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G.R. No. 79538.

October 18, 1990


FELIPE YSMAEL, JR. & CO., INC.,
vs
.THE DEPUTY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY,

FACTS :On October 12, 1965, petitioner entered into a timber license
agreementwith the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources,
represented bythen Secretary Jose Feliciano, wherein it was issued an exclusive
license tocut, collect and remove timber except prohibited species within a
specifiedportion of public forest land with an area of 54,920 hectares located in
themunicipality of Maddela, province of Nueva Vizcaya from October 12, 1965until
June 30, 1990.However, on August 18, 1983, the Director of the Bureau of
ForestDevelopment (Bureau), Director Edmundo Cortes, issued a
memorandumorder stopping all logging operations in Nueva Vizcaya and
Quirinoprovinces, and cancelling the logging concession of petitioner and nine
otherforest concessionaires, pursuant to presidential instructions and
amemorandum order of the Minister of Natural Resources Teodoro
Pena.Subsequently, petitioners timber license agreement was cancelled. He
senta letter addressed to then President Ferdinand Marcos which
soughtreconsideration of the Bureau's directive, citing in support thereof
itscontributions to forest conservation and alleging that it was not given
theopportunity to be heard prior to the cancellation of its logging
operations,but no favorable action was taken on his letter;Barely one year
thereafter, approximately one-half of the area formerlycovered by petitioners TLA
was re-awarded to Twin Peaks Development andRealty Corporation under a new
TLA which was set to expire on July 31,2009, while the other half was allowed to
be logged by Filipinas Loggers, Inc.without the benefit of a formal award or
license. The latter entities werecontrolled or owned by relatives or cronies of
deposed President FerdinandMarcos.

Soon after the change of government in February 1986, petitioner sent


aletter dated March 17, 1986 to the Office of the President, and another letterdated
April 2, 1986 to Minister Ernesto Maceda of the Ministry of NaturalResources
[MNR], seeking: (1) the reinstatement of its timber licenseagreement which was
cancelled in August 1983 during the Marcosadministration; (2) the revocation of TLA
No. 356 without public bidding and inviolation of forestry laws, rules and
regulations; and, (3) the issuance of anorder allowing petitioner to take
possession of all logs found in theconcession area. However, petitioner's request
was denied. Petitionermoved for reconsideration reiterating, among others, its
request that thetimber license agreement issued to private respondent be
declared null andvoid. The MNR however denied this motion. Petitioner
subsequently appealed from the orders of the MNR to the Office of the
President. TheOffice of the President, acting through then Deputy Executive
SecretaryCatalinoMacaraig, denied petitioner's appeal for lack of merit. Petitioner
filed with the Court a petition for certiorari, with prayer for the issuance of
arestraining order or writ of preliminary injunction,
ISSUE: Whether or not petitioner has the right to seek the nullification of the
Bureau orders cancelling his timber license agreement and the grantingof TLA to
private respondent, which were issued way back in 1983 and1984, respectively

G.R. No. 79538 October 18, 1990


FELIPE YSMAEL, JR. & CO., INC., petitioner,
vs.
THE DEPUTY EXECUTIVE SECRETARY,

COURTS, J.:

Soon after the change of government in February 1986, petitioner sent a letter
dated March 17, 1986 to the Office of the President, and another letter dated April
2, 1986 to Minister Ernesto Maceda of the Ministry of Natural Resources [MNR],
seeking: (1) the reinstatement of its timber license agreement which was cancelled
in August 1983 during the Marcos administration; (2) the revocation of TLA No. 356
which was issued to Twin Peaks Development and Realty Corporation without public
bidding and in violation of forestry laws, rules and regulations; and, (3) the issuance
of an order allowing petitioner to take possession of all logs found in the concession
area [Annexes "6" and "7" of the Petition; Rollo, pp. 54-63].

Petitioner made the following allegations:

(a) That on October 12, 1965, it entered into a timber license agreement
designated as TLA No. 87 with the Department of Agriculture and Natural
Resources, represented by then Secretary Jose Feliciano, wherein it was issued an
exclusive license to cut, collect and remove timber except prohibited species within
a specified portion of public forest land with an area of 54,920 hectares located in
the municipality of Maddela, province of Nueva Vizcaya * from October 12, 1965
until June 30, 1990;

(b) That on August 18, 1983, the Director of the Bureau of Forest Development
[hereinafter referred to as "Bureau"], Director Edmundo Cortes, issued a
memorandum order stopping all logging operations in Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino
provinces, and cancelling the logging concession of petitioner and nine other forest
concessionaires, pursuant to presidential instructions and a memorandum order of
the Minister of Natural Resources Teodoro Pena [Annex "5" of the Petition; Rollo, p.
49];

(c) that on August 25, 1983, petitioner received a telegram from the Bureau, the
contents of which were as follows:

PURSUANT TO THE INSTRUCTIONS OF THE PRESIDENT YOU ARE REQUESTED TO


STOP ALL LOGGING OPERATIONS TO CONSERVE REMAINING FORESTS PLEASE
CONDUCT THE ORDERLY PULL-OUT OF LOGGING MACHINERIES AND EQUIPMENT
AND COORDINATE WITH THE RESPECTIVE DISTRICT FORESTERS FOR THE
INVENTORY OF LOGS CUT PRIOR TO THIS ORDER THE SUBMISSION OF A
COMPLIANCE REPORT WITHIN THIRTY DAYS SHALL BE APPRECIATED [Annex "4" of
the Petition; Rollo, p. 48];
(d) That after the cancellation of its timber license agreement, it immediately
sent a letter addressed to then President Ferdinand Marcos which sought
reconsideration of the Bureau's directive, citing in support thereof its contributions
to alleging that it was not given the forest conservation and opportunity to be heard
prior to the cancellation of its logging 531, but no operations (Annex "6" of the
Petition; Rollo, pp. 50 favorable action was taken on this letter;

(e) That barely one year thereafter, approximately one-half or 26,000 hectares of
the area formerly covered by TLA No. 87 was re-awarded to Twin Peaks
Development and Reality Corporation under TLA No. 356 which was set to expire on
July 31, 2009, while the other half was allowed to be logged by Filipinas Loggers,
Inc. without the benefit of a formal award or license; and,

(f) That the latter entities were controlled or owned by relatives or cronies of
deposed President Ferdinand Marcos. Acting on petitioner's letter, the MNR through
then Minister Ernesto Maceda issued an order dated July 22, 1986 denying
petitioner's request. The Ministry ruled that a timber license was not a contract
within the due process clause of the Constitution, but only a privilege which could
be withdrawn whenever public interest or welfare so demands, and that petitioner
was not discriminated against in view of the fact that it was among ten
concessionaires whose licenses were revoked in 1983. Moreover, emphasis was
made of the total ban of logging operations in the provinces of Nueva Ecija, Nueva
Vizcaya, Quirino and Ifugao imposed on April 2, 1986, thus:

xxx xxx xxx


It should be recalled that [petitioner's] earlier request for reinstatement has been
denied in view of the total ban of all logging operations in the provinces of Nueva
Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino and Ifugao which was imposed for reasons of
conservation and national security.

The Ministry imposed the ban because it realizes the great responsibility it bear [sic]
in respect to forest t considers itself the trustee thereof. This being the case, it has
to ensure the availability of forest resources not only for the present, but also for
the future generations of Filipinos.

On the other hand, the activities of the insurgents in these parts of the country are
well documented. Their financial demands on logging concessionaires are well
known. The government, therefore, is well within its right to deprive its enemy of
sources of funds in order to preserve itself, its established institutions and the
liberty and democratic way of life of its people.

xxx xxx xxx


[Annex "9" of the Petition, pp. 2-4; Rollo, pp. 65-67.]

Petitioner moved for reconsideration of the aforestated order reiterating, among


others. its request that TLA No. 356 issued to private respondent be declared null
and void. The MNR however denied this motion in an order dated September 15,
1986. stating in part:
xxx xxx xxx
Regarding [petitioner's] request that the award of a 26,000 hectare portion of TLA
No. 87 to Twin Peaks Realty Development Corporation under TLA No. 356 be
declared null and void, suffice it to say that the Ministry is now in the process of
reviewing all contracts, permits or other form of privileges for the exploration,
development, exploitation, or utilization of natural resources entered into, granted,
issued or acquired before the issuance of Proclamation No. 3, otherwise known as
the Freedom Constitution for the purpose of amending, modifying or revoking them
when the national interest so requires.

xxx xxx xxx


The Ministry, through the Bureau of Forest Development, has jurisdiction and
authority over all forest lands. On the basis of this authority, the Ministry issued the
order banning all logging operations/activities in Quirino province, among others,
where movant's former concession area is located. Therefore, the issuance of an
order disallowing any person or entity from removing cut or uncut logs from the
portion of TLA No. 87, now under TLA No. 356, would constitute an unnecessary or
superfluous act on the part of the Ministry.

xxx xxx xxx


[Annex "11" of the Petition, pp. 3-4; Rollo, pp. 77-78.]

On November 26, 1986, petitioner's supplemental motion for reconsideration was


likewise denied. Meanwhile, per MNR Administrative Order No. 54, series of 1986,
issued on November 26, 1986, the logging ban in the province of Quirino was lifted.

