Case Brief: Dream Village vs Bases Development Authority; WHO OWNS FORT BONIFACIO IN TAGUIG?

This case is lengthy and heavily fact-based.  The author had a hard time distinguishing which information should be removed as most of them looked very important in the discussion of the factual backdrop in relation to the arguments of the parties.  Nonetheless, the case tackles the origin of Fort Bonifacio, Taguig, so he found it to be quite engaging.

 

G.R. No. 192896               July 24, 2013

DREAM VILLAGE NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION, INC., represented by its Incumbent President, GREG SERIEGO, Petitioner,

vs.

BASES DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, Respondent.

Facts:

Dream Village claims to represent more than 2000 families who have been occupying a 78,466-square meter lot in Western Bicutan, Taguig City since 1985 “in the concept of owners continuously, exclusively, and notoriously.”

The lot used to be part of Hacienda de Maricaban, owned by Dolores Casal y Ochoa and registered under OCT 291. Following the purchase of Maricaban by the government of USA, it was converted into the military reservation known as Fort William Mckinley. TCT 192 was issued in the name of USA to cancel OCT 291. USA later transferred 30 has. of Maricaban to Manila Railroad Company, for which TCT 192 was cancelled by TCT 1218 and 1219, the first in the name of Manila Railroad Company, and the second in the name of USA.

TCT 1219 was cancelled and replaced by TCT 1688, and was then replaced by TCT 2288, both in the name of USA. USA formally ceded Fort William Mckinley to the Republic of the Philippines, and it was documented by cancelling TCT 2288 and replacing it with TCT 61524. Pres. Garcia issued Proclamation No. 423, withdrawing from sale or settlement the tracts of land within Fort William Mckinley, now renamed Fort Bonifacio, and reserving them for military purposes.

Pres. Marcos issued Proclamation No. 2476, declaring portions of Fort Bonifacio alienable and disposable, thus allowing the sale to the settlers of home lots in Upper Bicutan, Lower Bicutan, Signal Village, and Western Bicutan.

Pres. C. Aquino issued Proclamation 172, amending Proclamation 2476, by limiting to Lots 1 and 2 in Western Bicutan as open for disposition.

RA 7227 was passed, creating the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) to oversee and accelerate the conversion of Clark and Subic military reservations and their extension camps (John Hay Station, Wallace Air Station, O’Donnell Transmitter Station, San Miguel Naval Communications Station and Capas Relay Station) to productive civilian uses. Section 820 of the said law provides that the capital of the BCDA will be provided from sales proceeds or transfers of lots in nine (9) military camps in Metro Manila, including 723 has. of Fort Bonifacio. The law, thus, expressly authorized the President of the Philippines “to sell the above lands, in whole or in part, which are hereby declared alienable and disposable pursuant to the provisions of existing laws and regulations governing sales of government properties,” specifically to raise capital for the BCDA. Titles to the camps were transferred to the BCDA for this purpose,22 and TCT No. 61524 was cancelled on January 3, 1995 by TCT Nos. 23888, 23887, 23886, 22460, 23889, 23890, and 23891, now in the name of the BCDA.23

Excepted from disposition by the BCDA are: a) approximately 148.80 has. reserved for the National Capital Region (NCR) Security Brigade, Philippine Army officers’ housing area, and Philippine National Police jails and support services (presently known as Camp Bagong Diwa); b) approximately 99.91 has. in Villamor Air Base for the Presidential Airlift Wing, one squadron of helicopters for the NCR and respective security units; c) twenty one (21) areas segregated by various presidential proclamations; and d) a proposed 30.15 has. as relocation site for families to be affected by the construction of Circumferential Road 5 and Radial Road 4, provided that the boundaries and technical description of these exempt areas shall be determined by an actual ground survey.

Now charging the BCDA of wrongfully asserting title to Dream Village and unlawfully subjecting its members to summary demolition, resulting in unrest and tensions among the residents, on November 22, 1999, the latter filed a letter-complaint with the COSLAP to seek its assistance in the verification survey of the subject 78,466-sq m property, which they claimed is within Lot 1 of Swo-13-000298 and thus is covered by Proclamation No. 172. They claim that they have been occupying the area for thirty (30) years “in the concept of owners continuously, exclusively and notoriously for several years,” and have built their houses of sturdy materials thereon and introduced paved roads, drainage and recreational and religious facilities. Dream Village, thus, asserts that the lot is not among those transferred to the BCDA under R.A. No. 7227, and therefore patent applications by the occupants should be processed by the Land Management Bureau (LMB).

