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THIRD DIVISION

[G.R. No. 127022. September 2, 1999.]

FIRESTONE CERAMICS, INC., BOOMTOWN DEVELOPMENT


CORPORATION, Spouses CYNTHIA D. CHING and CHING TIONG
KENG, Spouses CARMEN SOCO and LORENZO ONG ENG CHONG,
Spouses SOLEDAD B. YU and YU SY CHIA and LETICIA NOCOM
CHAN , petitioners, vs. COURT OF APPEALS, LORENZO J. GANA,
PATROCINIO E. MARGOLLES, ALICE E. SOTTO, VIRGINIA E.
VILLONGCO, EDGARDO C. ESPINOSA, LUCIA E. LAPERAL, NORMA C.
ESPINOSA, TERESITA E. CASAL, PELTAN DEVELOPMENT, INC.,
REGIONAL TRIAL COURT (formerly CFI of Rizal) and the REGISTER
OF DEEDS OF LAS PIÑAS, METRO MANILA , respondents.

ALEJANDRO B. REY , petitioner-intervenor.

[G.R. No. 127245. September 2, 1999.]

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the DIRECTOR,


LAND MANAGEMENT BUREAU , petitioner, vs . HON. COURT OF
APPEALS, LORENZO J. GANA, PATROCINIO E. MARGOLLES, ALICE
E. SOTTO, VIRGINIA E. VILLONGCO, EDGARDO C. ESPINOSA, LUCIA
A. LAPERAL, NORMA C. ESPINOSA, TERESITA E. CASAL, PELTAN
DEVELOPMENT INC., THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT (formerly CFI)
of RIZAL, AND THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF LAS PIÑAS, METRO
MANILA , respondents.

Arturo S. Santos for Firestone Ceramics, Inc.


The Solicitor General for the Republic of the Philippines.
Eddie Tamondong for petitioner-intervenor.
Padilla Law Office for Espinosas and Peltan Development, Inc.

SYNOPSIS

Subject of these consolidated petitions is a parcel of land located in Tindig na Mangga,


Las Piñas, Metro Manila registered in the name of Spouses Lorenzo and Maria Gana
pursuant to a decision rendered in LRC Case No. 672, GLRO Record No. 30406, CFI, Rizal.
The validity of the original Torrens title was thereafter assailed in G.R. No. 109494, entitled
Patrocinio Margolles vs. CA, et al., wherein titles adverse to OCT No. 4216 of petitioner
Firestone, et al., were declared null and void. In the said decision, the trial court even noted
the letters of Solicitors General Mendoza and Chavez stating that the informations and
documents submitted to the Office by the Bureau of Lands and the Land Registration
Commission were not sufficient to support the allegation that the land in dispute is within
the forest zone. The validity of the said title was again challenged in Peltan Development,
et al. vs. Court of Appeals; et al., G.R. No. 117029, where this Court ruled that private
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respondents, including Alejandro Rey who are not real parties-in-interest, had no cause of
action in view of the ruling in the Margolles case upholding the validity of said title.
Subsequently, the Republic filed a petition for annulment of the judgment, cancellation of
titles and reversion of the subject land to the public domain. Private respondents moved to
dismiss the petition, while Firestone Ceramics, Inc., et al. and Alejandro Rey moved to
intervene. CSHEAI

The Supreme Court held that intervention is not a matter of right but may be permitted by
the courts when the applicant has a direct, immediate, legal and not contingent interest in
the matter in litigation or in the success of either of the parties or an interest against both
or when he is situated as to be adversely affected by the disposition of the property. With
the void declaration of titles adverse to OCT No. 4216, they have no more legal interest in
the matter in litigation since their titles may no longer be revived regardless of the
outcome of the main petition.
The issue of validity of OCT No. 4216 which has been squarely passed upon by this Court
in the long final Margolles case should no longer be disturbed on the principle of res
judicata or the rule on conclusiveness of judgment.
A party cannot evade the principle of bar by prior judgment by simply varying the form of
action or by adopting a different mode of presenting its case. The final judgment rendered
in the Margolles case is deemed to have settled the status of the subject land under OCT
No. 4216 and any claim over it not noted thereon by other parties is barred under the
principles of res judicata.

