- Republic v. Court of Appeals
- G.R. No. 106763
- GONZAGA-REYES, J :
- Decision Date
G.R. No. 106763. May 9, 2001.
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, vs. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, HEIRS OF MARCELA FRANCISCO, NAMELY: ROSARIO BERNARDO and PACIFICO BERNARDO; HEIRS OF JUANA FRANCISCO NAMELY: BUENAVENTURA CRISOSTOMO, ANDRES CRISOSTOMO, FELICITAS CRISOSTOMO; HEIRS OF BRIGIDA FRANCISCO, NAMELY: LIWANAG JAVIER, EUDOSIA JAVIER, ANAPURA JAVIER, AURORA JAVIER, DOMINADOR JAVIER and FRANKLIN JAVIER; and THE REGISTER OF DEEDS OF CAVITE, respondents.
D E C I S I O N
GONZAGA-REYES, J p:
This is a petition for review of the decision of the Court of Appeals dismissing the petition to annul the decision of the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Cavite, Branch III, in Reg. Case No. N-440, LRC Rec. No. 26961. This case stems from proceedings to annul a 1965 decision of the said land registration court which adjudicated to private respondents certain parcels of land.
The antecedents are as follows: On April 22, 1964, the Municipality of Bacoor, Cavite, represented by its Mayor, Pablo G. Sarino, sold Lot Nos. 317, 318, 330 and 356, Psu-164199, with an approximate combined area of 3.1437 hectares, located at Barrio Salinas, in the said municipality, to private respondents' predecessors-in-interest for P188.20 pursuant to and Municipal Resolution No. 89 as amended by Resolution No. 289. Prior to the sale, private respondents' predecessor-in-interest, Brigida Francisco, had been in possession of the subject lot and paid the real estate taxes thereon as early as 1907. On October 27, 1964, private respondents filed an application for land registration before the above-mentioned CFI of Cavite, covering the aforesaid lots, docketed as LRC Case No. N-440, LRC Record No. N-26961. On August 4, 1965, a decision was rendered adjudicating to the applicants, herein private respondents, the subject parcels of land, as follows:
"WHEREFORE, this Court, confirming its previous order of general default, hereby adjudges and decrees lots 356, 318, 319 and 330 of plain AP-1377, AP-1378, AP-1379 and AP-1380, respectively, situated in the barrio of Salinas, municipality of Bacoor, province of Cavite, free from any liens and encumbrances to applicants, jointly and equally in undivided shares, in the following manners: TDESCa
1. to MARCELA FRANCISCO, widow 1/3 undivided share.
2. to the HEIRS OF JUANA FRANCISCO, namely:
BUENAVENTURA CRISOSTOMO, married to Librada Crisostomo;
ANDRES CRISOSTOMO, married to Esperanza Legaspi;
FELICITAS CRISOSTOMO, married to Gregorio Javier;
PEDRO CRISOSTOMO, single (these four own 1/3 undivided share.)
3. to the HEIRS OF BRIGIDA FRANCISCO, namely:
LIWANAG JAVIER, married to Anastacio Dominguez;
EUDOSIA JAVIER, married to Ernesto de la Cruz;
AMAPURA JAVIER, married to Angel Sebastian;
AURORA JAVIER, single;
DOMINADOR JAVIER, married to Luz Manalili;
FRANKLIN JAVIER, married to Elina Jose (These six own 1/3 undivided share.)
All applicants are Filipinos, of legal ages, and residents of Mabolo, Bacoor, Cavite.
Once this decision becomes final, let the corresponding decree of registration be issued.
Pursuant to said judgment, Decree No. N-105464 and the corresponding Original Certificate of Title No. O-468 were issued on October 7, 1965.
Twenty-five years later, or on October 15, 1990, the Office of Solicitor General (OSG) filed with the Court of Appeals a petition to annul the decision of the CFI of Cavite, Decree No. N-105464 and OCT No. O-468 issued pursuant thereto; and to order the restoration or reversion of the subject parcels of land to the mass of the public domain. The OSG alleged that the registration proceedings were null and void for lack of jurisdiction because the parcels of land subject thereof were still classified as forest land, having been released therefrom only on February 21, 1972; that the OSG was not furnished with a copy of the application for registration and other records as mandated by Section 51, of the section 48(b) of the The Court of Appeals ruled that "by virtue of
Hence, the instant petition questioning whether or not the Court of Appeals erred in: (1) relying solely on ab initio for lack of approval or consent of the provincial board of Cavite and the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources as required by law.
As the Court sees it, the assigned errors cognizable by this Court may be reduced into the following, to wit:
1. Whether the sale of communal lands of the Municipality of Bacoor to private respondents' predecessors-in-interest was authorized by law; and
2. Whether the land registration court acquired jurisdiction over the parcels of land covered by the decree issued on October 7, 1965 pursuant to the decision of said court of August 4, 1965.
The petition is not impressed with merit. ScAaHE
First of all, we agree with the Court of Appeals that ," which was enacted into law on December 2, 1926, was the law governing the sale and acquisition by private respondents of the subject parcels of land. It provided:
"SECTION 1. The sale to private parties of the communal lands situated in the municipality of Bacoor, Province of Cavite, Philippine Islands, and held in trust by the municipal council thereof for the benefit of the inhabitants of said municipality, is hereby authorized: Provided, That the present tenants and lessees of the different parcels composing said lands shall have the right to buy their respective leaseholds subject to such rules and regulations which shall be adopted by the municipal council of Bacoor subject to the approval of the Provincial Board of Cavite and the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources: Provided, further, That if any parcel of land is the subject of litigation in court the sale thereof shall be suspended until after the litigation is finally terminated.
xxx xxx xxx."