On August 15, 2000, Dream Village formalized its complaint by filing an Amended Petition in the COSLAP. Among the reliefs it sought were:

  1. DECLARING the subject property as alienable and disposable by virtue of applicable laws;
  2. Declaring the portion of Lot 1 of subdivision Plan SWO-13-000298, situated in the barrio of Western Bicutan, Taguig, Metro Manila, which is presently being occupied by herein petitioner as within the coverage of Proclamation Nos. 2476 and 172 and outside the claim of AFP-RSBS INDUSTRIAL PARK COMPLEX and/or BASES CONVESION DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY.
  3. ORDERING the Land Management Bureau to process the application of the ASSOCIATION members for the purchase of their respective lots under the provisions of Acts Nos. 274 and 730.

Respondent BCDA in its Answer dated November 23, 2000 questioned the jurisdiction of the COSLAP to hear Dream Village’s complaint, while asserting its title to the subject property pursuant to R.A. No. 7227. It argued that under Executive Order (E.O.) No. 561 which created the COSLAP, its task is merely to coordinate the various government offices and agencies involved in the settlement of land problems or disputes, adding that BCDA does not fall in the enumeration in Section 3 of E.O. No. 561, it being neither a pastureland-lease holder, a timber concessionaire, or a government reservation grantee, but the holder of patrimonial government property which cannot be the subject of a petition for classification, release or subdivision by the occupants of Dream Village.

In its Resolution dated April 28, 2004, the COSLAP narrated that it called a mediation conference on March 22, 2001, during which the parties agreed to have a relocation/verification survey conducted of the subject lot. On April 4, 2001, the COSLAP wrote to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Community Environment and Natural Resources Office-NCR requesting the survey, which would also include Swo-00-0001302, covering the adjacent AFP-RSBS Industrial Park established by Proclamation No. 1218 on May 8, 1998 as well as the abandoned Circumferential Road 5 (C-5 Road).

On April 1, 2004, the COSLAP received the final report of the verification survey and a blueprint copy of the survey plan from Atty. Rizaldy Barcelo, Regional Technical Director for Lands of DENR. Specifically, Item No. 3 of the DENR report states:

  1. Lot-1, Swo-000298 is inside Proclamation 172. Dream Village Neighborhood Association, Inc. is outside Lot-1, Swo-13-000298 and inside Lot-10, 11 & Portion of Lot 13, Swo-00-0001302 with an actual area of 78,466 square meters. Likewise, the area actually is outside Swo-00-0001302 of BCDA.

COSLAP (Commission on the Settlement of Land Problems) Ruling: On the basis of the DENR’s verification survey report, the COSLAP resolved that Dream Village lies outside of BCDA, and particularly, outside of Swo-00-0001302, and thus directed the LMB of the DENR to process the applications of Dream Village’s members for sales patent, noting that in view of the length of time that they “have been openly, continuously and notoriously occupying the subject property in the concept of an owner, x x x they are qualified to apply for sales patent on their respective occupied lots pursuant to R.A. Nos. 274 and 730 in relation to the provisions of the Public Land Act.”

In its Motion for Reconsideration filed on May 20, 2004, the BCDA questioned the validity of the survey results since it was conducted without its representatives present, at the same time denying that it received a notification of the DENR verification survey. It maintained that there is no basis for the COSLAP’s finding that the members of Dream Village were in open, continuous, and adverse possession in the concept of owner, because not only is the property not among those declared alienable and disposable, but it is a titled patrimonial property of the State. COSLAP denied BCDA’s motion for reconsideration.

CA Ruling: The BCDA argued that the dispute is outside the jurisdiction of the COSLAP because of the land’s history of private ownership and because it is registered under an indefeasible Torrens title; that Proclamation No. 172 covers only Lots 1 and 2 of Swo-13-000298 in Western Bicutan, whereas Dream Village occupies Lots 10, 11 and part of 13 of Swo-00-0001302, which also belongs to the BCDA; that the COSLAP resolution is based on an erroneous DENR report stating that Dream Village is outside of BCDA, because Lots 10, 11, and portion of Lot 13 of Swo-00-0001302 are within the DA; that the COSLAP was not justified in ignoring BCDA’s request to postpone the survey to the succeeding year because the presence of its representatives in such an important verification survey was indispensable for the impartiality of the survey aimed at resolving a highly volatile situation; that the COSLAP is a mere coordinating administrative agency with limited jurisdiction; and, that the present case is not among those enumerated in Section 3 of E.O. No. 56145.