SYLLABUS

1. REMEDIAL LAW; ACTIONS; INTERVENTION; WHAT QUALIFIES A PERSON TO


INTERVENE. — Intervention is not a matter of right but may be permitted by the Courts
when the applicant shows facts which satisfy the requirements of the law authorizing
intervention. Under Section 1, Rule 19 of the Revised Rules of Court, what qualifies a person
to intervene is his possession of a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success
of either of the parties, or an interest against both, or when he is situated as to be
adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of property in the custody of the
court or of an officer thereof.
2. ID.; ID.; ID.; LEGAL INTEREST; MUST BE OF DIRECT AND IMMEDIATE CHARACTER. —
As regards the legal interest as qualifying factor, this Court has ruled that such interest
must be of direct and immediate character not merely contingent or expectant so that the
intervenor will either gain or lose by the direct legal operation of the judgment. Petitioners
Firestone Ceramics, Inc., et al., failed to show such interest considering the decision in the
Margolles case (G.R. No. 109490) where petitioners Firestone Ceramics Inc., et al. were
the plaintiffs, in which case, this Court upheld the validity of OCT No. 4216, declaring
petitioners' (Firestone Ceramics, Inc., et al.) titles adverse to OCT No. 4216 as null and
void. With the declaration of petitioners' titles as void they have no more legal interest in
the matter in litigation, since their titles may no longer be revived regardless of the
outcome of the main petition of the petitioner Republic.
3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; MERE COLLATERAL INTEREST IN SUBJECT MATTER CANNOT
JUSTIFY INTERVENTION; CASE AT BAR. — Petitioner Rey's intervention in the present
proceedings was anchored on his legal interest arising from his pending application for a
free patent of a portion of the subject land. A mere collateral interest in the subject matter
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of the litigation cannot justify intervention. Petitioner Rey admitted that he had instituted a
substantially similar case against the private respondents herein (Peltan Development
Corporation, et al.) with the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City docketed as Civil Case No.
LP-8852-P and notably, this case had reached this Court by way of a petition for review
docketed as G.R. No. 117029, entitled Peltan Development, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et
al., where Alejandro Rey was a private respondent. A decision was promulgated on March
19, 1997 where this Court categorically ruled that private respondents therein (including
herein Petitioner Alejandro Rey) had no cause of action to assail the validity of O.C.T. No.
4216 in view of the ruling in Margolles (supra) upholding the validity of said title.
Additionally, this Court also held in Peltan that Alejandro Rey, et al. are not the real parties-
in-interest to assail the validity of the titles of herein private respondents, whose titles
were derived from said O.C.T. 4216, the validity of which in turn was upheld in the
Margolles case.
4. ID.; CIVIL PROCEDURE; JUDGMENT; RES JUDICATA OR BAR BY PRIOR JUDGMENT;
REQUISITES. — Under the rule of res judicata, also known as "bar by prior judgment," a final
judgment or order on the merits, rendered by a Court having jurisdiction of the subject
matter and of the parties, is conclusive in a subsequent case between the same parties
and their successor-in-interest by title subsequent to the commencement of the action or
special proceeding, litigating for the same thing and under the same title and in the same
capacity. The requisites essential for the application of the principle are: (1) there must be
a final judgment or order; (2) said judgment or order must be on the merits; (3) the Court
rendering the same must have jurisdiction on the subject matter and the parties; and (4)
there must be between the two cases identity of parties, identity of subject matter, and
identity of causes of action. TECcHA

5. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; CASE AT BAR. — Petitioner, in their petition for annulment,
cancellation of titles and reversion raises the issue of the validity of OCT No. 4216 alleging
that OCT No. 4216 issued in favor of the Gana spouses is invalid considering that when the
said title was issued in 1929, the subject land was still unclassified public lands, that is
forest land; thus the Court of First Instance of Rizal, sitting as Land Registration Court in
1929, did not acquire jurisdiction to adjudicate the property in question to the Gana
spouses. Significantly, this same issue was squarely passed upon by this Court in the
Margolles case and this case was taken cognizance of by the respondent Court when it
quoted pertinent portions of the Margolles ruling in its assailed decision. Clearly, this Court
had already made a declaration on the genuineness and validity of OCT No. 4216 and the
titles derived therefrom by private respondents in the Margolles case promulgated in
1994. In fact, two (2) petitions for review filed separately which involved the legality of
OCT No. 4216 were dismissed by this Court, invoking the Margolles ruling. The Margolles
case had long become final, thus the validity of OCT No. 4216 should no longer be
disturbed and should be applied in the instant case based on the principle of res judicata
or, otherwise, the rule on conclusiveness of judgment.
6. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; FOR RES JUDICATA TO APPLY, ABSOLUTE IDENTITY OF PARTIES IS
NOT REQUIRED, BUT ONLY SUBSTANTIAL IDENTITY OF PARTIES; CASE AT BAR. —
Petitioner contends that it was not a party in the Margolles case where the validity of OCT
No. 4216 was upheld, thus, res judicata is not applicable. We find such argument
untenable. Granting that there is no absolute identity of parties, what is required, however,
for the application of the principle of res judicata is not absolute, but only substantial
identity of parties. Although petitioner was not a party in the Margolles case, its claim in
the instant case and that of the losing parties in the Margolles case raised exactly the
same argument or reason in trying to invalidate OCT No. 4216, namely, that it supposedly
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covers, unclassified public land (forest land) so that the CFI of Rizal, sitting as Land
Registration Court in 1929, did not acquire jurisdiction to adjudicate the subject property
to the original applicants, the Gana spouses. Petitioner and the other losing parties in the
Margolles shared an identity of interest from which flowed an identity of relief sought,
namely, to declare the nullity of OCT No. 4216. Such identity of interest is sufficient to
make them privy-in-law, one to the other and meets the requisite of substantial identity of
parties.

7. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; IDENTITY OF CAUSES OF ACTION; TEST; CASE AT BAR. — One test of
identity of causes of action is whether or not the judgment sought in a subsequent case
will be inconsistent with the prior judgment. If no inconsistency will result, the prior
judgment cannot be held to be a bar. The validity of OCT No. 4216 was already upheld in
the Margolles case, and if affirmative relief is granted to petitioner in this case, i.e. by the
annulment of OCT No. 4216, this result will necessarily be inconsistent with the prior
judgment in the first case, which resolved the validity of OCT No. 4216 and the various
titles derived therefrom. We do not doubt that substantial identity of causes of action is
present.
8. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; A PARTY CANNOT EVADE THE PRINCIPLE OF BAR BY PRIOR
JUDGMENT BY VARYING THE FORM OF THE ACTION OR BY ADOPTING A DIFFERENT
MODE OF PRESENTING ITS CASE. — The firmly entrenched rule is that a party cannot
evade the principle of bar by prior judgment by simply varying the form of the action or by
adopting a different mode of presenting its case. The final judgment rendered in the
Margolles case is deemed to have settled the status of the subject land under OCT No.
4216, and any claim over it not noted thereon by other parties is therefore deemed barred
under the principle of res judicata. Once a case has been decided one way, then another
case involving exactly the same point at issue should be decided in the same manner.
9. ID.; SUPREME COURT; FINAL ARBITER OF ANY JUSTICIABLE CONTROVERSY; CASE
PASSED BY HIGH TRIBUNAL, NO LONGER SUBJECT TO REVIEW. — Allowing repeated
suits seeking to nullify OCT No. 4216 like the present case, will bring to naught the
principle of indefeasibility of titles issued under the Torrens system of land registration. As
this Court pointed out in one case — "We need not emphasize the fact that the Supreme
Court by tradition and in our system of judicial administration, has the last word on what
the law is. It is the final arbiter of any justiciable controversy. There is only one Supreme
Court from whose decisions all other courts should take their bearings. Consequently, we
cannot and should not review a case already passed upon by the Highest Tribunal. It is only
proper to allow the case to take its rest."SaCDTA