Petitioner subsequently appealed from the orders of the MNR to the Office of the
President. In a resolution dated July 6, 1987, the Office of the President, acting
through then Deputy Executive Secretary CatalinoMacaraig, denied petitioner's
appeal for lack of merit. The Office of the President ruled that the appeal of
petitioner was prematurely filed, the matter not having been terminated in the MNR.
Petitioner's motion for reconsideration was denied on August 14, 1987.

Hence, petitioner filed directly with this Court a petition for certiorari, with prayer
for the issuance of a restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction, on August
27, 1987. On October 13, 1987, it filed a supplement to its petition for certiorari.
Thereafter, public and private respondents submitted their respective comments,
and petitioner filed its consolidated reply thereto. In a resolution dated May 22,
1989, the Court resolved to give due course to the petition.

After a careful study of the circumstances in the case at bar, the Court finds several
factors which militate against the issuance of a writ of certiorari in favor of
petitioner.

1. Firstly, the refusal of public respondents herein to reverse final and executory
administrative orders does not constitute grave abuse of discretion amounting to
lack or excess of jurisdiction.

It is an established doctrine in this jurisdiction that the decisions and orders of


administrative agencies have upon their finality, the force and binding effect of a
final judgment within the purview of the doctrine of res judicata. These decisions
and orders are as conclusive upon the rights of the affected parties as though the
same had been rendered by a court of general jurisdiction. The rule of res judicata
thus forbids the reopening of a matter once determined by competent authority
acting within their exclusive jurisdiction [See Brillantes v. Castro, 99 Phil. 497
(1956); Ipekdjian Merchandising Co., Inc. v. Court of Tax Appeals, G.R. No. L-15430,
September 30, 1963, 9 SCRA 72; San Luis v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 80160, June
26, 1989].

In the case at bar, petitioner's letters to the Office of the President and the MNR
[now the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) dated March
17, 1986 and April 2, 1986, respectively, sought the reconsideration of a
memorandum order issued by the Bureau of Forest Development which cancelled its
timber license agreement in 1983, as well as the revocation of TLA No. 356
subsequently issued by the Bureau to private respondents in 1984.

But as gleaned from the record, petitioner did not avail of its remedies under the
law, i.e. Section 8 of Pres. Dec. No. 705 as amended, for attacking the validity of
these administrative actions until after 1986. By the time petitioner sent its letter
dated April 2, 1986 to the newly appointed Minister of the MNR requesting
reconsideration of the above Bureau actions, these were already settled matters as
far as petitioner was concerned [See Rueda v. Court of Agrarian Relations, 106 Phil.
300 (1959); Danan v. Aspillera G.R. No. L-17305, November 28, 1962, 6 SCRA 609;
Ocampo v. Arboleda G.R. No.L-48190, August 31, 1987, 153 SCRA 374].

No particular significance can be attached to petitioner's letter dated September 19,


1983 which petitioner claimed to have sent to then President Marcos [Annex "6" of
Petition, Rollo, pp. 50-53], seeking the reconsideration of the 1983 order issued by
Director Cortes of the Bureau. It must be pointed out that the averments in this
letter are entirely different from the charges of fraud against officials under the
previous regime made by petitioner in its letters to public respondents herein. In the
letter to then President Marcos, petitioner simply contested its inclusion in the list of
concessionaires, whose licenses were cancelled, by defending its record of selective
logging and reforestation practices in the subject concession area. Yet, no other
administrative steps appear to have been taken by petitioner until 1986, despite the
fact that the alleged fraudulent scheme became apparent in 1984 as evidenced by
the awarding of the subject timber concession area to other entities in that year.

2. Moreover, petitioner is precluded from availing of the benefits of a writ of


certiorari in the present case because he failed to file his petition within a
reasonable period.

The principal issue ostensibly presented for resolution in the instant petition is
whether or not public respondents herein acted with grave abuse of discretion
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in refusing to overturn administrative
orders issued by their predecessors in the past regime. Yet, what the petition
ultimately seeks is the nullification of the Bureau orders cancelling TLA No. 87 and
granting TLA No. 356 to private respondent, which were issued way back in 1983
and 1984, respectively.
Once again, the fact that petitioner failed to seasonably take judicial recourse to
have the earlier administrative actions reviewed by the courts through a petition for
certiorari is prejudicial to its cause. For although no specific time frame is fixed for
the institution of a special civil action for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Revised
Rules of Court, the same must nevertheless be done within a "reasonable time". The
yardstick to measure the timeliness of a petition for certiorari is the
"reasonableness of the length of time that had expired from the commission of the
acts complained of up to the institution of the proceeding to annul the same"
[Toledo v. Pardo, G.R. No. 56761, November 19, 1982, 118 SCRA 566, 571]. And
failure to file the petition for certiorari within a reasonable period of time renders
the petitioner susceptible to the adverse legal consequences of laches [Municipality
of Carcar v. Court of First Instance of Cebu, G.R. No. L-31628, December 27, 1982,
119 SCRA 392).

Laches is defined as the failure or neglect for an unreasonable and unexplained


length of time to do that which by exercising due diligence, could or should have
been done earlier, or to assert a right within a reasonable time, warranting a
presumption that the party entitled thereto has either abandoned it or declined to
assert it [Tijam v. Sibonghanoy, G.R. No. L-21450, April 15, 1968, 23 SCRA 29; Seno
v. Mangubat, G.R. No.L-44339, December 2, 1987, 156 SCRA 113]. The rule is that
unreasonable delay on the part of a plaintiff in seeking to enforce an alleged right
may, depending upon the circumstances, be destructive of the right itself. Verily,
the laws aid those who are vigilant, not those who sleep upon their rights
(Vigilantibuset non dormientibusjurasubveniunt) [See Buenaventura v. David, 37
Phil. 435 (1918)].

In the case at bar, petitioner waited for at least three years before it finally filed a
petition for certiorari with the Court attacking the validity of the assailed Bureau
actions in 1983 and 1984. Considering that petitioner, throughout the period of its
inaction, was not deprived of the opportunity to seek relief from the courts which
were normally operating at the time, its delay constitutes unreasonable and
inexcusable neglect, tantamount to laches. Accordingly, the writ of certiorari
requiring the reversal of these orders will not lie.

3. Finally, there is a more significant factor which bars the issuance of a writ of
certiorari in favor of petitioner and against public respondents herein. It is precisely
this for which prevents the Court from departing from the general application of the
rules enunciated above.

A cursory reading of the assailed orders issued by public respondent Minister


Maceda of the MNR which were ed by the Office of the President, will disclose public
policy consideration which effectively forestall judicial interference in the case at
bar,

Public respondents herein, upon whose shoulders rests the task of implementing the
policy to develop and conserve the country's natural resources, have indicated an
ongoing department evaluation of all timber license agreements entered into, and
permits or licenses issued, under the previous dispensation. In fact, both the
executive and legislative departments of the incumbent administration are
presently taking stock of its environmental policies with regard to the utilization of
timber lands and developing an agenda for future programs for their conservation
and rehabilitation.

The ongoing administrative reassessment is apparently in response to the renewed


and growing global concern over the despoliation of forest lands and the utter
disregard of their crucial role in sustaining a balanced ecological system. The
legitimacy of such concern can hardly be disputed, most especially in this country.
The Court takes judicial notice of the profligate waste of the country's forest
resources which has not only resulted in the irreversible loss of flora and fauna
peculiar to the region, but has produced even more disastrous and lasting economic
and social effects. The delicate balance of nature having been upset, a vicious cycle
of floods and droughts has been triggered and the supply of food and energy
resources required by the people seriously depleted.

While there is a desire to harness natural resources to amass profit and to meet the
country's immediate financial requirements, the more essential need to ensure
future generations of Filipinos of their survival in a viable environment demands
effective and circumspect action from the government to check further denudation
of whatever remains of the forest lands. Nothing less is expected of the
government, in view of the clear constitutional command to maintain a balanced
and healthful ecology. Section 16 of Article II of the 1987 Constitution provides:

SEC. 16. The State shall protect and promote the right of the people to a balanced
and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.

Thus, while the administration grapples with the complex and multifarious problems
caused by unbridled exploitation of these resources, the judiciary will stand clear. A
long line of cases establish the basic rule that the courts will not interfere in matters
which are addressed to the sound discretion of government agencies entrusted with
the regulation of activities coming under the special technical knowledge and
training of such agencies [See Espinosa v. Makalintal, 79 Phil. 134 (1947); Coloso v.
Board of Accountancy, 92 Phil. 938 (1953); Pajo v. Ago, 108 Phil. 905 (1960); Suarez
v. Reyes, G.R. No. L-19828, February 28, 1963, 7 SCRA 461; Ganitano v. Secretary of
Agriculture and Natural Resources, G. R. No.L-21167, March 31, 1966, 16 SCRA 543;
Villegas v. Auditor General, G.R. No.L-21352, November 29, 1966, 18 SCRA 877;
Manuel v. Villena, G.R. No.L-28218, February 27, 1971, 37 SCRA 745; Lacuesta v.
Herrera, G.R. No.L-33646, January 28, 1975, 62 SCRA 115; Lianga Bay Logging Co.,
Inc. v. Enage, G.R. No.L-30637, July 16, 1987, 152 SCRA 80]. More so where, as in
the present case, the interests of a private logging company are pitted against that
of the public at large on the pressing public policy issue of forest conservation. For
this Court recognizes the wide latitude of discretion possessed by the government in
determining the appropriate actions to be taken to preserve and manage natural
resources, and the proper parties who should enjoy the privilege of utilizing these
resources [Director of Forestry v. Munoz, G.R. No. L-24796, June 28, 1968, 23 SCRA
1183; Lim, Sr. v.The Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, G.R. No.L-
26990, August 31, 1970, 34 SCRA 751]. Timber licenses, permits and license
agreements are the principal instruments by which the State regulates the
utilization and disposition of forest resources to the end that public welfare is
promoted. And it can hardly be gainsaid that they merely evidence a privilege
granted by the State to qualified entities, and do not vest in the latter a permanent
or irrevocable right to the particular concession area and the forest products
therein. They may be validly amended, modified, replaced or rescinded by the Chief
Executive when national interests so require. Thus, they are not deemed contracts
within the purview of the due process of law clause [See Sections 3 (ee) and 20 of
Pres. Decree No. 705, as amended. Also, Tan v. Director of Forestry, G.R. No.L-
24548, October 27, 1983, 125 SCRA 302].

