of Court, a search warrant has a lifetime of ten days. Hence, it could be served at any time within the said period, with a lumberyard at Fortune Street, Fortune Village, Paseo de Blas, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, was duly
and if its object or purpose cannot be accomplished in one day, the same may be continued the following day or registered as a lumber dealer with the Bureau of Forest Development (BFD) under Certificate of Registration No.
days until completed. Thus, when the search under a warrant on one day was interrupted, it may be continued NRD-4-092590-0469. Its permit as such was to expire on 25 September 1990.
under the same warrant the following day, provided it is still within the ten-day period.
Respondent Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., and respondent Atty. Vincent A. Robles were, during all the time
Administrative Law; Natural Resources; Forestry Laws; Illegal Logging; Revised Forestry Code of the Philippines material to these cases, the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the
(P.D. 705); Where a lumber-dealer‘s license or permit has been suspended, he has absolutely no right to possess, Chief of the Special Actions and Investigation Division (SAID) of the DENR, respectively.
sell, or otherwise dispose of lumber and the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources or his authorized
representative has the authority to seize the lumber.—The Court of Appeals correctly dismissed the petitioner‘s The material operative facts are as follows:
appeal from the judgment of the trial court in the SECOND CIVIL CASE. The petitioner never disputed the fact
that its lumber-dealer‘s license or permit had been suspended by Secretary Factoran on 23 April 1990. The On 1 April 1990, acting on an information that a huge stockpile of narra flitches, shorts, and slabs were seen inside
suspension was never lifted, and since the license had only a lifetime of up to 25 September 1990, the petitioner the lumberyard of the petitioner in Valenzuela, Metro Manila, the SAID organized a team of foresters and
has absolutely no right to possess, sell, or otherwise dispose of lumber. Accordingly, Secretary Factoran or his policemen and sent it to conduct surveillance at the said lumberyard. In the course thereof, the team members saw
authorized representative had the authority to seize the lumber pursuant to Section 68-A of P.D. No. 705, as coming out from the lumberyard the petitioner‘s truck, with Plate No. CCK-322, loaded with lauan and almaciga
amended. lumber of assorted sizes and dimensions. Since the driver could not produce the required invoices and transport
documents, the team seized the truck together with its cargo and impounded them at the DENR compound at
VITUG, J., Separate opinion: Visayas Avenue, Quezon City.1 The team was not able to gain entry into the premises because of the refusal of the
owner.2