DECISION

GONZAGA-REYES , J : p

These consolidated cases originated from the decision 1 rendered by the respondent
Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. SP No. 36280 entitled Republic of the Philippines, represented
by the Director, Land Management Bureau, petitioner, against Lorenzo J. Gana, Patrocinio
E. Margolles, Alice E. Sotto, Virginia E. Villongco, Edgardo C. Espinosa, Lucia A. Laperal,
Norma C. Espinosa, Teresita E. Casal, Peltran Development, Inc. and the Register of Deeds
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of Las Piñas, Metro Manila, respondents, an action for annulment of judgment of the
decision of the then Court of First Instance of Rizal in LRC Case No. 672, GLRO Record No.
30406. cdrep

The facts of the case as summarized by the respondent Court of Appeals, are as follows 2
:
"The parcel of land involved in this case is located in Tindig na Mangga, Las
Piñas, Metro Manila, with an area of 996,175 square meters, more or less, and
covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 4216.
Alleged, among others, in the petition are that:

"5. The Municipality of Las Piñas, Rizal, now Metro Manila, was
originally classified as a forest land and out of 2,556 hectares comprising
it, 1,200 hectares were declared A and D lands in 1928 under LC Map No.
766, Project 13. The rest of the municipality was declassified as forest
land and declared A and D lands only on January 3, 1968 under LC Map
No. 2623, Project 13-A, pursuant to FAO No. 4-1141.
"6. It appears that on March 26, 1929, the spouses Lorenzo J. Gana
and Maria Juliana Carlos obtained a certificate of title over 996,175 square
meters of land located in Tindig na Mangga, Las Piñas, Metro Manila,
under OCT No. 4216.
"7. The land 'covered by said title was purportedly surveyed on
November 17, 1925 under plan Psu-49273, approved on May 12, 1926; that
in 1927, they filed an application for registration of said land; that the case
was docketed as Land Registration Case No. 672, Record No. 30406; and
that allegedly on the basis of the decision rendered therein (see
Certification re unavailability of copy of decision, Annex B), Decree No.
351823, OCT No. 4216 was issued on March 26, 1929 to the aforesaid
spouses.

"8. On the basis of investigations conducted by the then Bureau of


Lands, now Lands Management Bureau, it was found that the property
covered by OCT No. 4216 was, at the time of its issuance on March 26,
1929, still formed part of the forest zone and, hence, incapable of
registration as private property.
"8.1. Thus, it was only on January 3, 1968 when that portion of
the Municipality of Las Piñas, which includes the property embraced
by OCT No. 4216, was declassified from its category as forest land
and declared A and D land under LC Map No. 2623, Project 13-A,
pursuant to FAO No. 4-1141.
"8.2. Even assuming, however, that the same property was
included in the area declared as A and D land in 1928 under LC Map
No. 766, Project 13, still it could not be the subject of registration
since possession thereof prior to 1928, when it was still within the
forest zone, could not ripen into private ownership."
Private respondent Virginia E. Villongco, in behalf of the other private respondents
filed a "MANIFESTATION WITH MOTION TO DISMISS" alleging that the issue
raised in this petition which is the validity of OCT No. 4216 has already been
passed upon by the Supreme Court in two cases: G.R. No. 109490 entitled
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"Patricinio E. Margolles, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et al." decided in their favor on
February 14, 1994 and G.R. No. 112036 entitled "Golden Rod, Inc. vs. Court of
Appeals, et al." wherein the petition which questions the validity of OCT No. 4216
was denied.

Private respondent PELTAN DEVELOPMENT, INC., thru counsel filed a motion to


dismiss on the grounds that:

I
THIS HONORABLE COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION OVER THE SUBJECT MATTER OR NATURE
OF THE PRESENT ACTION OF THE GOVERNMENT.
II
THE VENUE OF THE PRESENT ACTION OF THE GOVERNMENT IS IMPROPERLY LAID BEFORE
THIS HONORABLE COURT.
III
THE PRESENT ACTION OF THE GOVERNMENT IS BARRED BY PRIOR JUDGMENT AND/OR BY
STARE DECISIS .
In the private respondent's Supplemental Motion to Dismiss an additional reason
for the dismissal of the petition is that:
"failure to attach to the petition a certified true copy of the decision sought
to be annulled is a fatal defect for the Court has no basis on which to rule
that the alleged judgment is null and void.
The petitioner claims that the said judgment is fatally defective in that it ordered
the registration of forest land in the name of the Gana spouses.
Indeed, such claim may be a mere conjecture as there is no copy of the
questioned decision which this Court could examine in order to determine why
such judgment is null and void. As pointed out by the private respondents, what if
the decision stated that the land is alienable and disposable public land, or that
the Director of Land and Director of Forestry did oppose the Gana spouses'
aforesaid application for registration but failed to prove that it was forest land or
that the Gana spouses submitted a valid title under the Spanish regime or that
they were already owners of the said parcel of land upon the transfer of
sovereignty from Spain to the United States of America. LibLex

