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LAND TITLES AND DEEDS CASES and that said accretion was caused by the sea on the southward

at said accretion was caused by the sea on the southward portion of


said riceland. This Honorable Court then ruled:
1. G.R. No. 122269 September 30, 1999
This being so, the said accretion belongs — not to the riparian owner —
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, represented by the SECRETARY OF but the State. All lands thrown up by the sea and formed upon the shores,
AGRICULTURE, petitioner, belong to the national domain and are for public use, in accordance with
vs. the provisions of the Law on Waters of August 3, 1866 (Insular Government
THE HON. COURT OF APPEALS, HON. VIVENCIO A. BANTUGAN, Presiding vs. Aldecoa, 19 Phil. 505) (p. 20, Decision, November 16, 1967).
Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 55, Alaminos, Pangasinan, and
HEIRS OF ZENAIDA BUSTRIA-TIGNO, represented by CAMILO Thus, modifying the judgment of the lower court, this Honorable Court
TIGNO, respondents. rendered a Decision on November 16, 1967, disposing:

IN VIEW OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the appealed decision is hereby modified


so that only 9.7525 of the land applied for is hereby adjudicated and
FACTS: ordered to be registered in the name of the applicant, the remaining area
being hereby declared land of the public domain belonging to the Republic
of the Philippines, without prejudice to whatever rights oppositors Isidro
Sometime in 1957, one Matias Bustamante filed with the then CFI of
Bustria and Julian Bustria may have acquired over portions of the area thus
Pangasinan an application for registration under Act No. 496, as amended,
declared as land of the public domain, with costs against applicant.
of a tract of land containing an area of 880,000 square meters, more or
less, situated in Barangay Malacapas, Dasol, Pangasinan.
SO ORDERED.
Both the Director of Forestry and the Director of Fisheries filed oppositions
to the aforecited application, alleging among others, that "said parcel of When brought up on certiorari to the Supreme Court, the
land, with the exception of 97,525 square meters, is a part of the Timber foregoing Judgment was affirmed in toto in the
Land Block "A" Land Classification Project 44, which is converted into fish Resolution in G.R. No. L-18605 dated February 29, 1968.
ponds." Isidro Bustria [private respondents' predecessor-in-interest] and
Julian Bustria, also opposed the said application for land registration, It is relevant to state at this point that the parcel of land
alleging that they "have in the year 1943 occupied in good faith their that is presently the subject of the dispute in the instant
respective portions having a total area of fifty (50) hectares, more or case, Lot No. 7764, CAD 624-D (Portion) [Psu-155696, Lot
less . . . converted their respective portions into fish ponds . . . and actually 3 (Portion)], forms part of the above-mentioned parcel of
possessed and occupied their respective portions . . . exclusively against all land declared by this Honorable Court as belonging to the
persons, except the Director of Forestry & Director of Fishery." After trial, public domain, classified/zonified land available for
the lower court rendered a Decision in favor of applicant Bustamante. fishpond development, per L.C. Map No. 3175, approved
on June 24, 1984, under administrative Order No. 4-1829
On appeal to this Honorable Court, docketed as CA-G.R. No. 30058-R, it (Annex "D", Petition). The subject lot contains an area of
was found that 783,275 square meters of the land applied for were 49,999 square meters, more or less. This lot has been
accretions added to applicant Bustamante's riceland of 9.7525 hectares, leased to Mr. Porfirio Morado by the [Republic of the

1
Philippines], represented by the Secretary of Agriculture, Cesar A. Gines. Spouses Porfirio Morado and Juliana
for a period of twenty-five (25) years, or up to December Morado thereafter filed with this Honorable Court a
31, 2013, under Fishpond Lease Agreement No. 5132, Petition for Certiorari with Writ of Preliminary Injunction,
dated August 17, 1989 (Annex "E", Petition). docketed as CA-G.R. No. 28932. In a Resolution dated
December 11, 1992, the Petition was denied for lack of
On July 6, 1988, however, the late Zenaida Bustria merit. The related Motion for Reconsideration was
[daughter of Isidro Bustria] filed a complaint against denied in the Resolution dated February 18, 1993. (Rollo,
Porfirio Morado in the Regional Trial Court of Alaminos, pp. 107-112) (emphasis omitted) 2
Pangasinan, Branch 55, for ownership and possession
over the lot in question [docketed as Civil Case No. A- On April 19, 1994, petitioner, invoking §9 of B.P. Blg. 129, 3 filed with the
1759]. Herein petitioner, the Republic of the Philippines, Court of Appeals a petition for the annulment of the trial court's decision,
was not made a party to that suit. dated December 17, 1991. Petitioner alleged that the land in question is
within the classified/zonified alienable and disposable lend for fishpond
In her complaint, Zenaida Bustria claimed absolute development, per L.C. Map No. 3175 approved on June 24, 1984, under
ownership and quiet and peaceful possession of several Administrative Order No. 4-1829 and that since the land formed part of the
lots under PSU-155696 surveyed in the name of her public domain, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has
father, Isidro Bustria. She further asserted that said jurisdiction over its disposition in accordance with P.D. No 704, §4.
Porfirio Morado maliciously applied for a fishpond permit
with the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources over On October 4, 1995 the, Court of Appeals rendered a decision dismissing
Lot 3 thereof (the subject lot), well-knowing that said lot the petition. 4
had always been occupied, possessed and worked by her
and her predecessors-in-interest. Hence, this petition for review.

Porfirio Morado denied the allegations in the complaint, We shall deal with these questions in inverse order.
claiming that the lot in question is part of the public
domain which he developed and converted into a First, is the question whether petitioner has personality to bring the action
fishpond. Due, however, to Porfirio Morado's and his below. To begin with, an action to recover a parcel of land is in personam.
counsel's failure to appear at the pre-trial and As such, it is binding only between the parties thereto, as this Court
subsequent court hearings, the trial court subsequently explained in Ching v. Court of Appeals,6 viz:
declared Porfirio Morado "as in default."
An action to redeem, or to recover title to or possession
On January 23, 1992, Porfirio Morado filed a Petition for of, real property is not an action in rem or an action
Relief from Judgment which was denied on July 21, 1992 against the whole world, like a land registration
for lack of merit. proceeding or the probate of a will; it is an action in
personam, so much so that a judgment therein is binding
On July 8, 1992, a writ of execution was issued, and it was only upon the parties properly impleaded and duly heard
implemented by Sheriffs Manuel O. de Asis and Sheriff or given an opportunity to be heard. Actions in

2
personam and actions in rem differ in that the former are which decision is not binding on it, to be able to assert its
directed against specific persons and seek personal claim or interest in the property. It is clear for this reason
judgments, while the latter are directed against the thing that petitioner is not a real party-in-interest (Section 2,
or property or status of a person and seek judgments Rule 3, Revised Rules of Court). 7
with respect thereto as against the whole world. An
action to recover a parcel of land is a real action but it is The next question is whether the Regional Trial Court had jurisdiction to
an action in personam, for it binds a particular individual declare the land in question to belong to private respondent. The
only although it concerns the right to a tangible thing. government asserts that the lot is within the "classified/zonified alienable
and disposable land for fishpond development," hence, it is part of the
The appellate court, holding that the proceedings before the trial court public domain; 11 that under P.D. No. 704, §4, jurisdiction over its
were in personam, ruled that since petitioner was not a party to Civil Case disposition is vested in the BFAR; that unlike agricultural land, public lands
No. A-1759, it is not a real party-in-interest and, therefore, has no which are declared suitable for fishpond purposes may only be disposed of
personality to bring the action for annulment of the judgment rendered in by way of license, concession, or lease; and that possession thereof, no
that case. The appellate court said: matter how long, cannot ripen into private ownership. 12