93 | P a g e
On 3 April 1990, the team was able to secure a search warrant from Executive Judge Adriano R. Osorio of the On the same date, counsel for the petitioner sent another letter to Robles informing the latter that the petitioner had
Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Valenzuela, Metro Manila. By virtue thereof, the team seized on that date from the already secured the required documents and was ready to submit them. None, however, was submitted.8
petitioner‘s lumberyard four truckloads of narra shorts, trimmings, and slabs; a negligible number of narra lumber;
and approximately 200,000 board feet of lumber and shorts of various species including almaciga and supa.3 On 3 May 1990, Secretary Factoran issued another order wherein, after reciting the events which took place on 1
April and 3 April 1990, he ordered ―CONFISCATED in favor of the government to be disposed of in accordance
On 4 April 1990, the team returned to the premises of the petitioner‘s lumberyard in Valenzuela and placed under with law‖ the approximately 311,000 board feet of lauan, supa, and almaciga lumber, shorts, and sticks found
administrative seizure the remaining stockpile of almaciga, supa, and lauan lumber with a total volume of 311,000 inside the petitioner‘s lumberyard.9
board feet because the petitioner failed to produce upon demand the corresponding certificate of lumber origin,
auxiliary invoices, tally sheets, and delivery receipts from the source of the invoices covering the lumber to prove On 11 July 1990, the petitioner filed with the RTC of Manila a petition for certiorari and prohibition with a prayer
the legitimacy of their source and origin.4 for a restraining order or preliminary injunction against Secretary Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., and Atty. Vincent A.
Robles. The case (hereinafter, the FIRST CIVIL CASE) was docketed as Civil Case No. 90-53648 and assigned to
Parenthetically, it may be stated that under an administrative seizure the owner retains the physical possession of Branch 35 of the said court. The petitioner questioned therein (a) the seizure on 1 April 1990, without any search
the seized articles. Only an inventory of the articles is taken and signed by the owner or his representative. The and seizure order issued by a judge, of its truck with Plate No. CCK-322 and its cargo of assorted lumber
owner is prohibited from disposing them until further orders.5 consisting of apitong, tanguile, and lauan of different sizes and dimensions with a total value of P38,000.00; and
(b) the orders of Secretary Factoran of 23 April 1990 for lack of prior notice and hearing and of 3 May 1990 for
On 10 April 1990, counsel for the petitioner sent a letter to Robles requesting an extension of fifteen days from 14 violation of Section 2, Article III of the Constitution.
April 1990 to produce the required documents covering the seized articles because some of them, particularly the
certificate of lumber origin, were allegedly in the Province of Quirino. Robles denied the motion on the ground On 17 September 1990, in response to reports that violations of P.D. No. 705 (The Revised Forestry Code of the
that the documents being required from the petitioner must accompany the lumber or forest products placed under Philippines), as amended, were committed and acting upon instruction of Robles and under Special Order No. 897,
seizure.6 series of 1990, a team of DENR agents went to the business premises of the petitioner located at No. 1352 Juan
Luna Street, Tondo, Manila. The team caught the petitioner operating as a lumber dealer although its lumber-
On 11 April 1990, Robles submitted his memorandum– report recommending to Secretary Factoran the following: dealer‘s permit had already been suspended on 23 April 1990. Since the gate of the petitioner‘s lumberyard was
open, the team went inside and saw an owner-type jeep with a trailer loaded with lumber. Upon investigation, the
1. Suspension and subsequent cancellation of the lumber Dealer‘s Permit of Mustang Lumber, Inc. for operating team was informed that the lumber loaded on the trailer was to be delivered to the petitioner‘s customer. It also
an unregistered lumberyard and resaw mill and possession of Almaciga Lumber (a banned specie) without the came upon the sales invoice covering the transaction. The members of the team then introduced themselves to the
required documents; caretaker, one Ms. Chua, who turned out to be the wife of the petitioner‘s president and general manager, Mr. Ri
Chuy Po, who was then out of town. The team‘s photographer was able to take photographs of the stockpiles of
2. Confiscation of the lumber seized at the Mustang Lumber-yard including the truck with Plate No. CCK-322 and
lumber including newly cut ones, fresh dust around sawing or cutting machineries and equipment, and the
the lumber loaded herein [sic] now at the DENR compound in the event its owner fails to submit documents
transport vehicles loaded with lumber. The team thereupon effected a constructive seizure of approximately
showing legitimacy of the source of said lumber within ten days from date of seizure;
20,000 board feet of lauan lumber in assorted sizes stockpiled in the premises by issuing a receipt therefor.10
3. Filing of criminal charges against Mr. Ri Chuy Po, owner of Mustang Lumber Inc. and Mr. Ruiz, or if the
As a consequence of this 17 September 1990 incident, the petitioner filed with the RTC of Manila a petition for
circumstances warrant for illegal possession of narra and almaciga lumber and shorts if and when recommendation
certiorari and prohibition. The case (hereinafter, the SECOND CIVIL CASE) was docketed as Civil Case No. 90-
No. 2 pushes through;
54610 and assigned to Branch 24 of the said court.
4. Confiscation of Trucks with Plate No. CCS-639 and CDV-458 as well as the lumber loaded therein for transport
In the meantime, Robles filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) a complaint against the petitioner‘s president
lumber using ―recycled‖ documents.7
and general manager, Ri Chuy Po, for violation of Section 68 of P.D. Nos. 705, as amended by E.O. No. 277.
On 23 April 1990, Secretary Factoran issued an order suspending immediately the petitioner‘s lumber-dealer‘s After appropriate preliminary investigation, the investigating prosecutor, Claro Arellano, handed down a
permit No. NRD-4-092590-0469 and directing the petitioner to explain in writing within fifteen days why its resolution11 whose dispositive portion reads:
lumber-dealer‘s permit should not be cancelled.

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WHEREFORE, premises considered, it is hereby recommended that an information be filed against respondent Ri 4. Action on the prayer of the petitioner that the lauan, supa and almaciga lumber, shorts and sticks mentioned
Chuy Po for illegal possession of approximately 200,000 bd. ft. of lumber consisting of almaciga and supa and for above in paragraphs 1 and 2 of this judgment be returned to said petitioner, is withheld in this case until after the
illegal shipment of almaciga and lauan in violation of Sec. 68 of PD 705 as amended by E.O. 277, series of 1987. proper court has taken cognizance and determined how those lumber, shorts and sticks should be disposed of; and