The COSLAP, on the other hand, maintained that Section 3(2)(e) of E.O. No. 561 provides that it may assume jurisdiction and resolve land problems or disputes in “other similar land problems of grave urgency and magnitude,” and the present case is one such problem.

The CA in its Decision dated September 10, 2009 ruled that the COSLAP has no jurisdiction over the complaint because the question of whether Dream Village is within the areas declared as available for disposition in Proclamation No. 172 is beyond its competence to determine, even as the land in dispute has been under a private title since 1906, and presently its title is held by a government agency, the BCDA, in contrast to the case of Bañaga relied upon by Dream Village, where the disputed land was part of the public domain and the disputants were applicants for sales patent thereto.

 

Issue:

Whether or not Dream Village holds title to lots in Fort Bonifacio.

Held:

No.  SC found no merit in Dream Village’s petition. In fact, it is the BCDA that holds title to Fort Bonifacio.

That the BCDA has title to Fort Bonifacio has long been decided with finality. In Samahan ng Masang Pilipino sa Makati, Inc. v. BCDA, it was categorically ruled as follows: “First, it is unequivocal that the Philippine Government, and now the BCDA, has title and ownership over Fort Bonifacio. xxx”

The facts in Samahan ng Masang Pilipino sa Makati are essentially not much different from the controversy below. There, 20,000 families were long-time residents occupying 98 has. of Fort Bonifacio in Makati City, who vainly sought to avert their eviction and the demolition of their houses by the BCDA upon a claim that the land was owned by the USA under TCT No. 2288. The Supreme Court found that TCT No. 2288 had in fact been cancelled by TCT No. 61524 in the name of the Republic, which title was in turn cancelled on January 3, 1995 by TCT Nos. 23888, 23887, 23886, 22460, 23889, 23890, and 23891, all in the name of the BCDA. The Court ruled that the BCDA’s aforesaid titles over Fort Bonifacio are valid, indefeasible and beyond question, since TCT No. 61524 was cancelled in favor of BCDA pursuant to an explicit authority under R.A. No. 7227, the legal basis for BCDA’s takeover and management of the subject lots.

Dream Village sits on the abandoned C-5 Road, which lies outside the area declared in Proclamation Nos. 2476 and 172 as alienable and disposable. xxx However, the survey plan for Western Bicutan, Swo-13-000298, shows that Lots 3, 4, 5 and 6 thereof are inside the area segregated for the Libingan ng mga Bayani under Proclamation No. 208, which then leaves only Lots 1 and 2 of Swo-13-000298 as available for disposition. For this reason, it was necessary to amend Proclamation No. 2476. Thus, in Proclamation No. 172 only Lots 1 and 2 of Swo-13-000298 are declared alienable and disposable.

The DENR verification survey report states that Dream Village is not situated in Lot 1 of Swo-13-000298 but actually occupies Lots 10, 11 and part of 13 of Swo-00-0001302. xxx The area is actually outside SWO-00-0001302 of BCDA.” Inexplicably and gratuitously, the DENR also states that the area is outside of BCDA, completely oblivious that the BCDA holds title over the entire Fort Bonifacio, even as the BCDA asserts that Lots 10, 11 and 13 of SWO-00-0001302 are part of the abandoned right-of-way of C-5 Road. This area is described as lying north of Lot 1 of Swo-13-000298 and of Lots 3, 4, 5 and 6 of Swo-13-000298 (Western Bicutan) inside the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and the boundary line of Lot 1 mentioned as C-5 Road is really the proposed alignment of C-5 Road, which was abandoned when, as constructed, it was made to traverse northward into the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Dream Village has not disputed this assertion.

The mere fact that the original plan for C-5 Road to cross Swo-00-0001302 was abandoned by deviating it northward to traverse the southern part of Libingan ng mga Bayani does not signify abandonment by the government of the bypassed lots, nor that these lots would then become alienable and disposable. They remain under the title of the BCDA, even as it is significant that under Section 8(d) of R.A. No. 7227, a relocation site of 30.5 has. was to be reserved for families affected by the construction of C-5 Road. It is nowhere claimed that Lots 10, 11 and 13 of Swo-00-0001302 are part of the said relocation site. These lots border C-5 Road in the south, making them commercially valuable to BCDA, a farther argument against a claim that the government has abandoned them to Dream Village.