Private respondents are correct. Civil Case No. A-1759 We agree with petitioner. The State clearly stands to be adversely affected
was purely for "Ownership and Possession". The decision by the trial court's disposition of in alienable public land.
sought to be annulled is solely "between the private
respondents [the Bustrias] and Porfirio Morado" (Rollo, p. The land involved in this case was classified as public land suitable for
142). Petitioner Republic was not a party in the case and fishpond development. 15 In controversies involving the disposition of
is not bound by the judgment rendered therein. public land, the burden of overcoming, the presumption of state ownership
of lands of the public domain lies upon the private claimant. 16 Private
It is settled, a real party-in-interest is one who stands to respondents have not discharged this burden.
be benefited or injured by the judgment in the suit
(Salonga vs. Warner Barnes & Co., Ltd., 88 Phil. 128; It is settled under the Public Land Law 17 that alienable public land held by a
possessor, personally or through his predecessor-in-interest, openly,
Petitioner Republic not being a party, and the judgment continuously, and exclusively for 30 years is ipso jure converted to private
not being in rem, it does not stand to be benefited or property by the mere lapse of time. 18 However, only public lands classified
injured by the judgment sought. Petitioner Republic can as agricultural 19 are alienable. Lands declared for fishery purposes are not
on its own, and even without resorting to this petition for alienable 20 and their possession, no matter how long continued, cannot
annulment of judgment, institute the proper action to ripen into ownership.
assert its claim that the "subject lot is a land forming part
of the public domain'' (Rollo, p. 145). It need not seek the Since the disposition of lands declared suitable for fishpond purposes fall
annulment of the subject judgment, in Civil Case No. A- within the jurisdiction of the BFAR, in accordance with P.D. No 704,
1759 in which it was not a party and involves merely a §4, 21 the trial court's decision, dated December 17, 1991, is null and void.
question of ownership; and possession between plaintiffs The trial court has no jurisdiction to make a disposition of inalienable
Zenaida B. Bustria and defendant Porfirio Morado and public land. If, as claimed, Porfirio Morado secured a fishpond permit

3
through fraud and misrepresentation, private respondents' sole recourse, if located in the municipality of Sapian, Capiz. Ruperto Villareal applied for its
any, is to secure the annulment of the same before the BFAR and apply for registration on January 25, 1949, alleging that he and his predecessors-in-
a new one in their favor, provided that they are qualified therefor. What interest had been in possession of the land for more than forty years. He
they did, however, was not only to bring their action in the wrong forum was opposed by several persons, including the petitioner on behalf of the
but to ask to be declared owners of the land in dispute. Republic of the Philippines. After trial, the application was approved by the
Court of First Instance of Capiz.[1] The decision was affirmed by the Court of
WHEREFORE, the petition is GRANTED and the decision of the Court of Appeals.[2] The Director of Forestry then came to this Court in a petition for
Appeals, Ninth Division, in CA-G.R. SP No. 34013, dated October 4, 1995, is review on certiorari claiming that the land in dispute was forestal in nature
REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. The decision of Regional Trial Court of Alaminos, and not subject to private appropriation. He asks that the registration be
Pangasinan, Branch 55, in Civil Case No. A-1759 is hereby declared NULL reversed.
AND VOID.1âwphi1.nêt
It should be stressed at the outset that both the petitioner and the private
SO ORDERED. respondent agree that the land is mangrove land. There is no dispute as to
this. The bone of contention between the parties is the legal nature of
mangrove swamps or manglares. The petitioner claims it is forestal and
therefore not disposable and the private respondent insists it is alienable
as agricultural land. The issue before us is legal, not factual.

For a proper background of this case, we have to go back to the Philippine


Bill of 1902, one of the earlier American organic acts in the country. By this
law, lands of the public domain in the Philippines Islands were classified
2. [ G.R. No. L-32266, February 27, 1989 ] into three grand divisions, to wit, agricultural, mineral and timber or forest
lends. This classification was maintained in the Constitution of the
THE DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY, PETITIONER, VS. RUPERTO S. VILLAREAL, Commonwealth, promulgated in 1935, until it was superseded by the
RESPONDENT. Constitution of 1973. That new charter expanded the classification of
public lands to include industrial or commercial, residential, resettlement,
DECISION and grazing lands and even permitted the legislature to provide for other
categories.[3] This provision has been reproduced, but with substantial
CRUZ, J.: modifications, in the present Constitution.[4]

The basic question before the Court is the legal classification of mangrove Under the Commonwealth Constitution, which was one charter in force
swamps, or manglares, as they are commonly known. If they are part of when this case arose, only agricultural lands were allowed to be alienated.
our public forest lands, they are not alienable under the Constitution. If [5]
Their disposition was provided for under C.A. No. 141. Mineral and
they are considered public agricultural lands, they may be acquired under timber or forest lands were not subject to private ownership unless they
private ownership. The private respondent's claim to the land in question were first reclassified as agricultural lands and so released for alienation.
must be judged by these criteria.
In the leading case of Montano v. Insular Government,[6] promulgated in
The said land consists of 178,113 square meters of mangrove swamps

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1909, mangrove swamps or manglares were defined by the Court as: in the case of Jocson v. Director of Forestry:[7]

"x x x mud flats, alternately washed and exposed by the tide, in which "x x x the words timber land are always translated in the Spanish
grows various kindred plants which will not live except when watered by translation of that Act (Act of Congress) as 'terrenos forestales.' We think
the sea, extending their roots deep into the mud and casting their seeds, there is an error in this translation and that a better translation would be
which also germinate there. These constitute the mangrove flats of the 'terrenos madereros.' Timber land in English means land with trees growing
tropics, which exist naturally, but which are also, to some extent cultivated on it. The manglar plant would never be called a tree in English but a bush,
by man for the sake of the combustible wood of the mangrove and like and land which has only bushes, shrubs or aquatic plants growing on it
trees as well as for the useful nipa palm propagate thereon. Although these cannot be called 'timber land.'
flats are literally tidal lands, yet we are of the opinion that they cannot be
so regarded in the sense in which that term is used in the cases cited or in x x x
general American jurisprudence. The waters flowing over them are not
available for purpose of navigation, and they may be disposed of without "The fact that there are a few trees growing in a manglare or nipa swamps
impairment of the public interest in what remains. does not change the general character of the land from manglare to timber
land."
x x x More to the point, addressing itself directly to above-quoted Section 1820,
the Court declared:
"Under this uncertain and somewhat unsatisfactory condition of the law,
the custom had grown of converting manglares and nipa lends into "In the case of Mapa vs. Insular Government (10 Phil. Rep., 175), this Court
fisheries which became a common feature of settlement along coast and at said that the phrase 'agricultural lands' as used in Act No. 926 means those
the same time of the change of sovereignty constituted one of the most public lands acquired from Spain which are not timber or mineral lands.
productive industries of the Islands, the abrogation of which would destroy
vested interests and prove a public disaster." "Whatever may have been the meaning of the term 'forestry' under the
Mangrove swamps were thus considered agricultural lends and so Spanish law, the Act of Congress of July 1st, 1902, classifies the public lands
susceptible of private ownership. in the Philippine Islands as timber, mineral or agricultural lands, and all
public lands that are not timber or mineral lands are necessarily
Subsequently, the Philippine Legislature categorically declared, despite the agricultural public lands, whether they are used as nipa
above-cited case, that mangrove swamps form part of the public forests of swamps, manglares, fisheries or they are used as nipa swamps, manglares,
this country. This it did in the Administrative Code of 1917, which became fisheries or ordinary farm lands.
effective on October 1 of that year, thus:
"The definition of forestry as including manglares found in the
"Section 1820. Words and phrase defined. For the purposes of this chapter Administrative Code of 1017 cannot affect rights which vested, prior to its
public forests' includes, except as otherwise specially indicated, all enactment.
unreserved public land, including nipa and mangrove swamps, and all
forest reserves of whatever character." "These lands being neither timber nor mineral lands, the trial court should
It is noteworthy, though, that notwithstanding this definition, the Court have considered them agricultural lands. If they are agricultural lands, then
maintained the doctrine in the Montano case when two years later it held the rights of appellants are fully established by Act No. 926."