In fine, the legal precepts highlighted in the foregoing discussion more than suffice
to justify the Court's refusal to interfere in the DENR evaluation of timber licenses
and permits issued under the previous regime, or to pre-empt the adoption of
appropriate corrective measures by the department.

Nevertheless, the Court cannot help but express its concern regarding alleged
irregularities in the issuance of timber license agreements to a number of logging
concessionaires.

The grant of licenses or permits to exploit the country's timber resources, if done in
contravention of the procedure outlined in the law, or as a result of fraud and undue
influence exerted on department officials, is indicative of an arbitrary and whimsical
exercise of the State's power to regulate the use and exploitation of forest
resources. The alleged practice of bestowing "special favors" to preferred
individuals, regardless of merit, would be an abuse of this power. And this Court will
not be a party to a flagrant mockery of the avowed public policy of conservation
enshrined in the 1987 Constitution. Therefore, should the appropriate case be
brought showing a clear grave abuse of discretion on the part of officials in the
DENR and related bureaus with respect to the implementation of this public policy,
the Court win not hesitate to step in and wield its authority, when invoked, in the
exercise of judicial powers under the Constitution [Section 1, Article VIII].

However, petitioner having failed to make out a case showing grave abuse of
discretion on the part of public respondents herein, the Court finds no basis to issue
a writ of certiorari and to grant any of the affirmative reliefs sought.

WHEREFORE, the present petition is DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. 85502 February 24, 1992


PRINCIPLE:
Among these exceptional cases for exhaustion of administrative remedies are:
1) when the question raised is purely legal;
2) when the administrative body is in estoppel;
3) when the act complained of is patently illegal;
4)when there is urgent need for judicial intervention;
5) when the claim involved is small;
6) when irreparable damage will be suffered;
7) when there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy;
8') when strong public interest is involved;
8) when the subject of the controversy is private land; And
10) in quo warranto proceedings.
FACTS:
ISSUES:
1. whether or not there is a need to exhaust all admin rem
2. . whether it falls under the exceptional case that the question is purel& legal
3. whether it falls under the exceptional case that it shall cause irreparable
damage to the environment

G.R. No. 85502 February 24, 1992

SUNVILLE TIMBER PRODUCTS, INC., petitioner,


vs.
HON. ALFONSO G. ABAD,

CRUZ, J.:

The Court will focus its attention only on one of the issues raised in this petition
the correct application of the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies.

The petitioner was granted a Timber License Agreement (TLA), authorizing it to cut,
remove and utilize timber within the concession area covering 29,500 hectares of
forest land in Zamboanga del Sur, for a period of ten years expiring on September
31, 1992.

On July 31, 1987, the herein private respondents filed a petition with the
Department of Environment and Natural Resources for the cancellation of the TLA
on the ground of serious violations of its conditions and the provisions of forestry
laws and regulations.

The same charges were subsequently made, also by the herein private respondents,
in a complaint for injunction with damages against the petitioner, which was
docketed as Civil Case No. 2732 in the Regional Trial Court of Pagadian City.

The petitioner moved to dismiss this case on three grounds, to wit: 1) the court had
no jurisdiction over the complaint; 2) the plaintiffs had not yet exhausted
administrative remedies; and 3) the injunction sought was expressly prohibited by
section 1 of PD 605.

Judge Alfonso G. Abad denied the motion to dismiss on December 11, 1987, 1 and
the motion for reconsideration on February 15, 1988. 2 The petitioner then elevated
the matter to the respondent Court of Appeals, which sustained the trial court in a
decision dated July 4, 1988, and in its resolution of September 27, 1988, denying
the motion for reconsideration.

The Court of Appeals held that the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative


remedies was not without exception and pointed to the several instances approved
by this Court where it could be dispensed with. The respondent court found that in
the case before it, the applicable exception was the urgent need for judicial
intervention, which it explained thus:
The lower court found out that sometime on July 1981, the City Council of Pagadian
in its Resolution No. 111 requested the Bureau of Forest Development to reserve
1,000 hectares in Lison Valley. This request remained unacted upon. Instead in
1982, a TLA covering 29,500 hectares, including the area requested, was given to
petitioner.

Then the fear expressed by the City Council of Pagadian in its resolution became
reality.

"As averred in the complaint, the erosion caused by the logging operations of the
defendant has caused heavy siltation not only in the Labangan River (as predicted
by the City Council of Pagadian City in 1981) but also in the Tukuran River, Salug
River, Sindangan River, and Sibuguey River. In other words, the adverse effects of
the logging operations of the defendant have already covered a wider area than
that feared to be adversely affected by the City Council of Pagadian City.

Floods are unknown phenomena in heavily forested areas years back, particularly in
the Island of Mindanao. When the grant of logging concessions started, so was the
denudation of forests. . . . It is common knowledge that heavy floods have occurred
in areas/places adjoining logging concessions. (Resolution dated December 11,
1987, p. 5).

Thus, it is urgent that indiscriminate logging be stopped. Irreparable damage would


ensue unless the court intervenes. Reliance on the DENR may not be enough,
judging from its inaction on the council's request seven years back.

The respondent court cited in support of this conclusion the case of De Lara v.
Cloribel, 5 where "irreparable damage and injury" was allowed as an exceptional
ground, and Arrow Transportation Corporation v. Board of Transportation, 6 where
the doctrine was waived because of "the strong public interest in having the matter
settled" as soon as possible.

The decision also declared invalid Section 1 of PD 605, which provides:

Sec. 1. No court of the Philippines shall have jurisdiction to issue any


restraining order, preliminary injunction or preliminary mandatory injunction in any
case involving or growing out of the issuance, approval or disapproval, revocation or
suspension of, or any action whatsoever by the proper administrative official or
body on concessions, licenses, permits, patents, or public grants of any kind in
connection with the disposition, exploitation, utilization, exploration and/or
development of the natural resources of the Philippines.

This was held to be an encroachment on the judicial power vested in the Supreme
Court and the lower courts by Article VIII, Section 1, of the Constitution. The
respondent court cited Export Processing Zone Authority v. Dulay, 7 where several
presidential decrees were declared unconstitutional for divesting the courts of the
judicial power to determine just compensation in expropriation cases.
The petitioner is now before the Court, contending that the doctrine of exhaustion of
administrative remedies was not correctly applied and that the declaration of the
unconstitutionality of Section 1 of PD 605 was improper.

The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies calls for resort first to the
appropriate administrative authorities in the resolution of a controversy falling
under their jurisdiction before the same may be elevated to the courts of justice for
review. Non-observance of the doctrine results in lack of a cause of action, 8 which
is one of the grounds allowed in the Rules of Court for the dismissal of the
complaint. The deficiency is not jurisdictional. Failure to invoke it operates as a
waiver of the objection as a ground for a motion to dismiss and the court may then
proceed with the case as if the doctrine had been observed.

One of the reasons for the doctrine of exhaustion is the separation of powers, which
enjoins upon the Judiciary a becoming policy of non-interference with matters
coming primarily (albeit not exclusively) within the competence of the other
departments. The theory is that the administrative authorities are in a better
position to resolve questions addressed to their particular expertise and that errors
committed by subordinates in their resolution may be rectified by their superiors if
given a chance to do so. A no less important consideration is that administrative
decisions are usually questioned in the special civil actions of certiorari, prohibition
and mandamus, which are allowed only when there is no other plain, speedy and
adequate remedy available to the petitioner. It may be added that strict
enforcement of the rule could also relieve the courts of a considerable number of
avoidable cases which otherwise would burden their heavily loaded dockets. 9

As correctly suggested by he respondent court, however, there are a number of


instances when the doctrine may be dispensed with and judicial action validly
resorted to immediately. Among these exceptional cases are: 1) when the question
raised is purely legal; 10 2) when the administrative body is in estoppel; 11 3) when
the act complained of is patently illegal; 12 4) when there is urgent need for judicial
intervention; 13 5) when the claim involved is small; 14 6) when irreparable damage
will be suffered; 15 7) when there is no other plain, speedy and adequate remedy;
16 8) when strong public interest is involved; 17 9) when the subject of the
controversy is private land; 18 and 10) in quo warranto proceedings. 19

The private respondents now submit that their complaint comes under the
exceptions because forestry laws do not require observance of the doctrine as a
condition precedent to judicial action; the question they are raising is purely legal;
application of the doctrine will cause great and irreparable damage; and public
interest is involved.

We rule for the petitioner.