While property of the State or any of its subdivisions patrimonial in character may be the object of prescription, those “intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth” are considered property of public dominion and therefore not susceptible to acquisition by prescription.

Article 1113 of the Civil Code provides that “property of the State or any of its subdivisions not patrimonial in character shall not be the object of prescription.” Articles 420 and 421 identify what is property of public dominion and what is patrimonial property:

Art. 420. The following things are property of public dominion:

(1) Those intended for public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports and bridges constructed by the State, banks, shores, roadsteads, and others of similar character;

(2) Those which belong to the State, without being for public use, and are intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth.

Art. 421. All other property of the State, which is not of the character stated in the preceding article, is patrimonial property.

 

Issue 2:

Whether the area occupied by Dream Village is susceptible of acquisition by prescription.

Held 2:

No.  The area is not susceptible of acquisition by prescription.

In Heirs of Mario Malabanan v. Republic, it was pointed out that from the moment R.A. No. 7227 was enacted, the subject military lands in Metro Manila became alienable and disposable. However, it was also clarified that the said lands did not thereby become patrimonial, since the BCDA law makes the express reservation that they are to be sold in order to raise funds for the conversion of the former American bases in Clark and Subic. The Court noted that the purpose of the law can be tied to either “public service” or “the development of national wealth” under Article 420(2) of the Civil Code, such that the lands remain property of the public dominion, albeit their status is now alienable and disposable. The Court then explained that it is only upon their sale to a private person or entity as authorized by the BCDA law that they become private property and cease to be property of the public dominion:

For as long as the property belongs to the State, although already classified as alienable or disposable, it remains property of the public dominion if when it is “intended for some public service or for the development of the national wealth.”

Thus, under Article 422 of the Civil Code, public domain lands become patrimonial property only if there is a declaration that these are alienable or disposable, together with an express government manifestation that the property is already patrimonial or no longer retained for public service or the development of national wealth. Only when the property has become patrimonial can the prescriptive period for the acquisition of property of the public dominion begin to run. Also under Section 14(2) of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529, it is provided that before acquisitive prescription can commence, the property sought to be registered must not only be classified as alienable and disposable, it must also be expressly declared by the State that it is no longer intended for public service or the development of the national wealth, or that the property has been converted into patrimonial. Absent such an express declaration by the State, the land remains to be property of public dominion.

Since the issuance of Proclamation No. 423 in 1957, vast portions of the former Maricaban have been legally disposed to settlers, besides those segregated for public or government use. Proclamation No. 1217 (1973) established the Maharlika Village in Bicutan, Taguig to serve the needs of resident Muslims of Metro Manila; Proclamation No. 2476 (1986), as amended by Proclamation No. 172 (1987), declared more than 400 has. of Maricaban in Upper and Lower Bicutan, Signal Village, and Western Bicutan as alienable and disposable; Proclamation No. 518 (1990) formally exempted from Proclamation No. 423 the Barangays of Cembo, South Cembo, West Rembo, East Rembo, Comembo, Pembo and Pitogo, comprising 314 has., and declared them open for disposition.

The above proclamations notwithstanding, Fort Bonifacio remains property of public dominion of the State, because although declared alienable and disposable, it is reserved for some public service or for the development of the national wealth, in this case, for the conversion of military reservations in the country to productive civilian uses. Needless to say, the acquisitive prescription asserted by Dream Village has not even begun to run.

Ownership of a land registered under a Torrens title cannot be lost by prescription or adverse possession.  It is a settled rule that lands under a Torrens title cannot be acquired by prescription or adverse possession. Section 47 of P.D. No. 1529, the Property Registration Decree, expressly provides that no title to registered land in derogation of the title of the registered owner shall be acquired by prescription or adverse possession. And, although the registered landowner may still lose his right to recover the possession of his registered property by reason of laches, nowhere has Dream Village alleged or proved laches, which has been defined as such neglect or omission to assert a right, taken in conjunction with lapse of time and other circumstances causing prejudice to an adverse party, as will operate as a bar in equity. Put any way, it is a delay in the assertion of a right which works disadvantage to another because of the inequity founded on some change in the condition or relations of the property or parties. It is based on public policy which, for the peace of society, ordains that relief will be denied to a stale demand which otherwise could be a valid claim.

 

Issue 3: 

Whether or not COSLAP has jurisdiction over the case.

