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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 39765. October 24, 1935. ]

BENITO VALDEZ ET AL., applicants-appellees, v. THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, THE DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY AND PRIMITIVO ANTONIO ET AL., Oppositors-Appellants.

Solicitor-General Hilado for appellants Director of Lands and Director of Forestry.

Amancio Aguilar for appellants Abaja Et. Al. Cordova, Almario & Antonio for appellants Inocencio Et. Al.

Vicente J. Francisco for Appellees.

SYLLABUS


1. PUBLIC LANDS; ACQUISITION UNDER SPANISH LAWS. — Under the Spanish laws in force in the Philippines, by which the nineteen

patents (titulos) here involved were acquired, public lands were sold exclusively by the unit of measure (hectare quiñon) and not in the mass, the area being the essence of the contract.

2. ID.; ID.; DESCRIPTION OF LAND. — It is doubtless true that when a deed describes a tract of land by definite and ascertainable boundaries, an additional statement as to the area included is of secondary importance, because it is presumed that the parties to the deed contracted wit reference to the land specifically delimited in the description.

3. ID.; ID.; ID.; PURCHASE PRICE. — Each of the nineteen tracts here involved was sold to the purchaser at a fixed price per hectare, that is to say, both the Government and the purchaser contracted specifically with reference to the area stated in the titulos. For each title the Government was paid by the hectare for the number of hectares indicated in the title and no more. Any area granted to these applicants in excess of the percentage of permissible error would be a pure gift without consideration whatever to the State.

4. ID.; ID.; ID.; NATURAL BOUNDARIES. — It is well settled that in order that natural boundaries of land may be accepted for the purpose of varying the extent of the land included in a deed of conveyance, the evidence as to such natural boundaries must be clear and convincing. There must be no doubt left that the land included within the natural boundaries is the same land which was intended to be sold by the deed of conveyance. (Waldroop v. Castañeda, 25 Phil., 50,56; Sales v. Director of Lands, 61 Phil., 759.) .

5. ID.; ID.; ROYAL DECREES OF NOVEMBER 25, 1980 AND OCTOBER 26, 1881. — The royal Decrees of November 25, 1880, and October 26, 1881, which were in full force and effect in the Philippines when the said patents (titulos) were granted, are mandatory and limited the area of public lands which could be sold by patent. No patent may be varied to the extent that these applicable decrees would be violated.


D E C I S I O N


BUTTE, J.:


This is a land registration case which involves the title to a vast tract unenclosed agricultural land, some twenty kilometers long by twelve and one-half kilometers wide, located at the southern tip of the island of Masbate. In their original application for registration of this land, filed on May 19, 1931, the applicants, Benito Valdez Et. Al., claimed 28,006.5959 hectares. On the day of the hearing, they moved that lot No. 5, covered by patent (Spanish titulo) No. 12, be eliminated from their application, leaving 26,227.1941 hectares claimed. We shall refer to this elimination of lot No. 5 later in this decision.

An association known as Muñoz y Cia. in the early eighties operated a cattle ranch (ganaderia) near Cataiñgan in the municipality of Palanas on the island of Masbate. They grazed several thousand of cattle on the public domain which was covered with cogon grass and forests. After the enactment of the royal Decrees (Decretos Reales) of June 25. 1880, and January 19, 1183, which made possible the purchase of public lands, the company undertook to acquire title to public lands which constituted their hacienda. Between the years 1883 and 1886 (see Table A, post) twenty-two individuals applied for the purchase of twenty-two tracts of said public lands. After the sales were consummated the land patents (Spanish titulos) were transferred by the purchasers to Muñoz and Company. Three of these titulos were registered in the name of Mauro Prieto in 1926 and are not involved here. It is from the remaining nineteen titulos that the present applicants for registration deraign their title.

The total area sold by the Spanish government and purchased by the grantees in these nineteen titulos is 2,225.9194 hectares. The applicants assert that these contain errors in the description of the land and that all of them are grossly wrong as to the area. They assert that the correct area should be 28,006.5959 hectares, an error of 25,780.6765 hectares. The basic question of this case, therefore, is whether or not by the said nineteen titulos the Spanish government sold to the several grantees named therein an aggregate of 28,006.5959 hectares which the applicants, as their successors in title, now claim.

The petition for registration alleges, first, absolute ownership by the title from the spanish government and, in the alternative, continuous and exclusive possession and occupation since July 26, 1894, from which a grant is presumed under section 45 (b) of the Public Land Law (Act No. 2874). The petition was opposed by the Director of Lands who claims that all of said lands are public lands and by the Director of Forestry who claims that a large portion thereof is public forest lands and by nine hundred ninety-three private oppositors, settlers and homestead applicants, who deny the alleged title and possession of the applicants. To establish their claim of title, the applicants introduced in evidence the original nineteen titulos above referred to (Exhibits D-1 D-19) with the subsequent transfers thereof by the grantees to Muñoz and Company endorsed on the back. Further to substantiate their claims and more particularly to prove the alleged errors in all of the nineteen titulos, the applicants have put in evidence a topographical mad made in 1885 by surveyor Felipe Diaz (Exhibit C) and a sketch prepared in 1932 by surveyor C. N. Francisco (Exhibit K). As these two exhibits constitute the very foundation of the applicants’ case, it is proper to consider them carefully.