Even if it be assumed that the forestry laws do not expressly require prior resort to
administrative remedies, the reasons for the doctrine above given, if nothing else,
would suffice to still require its observance. Even if such reasons were disregarded,
there would still be the explicit language of pertinent laws vesting in the DENR the
power and function "to regulate the development, disposition, extraction,
exploration and use of the country's forests" and "to exercise exclusive jurisdiction"
in the "management and disposition of all lands of the public domain," 20 and in the
Forest Management Bureau (formerly the Bureau of Forest Development) the
responsibility for the enforcement of the forestry laws aid regulations 21 here
claimed to have been violated. This comprehensive conferment clearly implies at
the very least that the DENR should be allowed to rule in the first instance on any
controversy coming under its express powers before the courts of justice may
intervene.

The argument that the questions raised in the petition are purely legal is also not
acceptable. The private respondents have charged, both in the administrative case
before the DENR and in the civil case before the Regional Trial Court of Pagadian
City, that the petitioner has violated the terms and conditions of the TLA and the
provisions of forestry laws and regulations. The charge involves factual issues
calling for the presentation of supporting evidence. Such evidence is best evaluated
first by the administrative authorities, employing their specialized knowledge of the
agreement and the rules allegedly violated, before the courts may step in to
exercise their powers of review.

As for the alleged urgent necessity for judicial action and the claimed adverse
impact of the case on the national interest, the record does not show that the
petitioners have satisfactorily established these extraordinary circumstances to
justify deviation from the doctrine by exhaustion of administrative remedies and
immediate resort to the courts of justice. In fact, this particular submission must fall
flat against the petitioner's uncontested contention that it has since 1988 stopped
its operations under the TLA in compliance with the order of the DENR.

In the Petition for prohibition filed with the respondent court, the petitioner alleged
that its logging operations had been suspended pursuant to a telegram 22 received
on February 23, 1988, by the District Forester from the Regional Executive Director
of the DENR, Zamboanga City; reading as follows:

DISTRICT FORESTER
PAGADIAN CITY
QUOTED HEREUNDER IS RADIO MESSAGE DATED FEBRUARY 22, 1988 FROM
SECRETARY FULGENCIO S. FACTORAN, JR. QUOTE EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY CMA
SUSPEND ALL LOGGING OPERATIONS OF SUNVILLE IN VIEW OF SERIOUS VIOLATIONS
OF FOREST PROTECTION AND REFORESTATION UNQUOTE SUBMIT REPORT ASAP.

RED BATCAGAN

The petition now before us contains the allegations that the "petition for
cancellation of petitioner's TLA is still pending up to this date and that petitioner's
logging operations (were) ordered suspended by the Secretary of the DENR pending
further investigation." 23

In the memorandum filed by the petitioner with this Court, it is informed that "the
Secretary of the DENR suspended petitioner's logging operations until further
investigation. The suspension is still in force up to this date after the lapse of almost
3 years." 24
These statements have not been disputed by the private respondents in their
pleadings before the respondent court and this Court and are therefore deemed
admitted.

There in no question that Civil Case No. 2732 comes within the jurisdiction of the
respondent court. Nevertheless, as the wrong alleged in the complaint was
supposedly committed as a result of the unlawful logging activities of the petitioner,
it will be necessary first to determine whether or not the TLA and the forestry laws
and regulations had indeed been violated. To repeat for emphasis, determination of
this question is the primary responsibility of the Forest Management Bureau of the
DENR. The application of the expertise of the administrative agency in the
resolution of the issue raised is a condition precedent for the eventual examination,
if still necessary, of the same question by a court of justice.

In view of the above observations, we find that there was no need for the
respondent court to declare the unconstitutionality of Section 1 of PD 605. The rule
is that a question of constitutionality must be avoided where the case can be
decided on some other available ground, 25 as we have done in the case before us.
The resolution of this same question must await another case, where all the
indispensable requisites of a judicial inquiry into a constitutional question are
satisfactorily established. In such an event, it will be time for the Court "to make the
hammer fall, and heavily," in the words of Justice Laurel, if such action is warranted.

WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED. The decision of the respondent court dated
July 4, 1988, and its resolution dated September 27, 1988, as well as the resolutions
of the trial court dated December 11, 1987 and February 15, 1988, are all
REVERSED and SET ASIDE. Civil Case No. 2732 in the Regional Trial Court of
Pagadian City is hereby DISMISSED.

SO ORDERED.

G.R. No. L-44649 April 15, 1988 Ponente: Guiterrez, Jr.


FACTS: This is a mandamus case filed against respondents for closing a
logging road withoutauthority. The private respondents extended that
as the acts complained of by the petitioners aroseout of the legitimate
exercise of respondent Eastcoast Development Enterprises rights as a timber
licensee, more particularly in the use of its logging within the Bureau of
Forest Development, citing as authority Presidential Decree(P.D.) No. 705. The
lower court affirmed the respondents defense, stating that the petitioners must
first seek recourse with the Bureau of Forest Development to determine
the legality of the closure of the logging roads, before seeking redress
ISSUE: W/N the regular courts can take cognizance of the damages case
without first seeking thedetermination of the Bureau regarding the legality of the
closure. YES.
RATIO: P.D. No. 705 upon which the respondent court based its order does
not vest any power inthe Bureau of Forest Development to determine
whether or not the closure of a logging road is legal or illegal and to make
such determination a pre-requisite before an action for damages may
bemaintained. Moreover, the complaint instituted by the petitioners is clearly
for damages based on the alleged illegal closure of the logging road. Whether
or not such closure was illegal is a matter to beestablished on the part of the
petitioners and a matter to be disproved by the private respondents. This
should appropriately be threshed out in a judicial proceeding. It is beyond the
power andauthority of the Bureau of Forest Development to determine the unlawful
closure of a passage way,much less award or deny the payment of damages based
on such closure. Not every activity inside aforest area is subject to the jurisdiction of
the Bureau of Forest Development.

G.R. No. L-44649 April 15, 1988

DAYLINDA A. LAGUA
vs.
HONORABLE VICENTE N. CUSI, JR

GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

This petition for mandamus originated from a complaint for damages which was
instituted by the petitioners against the private respondents for closing a logging
road without authority.

In their complaint, the petitioners, alleged, among others:

In Paragraph 5(a):

a) On 1 January 1976, Atty. Ernesto Nombrado, legal counsel for defendants,


issued a memorandum to the Chief Security Guard of Defendant Eastcoast directing
the latter to prevent the passage of Plaintiff Laguas' hauling trucks loaded with logs
for the Japanese vessel (there were no other trucks hauling logs at that time) on the
national highway loading towards where the vessel was berthed. In compliance with
this directive, the security force of Defendant Eastcoast closed the road to the use
by plaintiffs trucks and other equipments and effectively prevented their passage
thereof while the vehicles and trucks of other people were curiously not disturbed
and were allowed passess on the same road. It resulted that the loading of logs on
the M/S "KyofukuMaru" was discontinued. A xeroxed copy of this Nombrado
memorandum, the original of which is however in the possession of defendants, is
hereto attached as Annex "C" and made an integral part hereof.

In Paragraph 5(b):
b) Upon representations made to Indalecio L. Aspiras, Acting Station Officer-in-
Charge, BFD Lambajon Forest Station, and in response to plaintiff Laguas'
complaint, a letter dated 2 January 1976 was addressed by Aspiras to the Resident
Manager of Defendant Eastcoast with instructions to open and allow Plaintiff Laguas'
trucks and machineries to pass that road closed to them (but not to others) by
Defendant Eastcoast. A xeroxed copy of this letter is hereto attached as Annex "D"
and made a part hereof. Accordingly, SagradoConstantino, Resident Manager of
Defendant Eastcoast, issued an order to their Chief Security Guard for the latter to
comply with the Aspiras letter. These events, however, took the whole day of 2
January 1976 so that notwithstanding the lifting of the road closure no hauling of
logs could be made by Plaintiff Laguas on that day.
In Paragraph 5(c):

c) When Plaintiffs Laguas were already resuming the hauling operations of their
logs towards the Japanese Vessel on 3 January 1976, again that same road, only the
day before ordered by the BFD to be opened for use and passage by plaintiffs, was
closed to them by Defendant Eastcoast's security men upon a radio message order
of Defendant Maglana. Even the vessel M/S "KyofukuMaruwas" ordered by
Defendant Maglana to untie her anchor contrary to existing laws, rules and
regulations of the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Coastguard. A xeroxed copy
of the Maglana message, the original of which is in the possession of the
defendants, is hereto attached as Annex "E" and made an integral part hereof.

And in paragraph 5(d):

d) Given no recourse in the face of the blatant and illegal closure of the road in
defiance of BFD orders to the contrary by the Defendant Eastcoast through the
order of Defendant Maglana, Plaintiff Laguas had to depart postpaste to Mati, Davao
Oriental, from Baganga where the shipment and the road closure were made, to
seek the assistance of the PC thereat. Thus on 5 January 1976, Provincial
Commander Alfonso Lumebao issued a directive to the PC Detachment Commander
at Baganga to lift the illegal checkpoint made by defendants. A xeroxed copy of this
directive is hereto attached as Annex "F" and made a part hereof. (Rollo, pp. 57-58)

The private respondents filed a motion to dismiss on two grounds, namely: (1) lack
of jurisdiction, and (2) lack of cause of action.