A Resolution to Amend Resolution No. 89, Series of 1956 Authorizing the Sale of Communal Lands in the Municipality of Bacoor, Province of Cavite, and Prescribing Rules and Regulations for the Purpose of Implementing the Provisions of Philippine Legislature Act No. 3312 as approved on December 2, 1926." Among others, Resolution No. 289 imposed as conditions, the following: 1. Buyers should be tenants and lessees as of December 2, 1926 of the different parcels composing said lands as recorded in the communal lands register in the Office of the Mayor; and 2. they must pay the corresponding rental in arrears and other obligations due to the municipality. Presumably, with no proof to the contrary shown, the predecessors-in-interest of private respondents have met all the requirements of the law and the rules and regulations issued pursuant thereto for the execution of the sale.
Notably, petitioner's petition for annulment of judgment in the Court of Appeals contended that the decree in favor of the private respondents was issued at the time when the subject land was still forest land, based primarily on the Final Report of Investigation of Senior Land Management Officer Romeo B. Manicat dated December 28, 1989. According to his report, the subject parcels of land were found, among others, to be within the forest zone at the time they were adjudicated to the applicants by the land registration court in 1965, as shown by the Land Classification Map No. 2376 under Project No. 6-A. However, a scrutiny of the foregoing documents fails to conclusively establish the actual classification of the land prior to its release as alienable and disposable in February 21, 1972. The aforesaid Land Classification Map drawn several years after the issuance of the decree in 1965 merely shows that the subject lots were part of Project 6-A, a big tract of land in Bacoor, Cavite which was certified and declared as alienable or disposable land on February 21, 1972 under Forestry Administrative Order No. 4-1253. Contrary to petitioner's posture, the Report of Senior Land Management Officer Romeo B. Manicat who conducted an investigation of the parcels of land does not prove the real nature and character of the subject lots at the time of their sale and registration. In fact, he indicated in said report that the lands were cleared, converted into a modern community, with permanent improvements. More important, the subject lots were previously classified as communal lands, which were then held in trust by the Municipal Council of Bacoor, Cavite, for the benefit of the inhabitants of said municipality. The private respondents were able to purchase the same pursuant to
Secondly, it is error to say that private respondents, as qualified applicants, could no longer avail of the benefits of Further, review by the Supreme Court in a petition under Rule 45 of the
Thirdly, we are not persuaded by petitioner's argument that If repeal of particular or specific law or laws is intended, the proper step is to so express it. The Therefore, we apply the rule that unless otherwise repealed by a subsequent law or adjudged unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, a law will always be presumed valid and the first and fundamental duty of the court is to apply the law. The other issues raised by petitioner pertaining to the non-transmittal of the records in the registration proceedings to the Solicitor General and that the sale did not bear the approval of the Provincial Board of Cavite and the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources deserve scant consideration as these are not jurisdictional prerequisites for the valid exercise of jurisdiction by a court in a land registration case. It must be stated that a petition to annul judgment which is void, is anchored on want of jurisdiction or that it has been obtained by extrinsic fraud. Conformably with this rule, the issues raised must be limited to a discussion of lack of jurisdiction or fraud.
Finally, the Republic as petitioner, does not stand to be deprived of its patrimony, as the said parcels of land had already been declared alienable and disposable and if there is any reversion in favor of the Republic, the land recovered would not be for public use, but for eventual disposition to other private persons. It would be grave injustice and would not serve any declared national land policy to dispossess private respondents of the said parcels of land at this point, where possession has been found to date as far back as 1907, only to enable the government to dispose anew the lands covered thereby to subsequent applicants. Moreover, it is now almost thirty (30) years since the land was released in 1972. In a few more months, the possessors of the land would acquire title to the portions they adversely possess through acquisitive prescription, without need of title or good faith, pursuant to the
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DENIED for lack of merit and challenged judgment of the Court of Appeals is AFFIRMED.
SO ORDERED. aIEDAC
Melo, Vitug, Panganiban and Sandoval-Gutierrez, JJ., concur.
1. Penned by Associate Justice Reynato S. Puno, Chairman, and concurred in by Associate Justices Jesus M. Elbinias and Consuelo Ynares-Santiago. Justices Puno and Ynares-Santiago are now members of this Court.
2. Presided by Judge Jose B. Jimenez.
3. now Dulong Bayan.
5. Court of Appeals Records, pp. 50-51.
6. Rollo, p. 49.
7. , 268 SCRA 703 (1997).
8. , 299 SCRA 668 (1998).
10. , 261 SCRA 17 (1996).
11. Agpalo, Ruben E., Statutory Construction, 1990 ed.
12. ., 296 SCRA 163 (1998).
13. , 219 SCRA 530 (1993).
14. En Banc Resolution in G.R. No. 127245 (.) and G.R. No. 127022 (.), promulgated on January 30, 2001.
15. Article 1137, see , 287 SCRA 102 (1998).