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The doctrine was reiterated still later in Garchitorena Vda de Centenera v. was more positive when it held, again through Justice Gutierrez:
Obias,[8] promulgated on March 4, 1933, more than fifteen years after the
effectivity of the Administrative Code of 1917. Justice Ostrand declared for "The Heirs of Jose Armantegui maintain that Lot No. 885 cannot be
a unanimous Court: classified as forest land because it is not thickly forested but is a 'mangrove
swamp.' Although considering that 'mangrove swamp' is included in the
"The opposition rests mainly upon the proposition that the land covered by classification of forest land in accordance with Section 1820 of the Revised
the application there are mangrove lands as shown in his opponent's Exh, Administrative Code, the petitioners argue that no big trees classified in
1, but we think this opposition of the Director of Forestry is untenable, Section 1821 of the said Code as first, second and third groups are found
inasmuch as it has been definitely decided that mangrove lands are not on the land in question. Furthermore, they contend that Lot 885, even if it
forest lands in the sense in which this phrase is used in the Act of is a mangrove swamp, is still subject to land registration proceedings
Congress." because the property had been in actual possession of private persons for
No elaboration was made on this conclusion which was merely based on many years, and therefore, said land was already 'private land' better
the cases of Montano and Jocson. And in 1977, the above ruling was adapted and more valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes and
reaffirmed in Tongson v. Director of Forestry,[9] with Justice Fernando not required by the interests to be kept under forest classification."
declaring that the mangrove lands in litis were agricultural in nature. The
decision even quoted with approval the statement of the trial court that: "The petition is without merit.

"x x x Mangrove swamps where only trees of mangrove species grow, "A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain does not lose
where the trees are small and sparse, fit only for firewood purposes and such classification simply because loggers or settlers may have stripped it
the trees growing are not of commercial value as lumber do not convert of its forest cover. Parcels of land classified as forest land may actually be
the land into public land. Such lands are not forest in character. They do covered with grass or planted to crops by kaingin cultivators or other
not form part of the public domain." farmers. 'Forested lands' do not have to be on mountains or in out-of-the-
Only last year, in Republic v. De Porkan,[10] the Court, citing Krivenko v. way places. Swampy areas covered by mangrove trees, nipa palms, and
Register of Deeds,[11] reiterated the ruling in the Mapa case that "all public other trees growing in brackish or sea water may also be classified as forest
lands that are not timber or mineral lands are necessarily agricultural land. The Classification is descriptive of its legal nature or status and does
public lands, whether they are used as nipa swamps, manglares, fisheries not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like. Unless and
or ordinary farm lands." 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
But the problem is not all that simple. As it happens, there is also a line of the public domain, the rules on confirmation of imperfect titles do not
decisions holding the contrary view. apply."
The view was maintained in Vallarta v. Intermediate Appellate Court.
[14]
In Yngson v. Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources,[12] promulgated where this Court agreed with the Solicitor General's submission that the
in 1983, the Court ruled "that the Bureau of Fisheries has no Jurisdiction to land in dispute, which he described as "swamp mangrove" or "forestal
dispose of swamplands or mangrove lands forming part of the public land," were not private properties and so not registerable. This case was
domain while such lands are still classified as forest lands." decided only twelve days after the De Porkan case.

Four months later, in Heirs of Amnategui v. Director of Forestry,[13] the Court Faced with these apparent contradictions, the Court feels there is a need
for a categorical pronouncement that should resolve once and for all the

6
question of whether mangrove swamps are agricultural lands or forest With particular regard to alienable public lands, Section 9 of the same law
lands. provides:

The determination of this question is a function initially belonging to the "For the purpose of their administration and disposition, the lands of the
legislature, which has the authority to implement the constitutional public domain alienable or open to disposition shall be classified, according
provision classifying the lands of the public domain (and is now even to the use or purposes to which such lands are destined, as follows:
permitted to provide for more categories of public lands). The legislature
having made such implementation, the executive officials may then, in the (a) Agricultural;
discharge of their own role, administer our public lands pursuant to their
constitutional duty "to ensure that the laws be faithfully executed" and in (b) Residential, commercial, industrial, or for similar productive
accordance with the policy prescribed. For their part, the courts will step purposes;
into the picture if the rules laid down by the legislature are challenged or,
assuming they are valid, it is claimed that they are not being correctly (c) Educational, charitable, or other similar purposes; and
observed by the executive. Thus do the three departments, coordinating
with each other, pursue and achieve the objectives of the Constitution in (d) Reservations for townsites and for public and quasi-public uses.
the conservation and utilization of our natural resources.
The President, upon recommendation by the Secretary of Agriculture and
In C.A. No. 141, the National Assembly delegated to the President of the Natural Resources, shall from time to time make the classifications
Philippines the function of making periodic classifications of public lands, provided for in this section, and may, at any tics and in a similar manner,
thus: transfer lands from one class to another."
As for timber or forest lands, the Revised Administrative Code states as
"Sec. 6. The President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of follows:
Agriculture and Natural Resources, shall from time to time classify the
lands of the public domain into: "Sec. 1826. Regulation setting apart forest reserves - Revocation of same. -
Upon the recommendation of the Director of Forestry, with the approval of
(a) Alienable or disposable, the Department Head, the President of the Philippines may set apart forest
reserves from the public lands and he shall by proclamation declare the
(b) Timber, and establishment of such reserves and the boundaries thereof, and thereafter
such forest reserves shall not be entered, sold, or otherwise disposed of,
(c) Mineral lands, but shall remain as such for forest uses, and shall be administered in the
same manner as public forests.
and may at any time and in a like manner transfer such lands from one
class to another, for the purposes of their administration and disposition." "The President of the Philippines may in like manner by proclamation alter
"Sec. 7. For the purposes of the administration and disposition of alienable or modify the boundaries of any forest reserve from time to time, or revoke
or disposable lands. the President, upon recommendation by the Secretary any such proclamation, and upon such revocation such forest reserve shall
of Agriculture and Natural Resources, shall from time to time declare what be and become part of the public lands as though such proclamation had
lands are open to disposition or concession under this Act. never been made.