The private respondents extended that as the acts complained of by the petitioners
arose out of the legitimate exercise of respondent Eastcoast Development
Enterprises, Inc., rights as a timber licensee, more particularly in the use of its
logging roads, therefore, the resolution of this question is properly and legally within
the Bureau of Forest Development, citing as authority Presidential Decree (P.D.) No.
705. The private respondents also argued that petitioner DaylindaLaguas has no
capacity to sue as her name was not registered as an "agent" or "dealer" of logs in
the Bureau of Forestry.

On August 3, 1976, the trial court issued the questioned order dismissing the
petitioners' complaint on the basis of the abovementioned grounds. It ruled:

The Court agrees with the defendants that under the law, the Bureau of Forest
Development has the exclusive power to regulate the use of logging road and to
determine whether their use is in violation of laws. Since the damages claimed to
have been sustained by the plaintiffs arose from the alleged illegal closure of a
logging road in the language of the defendants on page 3 of their motion to
dismiss. The simple fact is there was an illegal closure of the national highway
affecting the private rights of the plaintiffs who sustained damages and losses as a
consequence thereof the question whether or not the road was illegally closed
must first be determined by the Bureau of Forest Development. If the said Bureau
finds that the road was legally closed, an action for damages may be filed in Court.
Otherwise, no civil action would prosper, for there would be no tortious act. (Rollo,
pp. 58-69).
xxx xxx xxx

After the logging road was closed for the first time, more so after the second time,
by the defendant Eastcoast Development Enterprises, Inc., the plaintiffs should
have asked the Bureau of Forest Development to determine the legality or illegality
of the closure since they wanted to file, as they did file, an action for damages
based on the alleged illegal closure. The fact that the letter of January 2, 1976,
directed defendant Eastcoast Development Enterprises, Inc. to open the road does
not necessarily mean that the Bureau of Forest Development had found that the
closure was illegal. There must be a positive finding that the closure was illegal. ...
(Rollo, p. 60)

xxx xxx xxx

As an attorney-in-fact, Daylinda A. Lagua is not entitled to, and cannot cannot claim,
damages in her personal capacity. For she could not have sustained damages as a
result of the alleged illegal closure of the road in her personal capacity while acting
in her representative capacity. So if she and her husband sustained damages, it
must have been because their legal rights were violated by a tortious act committed
by the defendants other than the alleged illegal closure of the road. But as stated
elsewhere in this order, even the plaintiffs admit that the damages they claimed to
have sustained arose from the alleged illegal closure of the logging road. Assuming,
however, that another tortious act violated the legal rights of the Laguas, still they
could not joint Achanzar and Donga in this complaint for there would be misjoinder
of parties. (Rollo, pp. 61-62)

Hence, this petition for mandamus which we will treat as a petition for certiorari in
the interest of justice.

The petitioners maintain that since their action is for damages, the regular courts
have jurisdiction over the same. According to them, the respondent court had no
basis for holding that the Bureau of Forestry Development must first determine that
the closure of a logging road is illegal before an action for damages can be
instituted.

We agree.

P.D. No. 705 upon which the respondent court based its order does not vest any
power in the Bureau of Forest Development to determine whether or not the closure
of a logging road is legal or illegal and to make such determination a pre-requisite
before an action for damages may be maintained. Moreover, the complaint
instituted by the petitioners is clearly for damages based on the alleged illegal
closure of the logging road. Whether or not such closure was illegal is a matter to be
established on the part of the petitioners and a matter to be disproved by the
private respondents. This should appropriately be threshed out in a judicial
proceeding. It is beyond the power and authority of the Bureau of Forest
Development to determine the unlawful closure of a passage way, much less award
or deny the payment of damages based on such closure. Not every activity inside a
forest area is subject to the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Forest Development. As we
have held in Ateneo de Manila University v. Court of appeals (145 SCRA 100, 110):

The issue in this court was whether or not the private respondents can recover
damages as a result of the of their son from the petitioner university. This is a purely
legal question and nothing of an a administrative nature is to or can be done
(Gonzales v. Hechanova, 9 SCRA 230; Tapales v. University of the Philippines, 7
SCRA 533; Limoico v. Board of Administrators. (PJA) 133 SCRA 43; Malabanan v.
Ramonte, 129 SCRA 359). The case was brought pursuant to the law on damages
provided in the Civil Code. The jurisdiction to try the case belongs to the civil courts.

The private respondents, in their memorandum filed with the respondent court,
alleged that the logs of petitioner Achanzar were cut down and removed outside of
the area granted to the latter under his Private Timber License No. 2 and therefore
inside the concession area of respondent company's Timber License Agreement.
This, apparently, was the reason why the respondent company denied to the
petitioners the use of the logging road. If we hold the respondents to their
contention that the Bureau of Forest Development has the power and authority not
only to regulate the use or blockade of logging roads but also to exclusively
determine the legality of a closure of such roads, why then did they take it upon
themselves to initially close the disputed logging road before taking up the matter
with the Bureau and why did they close it again notwithstanding the Bureau's order
to open it after the petitioners had duly informed the said Bureau of the closure? To
use the Bureau's authority which the respondents ignored to now defeat the court's
jurisdiction would be totally unacceptable. We, therefore, find that the trial court
committed grave abuse of discretion in dismissing the complaint on the ground of
lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter.

Anent the legal capacity to sue of the petitioners, spouses Laguas, we affirm the
trial court's ruling that since they were mere agents of petitioners Achanzar and
Donga and were suing in their own behalf, they did not have the capacity to sue for
damages. They are not the real parties in interest. However, the complaint can still
be maintained. It cannot be dismissed because the real parties in interest, Achanzar
and Donga were also plaintiffs. Thus, the trial court should have ordered only the
dropping of the names of the spouses Laguas pursuant to Section 11, Rule 3 of the
Revised Rules of Court but not the dismissal of the complaint.

WHEREFORE, in view of the foregoing, the petition is hereby GRANTED. The


questioned order of the respondent court is SET ASIDE and this case is ordered
remanded to the court of origin for trial on the merits

SO ORDERED.

Fernan, (Chairman), Feliciano, Bidin and Cortes, JJ., concur.

RAMOS V. DIRECTOR OF LANDS


39 PHIL 175
FACTS:
Ramos was a holder of a possession information title which he later conveyed to
Romero. Romero applied for the registration of the land.
HELD:
The possession and cultivation of a portion of a tract of land under claim of
ownership, under a claim of ownership of all, is a constructive possession of all, if
the remainder isnt under the adverse possession of another.

RAMOS VS. DIRECTOR OF LANDS- Adverse Possession


The general rule is that possession and cultivation of a portion of a tract of land
under the claim of ownership of all is a constructive possession of all, if the
remainder is not in the adverse possession of another.

FACTS:
Restituo Romero gained possession of a considerable tract of land located in Nueva
Ecija. He took advantage of the Royal Decree to obtain a possessory information
title to the land and was registered as such.

Parcel No. 1 included within the limits of the possessory information title of Romero
was sold to Cornelio Ramos, herein petitioner.

Ramos instituted appropriate proceedings to have his title registered.


Director of Lands opposed on the ground that Ramos had not acquired a good title
from the Spanish government.

Director of Forestry also opposed on the ground that the first parcel of land is forest
land.
It has been seen however that the predecessor in interest to the petitioner at least
held this tract of land under color of title.

ISSUE:
Whether or not the actual occupancy of a part of the land described in the
instrument giving color of title sufficient to give title to the entire tract of land?

HELD:
The general rule is that possession and cultivation of a portion of a tract of land
under the claim of ownership of all is a constructive possession of all, if the
remainder is not in the adverse possession of another.

The claimant has color of title; he acted in good faith and he has open, peaceable,
and notorious possession of a portion of the property, sufficient to apprise the
community and the world that the land was for his enjoyment.

Possession in the eyes of the law does not mean that a man has to have his feet on
every square meter of ground before it can be said that he is in possession.
Ramos and his predecessor in interest fulfilled the requirements of the law on
supposition that the premises consisted of agricultural public land.

On the issue of forest land, Forest reserves of public land can be established as
provided by law. When the claim of the citizen and the claim of the government as
to a particular piece of property collide, if the Government desires to demonstrate
that the land is in reality a forest, the Director of Forestry should submit to the court
convincing proof that the land is not more valuable for agricultural than for forest
purposes.

In this case, the mere formal opposition on the part of the Attorney-General for the
Director of Forestry, unsupported by satisfactory evidence will not stop the courts
from giving title to the claimant.
Petitioner and appellant has proved a title to the entire tract of land for which he
asked for registration.
Registration in the name of the petitioner is hereby granted.

G.R. No. L-13298 November 19, 1918

CORNELIO RAMOS, petitioner-appellant,


vs.
THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, objector-appellee.

MALCOLM, J.:

This is an appeal by the applicant and appellant from a judgment of the Court of
First Instance of Nueva Ecija, denying the registration of the larger portion of parcel
No. 1 (Exhibit A of the petitioner), marked by the letters A, B, and C on the plan,
Exhibit 1, of the Government.

One Restituto Romero y Ponce apparently gained possession of a considerable tract


of land located in the municipality of San Jose, Province of Nueva Ecija, in the year
1882. He took advantage of the Royal Decree of February 13, 1894, to obtain a
possessory information title to the land, registered as such on February 8, 1896.
Parcel No. 1, included within the limits of the possessory information title of
Restituto Romero, was sold in February, 1907, to Cornelio Ramos, the instant
petitioner, and his wife Ambrosia Salamanca.