Held 3:

No.  The subject property having been expressly reserved for a specific public purpose, the COSLAP cannot exercise jurisdiction over the complaint of the Dream Village settlers.

In fine, it is apparent that the COSLAP acted outside its jurisdiction in taking cognizance of the case. It would have been more prudent if the COSLAP has [sic] just referred the controversy to the proper forum in order to fully thresh out the ramifications of the dispute at bar. As it is, the impugned Resolution is a patent nullity since the tribunal which rendered it lacks jurisdiction. Thus, the pronouncements contained therein are void.

SC added that Fort Bonifacio has been reserved for a declared specific public purpose under R.A. No. 7227, which unfortunately for Dream Village does not encompass the present demands of its members. Indeed, this purpose was the very reason why title to Fort Bonifacio has been transferred to the BCDA, and it is this very purpose which takes the dispute out of the direct jurisdiction of the COSLAP. A review of the history of the COSLAP will readily clarify that its jurisdiction is limited to disputes over public lands not reserved or declared for a public use or purpose.

Administrative agencies, like the COSLAP, are tribunals of limited jurisdiction and, as such, could wield only such as are specifically granted to them by the enabling statutes.

Under the law, E.O. No. 561, the COSLAP has two options in acting on a land dispute or problem lodged before it, namely, (a) refer the matter to the agency having appropriate jurisdiction for settlement/resolution; or (b) assume jurisdiction if the matter is one of those enumerated in paragraph 2(a) to (e) of the law, if such case is critical and explosive in nature, taking into account the large number of the parties involved, the presence or emergence of social tension or unrest, or other similar critical situations requiring immediate action. In resolving whether to assume jurisdiction over a case or to refer the same to the particular agency concerned, the COSLAP has to consider the nature or classification of the land involved, the parties to the case, the nature of the questions raised, and the need for immediate and urgent action thereon to prevent injuries to persons and damage or destruction to property. The law does not vest jurisdiction on the COSLAP over any land dispute or problem.

 

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Case Brief: Mate vs. CA and Tan

FERNANDO T. MATE 

vs.

THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS and INOCENCIO TAN

G.R. No. 120724-25; May 21, 1998

Facts:

Josie Rey with Inocencio Tan went to the residence of Fernando Mate and solicited assistance to stave off her and her family’s prosecution for violation of B.P. 22 with the amount of 4,432,067.00. Josie even requested Fernando Mate to cede three lots that he owns to Inocencio in order to placate him. Fernando refused to accept the proposal of Josie and even contended that he owes Inocencio nothing to convey to him his properties and his lots were not for sale. However, Josie persisted and informed Fernando that she will redeem those lots through her own money. After a long discussion, they have agreed and even executed a fictitious deed of sale with right to repurchase. For assurance that Josie will redeem the lots, she issued two postdated checks to Fernando. After such act, the Deed of Sale with Right to repurchase was notarized and was given to Inocencio together with the titles of the properties. The transaction was not registered to the Registry of Deeds. Fernando deposited the checks to his account few days after the date in the checks but both of them were dishonored due to a closed account. From then on, Josie could no longer be found.

LOWER COURT’S RULING: The Regional Trial Court, during the trial the RTC court asked private respondent to file an action for consolidation of ownership of the properties subject of the sale and pursuant thereto he filed Civil Case No. 7587 that was consolidated with the case he filed earlier which were later decided jointly by the trial court in favor of private respondent.

APPELLATE COURT’S RULING: The Deed of Sale with Right of Repurchase executed October 6, 1986 valid and binding between plaintiff and defendant (as vendor and vendee-a-retro respectively); that as the period to redeem has expired, ownership thereof was consolidated by operation of law, and the Register of Deeds is hereby ordered to REGISTER this decision consolidating the defendant’s ownership over the properties covered by Transfer Certificate of Title No. T-90-71, covering Lot 8; Original Certificate of Title No. N-311 covering Lot 5370, all of the Tacloban Cadastre, and issuing to defendant Inocencio Tan his titles after cancellation of the titles presently registered in plaintiff Fernando T. Mate’s name and that of his wife. The plaintiff Fernando Mate is further ordered to pay defendant the sum of ONE HUNDRED FORTY THOUSAND (P140,000.00) PESOS, for and as attorney’s fees.

Issue:

Whether the Deed of Sale with Right to repurchase is valid.