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"Sec. 1827. Assignment of forest land for agricultural purposes. - Lands in 1950, it must be considered forest land. It could therefore not be the
public forests, not including forest reserves, upon the certification of the subject of the adverse possession and consequent ownership claimed by
Director of Forestry that said lands are better adapted and more valuable the private respondent in support of his application for registration. To be
for agricultural than for forest purposes and not required by the public so, it had first to be released as forest Hand and reclassified as agricultural
interests to be kept under forest, shall be declared by the Department land pursuant to the certification the Director of Forestry may issue under
Head to be agricultural lands." Section 1827 of the Revised Administrative Code.
With these principles in mind, we reach the following conclusion:
The private respondent invokes the survey plan of the mangrove swamps
Mangrove swamps or manglares should be understood as comprised approved by the Director of Lands,[16] to prove that the land is registerable.
within the public forests of the Philippines as defined in the aforecited It should be plain, however, that the mere existence of such a plan would
Section 1820 of the Administrative Code of 1917. The legislature having so not have the effect of converting the mangrove swamps, as forest land, into
determined, we have no authority to ignore or modify its decision, and in agricultural land. Such approval is ineffectual because it is clearly
effect veto it, in the exercise of our own discretion. The statutory definition inofficious. The Director of Lands was not authorized to act in the premises.
remains unchanged to date and, no less noteworthy, is accepted and Under the aforecited law, it is the Director of Forestry who has the
invoked by the executive department. More importantly, the said provision authority to determine whether forest land is more valuable for agricultural
has not been challenged as arbitrary or unrealistic or unconstitutional, rather than forestry uses, as a basis for its declaration as agricultural land
assuming the requisite conditions, to justify our judicial intervention and and release for private ownership.
scrutiny. The law is thus presumed valid and so must be respected. We
repeat our statement in the Amunategui case that the classification of Thus we held in the Yngson case:
mangrove swamps as forest Lands is descriptive of its legal nature or status
and does not have to be descriptive of what the land actually looks like. "It is elementary in the law governing the disposition of lands of the public
That determination having been made and no cogent argument having domain that until timber or forest lands are released. as disposable and
been raised to annul it, we have no duty as judges but to apply it. And so alienable neither the Bureau of Lands nor the Bureau of Fisheries has
we shall. authority to lease, grant, sell or otherwise dispose of these lands for
homesteads, sales patents, leases for grazing or other purposes, fishpond
Our previous description of the term in question as pertaining to our leases and other modes of utilization.
agricultural lands should be understood as covering only those lands over
which ownership had already vested before the Administrative Code of "The Bureau of Fisheries has no jurisdiction to administer and dispose of
1917 become effective. Such lands could not be retroactively legislated as swamplands or mangrove lands forming part of the public domain while
forest lands because this would be violative of a duly acquired property such lands are still classified as forest land or timber land and not released
right protected by the due process clause. So we ruled again only two for fishery or other purposes."
months ago in Republic of the Philippines vs. Court of Appeals,[15] where the The same rule was echoed in the Vallarta case, thus:
possession of the land in dispute commenced as early as 1909, before it
was much later classified as timberland. "It is elementary in the law governing natural resources that forest land
cannot be owned by private persons. It is not registerable. The adverse
It follows from all this that the land under contention being admittedly a possession which can be the basis of a grant of title in confirmation of
part of the mangrove swamps of Sapian, and for which a minor forest imperfect title cases cannot commence until after the forest land has been
license had in fact been issued by the Bureau of Forestry from 1920 to

8
declared alienable and disposable. Possession of forest land, no matter
how long cannot convert it into private property."
We find in fact that even if the land in dispute were agricultural in nature,
the proof the private respondent offers of prescriptive possession thereof
3. Republic vs. CA and De La Rosa
is remarkably meager and of dubious persuasiveness. The record contains
no convincing evidence of the existence of the informacion
posesoria allegedly obtained by the original transferor of the property, let Republic of the Philippines, Benguet & Atok vs. Court of Appeals & De La
alone the fact that the conditions for acquiring title thereunder have been Rosa
satisfied. Nowhere has it been shown that the informacion posesoria has
G.R. No. L-43938, April 15, 1988
been inscribed or registered in the registry of property and that the land
has been under the actual and adverse possession of the private
respondent for twenty years as required by the Spanish Mortgage Law.
[17]
These matters are not presumed but must be established with definite
proof, which is lacking in this case. Cruz, J.:

Significantly, the tax declarations made by the private respondent were FACTS: These consolidated cases arose from the application for registration
practically the only basis used by the appellate court in sustaining his claim
of possession over the land in question. Tax declarations are, of course, not of a parcel of land filed on February 11, 1965, by Jose de la Rosa on his own
sufficient to prove possession and much less vest ownership in favor of the behalf and on behalf of his three children, Victoria, Benjamin and Eduardo.
declarant, as we have held in countless cases.[18]
The land, situated in Tuding, Itogon, Benguet Province, was divided into 9
We hold, in sum, that the private respondent has not established his right lots and covered by plan Psu-225009. According to the application, Lots 1-5
to the registration of the subject land in his name. Accordingly, the petition were sold to Jose de la Rosa and Lots 6-9 to his children by Mamaya
must be granted.
Balbalio and Jaime Alberto, respectively, in 1964.
It is reiterated for emphasis that, conformably to the legislative definition The application was separately opposed by Benguet Consolidated, Inc. as
embodied in Section 1820 of the Revised Administrative Code of 1917,
to Lots 1-5, Atok Big Wedge Corporation, as to Portions of Lots 1-5 and all
which remains unamended up to now, mangrove swamps
or manglares form part of the public forests of the Philippines. As such, of Lots 6-9, and by the Republic of the Philippines, through the Bureau of
they are not alienable under the Constitution and may not be the subject Forestry Development, as to lots 1-9.
of private ownership until and unless they are first released as forest land
and classified as alienable agricultural land.
In support of the application, both Balbalio and Alberto testified that they
WHEREFORE, the decision of the Court of Appeals is SET ASIDE and the had acquired the subject land by virtue of prescription; Balbalio claimed to
application for registration of title of private respondent is DISMISSED, with
have received Lots 1-5 from her father shortly after the Liberation.
cost against him. This decision is immediately executory.

SO ORDERED.