Before this Court in the present proceedings, was filed a motion for leave to
intervene by Firestone Ceramics, Inc., Boomtown Development Corporation,
Spouses Cynthia Ching and Ching Tiong Keng, Spouses Carmen Soco and
Lorenzo Ong Eng Chong, Spouses Soledad Yu and Yu Sy Chia and Leticia Nocom
Chan. They claim that they have a direct and material interest in the property
under litigation because they own 18.8 hectares more or less thereof, covered by
various titles in their names derived from the decision of the then Court of First
Instance of Rizal dated July 22, 1969 in Land Registration Case No. N-6625 in
which OCT No. A-S-47 was issued, and the said portion of 18.8 hectares within
OCT No. 4216 must be excluded from the area to be reverted to the government,
and if the position of the government is upheld, and OCT No. 4216 is nullified,
their titles "become the only title to the 188,254 square meters in litigation."
Private respondents opposed the aforesaid motion for intervention on the ground
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that the movants' said titles, derived from OCT No. A-S-47, were nullified in the
decision of the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 109490 entitled "Patrocinio Margolles,
et al. v. Court of Appeals, et al." (230 SCRA 97) which decision is final and in view
of such finality, the titles of the movants can no longer be revived.
A motion for leave to admit attached complaint in intervention was also filed by
intervenor Alejandro Rey adopting the government's petition seeking the
nullification of private respondents' title based on OCT No. 4216, without
prejudice to his free patent application over a portion of the land covered by the
private respondents' titles.
Private respondents also opposed the complaint for intervention of Alejandro Rey
for the reason that there is a pending case filed by him against private
respondents in Civil Case No. LP-8852-P before the Regional Trial Court of Pasig
and having chosen such forum to ventilate his complaint he should not be
allowed to participate in this case."

On June 28, 1996, the respondent Court rendered the assailed decision, the dispositive
portion of which reads as follows: 3
"WHEREFORE, THE PETITION IS DISMISSED FOR LACK OF MERIT. THE MOTION
FOR INTERVENTION OF FIRESTONE CERAMICS, INC., ET AL. AND THE
COMPLAINT FOR INTERVENTION OF ALEJANDRO REY, ARE LIKEWISE DENIED.
NO PRONOUNCEMENT AS TO COSTS."

Motions for reconsideration were filed by petitioner, movant-intervenor Firestone


Ceramics, et al. and movant-intervenor Alejandro Q. Rey, however, the respondent Court
denied for lack of merit all the motions in a Resolution dated October 28, 1996. 4

Petitioners Firestone Ceramics, Inc., et al., and petitioner-intervenor Alejandro Q. Rey, filed
their respective petitions for review from the decision of the respondent Court which were
docketed as G.R. No. 127022. Petitioner Republic also filed its petition for review with this
Court which was docketed as G.R. No. 127245. Petitioner Republic's motion for the
consolidation of these two (2) cases on the ground that the two cases involve interrelated
issues and a common set of facts was granted in our Resolution dated July 9, 1997.
G. R. No. 127022 :
In G.R. No. 127022, Petitioners Firestone Ceramics, Inc., et al., filed their petition for review
assailing the decision of the respondent Court dated June 28, 1976 in CA-G.R. CV No.
36280 denying petitioners' motion for leave to intervene and the resolution dated October
28, 1996, denying petitioners' motion for reconsideration.
Petitioners Firestone Ceramics, Inc., et al., support the petition filed by the government
through the Office of the Solicitor General for the annulment of OCT No. 4216, recovery of
possession and reversion alleging that it is reasonable and logical to defend the
government's case because it is upon the success thereof where their fate and fortune
depended; that although petitioners as defeated parties in G.R. No. 109490 (Margolles
case) are bound to comply with the said decision, they should be allowed to intervene
because they still have a direct and material interest in the outcome of the instant case
since in the event that the government succeeds in annulling the title of the respondents,
petitioners' titles, which emanated from OCT A-S-47 issued by virtue of the decision in
Land Registration Case No. 6625, after the declassification of subject land from its
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category as forest land and its declaration as alienable and disposable land, would be
valid, and their titles become the only titles to the extent of 188,424 square meters portion
of the subject land which should be excluded from the total portion of the property to be
reverted to the government.
Alejandro Q. Rey also filed his petition for review in intervention from the respondent
Court's decision denying his complaint for intervention. Alejandro Rey alleges that he has a
legal interest in the instant case filed by the government against private respondents
because the cancellation of the latter's titles would pave the way for his free patent
application, thus he has to intervene and join the government in seeking the cancellation of
private respondents' titles. Petitioner-intervenor Rey also alleges that the complaint he
filed with the Regional Trial Court of Pasay City seeking the annulment of the titles of
private respondents is not a bar to his intervention in this case because no incompatibility
exists between the two cases; that petitioner found it imperative to intervene in this instant
case not only to protect his interest but in order not to be deemed to have waived his
rights in his pending application for free patent if and when the government succeeds in
reverting the subject tract of land for the state.
We find both petitions of Firestone Ceramics, Inc., et al. and Alejandro Rey to be devoid of
merit.
In denying the motion to intervene by petitioner Firestone Ceramics, Inc., et al., the
respondent Court said: 5
"As regards the motion for intervention, as previously discussed, the decision in
G.R. No. 109490 is final. This means that the movants' titles, adverse to OCT No.
4216, have been nullified. Such titles having been nullified, the same could no
longer be revived. Intervention in this proceeding will not reinstate or revive the
movants' titles derived from OCT No. A-S-47. They, therefore, no longer have any
legal interest in the subject matter of this suit to justify their intervention in this
case." LLpr