EXHIBIT C. — This exhibit, presented by the applicants, is a topographical map of the cattle ranch of Muñoz y Cia., prepared by a qualified Spanish surveyor, Felipe Diaz, and dated "Salamanca, November 2, 1985." It is an unofficial map because it was not made or approved by any authority of the Spanish government. It was made for Jose Muñoz who kept it in house in a frame. It was always in the possession of Muñoz and Company until this concern went into receivership when it was delivered to the receiver. From him it passed to the hands of Prieto & Co. of which the applicants are the principal owners. Exhibit C bears on its face the following certificate:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Limites: N. Montes de Uson y Palanas, Tetas de Cataiñgan, Rio Labangui y Divisoria de aguas entre la Ensenada de Cataiñgan y Mar del Estrecho.

"E. Bosque de Punta Matayon, Puerto de Cataiñgan, y Bosques de Mentac, Limbujan y Alegria.

"S. Manglares del Mar de la Contracosta y terreno solicitado al Estado por D. Juan Acuesta.

"O. Rio Nainday.

"Estension: Determinada por los anteriores linderos: 2,090 hectareas."cralaw virtua1aw library

The map is drawn on the lineal scale of 1:50,00. The map shows no fences, enclosures or other improvements except one casa del encargado de la ganaderia near the poblacion of Cataiñgan and one toril in the sitio of Bairan. The precise location and extent of the toril is not shown. The map shows no bearings true or declinations, no points, angles or monuments and is not accompanied by any surveyor’s notes. That Muñoz and Company allowed their cattle to roam and graze over the wide expanse of unenclosed land shown on Exhibit C when it was made, is a reasonable inference from the testimony of witnesses presented by the applicants. But that Exhibit C is a document providing title and binding on the Government is a wholly different matter. It is not based on the nineteen patents (titulos) which Muñoz y Cia. acquired, for they are neither shown nor mentioned. Indeed, at least eight of these titulos were not in existence when Exhibit C was made. It is most a pictorial representation of Muñoz y Cia.’s claim of ownership.

It is not the land shown on Exhibit C which is the subject matter of this registration proceeding. The applicants have no one single land patent (titulo) from the Spanish government coinciding with Exhibit C. They offer instead nineteen individual titulos. They claim that these titulos which embrace a total area of 2,225 hectares, are each and every one of them wrong; that they should show a total area of 32,113 hectares (see Exhibit K). With this inflated area, the nineteen titulos, it is alleged, would cover the area of Exhibit C, as corrected by surveyor Francisco.

But, in order that the nineteen titulos should coincide with Exhibit C, the applicants have undertaken to prove that not only are all the titulos wrong but that surveyor Diaz’s certificate as to the area of Exhibit C is also wrong. Diaz certifies that area to be 2.090 hectares, which approximates the total area shown on the face of the nineteen titulos. surveyor Francisco testified in substance that the Spanish surveyors were guilty of many inaccuracies in their work, and that the certificate on Exhibit C should state the area to be not 2,090 hectares. He explains this as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"En la mayor parte de las veces, por la derivacion de la escala, el agrimensor confunde el numero de metros que debe apreciarse en la escala y de ahi resulta la diferencia en la extension. A lo mejor, el agrimensor levanta el plano al 1 por 50,000 para luego apreciar la superficie del plano bajo la escala de 1 por 5,000 . . . pero la superficie (consignada en la reseña del mismo) se computo bajo la escala de 1 por 5,000. Si se computara la superficie del terreno a la escala de 1 por 50,000, la extension no seria 2,090 hectareas como consta en el plano Exhibit C, sino 20,900 hectareas." (Pag. 112, desposicion, Exhibit JJ.)

Francisco’s hypothesis will nor bear analysis and does great injustice to surveyor Diaz. The fallacy of his deduction is plain even to a layman. The two equals four but twenty times twenty is not equal to forty but to 400. So, in this instance, if, on the scale of 1:50,000, the area, which is the product of the length multiplied by the width, is 2,090 hectares, the area on the scale of 1:50,000 i. e. ten times the length and ten times the width, would not be 20,900 but 209,000 hectares. It is incredible that the Spanish surveyors en la mayor parte de las veces would commit such an egregious blunder of simple arithmetic. 1 .

In his disposition, page 106, Francisco testified as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"P.
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