9
Benguet opposed on the ground that the “June Bug” mineral claim The trial court denied the application, holding that the applicants had
covering Lots 1-5 was sold to it on September 22, 1934, by the successors- failed to prove their claim of possession and ownership of the land sought
in-interest of James Kelly, who located the claim in September 1909 and to be registered.
recorded it on October 14, 1909. From the date of its purchase, Benguet
had been in actual, continuous and exclusive possession of the land in The applicants appealed to the respondent court, which reversed the trial
concept of owner, as evidenced by its construction of adits, its affidavits of court and recognized the claims of the applicant, but subject to the rights
annual assessment, its geological mappings, geological samplings and of Benguet and Atok respecting their mining claims. In other words, the
trench side cuts, and its payment of taxes on the land. Court of Appeals affirmed the surface rights of the de la Rosas over the
land while at the same time reserving the sub-surface rights of Benguet
For its part, Atok alleged that a portion of Lots 1-5 and all of Lots 6-9 were and Atok by virtue of their mining claims. Both Benguet and Atok have
covered by the Emma and Fredia mineral claims located by Harrison and appealed to this Court, invoking their superior right of ownership.
Reynolds on December 25, 1930, and recorded on January 2, 1931, in the
office of the mining recorder of Baguio. These claims were purchased from ISSUE: WHETHER OR NOT APPLICANTS ALL SURNAMED DELA ROSA HAVE
these locators on November 2, 1931, by Atok, which has since then been in SUPERIOR RIGHTS OF OWNERSHIP OVER THE SURFACE RIGHTS OVER THE
open, continuous and exclusive possession of the said lots as evidenced by LAND IN QUESTION WHILE OPPOSITORS BENGUET CONSOLIDATED, INC.
its annual assessment work on the claims, such as the boring of tunnels, AND ATOK BIG WEDGE MINING COMPANY ARE RESERVED OF THEIR SUB-
and its payment of annual taxes thereon. SURFACE RIGHTS BY VIRTUE OF THEIR MINING CLAIM AS DECIDED BY THE
RESPONDENT COURT.
The Bureau of Forestry Development also interposed its objection, arguing
that the land sought to be registered was covered by the Central Cordillera
Forest Reserve under Proclamation No. 217 dated February 16, 1929. HELD: NO. Our holding is that Benguet and Atok have exclusive rights to
Moreover, by reason of its nature, it was not subject to alienation under the property in question by virtue of their respective mining claims which
the Constitutions of 1935 and 1973. they validly acquired before the Constitution of 1935 prohibited the
alienation of all lands of the public domain except agricultural lands,
subject to vested rights existing at the time of its adoption. The land was
not and could not have been transferred to the private respondents by

10
virtue of acquisitive prescription, nor could its use be shared The Regalian doctrine which, as its name implies, is intended for the
simultaneously by them and the mining companies for agricultural and benefit of the State, not of private persons. The rule simply reserves to the
mineral purposes. It is true that the subject property was considered forest State all minerals that may be found in public and even private land
land and included in the Central Cordillera Forest Reserve, but this did not devoted to "agricultural, industrial, commercial, residential or (for) any
impair the rights already vested in Benguet and Atok at that time. Such purpose other than mining." Thus, if a person is the owner of agricultural
rights were not affected either by the stricture in the Commonwealth land in which minerals are discovered, his ownership of such land does not
Constitution against the alienation of all lands of the public domain except give him the right to extract or utilize the said minerals without the
those agricultural in nature for this was made subject to existing rights. The permission of the State to which such minerals belong.
perfection of the mining claim converted the property to mineral land and
under the laws then in force removed it from the public domain. By such The flaw in the reasoning of the respondent court is in supposing that the
act, the locators acquired exclusive rights over the land, against even the rights over the land could be used for both mining and non-mining
government, without need of any further act such as the purchase of the purposes simultaneously. The correct interpretation is that once minerals
land or the obtention of a patent over it. As the land had become the are discovered in the land, whatever the use to which it is being devoted
private property of the locators, they had the right to transfer the same, as at the time, such use may be discontinued by the State to enable it to
they did, to Benguet and Atok. The Court of Appeals justified this by saying extract the minerals therein in the exercise of its sovereign prerogative.
there is “no conflict of interest” between the owners of the surface rights The land is thus converted to mineral land and may not be used by any
and the owners of the sub-surface rights. This is rather doctrine, for it is a private party, including the registered owner thereof, for any other purpose
well-known principle that the owner of piece of land has rights not only that will impede the mining operations to be undertaken therein. The
to its surface but also to everything underneath and the airspace above it Regalian doctrine then extends not only to land but also to “all natural
up to a reasonable height. Under the aforesaid ruling, the land is classified wealth that may be found in the bowels of the earth.”
as mineral underneath and agricultural on the surface, subject to separate
claims of title. This is also difficult to understand, especially in its practical
application.

11
4. DIRECTOR OF LANDS vs. COURT OF APPEALS
G.R. NO. 83609
OCTOBER 26, 1989 Whether the lots in question may be registered under Section
48(b) of CA 141
PONENTE: GRIÑO-AQUINO, J.
HELD:
FACTS:
No. The lots cannot be registered under Section 48(b) of CA 141.
On July 20, 1976, Ibarra and Amelia Bisnar, the private
respondents, claimed to be the owners of two parcels of lands situated in A positive act of the government is needed to declassify land which is
Capiz and filed a joint application for registration of title to the said lands. classified as forest and to convert it into alienable or disposable land for
agricultural or other purposes. A parcel of forest land is within the exclusive
On December 16, 1976, the Director of Lands and Bureau of jurisdiction of the Bureau of Forestry and beyond the power and
Forest Development opposed the application on the grounds that the jurisdiction of the cadastral court to register under the Torrens System
respondents were not applicants neither predecessors-in-interest to
possess sufficient title to acquire ownership and that the lands in question
are a portion of the public domain belonging to the State.

On February 24, 1977, the respondents filed an amended


5. SAN MIGUEL CORPORATION VS. COURT OF APPEALS, digested
application which was approved on March 14, 1977.
(GR # 57667, May 28, 1990) (Law on Natural Resources, Tax Declaration
The CFI of Capiz held on granting the application for confirmation and Receipts)
and registration of the two parcels of land filed by private respondents. It
found that applicants and their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, FACTS: This is a petition for review on certiorari where petitioner San
public, continuous, peaceful and adverse possession of the subject parcels Miguel Corporation who purchased Lot 684 from Silverio Perez, seeks the
of land under bona fide claims of ownership for more than eighty (80) reversal of the decision of the Court of Appeals denying its application for
years (not only 30) prior to the filing of the application for registration, registration of the said land in view of its failure to show entitlement
introduced improvements on the lands by planting coconuts, bamboos and thereto.
other plants, and converted a part of the land into productive fishponds.
The Solicitor General opposed and appealed the application contending
The respondent court affirmed the decision in toto, and it held that the land in question is part of public domain and that petitioner being
that the classification of the lots as timberland by the Director of Forestry a private corporation is disqualified from holding alienable lands of the
cannot prevail in the absence of proof that the said lots are indeed more public domain. In this case, petitioner claims that its predecessor-in-
valuable as forest land than as agricultural land. Thereafter, the Director of interest had open, exclusive and undisputed possession of the land in
Lands through the OSG filed a petition before this Court for the review of question based on documentary evidence of tax declarations and receipts,
the said decision. and testimonial evidence of vendor Silverio Perez.

ISSUE:

12
ISSUE: Whether or not the evidence presented by the petitioner is ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF LUCENA, INC., a religious corporation sole
sufficient to warrant a ruling that petitioner and/or its predecessor-in- duly registered and existing under the laws of the Republic of the
interest has a registrable right over Lot 684. Philippines.”