Intervention is not a matter of right but may be permitted by the Courts when the applicant
shows facts which satisfy the requirements of the law authorizing intervention. 6 Under
Section 1 Rule 19 of the Revised Rules of Court, what qualifies a person to intervene is his
possession of a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the
parties, or an interest against both, or when he is situated as to be adversely affected by a
distribution or other disposition of property in the custody of the court or of an officer
thereof. As regards the legal interest as qualifying factor, this Court has ruled that such
interest must be of direct and immediate character not merely contingent or expectant so
that the intervenor will either gain or lose by the direct legal operation of the judgment. 7
Petitioners Firestone Ceramics, Inc., et al., failed to show such interest considering the
decision in the Margolles case (G.R. No. 109490) where petitioners Firestone Ceramics
Inc., et al were the plaintiffs, in which case, this Court upheld the validity of OCT No. 4216,
declaring petitioners' (Firestone Ceramics, Inc., et al) titles adverse to OCT No. 4216 as null
and void. With the declaration of petitioners' titles as void they have no more legal interest
in the matter in litigation, since their titles may no longer be revived regardless of the
outcome of the main petition of the petitioner Republic.
As to the petition in intervention of Alejandro B. Rey, the respondent Court denied the same
in this wise: 8
"As to Alejandro Rey, his filing of an earlier suit against the private respondents
bars him from intervening in this case. He has chosen his forum and cannot
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litigate his claims in another forum. Since he has not shown any right or interest
in the subject property he cannot have a legal interest therein to warrant his
intervention. Assuming that the government were to prevail in this case it does not
necessarily follow that his application for free patent would be approved."

Petitioner Rey's intervention in the present proceedings was anchored on his legal interest
arising from his pending application for a free patent of a portion of the subject land. A
mere collateral interest in the subject matter of the litigation cannot justify intervention. 9
Petitioner Rey admitted that he had instituted a substantially similar case against the
private respondents herein (Peltan Development Corporation, et al) with the Regional Trial
Court of Pasay City docketed as Civil Case No. LP-8852-P and notably, this case had
reached this Court by way of a petition for review docketed as G.R. No. 117029, entitled
Peltan Development, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et al., where Alejandro Rey was a private
respondent. A decision was promulgated on March 19, 1997 where this Court
categorically ruled that private respondents therein (including herein Petitioner Alejandro
Rey) had no cause of action to assail the validity of O.C.T. No. 4216 in view of the ruling in
Margolles (supra) upholding the validity of said title. Additionally, this Court also held in
Peltan that Alejandro Rey, et al. are not the real parties-in-interest to assail the validity of
the titles of herein private respondents, whose titles were derived from said O.C.T. 4216,
the validity of which in turn was upheld in the Margolles case.
Clearly, the present petitions have the same purpose of seeking the invalidation of the
titles of herein private respondents albeit by alleged "intervention" in the government's
petition for reversion. Hence, said petitions are barred by the decisions in Margolles and
Peltan.
G. R. No. 127245 :
In G.R. No. 127245, petitioner Republic raised two assignment of errors:
A. PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT RES
JUDICATA APPLIES TO THE PETITION FOR ANNULMENT OF JUDGMENT
AND CANCELLATION OF TITLES AND REVERSION;
B. PUBLIC RESPONDENT COURT OF APPEALS ERRED IN RULING THAT
PETITIONER FAILED TO PROVE THE GROUNDS FOR ANNULMENT OF
JUDGMENT.

The principal and crucial issue to be resolved in the Republic's petition is the applicability
of this Court's decision in the Margolles case 1 0 to the case now before us.
Petitioner argues that the Margolles case could not be applied to it since petitioner
Republic of the Philippines was not a party in that case and did not have the chance to
assert its claim over the subject land, thus, it is not precluded from filing this case; that the
two letters of former Solicitors-General Estelito Mendoza and Francisco Chavez rejecting
the request of the Director of the Bureau of Lands (now Lands Management Bureau) for
the filing of a government suit to annul OCT No. 4216 which were considered by this Court
in the Margolles case could not serve as bases for concluding that the government had
been a party thereto, or had an involvement therein since those letters merely stated that
there was no sufficient evidence at that time to file a petition for reversion/cancellation
proceedings; that considering that the Director of Lands subsequently found sufficient
evidence for the cancellation of OCT No. 4216 he then wrote a letter dated October 26,
1994 requesting the Solicitor-General to file an action for annulment of judgment of CFI
Rizal in LRC Case No. 672, GLRO Record No. 30406; that the Land Registration
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Commissioner and the Register of Deeds were named as parties-defendants in the
Margolles case as nominal parties in order that respondent Firestone Ceramics, Inc., could
obtain complete relief, however, said government officials did not actively participate in
that proceedings since their functions were merely ministerial, i.e., to issue and cancel
titles and other entries upon the directive of the Court. Petitioner maintains that it is not
covered by the principle of "privity of interest" since it was not a successor-in-interest of
any of the parties in the Margolles case, nor was it a representative, trustee or executor of
any of the parties therein nor did petitioner actually control or participate in the Margolles
case. Petitioner further contends that the cause of action in the Margolles case and the
instant case are not identical, since in the former, private respondents therein sought the
cancellation of OCT No. 4216 in order to assert their alleged private rights on the subject
land while in this case, the Republic is seeking the annulment of the judgment awarding the
land to spouses Gana, cancellation of titles and the reversion of the subject land to the
public domain, hence the elements of the doctrine of res judicata are not present in this
case; that principle of res judicata should be disregarded if the application would involve
sacrificing of justice to technicality specially since petitioner Republic has a legitimate
cause which is of paramount interest considering that land at present times is a prime
commodity.