Ramos instituted appropriate proceedings to have his title registered. Opposition


was entered by the Director of Lands on the ground that Ramos had not acquired a
good title from the Spanish government and by the Director of Forestry on the
ground that the first parcel was forest land. The trial court agreed with the objectors
and excluded parcel No. 1 from registration. So much for the facts.

As to the law, the principal argument of the Solicitor-General is based on the


provisions of the Spanish Mortgage Law and of the Royal Decree of February 13,
1894, commonly known as the Maura Law. The Solicitor-General would emphasize
that for land to come under the protective gis of the Maura Law, it must have
been shown that the land was cultivated for six years previously, and that it was not
land which pertained to the "zonas forestales." As proof that the land was, even as
long ago as the years 1894 to 1896, forestal and not agricultural in nature is the
fact that there are yet found thereon trees from 50 to 80 years of age.
We do not stop to decide this contention, although it might be possible, following
the doctrine laid down by the United States Supreme Court with reference to
Mexican and Spanish granteswithin the United States, where some recital is claimed
to be false, to say that the possessory information, apparently having taken
cognizance of the requisites for title, should not now be disturbed. (Hancock vs.
McKinney [1851], 7 Tex., 192; Hornsby and Roland vs. United States [1869], 10
Wall., 224.) It is sufficient, as will later appear, merely to notice that the predecessor
in interest to the petitioner at least held this tract of land under color of title.

Subsection 6 of section 54, of Act No. 926, entitled The Public Land Law, as
amended by Act No. 1908, reads as follows:

6. All persons who by themselves or their predecessors and interest have been
in the open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of
agricultural public lands, as defined by said Act of Congress of July first, nineteen
hundred and two, under a bona fide claim of ownership except as against the
Government, for a period of ten years next preceding the twenty-sixth day of July,
nineteen hundred and four, except when prevented by war or force majeure, shall
be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a
government grant and to have received the same, and shall be entitled to a
certificate of title to such land under the provisions of this chapter.

There are two parts to the above quoted subsection which must be discussed. The
first relates to the open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and
occupation of what, for present purposes, can be conceded to be agricultural public
land, under a bona fide claim of ownership.
Actual possession of land consists in the manifestation of acts of dominion over it of
such a nature as a party would naturally exercise over his own property. Relative to
actuality of possession, it is admitted that the petitioner has cultivated only about
one fourth of the entire tract. This is graphically portrayed by Exhibit 1 of the
Government, following:

The question at once arises: Is that actual occupancy of a part of the land described
in the instrument giving color of title sufficient to give title to the entire tract of
land?lawphil.net

The doctrine of constructive possession indicates the answer. The general rule is
that the possession and cultivation of a portion of a tract under claim of ownership
of all is a constructive possession of all, if the remainder is not in the adverse
possession of another. (Barr vs. Gratz's Heirs [1819], 4 Wheat., 213; Ellicott vs. Pearl
[1836], 10 Pet., 412; Smith vs. Gale [1892], 144 U. S., 509.) Of course, there are a
number of qualifications to the rule, one particularly relating to the size of the tract
in controversy with reference to the portion actually in possession of the claimant. It
is here only necessary to apply the general rule.

The claimant has color of title; he acted in good faith; and he has had open,
peaceable, and notorious possession of a portion of the property, sufficient to
apprise the community and the world that the land was for his enjoyment. (See arts.
446, 448, Civil Code.) Possession in the eyes of the law does not mean that a man
has to have his feet on every square meter of ground before it can be said that he is
in possession. Ramos and his predecessor in interest fulfilled the requirements of
the law on the supposition that he premises consisted of agricultural public land.
The second division of the law requires consideration of the term "agricultural public
land." The law affirms that the phrase is denied by the Act of Congress of July 1st,
1902, known as the Philippine bill. Turning to the Philippine Bill, we find in sections
13 to 18 thereof that three classes of land are mentioned. The first is variously
denominated "public land" or "public domain," the second "mineral land," and the
third "timber land." Section 18 of the Act of Congress comes nearest to a precise
definition, when it makes the determination of whether the land is more valuable for
agricultural or for forest uses the test of its character.

Although these sections of the Philippine Bill have come before the courts on
numerous occasions, what was said in the case of Jones vs. Insular Government
([1906], 6 Phil., 122), is still true, namely: "The meaning of these sections is not
clear and it is difficult to give to them a construction that will be entirely free from
objection." In the case which gave most serious consideration to the subject (Mapa
vs. Insular Government [1908], 10 Phil., 175), it was found that there does exist in
the Act of Congress a definition of the phrase "agricultural public lands." It was said
that the phrase "agricultural public lands" as used in Act No. 926 means "those
public lands acquired from Spain which are not timber or mineral lands."

The idea would appear to be to determine, by exclusion, if the land is forestal or


mineral in nature and, if not so found, to consider it to be agricultural land. Here,
again, Philippine law is not very helpful. For instance, section 1820 of the
Administrative Code of 1917 provides: "For the purposes of this chapter, 'public
forest' includes, except as otherwise specially indicated, all unreserved public land,
including nipa and mangrove swamps, and all forest reserves of whatever
character." This definition of "public forest," it will be noted, is merely "for the
purposes of this chapter." A little further on, section 1827 provides: "Lands in public
forests, not including forest reserves, upon the certification of the Director of
Forestry that said lands are better adapted and more valuable for agricultural than
for forest purposes and not required by the public interests to be kept under forest,
shall be declared by the Department Head to be agricultural lands." With reference
to the last section, there is no certification of the Director of Forestry in the record,
as to whether this land is better adapted and more valuable for agricultural than for
forest purposes.

The lexicographers define "forest" as "a large tract of land covered with a natural
growth of trees and underbrush; a large wood." The authorities say that he word
"forest" has a significant, not an insignificant meaning, and that it does not embrace
land only partly woodland. It is a tract of land covered with trees, usually of
considerable extent. (Higgins vs. Long Island R. Co. [1908], 114 N. Y. Supp., 262;
People vs. Long Island R. Co. [1908], 110 N. Y. Supp., 512.)

The foresters say that no legal definition of "forest" is practicable or useful. B. H.


Baden-Powell, in his work on Forest Law of India, states as follows:

Every definition of a forest that can be framed for legal purposes will be found
either to exclude some cases to which the law ought to apply, or on the other hand,
to include some with which the law ought not to interfere. It may be necessary, for
example, to take under the law a tract of perfectly barren land which at present has
neither trees, brushwood, nor grass on it, but which in the course f time it is hoped
will be "reboise;" but any definition wide enough to take in all such lands, would also
take in much that was not wanted. On the other hand, the definition, if framed with
reference to tree-growth, might (and indeed would be almost sure to) include a
garden, shrubbery, orchard, or vineyard, which it was not designed to deal with.

B. E. Fernow, in his work on the Economics of Forestry, states as follows:

A forest in the sense in which we use the term, as an economic factor, is by no


means a mere collection of trees, but an organic whole in which all parts, although
apparently heterogeneous, jumbled together by accident as it were and apparently
unrelated, bear a close relation to each other and are as interdependent as any
other beings and conditions in nature.

The Director of Forestry of the Philippine Islands has said:

During the time of the passage of the Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, this question
of forest and agricultural lands was beginning to receive some attention and it is
clearly shown in section 18 of the above mentioned Act; it leaves to the Bureau of
Forestry the certification as to what lands are for agricultural or forest uses.
Although the Act states timber lands, the Bureau has in its administration since the
passage of this act construed this term to mean forest lands in the sense of what
was necessary to protect, for the public good; waste lands without a tree have been
declared more suitable for forestry in many instances in the past. The term 'timber'
as used in England and in the United States in the past has been applied to wood
suitable for construction purposes but with the increase in civilization and the
application of new methods every plant producing wood has some useful purpose
and the term timber lands is generally though of as synonymous with forest lands or
lands producing wood, or able to produce wood, if agricultural crops on the same
land will not bring the financial return that timber will or if the same land is needed
for protection purposes.

x xxxxxxxx
The laws in the United States recognize the necessity of technical advice of duly
appointed boards and leave it in the hands of these boards to decide what lands are
more valuable for forestry purposes or for agricultural purposes.

In the Philippine Islands this policy is follows to as great an extent as allowable


under the law. In many cases, in the opinion of the Bureau of Forestry, lands without
a single tree on them are considered as true forest land. For instance, mountain
sides which are too steep for cultivation under ordinary practice and which, if
cultivated, under ordinary practice would destroy the big natural resource of the
soil, by washing, is considered by this bureau as forest land and in time would be
reforested. Of course, examples exist in the Mountain Province where steep hillsides
have been terraced and intensive cultivation practiced but even then the mountain
people are very careful not to destroy forests or other vegetative cover which they
from experience have found protect their water supply. Certain chiefs have lodged
protests with the Government against other tribes on the opposite side of the
mountain cultivated by them, in order to prevent other tribes from cutting timber or
destroy cover guarding their source of water for irrigation.
Dr. M. S. Shaler, formerly Dean of the Lawrence Scientific School, remarked that if
mankind could not devise and enforce ways dealing with the earth, which will
preserve this source of like "we must look forward to the time, remote it may be, yet
equally discernible, when out kin having wasted its great inheritance will fade from
the earth because of the ruin it has accomplished."
The method employed by the bureau of Forestry in making inspection of lands, in
order to determine whether they are more adapted for agricultural or forest
purposes by a technical and duly trained personnel on the different phases of the
conservation of natural resources, is based upon a previously prepared set of
questions in which the different characters of the land under inspection are
discussed, namely:

Slope of land: Level; moderate; steep; very steep.