HELD: No, documentary evidence of tax declarations and receipts are not ISSUES: Whether or not the Roman Catholic Bishop of Lucena, as a
conclusive evidence of ownership or right of possession over a piece of corporation sole is qualified to apply for confirmation of its title to the four
land but mere indicia of a claim of ownership. They only become strong (4) parcels of land subject of this case.
evidence of ownership of land acquired by prescription when accompanied
by proof of actual possession. Also, the testimony of vendor Silverio Perez
RULING: There is no doubt that a corporation sole by the nature of its
as proof of actual possession is weak and was not corroborated by other
incorporation is vested with the right to purchase and hold real estate and
witnesses.
personal property. It need not therefore be treated as an ordinary private
corporation because whether or not it is so treated as such, the
Constitutional provision involved will, nevertheless, be not applicable. The
lands subjects of this petition were already private property at the time the
application for confirmation of title was filed in 1979. There is therefore no
6. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioner, cogent reason to disturb the findings of the appellate court. WHEREFORE,
vs. the petition is dismissed for lack of merit and the appealed decision and
INTERMEDIATE APPELLATE COURT, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF Resolution of the Intermediate Appellate Court is hereby AFFIRMED.
LUCENA, represented by Msgr. Jose T. Sanchez, and REGIONAL
TRIAL COURT, BRANCH LIII, LUCENA CITY, respondents.

The Solicitor General for petitioner. 7. [G.R. No. 54276. August 16, 1991.]

Gilbert D. Camaligan for private respondent. DIRECTOR OF LANDS, Petitioner, v. IGLESIA NI KRISTO and HON.
DOMINGO D. PANIS, Presiding Judge, Court of First Instance of
Zambales and Olongapo, Br. III, Respondents.
G.R. No. 75042 November 29, 1988

FACTS: “On February 2, 1979, the ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP of Lucena,


RESOLUTION
represented by Msgr. Jose T. Sanchez, filed an application for confirmation
of title to four (4) parcels of land. Three of said parcels, denominated as
Lots 1, 2 and 3, respectively, of plan PSU-65686 are situated in Barrio
Masin, Municipality of Candelaria, Quezon Province. The fourth parcels NARVASA, J.:
under plan PSU-112592 is located in Barrio Bucal (Taguan), same
municipality and province. As basis for the application, the applicant
claimed title to the various properties through either purchase or donation Application of the doctrine laid down in 1986 in Director of Lands v. I.A.C . 1
dating as far back as 1928.The court ordered the registration of the four is all that is necessary to resolve the issue presented in the appeal at bar.
parcels together with the improvements thereon „in the name of the

13
The petitioner takes no issue with the factual findings of the Registration SO ORDERED."cralaw virtua1aw library
Court. In its petition, 2 it makes the following recitation of the relevant
facts, viz.:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph (N.B. The decision also makes the finding that since acquiring the land, the
Iglesia in Kristo "has been in open, public, adverse, peaceful and
"Respondent Iglesia ni Kristo filed an application for the registration and continuous possession in the concept of an owner thereof to the present
confirmation of title over a parcel of land, with an area of 280 sq. meters, time," having in fact "put up a chapel made of concrete materials and
situated at Barrio Consuelo Sur, Municipality of San Marcelino, Province of galvanized iron for its roofing;" and that the "land is not also within any
Zambales. The application . . . was docketed in the Court of First Instance of military or naval reservation.")
Zambales & Olongapo, Branch III (presided by respondent Judge) as LRC
No. N-187-O. It is this decision of June 2, 1980 that is subject of the Government’s
petition for review on certiorari at bar.
Petitioner (Republic) opposed the application on the Found that the . . .
Iglesia ni Kristo is a private corporation, and that under Art. XIV, sec. 11, of The petition will have to be denied, in accordance with the judgment of
the Constitution, private corporations cannot acquire lands of the public this Court en banc in Director of Lands v. Intermediate Appellate Court
domain but can only hold them by lease in an area not exceeding 1,000 handed down on December 29, 1986, 3 involving substantially similar facts.
hectares. . . . It appears that the applicant acquired the property in That judgment reconsidered and declared "no longer . . . binding
question from Gregorio Rolls and Romualdo Rolls (both of San Marcelino, precedent," Manila Electric Company v. Castro-Bartolome, Et Al.,
Zambales) on May 23, 1946, as shown by the Deed of Sale (Exhibit ‘I’). promulgated on June 29, 1982, 4 and instead adopted the dissenting
After acquiring the land, applicant had it declared for taxation opinion therein 5 (based on a line of cases beginning with Cariño v. Insular
purposes. . . . The latest tax declaration of this same parcel of land starts Government in 1909 6 thru Susi v. Razon in 1925 7 down to Herico v. Dar in
with the year 1974 as per Tax Dec. No. 4763 . . . . The land is exempt from 1980. 8
payment of Realty Tax, being devoted primarily for religious purposes
(Exhibit N). In that case, Director of Lands v. I.A.C., a private corporation, Acme
Plywood & Veneer Co., Inc. purchased a tract of land in 1962 from Mariano
Without passing upon the Government’s contention that respondent Infiel and Acer Infiel, two members of the Dumagat tribe, but applied with
Iglesia ni Kristo was disqualified from acquiring the land in question, the the Court for registration of its title over the land under the Torrens Act
trial court rendered judgment on June 2, 1980 decreeing the registration of only in July, 1981, long after the effectivity of the 1973 Constitution —
the land in the name of the respondent (Iglesia). The dispositive portion of which inter alia prohibits private corporations from holding alienable lands
the decision reads:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library of the public domain, except by lease not to exceed 1,000 hectares (a
prohibition not found in the 1935 Constitution, in force in 1962 when Acme
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered registering and confirming the purchased the land in question). There being no question that Acme and its
title of the applicant, Iglesia ni Kristo with its Executive Minister Eraño G. predecessors-in-interest had possessed and occupied the land for more
Manalo as corporation sole with office and postal address at corner of than the required 30-year period prescribed in Section 48 of the Public
Central and Don Mariano Marcos Avenues, Diliman, Quezon City, over the Land Act (Commonwealth Act No. 141, as amended), 9 the question
parcel of land situated at Barrio Consuelo Sur, Municipality of San presented to the Court en banc was whether or not the title that Acme had
Marcelino, Province of Zambales, with an area of 280 sq. m. covered by acquired in 1962 could be confirmed in its favor in proceedings instituted
Plan PSU-03-000947. (Exhibit `F’). by it in 1981 when the 1973 Constitution was already in effect, having in
mind the prohibition therein against private corporations holdings lands of

14
the public domain. That question the Court en banc answered in this entitled to a certificate of title . . ..’No proof being admissible to overcome
wise:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph a conclusive presumption, confirmation proceedings would, in truth, be
little more than a formality, at the most limited to ascertaining whether the
". . . (The weight of authority is) that open, exclusive and undisputed possession claimed is of the required character and length of time; and
possession of alienable public land for the period prescribed by law creates registration thereunder would not confer title, but simply recognize a title
the legal fiction whereby the land, upon completion of the requisite period already vested. The proceedings would not originally convert the land from
ipso jure and without the need of judicial or other sanction, ceases to be public to private land, but only confirm such a conversion already effected
public land and becomes private property. . . . by operation of law from the moment the required period of possession
became complete. As was so well put in Cariño, ‘. . . (T)here are indications
"x x x that registration was expected from all, but none sufficient to show that,
for want of it, ownership actually gained would be lost. The effect of the
Herico (supra), in particular, appears to be squarely affirmative:chanrob1es proof, wherever made, was not to confer title, but simply to establish it, as
virtual 1aw library already conferred by the decree, if not by earlier law.’