Moreover, petitioner further argues that OCT No. 4216 in the name of the Gana spouses
was not regularly issued and that the defunct CFI of Rizal had no jurisdiction over the
subject land. Petitioner shows that Las Piñas was originally classified as a forest land
forming part of the public domain and the municipality has a total area of 2,556 hectares,
out of which 1,200 hectares were declared A & D lands in 1928 under LC Map No. 766 Proj.
13, while the rest of the municipality was declared alienable and disposable (A & D) only on
January 3, 1968 under LC Map No. 2623, Project 13-A pursuant to FAO No. 4-114.
Petitioner tries to show that the survey of the land and the approval thereof by the Bureau
of Lands was made in 1926 and the Gana Spouses' application docketed as LRC Case No.
672, (GLRO Record No. 30406) was instituted in the then CFI of Rizal in 1927 and the
decree for the registration of the land (No. 351823) in favor of the Gana spouses was
issued on March 26, 1929, thus, the Gana spouses' application as well as the decision of
the defunct CFI of Rizal were both issued when the land was still not alienable; that Land
Registration Courts, at the time the Ganas filed their application, neither had the power nor
authority to determine whether the land applied for is forest or agricultural land subject of
registration since the authority to classify lands was then vested on the Director of Lands
as provided in Act No. 926 (1903) and 2874 (1919); that the land registration court of
Rizal could not have altered the inalienable public nature of the lands under OCT No. 4216
as it had no legal authority to classify public forest or forest reservation into agricultural as
to make it susceptible to private ownership; that since forest land is not registrable, its
inclusion in a title, whether the title be issued during the Spanish regime or under the
torrens system, nullifies the title; that contrary to the questioned decision of respondent
Court, the validity of the alleged issuance of OCT No. 4216 in 1929 cannot be sustained by
reason of impossible compliance by the spouses Gana, with respect to the 30 year
possession requirement for registration under Sec. 48(b) of CA 141.
We do not find merit in the petition in G.R. No. 127245. cdll

Under the rule of res judicata, also known as "bar by prior judgment," a final judgment or
order on the merits, rendered by a Court having jurisdiction of the subject matter and of
the parties, is conclusive in a subsequent case between the same parties and their
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successor-in-interest by title subsequent to the commencement of the action or special
proceeding, litigating for the same thing and under the same title and in the same capacity.
11 The requisites essential for the application of the principle are: (1) there must be a final
judgment or order; (b) said judgment or order must be on the merits; (3) the Court
rendering the same must have jurisdiction on the subject matter and the parties; and (4)
there must be between the two cases identity of parties, identity of subject matter, and
identity of causes of action. 12
Petitioner, in their petition for annulment, cancellation of titles and reversion raises the
issue of the validity of OCT No. 4216 alleging that OCT No. 4216 issued in favor of the
Gana spouses is invalid considering that when the said title was issued in 1929, the
subject land was still unclassified public lands, that is forest land; thus the Court of First
Instance of Rizal, sitting as Land Registration Court in 1929, did not acquire jurisdiction to
adjudicate the property in question to the Gana spouses.
Significantly, this same issue was squarely passed upon by this Court in the Margolles
case and this case was taken cognizance of by the respondent Court when it quoted
pertinent portions of the Margolles ruling in its assailed decision, to wit: 1 3
"A perusal of the decision dated February 14, 1994 of the Supreme Court in G.R.
No. 109490 entitled "Patrocinio E. Margolles, et al. vs. Court of Appeals, et al."
discloses that the matter regarding the alleged invalidity of OCT No. 4216 in
relation to LC Map No. 2623 (Project 13-A) and FAO No. 4-1141 had been passed
upon by the Supreme Court in this wise:
'The private respondents maintain, nonetheless, that OCT No. 4216, issued
in favor of the spouses Gana and Carlos, is invalid, so covering, as it
supposedly did, unclassified public lands. Here, the private respondents
base their claim on Forestry Administration Order (FAO) No. 4-1141-(1968),
implementing LC Map No. 2623, Project No. 13-A. According to them, Las
Piñas comprises 2,556 hectares, out of which 1,200 hectares have been
declared alienable and disposable public lands in 1928, under LC Map No.
766, Project 13, and that 'Tindig na Mangga' has not been covered thereby
until the reclassification in 1968. As such, they submit, the Court of First
Instance of Rizal, sitting as Land Registration Court in 1929, did not
acquire jurisdiction to adjudicate the property in question to the petitioner's
predecessors-in-interest.
"No cogent proof, however, has been given to support the above contention. To
the contrary, in fact, is the letter, dated 27 April 1988, of then Solicitor General
Francisco Chavez, which in part, reads:

'Thirdly, it is also alleged that the title is null and void because it allegedly
covers land within the forest zone. There is no clear-cut proof to that effect.
The certification of Mr. Rogelio dela Rosa of the Timber Management
Division, Bureau of Forest Development, dated July 31, 1979, simply states
'that the tract of land situated in Barrio Tindig na Mangga, Las Piñas,
Metro Manila containing an area of 197.525 square meters as shown and
described on this plan Psu-04-006417 . . . was found to be within the
Alienable or Disposable Block of LC Project 13-A of Las Piñas, Rizal
certified as such on January 3, 1968 per BFD Map LC-2623.' The
certification refers to land with an area of only 19.7525 hectares. It does
not state the relationship of said land with the land covered by OCT No.
4216 which has an area of 99.6157 hectares.
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xxx xxx xxx

'Fifthly, the recommendation of the Director of Lands for the cancellation


of OCT No. 4216 is premised mainly on the allegation that the land is
within the forest zone, having been allegedly released as A & D land only
1968. But the recommendation is based on the same certification of Mr.
Dela Rosa of the Bureau of Forest Development which, as earlier observed,
does not make any clear reference to the land covered by OCT No. 4216
and is, therefore, vague and inconclusive.'