Held:  

The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals. The Court stated that as admitted by petitioner, by virtue of the sale with pacto de retro, Josie Rey gave him, as vendor-a-retro, a postdated check in the amount of P1.4 Million, which represented the repurchase price of the two (2) lots. Aside from the P1.4 Million check, Josie gave another postdated check to petitioner in the amount of P420,000.00, ostensibly as interest for six (6) months but which apparently was his fee for having executed the pacto de retro document. Josie thus assumed the responsibility of paying the repurchase price on behalf of petitioner to private respondent. Unfortunately, the two checks issued by Josie Rey were worthless. Both were dishonored upon presentment by petitioner with the drawee banks. However, there is absolutely no basis for petitioner to file a complaint against private respondent Tan and Josie Rey to annul the pacto de retro sale on the ground of lack of consideration, invoking his failure to encash the two checks. Petitioner’s cause of action was to file criminal actions against Josie Rey under B.P. 22, which he did. The filing of the criminal cases was a tacit admission by petitioner that there was a consideration of the pacto de retro sale. Further, Petitioner then postulates that “it is not only illegal but immoral to require him to repurchase his own properties with his own money when he did not derive any benefit from the transaction.” Thus, he invokes the case of Singson vs. Isabela Sawmill, 88 SCRA 633, 643, where the Court said that “where one or two innocent persons must suffer, that person who gave occasion for the damages to be caused must bear consequences.” Petitioner’s reliance on this doctrine is misplaced. He is not an innocent person. As a matter of fact, he gave occasion for the damage caused by virtue of the deed of sale with right to repurchase which he prepared and signed. Thus, there is the equitable maxim that between two innocent parties, the one who made it possible for the wrong to be done should be the one to bear the resulting loss.

Case Brief: Tanchoco vs. Aquino

G.R. No. L-30670 September 15, 1987

PASTOR TANCHOCO, MACARIO TANCHOCO, AGRIPINA TANCHOCO, INOCENCIA TANCHOCO, LIBERATA TANCHOCO and TRINIDAD TANCHOCO, petitioners,
vs.
HON. FLORENDO P. AQUINO, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Branch I, VICENTA TECSON VDA. DE LAJOM, JOSE T. LAJOM, RAFAEL VIOLA and THE PROVINCIAL SHERIFF OF NUEVA ECIJA, respondents.

 

Facts:

The petitioners purchased a property subject to an existing notice of lis pendens. Respondents allege that the transfer of title should still be rendered null on the grounds of the pending case where the property is the subject matter. Petitioners on the otherhand alleged that they should still be considered as buyers in good faith and that the sale executed by them should be made valid.

 

Issue:

Whether or not respondents Aquino were buyers on good faith even if they bought a property which was a subject of pending litigation.

 

Held:

One who buys land where there is a pending notice of lis pendens cannot invoke the right of a purchaser in good faith; neither can he have acquired better rights than those of his predecessor in interest.

The said portions of land were respectively declared for taxation purposes in the names of the petitioners, and they have been paying the realty taxes due thereon to the government. The possession of the said property was delivered to the petitioners and they have exercised all the rights of ownership over the same. As such registered owners of the respective portions of lot sold to them, the petitioners have acquired real rights over the said property, and they cannot now be deprived of the said property or their rights therein without due notice to them and without affording them the opportunity to be heard in a proper action or suit brought for the purpose. To deprive them of their said property or their rights therein without the required notice and without affording them the opportunity to be heard as what happened in this case, is a clear violation of the Constitutional guaranty that no person shall be deprived of his property without due process of law.

 

 

Case Brief: Duran vs. IAC

G.R. No. L-64159 September 10, 1985

CIRCE S. DURAN and ANTERO S. GASPAR, petitioners,
vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, ERLINDA B. MARCELO TIANGCO and RESTITUTO TIANGCO, respondents.

 

Facts:

Duran owned parcels of land which she had purchased. When she left the country, a deed of sale over the two lots was made in favor of her mother, who mortgaged the same to Tiangco. When Duran found out, she notified the Register of Deeds.

She did not get any answer however, prompting her to return to the Philippines. Her mother failed to redeem the mortgaged properties, which were foreclosed and sold in an auction in favor of respondent Tiangco. She alleged that the sale made by her mother is invalid.

 

Issues:

Whether or not respondent Tiangco is a buyer in good faith even without Duran’s consent.