Exposure: North; South; East; West.
Soil: Clay; sandy loam; sand; rocky; very rocky.

Character of soil cover: Cultivated, grass land, brush land, brush land and timber
mixed, dense forest.
If cultivated, state crops being grown and approximate number of hectares under
cultivation. (Indicate on sketch.)

For growth of what agricultural products is this land suitable?

State what portion of the tract is wooded, name of important timber species and
estimate of stand in cubic meters per hectare, diameter and percentage of each
species.

If the land is covered with timber, state whether there is public land suitable for
agriculture in vicinity, which is not covered with timber.

Is this land more valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes? (State reasons in
full.)

Is this land included or adjoining any proposed or established forest reserve or


communal forest? Description and ownership of improvements.

If the land is claimed under private ownership, give the name of the claimant, his
place of residence, and state briefly (if necessary on a separate sheet) the grounds
upon which he bases his claim.

When the inspection is made on a parcel of public land which has been applied for,
the corresponding certificate is forwarded to the Director of Lands; if it is made on a
privately claimed parcel for which the issuance of a title is requested from the Court
of Land Registration, and the inspection shows the land to be more adapted for
forest purposes, then the Director of Forestry requests the Attorney-General to file
an opposition, sending him all data collected during the inspection and offering him
the forest officer as a witness.

It should be kept in mind that the lack of personnel of this Bureau, the limited time
intervening between the notice for the trial on an expediente of land and the day of
the trial, and the difficulties in communications as well as the distance of the land in
question greatly hinder the handling of this work.

In the case of lands claimed as private property, the Director of Forestry, by means
of his delegate the examining officer, submits before the court all evidence referring
to the present forest condition of the land, so that the court may compare them with
the alleged right by the claimant. Undoubtedly, when the claimant presents a title
issued by the proper authority or evidence of his right to the land showing that he
complied with the requirements of the law, the forest certificate does not affect him
in the least as such land should not be considered as a part of the public domain;
but when the alleged right is merely that of possession, then the public or private
character of the parcel is open to discussion and this character should be
established not simply on the alleged right of the claimant but on the sylvical
condition and soil characteristics of the land, and by comparison between this area,
or different previously occupied areas, and those areas which still preserve their
primitive character.

Either way we look at this question we encounter difficulty. Indubitably, there should
be conservation of the natural resources of the Philippines. The prodigality of the
spendthrift who squanders his substance for the pleasure of the fleeting moment
must be restrained for the less spectacular but surer policy which protects Nature's
wealth for future generations. Such is the wise stand of our Government as
represented by the Director of Forestry who, with the Forester for the Government
of the United States, believes in "the control of nature's powers by man for his own
good." On the other hand, the presumption should be, in lieu of contrary proof, that
land is agricultural in nature. One very apparent reason is that it is for the good of
the Philippine Islands to have the large public domain come under private
ownership. Such is the natural attitude of the sagacious citizen.

If in this instance, we give judicial sanction to a private claim, let it be noted that
the Government, in the long run of cases, has its remedy. Forest reserves of public
land can be established as provided by law. When the claim of the citizen and the
claim of the Government as to a particular piece of property collide, if the
Government desires to demonstrate that the land is in reality a forest, the Director
of Forestry should submit to the court convincing proof that the land is not more
valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes. Great consideration, it may be
stated, should, and undoubtedly will be, paid by the courts to the opinion of the
technical expert who speaks with authority on forestry matters. But a mere formal
opposition on the part of the Attorney-General for the Director of Forestry,
unsupported by satisfactory evidence will not stop the courts from giving title to the
claimant.

We hold that the petitioner and appellant has proved a title to the entire tract of
land for which he asked registration, under the provisions of subsection 6, of section
54, of Act No. 926, as amended by Act No. 1908, with reference to the Philippine Bill
and the Royal Decree of February 13, 1894, and his possessory information.

Judgment is reversed and the lower court shall register in the name of the applicant
the entire tract in parcel No. 1, as described in plan Exhibit A, without special
finding as to costs.
So ordered.

Arellano, C.J., Torres, Johnson, Street and Fisher, JJ., concur.

Amunategui vs Director of Forestry

126 SCRA 69Facts:


There were two petitions for review on certiorariquestioning the decision of the
Court of Appealswhich declared the disputed property as forestland, not subject to
titling in favor of privatepersons, Borre and Amunategui. The Director of Forestry,
through the ProvincialFiscal of Capiz, also filed an opposite on to theapplication for
registration of title claiming thatthe land was mangrove swamp which was
stillclassified as forest land and part of the publicdomain.Another oppositor,
EmeterioBereber filed hisopposition insofar as a portion of Lot No. 885containing
117,956 square meters wasconcerned and prayed that title to said portionbe
confirmed and registered in his name.
Issue:
WON the lot in question can be subject of registration and confirmation of title in
thename of the private person.
Held: The opposition of the Director of Forestry was strengthened by the appellate
court's finding that timber licenses had to be issued to certain licensees and even
Jose Amunategui himself took the trouble to ask for a license to cut timber within
the area. It was only sometime in1950 that the property was converted into
fishpond but only after a previous warning from the District Forester that the same
could not be done because it was classified as "public forest. A forested area
classified as forest land of the public domain does not lose such classification simply
because loggers or settlers may have stripped it of its forest cover. "Forest lands"
donot have to be on mountains or in out of the way places. Swampy areas covered
by man grove trees, nipa palms, and other trees growing in brackish or sea water
may also be classified as forest land. The possession of forest lands, no matter how
long, cannot ripen into private ownership. Therefore, the lot in question never
ceased to be classified as forestland of public domain.

[G.R. No.L-27873. November 29, 1983.]

HEIRS OF JOSE AMUNATEGUI, Petitioners, v. DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY, Respondent.

[G.R. No.L-30035. November 29, 1983.]

ROQUE BORRE and ENCARNACION DELFIN, Petitioners, v. ANGEL ALPASAN, HEIRS


OF MELQUIADES BORRE, EMETERIO BEREBER and HEIRS OF JOSE AMUNATEGUI and
THE CAPIZ COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE, Respondents.

SYLLABUS

1. CIVIL LAW; PUBLIC LAND ACT; FOREST LAND; CLASSIFICATION NOT LOST
EVEN IF IT HAS BEEN STRIPPED OF FOREST COVER; UNLESS RELEASED IN AN
OFFICIAL PROCLAMATION AS DISPOSABLE LANDS, RULES ON CONFIRMATION OF
IMPERFECT TITLE DO NOT APPLY. A forested area classified as forest land of the
public domain does not lose such classification simply because loggers or settlers
may have stripped it of its forest cover. Parcels of land classified as forest land may
actually be covered with grass or planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other
farmers. "Forest lands" do not have to be on mountains or in out of the way places.
Swampy areas covered by mangrove trees, nipa palms, and other tress growing in
brackish or sea water may also be classified as forest land. The classification is
descriptive of its legal nature or status and does not have to be descriptive of what
the land actually looks like. Unless and until the land classified as "forest" is
released in an official proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the
disposable agricultural lands of the public domain, the rules on confirmation of
imperfect title do not apply.

2. ID.; ID.; FOREST LANDS; ACQUISITIVE OWNERSHIP NOT ACQUIRED. This


Court ruled in the leading case of Director of Forestry v. Muoz (23 SCRA 1184) that
possession of forest lands, no matter how long, cannot ripen into private ownership.
And in Republic v. Animas (56 SCRA 499), we granted the petition on the ground
that the ares covered by the patent and title was not disposable public land, it being
a part of the forest zone and any patent and title to said area is void ab initio. It
bears emphasizing that a positive act of Government is needed to declassify land
which is classified as forest and to convert it into alienable or disposable land for
agricultural or other purposes.

3. ID.; ID.; CONFIRMATION, OF IMPERFECT TITLE CASES; BURDEN OF PROVING


THAT THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE LAW HAVE BEEN MET, RESTS ON THE APPLICANT.
In confirmation of imperfect title cases, the applicant shoulders the burden of
proving that he meets the requirements of Section 48, Commonwealth Act No. 141,
as amended by Republic Act No. 1942. He must overcome the presumption that the
land he is applying for is part of the public domain but that he has an interest
therein sufficient to warrant registration in his name because of an imperfect title
such as those derived from old Spanish grants or that he has had continuous, open,
and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain
under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership for at least thirty (30) years
preceding the filing of his application.

DECISION
GUTIERREZ, JR., J.:

The two petitions for review on certiorari before us question the decision of the
Court of Appeals which declared the disputed property as forest land, not subject to
titling in favor of private persons.

These two petitions have their genesis in an application for confirmation of


imperfect title and its registration filed with the Court of First Instance of Capiz. The
parcel of land sought to be registered is known as Lot No. 885 of the Cadastral
Survey of Pilar, Capiz, and has an area of 645,703 square meters.cralawnad

Roque Borre, petitioner in G.R. No, L-30035, and MelquiadesBorre, filed the
application for registration. In due time, the heirs of Jose Amunategui, petitioners in
G.R. No. L-27873 filed an opposition to the application of Roque and
MelquiadesBorre. At the same time, they prayed that the title to a portion of Lot No.
885 of Pilar Cadastre containing 527,747 square meters be confirmed and
registered in the names of said Heirs of Jose Amunategui.