"Unfortunately, for all concerned, no authentic copy of LC Map No. 766, Project
13, could be presented, albeit understandably, considering that even the records
of the National Mapping and Resource Authority (NAMREA) have apparently been
lost or destroyed during the second World War.

"In Sta. Monica Industrial and Development Corporation vs. Court of Appeals (a
case to annul a 1912 decision of the land registration court), the Republic sought
to prove that, at the time an original certificate of title was issued, the land
covered thereby was still within the forest zone. It offered as evidence a land
classification map prepared by the Director of Forestry in 1961. The Court ruled:

'. . . When the proceedings were originally filed by the Republic before the
Court of Appeals, the petitioner contended that when the decree in favor of
De Perio was issued by Judge Ostrand in 1912 the parcels of land were
still part of the inalienable public forests. However, petitioner's case rested
solely on land classification maps drawn several years after the issuance
of the decree in 1912. These maps failed to conclusively establish the
actual classification of the land in 1912 and the years prior to that. Before
this Court, petitioner reiterates said contention and refers, for the first time,
to a 1908 proclamation reserving the land in Zambales as a naval
reservation and alleging that the subject parcels of land are parts thereof.
These . . . are insufficient to overcome the legal presumption in favor of the
decree's regularity . . ..'

"Furthermore, FAO No. 4-1141, signed by then Secretary of Agriculture and Natural
Resources Arturo R. Tanco, Jr., on 03 January 1968, provides:
'1. Pursuant to the provisions of Section 1827 of the Revised
Administrative Code, I hereby declare as alienable or disposable and place
the same under the control of the Bureau of Lands for administration and
disposition in accordance with the Public Land Act, subject to private
rights, if any there be and to the conditions herein specified, the portions of
the public domain situated in the Municipalities of . . . Las Piñas, . . .
Province of Rizal . . . which are designated and described as alienable on
Bureau of Forestry Map LC-2623, approved on January 3, 1968.'

"The issuance of OCT No. 4216 in 1929, conferring a private right, is then amply
protected by FAO No. 4-1141; otherwise certificates of title issued prior to 1968
could possibly be all nullified."

Clearly, this Court had already made a declaration on the genuineness and validity of OCT
No. 4216 and the titles derived therefrom by private respondents in the Margolles case
promulgated in 1994. In fact, two (2) petitions for review filed separately which involved
the legality of OCT No. 4216 were dismissed by this Court, 1 4 invoking the Margolles ruling.
Well-settled is the rule enunciated in Church Assistance Program, Inc. vs. Sibulo, 1 5 that —
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"When a right or fact has been judicially tried and determined by a court of
competent jurisdiction, so long as it remains unreversed, it should be conclusive
upon the parties and those in privity with them in law or estate".

The Margolles case had long become final, thus the validity of OCT No. 4216 should no
longer be disturbed and should be applied in the instant case based on the principle of res
judicata or, otherwise, the rule on conclusiveness of judgment. The less familiar concept or
less terminological usage of res judicata as a rule on conclusiveness of judgment refers to
the situation where the judgment in the prior action operates as an estoppel only as to the
matters actually determined therein or which were necessarily included therein. 1 6

Petitioner contends that it was not a party in the Margolles case where the validity of OCT
No. 4216 was upheld, thus, res judicata is not applicable. We find such argument
untenable. Granting that there is no absolute identity of parties, what is required, however,
for the application of the principle of res judicata is not absolute, but only substantial
identity of parties. 17 Although petitioner was not a party in the Margolles case, its claim in
the instant case and that of the losing parties in the Margolles case raised exactly the
same argument or reason in trying to invalidate OCT No. 4216, namely, that it supposedly
covers, unclassified public land (forest land) so that the CFI of Rizal, sitting as Land
Registration Court in 1929, did not acquire jurisdiction to adjudicate the subject property
to the original applicants, the Gana spouses. Petitioner and the other losing parties in the
Margolles shared an identity of interest from which flowed an identity of relief sought,
namely, to declare the nullity of OCT No. 4216. Such identity of interest is sufficient to
make them privy-in-law, one to the other 18 and meets the requisite of substantial identity
of parties. We held in Republic vs. Planas: 19
". . . where the one who is offering a judgment as an estoppel and the party
against whom it is being offered were both parties to the action, in which such
judgment was rendered, it is no objection that the action included some additional
parties who are joined in the second case. Conversely, the operation of the final
judgment or order in a previous case is not altered by the fact that somebody who
was not a party in that first action has been impleaded in the second case."