‘. . . Secondly, under the provisions of :Republic Act No. 1942, which the "x x x
respondent Court held to be inapplicable to the petitioner’s case, with the
latter’s proven occupation and cultivation for more than 30 years since ". . . The purely accidental circumstance that confirmation proceedings
1914, by himself and by his predecessors-in-interest, title over the lands were brought under the aegis of the 1973 Constitution which forbids
has vested on petitioner so as to segregate the land from the mass of corporations from owning lands of the public domain cannot defeat a right
public land. Thereafter, it is no longer disposable under the Public Land Act already vested before that law came into effect or invalidate transactions
as by free patent. . . . then perfectly valid and proper. This Court has already held in analogous
circumstances that the Constitution cannot impair vested rights."cralaw
‘As interpreted in several cases, when the conditions as specified in the virtua1aw library
foregoing provision are complied with, the possessor is deemed to have
acquired, by operation of law, a right to a grant, a government grant, The substantial identity of the facts and issues between the case at bar and
without the necessity of a certificate of title being issued. The land, Director of Lands v. I.A.C. being undeniable, and being cited to no
therefore, ceased to be of the public domain and beyond the authority of persuasive reason to decline to apply the doctrine in the latter to the
the Director of Lands to dispose of. The application for confirmation is a former, the Court, as aforesaid, has no alternative except to rule adversely
mere formality, the lack of which does not affect the legal sufficiency of the to the petitioner.
title as would be evidenced by the patent and the Torrens title to be issued
upon the strength of said patent. WHEREFORE, the petition is DENIED and the judgment of the respondent
Court dated June 2, 1980 in LRC No. N-187-0 entitled, "Iglesia ni Kristo, etc.
"Nothing can more clearly demonstrate the logical inevitability of v. Director of Lands, Et Al.," is AFFIRMED. No costs.
considering possession of public land which is of the character and
duration prescribed by statute as the equivalent of an express grant from SO ORDERED.
the State than the dictum of the statute itself (Section 48 (b) of C.A. No.
141) that the possession(s) ‘. . . shall be conclusively presumed to have
performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be

15
8. [ GR No. 85322, Apr 30, 1991 ] The notice of hearing dated October 10, 1984 was duly published in the
Official Gazette and posted by the deputy sheriff.
ALFREDO M. ALMEDA v. CA
On the date of the hearing, no one appeared to oppose the application
except the Director of Lands, through the Solicitor General, who had earlier
filed a formal opposition. An order of general default was issued against
GRINO-AQUINO, J.: the whole world, except the aforementioned oppositor, and the case was
set for hearing.
This petition for review assails the Court of Appeals' decision dated May 9,
1988 in CA-G.R. No. 09309-CV reversing the judgment dated January 6, The report of the Bureau of Lands stated that the land is not included in
1986 of the Regional Trial Court in LRC Case No. N-10771 entitled, "Alfredo any military area or naval reservation nor is it covered by any land patent
M. Almeda, Leonardo M. Almeda and Ernesto M. Almeda, Applicants or public land application. The Land Registration Commission Report also
versus Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Director of Lands, stated that Plan Psu-128539, when plotted in the Municipal Index map,
Oppositor." does not overlap with any previously-plotted titled properties under Act
496 as amended by PD 1525, and that the survey books do not show that
The case involves a parcel of land with an area of 1,208 square meters the subject lot had been applied for except in this case.
located in Barrio Pampangin, Pateros, Rizal, and described in Survey Plan
Psu-128539. It was originally owned and possessed by Emiliano Almeda, The Director of Lands, through the Office of the Solicitor General,
father of the petitioners, by virtue of an "Escritura de Particion presented Corazon Calamno, senior forester of the Bureau of Forest
Extrajudicial" (Exh. G) executed on June 15, 1935, between him and his Development, who stated that she prepared the inspection report on
brother Adriano, wherein they attested the fact that the land in question November 26, 1984; that the land falls within the alienable and disposable
was inherited from their parents, Vedasto Almeda and Josefa C. land under Project No. 29 of Pateros, Metro Manila, as per BFD Map LC
Concepcion, who had inherited the same from their own parents (great- 2623, certified and declared as such on January 23, 1968.
grandparents of herein petitioners).
The Court found that the applicants' possession of the parcel of land
After Emiliano's death on May 1, 1948 at the age of 67, his wife, Ana sought to be registered, together with that of their predecessors-in-
Menguito, and their children received the produce of the land and rented interest, has been public, peaceful, continuous, adverse to the whole world
out to third persons portions of the property where Emiliano had three and in the concept of an owner for a period of more than thirty (30) years,
houses built. Upon Ana's death on April 3, 1950, her children with and, that the land is not located within any forest reservation nor
Emiliano inherited the property and the lessees moved out. On June 9, mortgaged or encumbered in favor of any person or lending institution.
1980, the brothers Alfredo, Leonardo and Ernesto executed an extrajudicial
partition adjudicating the land to themselves (Exh. J). In a decision dated January 18, 1986, the trial court affirmed the order of
general default and confirmed the title of the applicants to the parcel of
On September 12, 1984, the Almeda brothers applied for the registration land covered by the plan, Psu-128539, and ordered its registration in the
of the land in the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Branch CLVI, where the case names of Alfredo, Leonardo and Ernesto Almeda pro-indiviso (pp. 42-
was docketed as LRC Case No. N-10771, LRC Record No. N-58761 entitled, 45, Rollo).
"Alfredo M. Almeda, Leonardo M. Almeda and Ernesto M. Almeda,
Applicants." Their application was set for hearing on December 20, 1984. From that decision, the Republic of the Philippines, represented by the

16
Solicitor General, appealed to the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. CV No. The court of Appeals correctly ruled that the private respondents had not
09309, alleging that the applicants-appellees have not met the statutory qualified for a grant under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act because
requirements on possession under Section 48(b) of CA 141, mainly because their possession of the land while it was still inalienable forest land, or
the land applied for was inalienable forest land before its release as before it was declared alienable and disposable land of the public domain
alienable and disposable land on January 3, 1968. The applicants' on January 3, 1968, could not ripen into private ownership, and should be
possession thereof prior to January 3, 1968 was invalid for purposes of a excluded from the computation of the 30-year open and continuous
grant under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act. possession in concept of owner required under Section 48(b) of Com. Act
141. It accords with our ruling in Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals,
The Court of Appeals, in a decision dated May 9, 1988, reversed the lower Ibarra Bisnar, et al., 178 SCRA 708, that:
court and denied the application for registration. It held that private
respondents had not qualified for a grant under Section 48(b) of "Unless and until the land classified as forest is released in an official
Commonwealth Act 141 which requires public, peaceful, continuous, proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the disposable
adverse possession by the applicants in the concept of an owner, for a agricultural lands of the public domain, the rules on confirmation of
period of at least 30 years. They have to their credit only seventeen (17) imperfect title do not apply (Amunategui vs. Director of Forestry, 126 SCRA
years possession and occupation of the land, counted from January 23, 69; Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals, 129 SCRA 689; Director of Lands
1968, when it was declared alienable and disposable, up to September 12, vs. Court of Appeals, 133 SCRA 701; Republic vs. Court of Appeals, 148
1984, when their application for registration was filed. SCRA 480; Vallarta vs. Intermediate Appellate Court, 151 SCRA 679).