It is further recommended that the 30,000 bd. ft. of narra shorts, trimmings and slabs covered by legal documents 5. The petitioner is ordered to pay the costs.
be released to the rightful owner, Malupa.12
SO ORDERED.
This resolution was approved by Undersecretary of Justice Silvestre H. Bello III, who served as Chairman of the
Task Force on Illegal Logging.13 In resolving the said case, the trial court held that the warrantless search and seizure on 1 April 1990 of the
petitioner‘s truck, which was moving out from the petitioner‘s lumberyard in Valenzuela, Metro Manila, loaded
On the basis of that resolution, an information was filed on 5 June 1991 by the DOJ with Branch 172 of the RTC with large volumes of lumber without covering document showing the legitimacy of its source or origin did not
of Valenzuela, charging Ri Chuy Po with the violation of Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, which was offend the constitutional mandate that search and seizure must be supported by a valid warrant. The situation fell
docketed as Criminal Case No. 324-V-91 (hereinafter, the CRIMINAL CASE). The accusatory portion of the under one of the settled and accepted exceptions where warrantless search and seizure is justified, viz., a search of
information reads as follows: a moving vehicle.16 As to the seizure of a large volume of almaciga, supa, and lauan lumber and shorts effected
on 4 April 1990, the trial court ruled that the said seizure was a continuation of that made the previous day and
That on or about the 3rd day of April 1990, or prior to or subsequent thereto, within the premises and vicinity of was still pursuant to or by virtue of the search warrant issued by Executive Judge Osorio whose validity the
Mustang Lumber, Inc. in Fortune Village, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable petitioner did not even question.17 And, although the search warrant did not specifically mention almaciga, supa,
Court, the above-named accused, did then and there wilfully, feloniously and unlawfully, have in his possession and lauan lumber and shorts, their seizure was valid because it is settled that the executing officer is not required
truckloads of almaciga and lauan and approximately 200,000 bd. ft. of lumber and shorts of various species to ignore contrabands observed during the conduct of the search.18
including almaciga and supa, without the legal documents as required under existing forest laws and
regulations.14 The trial court, however, set aside Secretary Factoran‘s order of 3 May 1990 ordering the confiscation of the
seized articles in favor of the Government for the reason that since the articles were seized pursuant to the search
On 7 June 1991, Branch 35 of the RTC of Manila rendered its decision15 in the FIRST CIVIL CASE, the warrant issued by Executive Judge Osorio they should have been returned to him in compliance with the directive
dispositive portion of which reads: in the warrant.

WHEREFORE, judgment in this case is rendered as follows: As to the propriety of the 23 April 1990 order of Secretary Factoran, the trial court ruled that the same had been
rendered moot and academic by the expiration of the petitioner‘s lumber-dealer‘s permit on 25 September 1990, a
1. The Order of Respondent Secretary of the DENR, the Honorable Fulgencio S. Factoran, Jr., dated 3 May 1990 fact the petitioner admitted in its memorandum.
ordering the confiscation in favor of the Government the approximately 311,000 board feet of lauan, supa, and
almaciga lumber, shorts and sticks, found inside and seized from the lumberyard of the petitioner at Fortune Drive, The petitioner forthwith appealed from the decision in the FIRST CIVIL CASE to the Court of Appeals, which
Fortune Village, Paseo de Blas, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, on April 4, 1990 (Exhibit 10), is hereby set aside and docketed the appeal as CA-G.R. SP No. 25510.
vacated, and instead the respondents are required to report and bring to the Hon. Adriano Osorio, Executive Judge,
Regional Trial Court, NCJR, Valenzuela, Metro Manila, the said 311,000 board feet of lauan, supa and almaciga On 7 July 1991, accused Ri Chuy Po filed in the CRIMINAL CASE a Motion to Quash and/or to Suspend
lumber, shorts and sticks, to be dealt with as directed by law; Proceedings based on the following grounds: (a) the information does not charge an offense, for possession of
lumber, as opposed to timber, is not penalized in Section 68 of P.D. No. 705, as amended, and even granting
2. The respondents are required to initiate and prosecute the appropriate action before the proper court regarding arguendo that lumber falls within the purview of the said section, the same may not be used in evidence against
the lauan and almaciga lumber of assorted sizes and dimensions loaded in petitioner‘s truck bearing Plate No. him for they were taken by virtue of an illegal seizure; and (b) Civil Case No. 90-53648 of Branch 35 of the RTC
CCK-322 which were seized on April 1, 1990; of Manila, the FIRST CIVIL CASE, then pending before the Court of Appeals, which involves the legality of the
seizure, raises a prejudicial question.19
3. The Writ of Preliminary Injunction issued by the Court on August 2, 1990 shall be rendered functus oficio upon
compliance by the respondents with paragraphs 1 and 2 of this judgment;

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The prosecution opposed the motion alleging that lumber is included in Section 68 of P.D. Nos. 705, as amended, the market,‖ and by the Random House Dictionary of the English Language, viz., ―wood, esp. when suitable or
and possession thereof without the required legal documents is penalized therein. It referred to Section 3.2 of adapted for various building purposes,‖ the respondent Court held that since wood is included in the definition of
DENR Administrative Order No. 19, series of 1989, for the definitions of timber and lumber, and then argued that forest product in Section 3(q) of P.D. No. 705, as amended, lumber is necessarily included in Section 68 under the
exclusion of lumber from Section 68 would defeat the very purpose of the law, i.e., to minimize, if not halt, illegal term forest product.
logging that has resulted in the rapid denudation of our forest resources.20
The Court of Appeals further emphasized that a forest officer or employee can seize the forest product involved in
In her order of 16 August 1991 in the CRIMINAL CASE,21 respondent Judge Teresita Dizon-Capulong granted a violation of Section 68 of P.D. No. 705 pursuant to Section 80 thereof, as amended by P.D. No. 1775, which
the motion to quash and dismissed the case on the ground that ―possession of lumber without the legal documents provides in part as follows:
required by forest laws and regulations is not a crime.‖22