Significantly, this Court in upholding the validity of OCT No. 4216 in the Margolles case
took into account the letters of former Solicitors-General Estelito Mendoza and Francisco
Chavez stating that the information and documents submitted to the Office of the Solicitor
General by the Bureau of Lands and the Land Registration Commission were not sufficient
to support an action for cancellation of OCT No. 4216 and the derivative titles thereof. 2 0
Petitioner does not allege that it has new evidence or documents which would support
their present case for annulment that was not considered in the earlier case. Petitioner's
case rests basically on the same declaration in FAO No. 4-1141 declassifying the property
embraced by OCT 4216 in 1968. Thus, the fact that petitioner was not a party in the
Margolles case would not bar the operation of the principle of res judicata.
Petitioner further alleges that there is no identity of causes of action between the
Margolles case and the instant case. One test of identify of causes of action is whether or
not the judgment sought in a subsequent case will be inconsistent with the prior judgment.
If no inconsistency will result, the prior judgment cannot be held to be a bar. 2 1 The validity
of OCT No. 4216 was already upheld in the Margolles case, and if affirmative relief is
granted to petitioner in this case, i.e. by the annulment of OCT No. 4216, this result will
necessarily be inconsistent with the prior judgment in the first case, which resolved the
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validity of OCT No. 4216 and the various titles derived therefrom. We do not doubt that
substantial identity of causes of action is present.
The firmly entrenched rule is that a party cannot evade the principle of bar by prior
judgment by simply varying the form of the action or by adopting a different mode of
presenting its case. 22 The final judgment rendered in the Margolles case is deemed to
have settled the status of the subject land under OCT No. 4216, and any claim over it not
noted thereon by other parties is therefore deemed barred under the principle of res
judicata. Once a case has been decided one way, then another case involving exactly the
same point at issue should be decided in the same manner. 23
Allowing repeated suits seeking to nullify OCT No. 4216 like the present case, will bring to
naught the principle of indefeasibility of titles issued under the Torrens system of land
registration. 2 4 As this Court pointed out in one case —
"We need not emphasize the fact that the Supreme Court by tradition and in our
system of judicial administration, has the last word on what the law is. It is the
final arbiter of any justiciable controversy. There is only one Supreme Court from
whose decisions all other courts should take their bearings. Consequently, we
cannot and should not review a case already passed upon by the Highest
Tribunal. It is only proper to allow the case to take its rest." 2 5

WHEREFORE, the instant petitions filed by the Republic through the Office of the Solicitor
General in G.R. No. 127245, and of Firestone Ceramics, Inc. et al, and Alejandro B. Rey in
G.R. No. 127022 are DENIED for lack of merit.
SO ORDERED.
Melo, Vitug, Panganiban and Purisima, JJ., concur.
Footnotes

1. Penned by Justice Gloria C. Paras, concurred in by Justices Ma. Alicia Austria Martinez
and Bernardo Ll. Salas.

2. Rollo, pp. 474-478.


3. Rollo, p. 483.
4. Rollo, 485-486.
5. Rollo, p. 482.
6. Gibson vs. Revilla, 92 SCRA 219.
7. Garcia vs. David, 67 Phil 279; Gibson vs. Revilla, supra.
8. Rollo, p. 482.
9. Batama Farmers' Cooperative Marketing Association, Inc. vs. Rosal, 42 SCRA 408.
10. PATROCINIA E. MARGOLLES, VIRGINIA E. VILLONGCO, EDUARDO C. ESPINOSA, LUCIA
E. LAPERAL, NORMA C. ESPINOSA, TERESITA E. CASAL, ALICE E. SOTTO, petitioners, vs.
HON. COURT OF APPEALS, FIRESTONE CERAMICS, INC., BOOMTOWN DEVELOPMENT
CORPORATION, SPOUSES CYNTHIA D. CHING and CHING TIONG KENG, SPOUSES
CARMEN SOCO and LORENZO ONG ENG CHONG, SPOUSES SOLEDAD B. YU and YU SY
CHIA, and LETICIA NOCON CHAN, respondents., G.R. No. 109490, February 14, 1994, 230
SCRA 97.
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11. Section 47(b) Rule 39, Rules of Court.

12. Yusingco, et al. vs. Ong Hing Lian, 42 SCRA 589; Daeng vs. IAC, 154 SCRA 250.
13. Rollo, pp. 478-481.
14. PELTAN DEVELOPMENT, INC. PATROCINIO E. MARGOLLES, EDGARDO C. ESPINOSA,
VIRGINIA E. VILLONGCO, LUCIA E. LAPERAL, NORMA ESPINOSA, TERESITA E. CASAL
and ALICE E. SOTTO, PETITIONERS vs. COURT OF APPEALS, ALEJANDRO Q. REY and
JUAN B. ARAUJO, respondents. G.R. NO. 117029, promulgated on March 19, 1997; 270
SCRA 83. GOLDENROD INC. vs. COURT OF APPEALS and PELTAN DEVELOPMENT, INC.,
G.R. No. 112038, promulgated on March 19, 1997.
15. 171 SCRA 408 (1989).

16. Calalang vs. Register of Deeds of Quezon City, 208 SCRA 215; De la Cruz vs. Court of
Appeals, 187 SCRA 165.
17. Valencia vs. RTC of Quezon City, Br. 90, 184 SCRA 80.
18. Esperanza Development Corp. vs. CA, 218 SCRA 401; Valencia vs. RTC of Quezon City,
Br. 90, supra, Comilang vs. Buendia, 21 SCRA 486.
19. 18 SCRA 132, 140 (1966).

20. Margolles vs. CA, 230 SCRA 107.


21. Swan vs. CA, 212 SCRA 114; Valencia vs. RTC of Quezon City, supra.
22. Widows and Orphans Association Inc. vs CA, 212 SCRA 360.
23. Tay Chun Suy vs. CA, 229 SCRA 151.
24. Peltran Development Inc., et al. vs. Alejandro Rey, et al.
25. Church Assistance Program, Inc. vs. Sibulo, supra.

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