 

Held:

Yes. Tiangco is a buyer in good faith. Good faith requires a well-founded belief that the person from whom title was received was himself the owner of the land, with the right to convey it. In the case at bar, private respondents, in good faith relied on the certificate of title in the name of Duran’s mother. A fraudulent or forged document of sale may become the root of a valid title if the certificate of title has already been transferred from the name of the true owner to the name of the forger or the name indicated by the forger.

An innocent purchaser for value relying on a Torrens title issued is protected. A mortgagee has the right to rely on what appears in the certificate of title and, in the absence of anything to excite suspicion, he is under no obligation to look beyond the certificate and investigate.

Case Brief: RP-BFD vs. IAC

G.R. No. 69138 May 19, 1992

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES (Bureau of Forest Development), petitioner,
vs.
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT (First Civil Cases Division) and HILARIO P. RAMA, respondents.

Facts:

Logronio, as OIC of Bohol Reforestation Project of Bureau of Forest Development (BFD) bulldozed portions of land which he believed to be forest lands, occupied the same, and planted trees. Thereafter, Rama filed a complaint for recovery of possession and ownership, alleging that he is the owner and possessor of lands occupied by Logronio, who then claimed that the forest lands were part of his lawful performance of his duties as OIC. Logronio also alleged that the lands were never released by government as alienable and disposable. He filed for the nullification of any titles concerning the land.

 

Issue:

Whether or not Rama’s title over the land is valid

 

Held:

No, it is not valid. Considering that the subject parcel of land is forest land, the patent and original certificate of title covering the subject parcel issued to Rama did not confer any validity to his possession or claim of ownership.  The titles are void ab initio.  The appellate court’s ruling as regards the unregistered parcel of land which is to the effect that Rama is also entitled to necessary expenses with right of retention until reimbursed of the necessary expenses must be reversed. His title over the forest land is null and void for the same reasons.

Case Brief: Associated Insurance and Surety Company v Iya

G.R. Nos. L-10837-38 May 30, 1958

ASSOCIATED INSURANCE and SURETY COMPANY, INC., plaintiff,
vs.
ISABEL IYA, ADRIANO VALINO and LUCIA VALINO, defendants.

Facts:
Valino & Valino were the owners and possessors of a house of strong materials in Rizal, which they purchased on installment basis. To enable her to purchase on credit rice from NARIC, Valino filed a bond (P11,000) subscribed by Associated Insurance and Surety Co Inc, and as a counter-guaranty, Valino executed an alleged chattel mortgage on the aforementioned house in favour of the surety company. At the same time, the parcel of land which the house was erected was registered in the name of Philippine Realty Corporation.

Valino, to secure payment of an indebtedness (P12,000) executed a real estate mortgage over the lot and the house in favour of Iya.

Valino failed to satisfy her obligation to NARIC, so the surety company was compelled to pay the same pursuant to the undertaking of the bond. In turn, surety company demanded reimbursement from Valino, and as they failed to do so, the company foreclosed the chattel mortgage over the house. As a result, public sale was conducted and the property was awarded to the surety company.

The surety company then learned of the existence of the real estate mortgage over the lot and the improvements thereon; thus, they prayed for the exclusion of the residential house from the real estate mortgage and the declaration of its ownership in virtue of the award given during bidding.

Iya alleged that she acquired a real right over the lot and the house constructed thereon, and that the auction sale resulting from the foreclosure of chattel mortgage was null and void.

Surety company argued that as the lot on which the house was constructed did not belong to the spouses at the time the chattel mortgage was executed, the house might be considered as personal property, and they prayed that the said building be excluded from the real estate mortgage.

Issue:
There is no question over Iya’s right over the land by real estate mortgage; however, as the building instructed thereon has been the subject of two mortgages, controversy arise as to which of these encumbrances should receive preference over the other.

Held:
The building is subject to the real estate mortgage, in favour of Iya. Iya’s right to foreclose not only the land but also the building erected thereon is recognised.

While it is true that real estate connotes the land and the building constructed thereon, it is obvious that the inclusion of the building, separate and distinct from the land, in the enumeration of what may constitute real properties (Article 415), could only mean that a building is by itself an immovable property. Moreover, in view of the absence of any specific provision to the contrary, a building is an immovable property irrespective of whether or not said structure and the land on which it is adhered to belong to the same owner.

A building certainly cannot be divested of its character of a realty by the fact that the land on which it is constructed belongs to another.