After their motion for reconsideration was denied by the Court of Appeals, "Thus, possession of forest lands, however long, cannot ripen into private
the applicants filed this petition for review under Rule 45 of the Rules of ownership (Vano vs. Government, 41 Phil. 161 [1920]; Adorable vs. Director
Court. of Forestry, 107 Phil. 401 [1960]). A parcel of forest land is within the
exclusive jurisdiction of the Bureau of Forestry and beyond the power and
Petitioners allege that the Court of Appeals erred: jurisdiction of the cadastral court to register under the Torrens System
(Republic vs. Court of Appeals, 89 SCRA 648; Republic vs. Vera, 120 SCRA
1. in not holding that the land classification made by the Director of 210 [1983]; Director of Lands vs. Court of Appeals, 129 SCRA 680 [1984])."
Forestry (Bureau of Forest Development) could not affect the vested rights The petitioners have erroneously cited our decisions in Director of Forestry
of the applicants and their predecessors-in-interest who had continuously vs. Villareal, 170 SCRA 598 and Republic vs. Court of Appeals, Miguel
occupied and profited from the land since 1918 or very much earlier, as in Marcelo, et al., 168 SCRA 77, in support of their position in this case. In
this case; and those cases, the applicants' possession of the land antedated its
classification as forest land. We held that such lands could not be
2. in denying the motion for reconsideration despite the ruling in "The retroactively legislated or classified as forest lands because it would violate
Director of Lands vs. The Honorable Court of Appeals and Iglesia ni Cristo," previously acquired property rights protected by the due process clause of
158 SCRA 568 promulgated on March 14, 1988, which allowed registration the Constitution.
even when the land applied for was within the proposed alienable or
disposable block of a proposed LC project. The situation of the land in this case is the reverse of the Villareal and
Marcelo cases. The land here was already forest land when occupied by
There is no merit in the petition. the petitioners but it was later released on January 23, 1968 from its forest
classification. In other words, the petitioners here occupied forest land

17
before it was released as alienable and disposable, while the applicants in
Whether or not the stipulations in the Amended JVA for the transfer to
the Villareal and Marcelo cases possessed parcels of land long before they
were reserved as forest land. The subsequent reservation did not prejudice AMARI of lands, reclaimed or to be reclaimed, violate the Constitution
their vested rights therein.

Petitioner's recourse to the decision of this Court in Director of Lands vs.


Court of Appeals and Iqlesia Ni Cristo, 158 SCRA 568, is inappropriate. That RULING: YES!
case did not involve forest land, but agricultural land of the public domain
within the proposed alienable or disposable block.

WHEREFORE, the petition for review is denied for lack of merit. Costs Under the Public Land Act (CA 141, as amended), reclaimed lands are
against the petitioners. classified as alienable and disposable lands of the public domain Section 3
of the Constitution: Alienable lands of the public domain shall be limited to
SO ORDERED.
agricultural lands. Private corporations or associations may not hold such
alienable lands of the public domain except by lease The 157.84 hectares
of reclaimed lands comprising the Freedom Islands, now covered by
9. FRANCISCO I. CHAVEZ v. PUBLIC ESTATES AUTHORITY, GR No. 133250, certificates of title in the name of PEA, are alienable lands of the public
2002-07-09
domain. PEA may lease these lands to private corporations but may not sell
FACTS: or transfer ownership of these lands to private corporations. PEA may only
sell these lands to Philippine
From the time of Marcos until Estrada, portions of Manila Bay were being
citizens, subject to the ownership limitations in the 1987 Constitution and
reclaimed. A law was passed creating the Public Estate Authority which was
existing laws. Clearly, the Amended JVA violates glaringly Sections 2 and 3,
granted with the power to transfer reclaimed lands. Now in this case, PEA
Article XII of the 1987 Constitution. Under Article 1409 of the Civil Code,
entered into a Joint Venture Agreement with AMARI, a private corporation.
contracts whose “object or purpose is contrary to law,” or whose “object is
Under the Joint Venture Agreement between AMARI and PEA, several
outside the commerce of men,” are “inexistent and void from the
hectares of reclaimed lands comprising the Freedom Islands and several
beginning.” The Court must perform its duty to defend and uphold the
portions of submerged areas of Manila Bay were going to be transferred to
Constitution, and therefore declares the Amended JVA null and void ab
AMARI .
initio.
ISSUE:

18
11. LAUSAN AYOG, ET.AL., vs. JUDGE VICENTE N. CUSI RULING:
G.R. No. L-46729
November 19, 1982 NO; The Constitutional prohibition has no retroactive application
to the sales application of Binan Development Co., Inc. because it had
FACTS: already acquired a vested right to the land applied at the time the 1973
Constitution took effect. Moreover, the corporation’s compliance with the
On January 21, 1953, the Director of Lands, after bidding, awarded requirements of the Public Land Law for the issuance of a patent had the
to Biñan Development Co., Inc. a parcel of land with an area of about two effect of segregating the said land from the public domain.
hundred fifty hectares. The occupants of said land, herein petitioners, were
ordered to vacate the same. Upon the refusal of the occupants of the said,
the corporation filed an ejectment suit. After an investigation, the Director
of Lands found out that the occupants entered the land only after it was
awarded to the corporation. Thus, they could not be regarded as bona fide 12. Cruz vs Secretary of DENR
occupants. On July 18, 1961, the corporation fully paid the purchase price
for the land. More than thirteen years later, the Sales Patent was issued to GR. No. 135385, Dec. 6, 2000
the corporation with a reduced area of 175.3 hectares.
FACTS:
The petitioners contested that the adoption of the Constitution
which took effect on January 17, 1973, was a supervening fact which Petitioners Isagani Cruz and Cesar Europa filed a suit for prohibition and
render it legally impossible to execute the trial court’s judgment of
mandamus as citizens and taxpayers, assailing the constitutionality of
awarding the land in question to the corporation. They invoked the
constitutional prohibition, already mentioned, that "no private corporation certain provisions of Republic Act No. 8371, otherwise known as the
or association may hold alienable lands of the public domain except by Indigenous People’s Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA) and its implementing rules
lease not to exceed one thousand hectares in area."
and regulations (IRR). The petitioners assail certain provisions of the IPRA
The Director of Lands pointed out that the corporation had
complied with the said requirements long before the effectivity of the and its IRR on the ground that these amount to an unlawful deprivation of
Constitution and that the applicant had acquired a vested right to its the State’s ownership over lands of the public domain as well as minerals
issuance. and other natural resources therein, in violation of the regalian doctrine
embodied in section 2, Article XII of the Constitution.
ISSUE:

Whether the 1973 Constitution is an obstacle to the


implementation of the trial court’s 1964 judgment ejecting the petitioners. ISSUE:

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Do the provisions of IPRA contravene the Constitution?

HELD:

No, the provisions of IPRA do not contravene the Constitution. Examining


the IPRA, there is nothing in the law that grants to the ICCs/IPs ownership
over the natural resources within their ancestral domain. Ownership over
the natural resources in the ancestral domains remains with the State and
the rights granted by the IPRA to the ICCs/IPs over the natural resources in
their ancestral domains merely gives them, as owners and occupants of the
land on which the resources are found, the right to the small scale
utilization of these resources, and at the same time, a priority in their large
scale development and exploitation.

Additionally, ancestral lands and ancestral domains are not part of the
lands of the public domain. They are private lands and belong to the
ICCs/IPs by native title, which is a concept of private land title that existed
irrespective of any royal grant from the State. However, the right of
ownership and possession by the ICCs/IPs of their ancestral domains is a
limited form of ownership and does not include the right to alienate the
same.

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