The Director of Forestry, through the Provincial Fiscal of Capiz, also filed an
opposition to the application for registration of title claiming that the land was
mangrove swamp which was still classified as forest land and part of the public
domain.
Another oppositor, EmeterioBereber filed his opposition insofar as a portion of Lot
No. 885 containing 117,956 square meters was concerned and prayed that title to
said portion be confirmed and registered in his name.

During the progress of the trial, applicant-petitioner Roque Borre sold whatever
rights and interests he may have on Lot No. 885 to Angel Alpasan. The latter also
filed an opposition, claiming that he is entitled to have said lot registered in his
name.
After trial, the Court of First Instance of Capiz adjudicated 117,956 square meters to
EmeterioBereber and the rest of the land containing 527,747 square meters was
adjudicated in the proportion of 5/6 share to Angel Alpasan and 1/6 share to
MelquiadesBorre.

Only the Heirs of Jose Amunategui and the Director of Forestry filed their respective
appeals with the Court of Appeals, The case was docketed as CA-G.R. No. 34190-R.

In its decision, the Court of Appeals held:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

". . . the conclusion so far must have to be that as to the private litigants that have
been shown to have a better right over Lot 885 are, as to the northeastern portion
of a little less than 117,956 square meters, it was EmeterioBereber and as to the
rest of 527,747 square meters, it was the heirs of Jose Amunategui; but the last
question that must have to be considered is whether after all, the title that these
two (2) private litigants have shown did not amount to a registerable one in view of
the opposition and evidence of the Director of Forestry; . . .

". . . turning back the clock thirty (30) years from 1955 when the application was
filed which would place it at 1925, the fact must have to be accepted that during
that period, the land was a classified forest land so much so that timber licenses
had to be issued to certain licensee before 1926 and after that; that even Jose
Amunategui himself took the trouble to ask for a license to cut timber within the
area; and this can only mean that the Bureau of Forestry had stood and maintained
its ground that it was a forest land as indeed the testimonial evidence referred to
above persuasively indicates, and the only time when the property was converted
into a fishpond was sometime after 1950; or a bare five (5) years before the filing of
the application; but only after there had been a previous warning by the District
Forester that that could not be done because it was classified as a public forest; so
that having these in mind and remembering that even under Republic Act 1942
which came into effect in 1957, two (2) years after this case had already been filed
in the lower Court, in order for applicant to be able to demonstrate a registerable
title he must have shown.
"open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of
agricultural lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of acquisition of
ownership for at least thirty (30) years, preceding the filing of the application;

the foregoing details cannot but justify the conclusion that not one of the applicants
or oppositors had shown that during the required period of thirty (30) years
prescribed by Republic Act 1942 in order for him to have shown a registerable title
for the entire period of thirty (30) years before filing of the application, he had been
in "open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of
agricultural lands of the public domain,

it is evident that the Bureau of Forestry had insisted on its claim all throughout that
period of thirty (30) years and even before and applicants and their predecessors
had made implicit recognition of that; the result must be to deny all these
applications; this Court stating that it had felt impelled notwithstanding, just the
same to resolve the conflicting positions of the private litigants among themselves
as to who of them had demonstrated a better right to possess because this Court
foresees that this litigation will go all the way to the Supreme Court and it is always
better that the findings be as complete as possible to enable the Highest Court to
pass final judgment;

"IN VIEW WHEREOF, the decision must have to be as it is hereby reversed; the
application as well as all the oppositions with the exception of that of the Director of
Forestry which is hereby sustained are dismissed; no more pronouncement as to
costs.

A petition for review on certiorari was filed by the Heirs of Jose Amunategui
contending that the disputed lot had been in the possession of private persons for
over thirty years and therefore in accordance with Republic Act No. 1942, said lot
could still be the subject of registration and confirmation of title in the name of a
private person in accordance with Act No. 496 known as the Land Registration Act.
On the other hand, another petition for review on certiorari was filed by Roque Borre
and EncarnacionDelfin, contending that the trial court committed grave abuse of
discretion in dismissing their complaint against the Heirs of Jose Amunategui. The
Borre complaint was for the annulment of the deed of absolute sale of Lot No. 885
executed by them in favor of the Heirs of Amunategui. The complaint was dismissed
on the basis of the Court of Appeals decision that the disputed lot is part of the
public domain. The petitioners also question the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals
in passing upon the relative rights of the parties over the disputed lot when its final
decision after all is to declare said lot a part of the public domain classified as forest
land.

The need for resolving the questions raised by Roque Borre and EncarnacionDelfin
in their petition depends on the issue raised by the Heirs of Jose Amunategui, that
is, whether or not Lot No. 885 is public forest land, not capable of registration in the
names of the private applicants.

The Heirs of Jose Amunategui maintain that Lot No. 885 cannot be classified as
forest land because it is not thickly forested but is a "mangrove swamp." Although
conceding that a "mangrove swamp" is included in the classification of forest land in
accordance with Section 1820 of the Revised Administrative Code, the petitioners
argue that no big trees classified in Section 1821 of said Code as first, second and
third groups are found on the land in question. Furthermore, they contend that Lot
885, even if it is a mangrove swamp, is still subject to land registration proceedings
because the property had been in actual possession of private persons for many
years, and therefore, said land was already "private land" better adapted and more
valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes and not required by the public
interests to be kept under forest classification.

The petition is without merit.

A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain does not lose such
classification simply because loggers or settlers may have stripped it of its forest
cover. Parcels of land classified as forest land may actually be covered with grass or
planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other farmers. "Forest lands" do not have
to be on mountains or in out of the way places. Swampy areas covered by
mangrove trees, nipa palms, and other trees growing in brackish or sea water may
also be classified as forest land. The classification is descriptive of its legal nature or
status and does not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like.
Unless and until the land classified as "forest" is released in an official proclamation
to that effect so that it may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the
public domain, the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do not apply.

This Court ruled in the leading case of Director of Forestry v. Muoz (23 SCRA 1184)
that possession of forest lands, no matter how long, cannot ripen into private
ownership. And in Republic v. Animas (56 SCRA 499), we granted the petition on the
ground that the area covered by the patent and title was not disposable public land,
it being a part of the forest zone and any patent and title to said area is void ab
initio. It bears emphasizing that a positive act of Government is needed to
declassify land which is classified as forest and to convert it into alienable or
disposable land for agricultural or other purposes.

The findings of the Court of Appeals are particularly well-grounded in the instant
petition.

The fact that no trees enumerated in Section 1821 of the Revised Administrative
Code are found in Lot No. 885 does not divest such land of its being classified as
forest land, much less as land of the public domain. The appellate court found that
in 1912, the land must have been a virgin forest as stated by EmeterioBerebers
witness DeograciasGavacao, and that as late as 1926, it must have been a thickly
forested area as testified by Jaime Bertolde. The opposition of the Director of
Forestry was strengthened by the appellate courts finding that timber licenses had
to be issued to certain licensees and even Jose Amunategui himself took the trouble
to ask for a license to cut timber within the area. It was only sometime in 1950 that
the property was converted into fishpond but only after a previous warning from the
District Forester that the same could not be done because it was classified as
"public forest .
In confirmation of imperfect title cases, the applicant shoulders the burden of
proving that he meets the requirements of Section 48, Commonwealth Act No. 141,
as amended by Republic Act No. 1942. He must overcome the presumption that the
land he is applying for is part of the public domain but that he has an interest
therein sufficient to warrant registration in his name because of an imperfect title
such as those derived from old Spanish grants or that he has had continuous, open,
and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain
under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership for at least thirty (30) years
preceding the filing of his application.

The decision of the appellate court is not based merely on the presumptions implicit
in Commonwealth Act No. 141 as amended. The records show that Lot No. 88S
never ceased to be classified as forest land of the public domain.

In Republic v. Gonong (118 SCRA 729) we ruled:

"As held in Oh Cho v. Director of Lands, 75 Phil. 890, all lands that were not acquired
from the Government, either by purchase or by grant, belong to the public domain.
An exception to the rule would be any land that should have been in the possession
of an occupant and of his predecessors in-interests since time immemorial, for such
possession would justify the presumption that the land had never been part of the
public domain or that it had been a private property even before the Spanish
conquest."
In the instant petitions, the exception in the Oh Cho case does not apply. The
evidence is clear that Lot No. 885 had always been public land classified as forest.

Similarly, in Republic v. Vera (120 SCRA 210), we ruled:


". . . The possession of public land however long the period thereof may have
extended, never confers title thereto upon the possessor because the statute of
limitations with regard to public land does not operate against the State, unless the
occupant can prove possession and occupation of the same under claim of
ownership for the required number of years to constitute a grant from the State.
(Director of Lands v. Reyes, 68 SCRA 177, 195)."cralaw virtua1aw library

We, therefore, affirm the finding that the disputed property Lot No. 885 is part of the
public domain, classified as public forest land. There is no need for us to pass upon
the other issues raised by petitioners Roque Borre and EncarnacionDelfin, as such
issues are rendered moot by this finding.
WHEREFORE, the petitions in G. R. No.L-30035 and G. R. No. L-27873 are DISMISSED
for lack of merit. Costs against the petitioners.

SO ORDERED.

Melencio-Herrera, Plana and Relova, JJ., concur.

Teehankee, J., concurs in the result.