In the case at bar, as personal properties could only be the subject of a chattel mortgage and as obviously the structure in question is not one, the execution of the chattel mortgage covering said building is clearly invalid and a nullity. While it is true that said document was correspondingly registered in Chattel Mortgage Registry of Rizal, this act produced no effect whatsoever, for where the interest conveyed is in the nature of real property, the registration of the document in the registry of chattels is merely a futile act. Thus, the registration of the chattel mortgage of a building of strong materials produced no effect as far as the building is concerned.

Case Brief: Salas, et al v Jarencio, et al

G.R. No. L-29788    August 30, 1972

RAFAEL S. SALAS, in his capacity as Executive Secretary; CONRADO F. ESTRELLA, in his capacity as Governor of the Land Authority; and LORENZO GELLA, in his capacity as Register of Deeds of Manila, petitioners-appellants,

vs.

HON. HILARION U. JARENCIO, as Presiding Judge of Branch XXIII, Court of First Instance of Manila; ANTONIO J. VILLEGAS, in his capacity as Mayor of the City of Manila; and the CITY OF MANILA, respondents-appellees.

Facts:

City of Manila – owner in fee simple of a parcel of land known as Lot 1, Block 557 of Cadastral Survey of City of Manila, containing an area of 9689.80 sqm. On various dates in 1927, City of Manila sold portions of the parcel of land. When the last sale was effected August 1924, Transfer Certificate of Title 22547 covering the residue of the land 7490.10 sam was issued in the name of City of Manila.

On September 1960, Municipal Board of Manila adopted a resolution requesting the President to consider the feasibility of declaring the land under Transfer Certificate of Title 25545-25547 as patrimonial property of Manila for the purpose of selling these lots to the actual occupants thereof. The resolution was then transmitted to the Congress. The bill was then passed by Congress and approved by President, and became Republic Act 4118, converting the land from communal property to disposable and alienable land of State.

To implement RA 4118, Land Authority requested City of Manila to deliver the City’s TCT 22547 in order to obtain title thereto in the name of Land Authority. The request was granted with the knowledge and consent of City mayor, cancelling TCT 22547 and issuing TCT 80876 in the name of Land Authority.

City of Manila, for some reasons, brought an action to restrain, prohibit, and enjoin Land Authority and Register of Deeds from implementing RA 4118, and praying for the declaration of RA 4118 as unconstitutional.

Trial court declared RA 4118 to be unconstitutional and invalid on the ground that it deprived City of its property without due process of law and payment of just compensation.

Land Authority and Register of Deeds argued that the land is a communal land, or a portion of public domain owned by State; that the land has not been used by City of Manila for any public purpose; that it was originally a communal land not because it was needed in connection with its organisation as a municipality but rather for the common use of its inhabitants; that the City mayor merely enjoys the usufruct over said land and its exercise of acts of ownership by selling parts thereof did not necessarily convert the land into a patrimonial property of City of Manila nor divert the State of its paramount title.

Issue:
Whether the aforementioned land is a private or patrimonial property of the City of Manila.

Held:

The land is public property.

As a general rule, regardless of the source or classification of the land in the possession of municipality, excepting those which it acquired in its own funds in its private or corporate capacity, such property is held for the State for the benefit of its inhabitants, whether it be for governmental or proprietary purposes. The legal situation is the same if the State itself holds the property and puts it to a different use.

When it comes to property of municipality which it did not acquire in its private or corporate capacity with its own funds (the land was originally given to City by Spain), the legislature can transfer its administration and disposition to an agency of the National Government to be disposed of according to its discretion. Here it did so in obedience to the constitutional mandate of promoting social justice to insure the well-being and economic security of the people.

The property was not acquired by the City of Manila with its own funds in its private or proprietary capacity. The land was part of the territory of City of Manila granted by sovereign in its creation. Furthermore, City expressly recognised the paramount title of the State over its land when it requested the President to consider the feasibility of declaring the lot as patrimonial property for selling.

There could be no more blatant recognition of the fact that said land belongs to the State and was simply granted in usufruct to the City of Manila for municipal purposes. But since the City did not actually use said land for any recognized public purpose and allowed it to remain idle and unoccupied for a long time until it was overrun by squatters, no presumption of State grant of ownership in favor of the City of Manila may be acquiesced in to justify the claim that it is its own private or patrimonial property.

WHEREFORE, the appealed decision is hereby reversed, and petitioners shall proceed with the free and untrammeled implementation of Republic Act No. 4118 without any obstacle from the respondents. Without costs.