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PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

EN BANC

[G.R. No. 43094. August 31, 1936. ]

MATEO C. SANCHEZ, applicant-appellee, v. THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, THE DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY, MARTINA ARIZALETA, ET AL., oppositors. THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, Appellant.

Solicitor-General Hilado for Appellant.

Leonardo Abola for Appellee.

SYLLABUS


1. APPEAL; BILL OF EXCEPTIONS; FILING OF, WHILE MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL IS STILL PENDING RESOLUTION. — It is admitted by the appellant Director of Lands that the provincial fiscal of Masbate who represented him, filed the bill of exceptions while the motion for new trial was still pending resolution by the trial court. The presentation of the bill of exceptions prior to the resolution of a motion for new trial has the effect of withdrawing such motion for new trial. (Cases cited.) The fact that the case before us in one of registration is immaterial because the rule with reference to the order of filing the motion for new trial, exception, appeal and bill of filing the motion for new trial, exception, appeal and bill of exceptions is the same in ordinary civil actions and in registration proceedings.

2. ID.; ID.; ID.; REVIEW OF EVIDENCE BY THE APPELLATE COURT. — It is well-settled that in order that the evidence adduced before the trial court may be reviewed by this court it is necessary, under section 497, subsection 2, of the Code of Civil Procedure, (a) that the exception party file in the trial court a motion for new trial on the ground that the evidence was insufficient to justify the decision; (b) that the said motion be overruled by the trial judge; (c) that due exception be taken to the overruling of the motion. (Cases cited.)

3. ID.; ID.; FAILURE TO INCORPORATE MOTION FOR NEW TRIAL AND EXCEPTION IN THE BILL OF EXCEPTIONS; ASSIGNMENT OF ERRORS. — It has also been held that the motion and exception should be incorporated in the bill of exceptions (Rubert and Guamis v. Luengo and Martinez [1907[, 8 Phil., 732), and that in his brief the appellant should assign errors raising questions of fact. (Cases cited.) We are, therefore, constrained to accept the findings of fact made by the trial judge.

4. SALE OF LANDS; AREA AND BOUNDARIES. — As stated in the case of Loyola v. Bartolome ([1919], 39 Phil., 544, 550): "It is not of vital consequence that a deed or contract for the sale of land should declare the area with mathematical accuracy. It is sufficient if its extent is objectively indicated with sufficient precision to enable one to identify it; and where the boundaries given are adequate for this purpose, an error as to the superficial area is immaterial." (Cases cited.) But a careful review of the applicable cases will show that it is only when the boundaries given are sufficiently certain and the identity of the land clearly proved by the boundaries thus indicated that an land erroneous statement concerning the area can be disregarded or ignored. Otherwise, the area stated is followed.

5. ID.; ID.; SPANISH ROYAL DECREES. — The Royal Decrees in force at the time of the acquisition by J.P. de T. did not recognize any grant of public land in excess of one thousand hectares. (See Valdez v. Director of Lands, 62 Phil., 362.)

6. ID.; ID.; ID.; AMOUNT OF PERMISSIBLE ERROR. — It should also be observed that the amount of permissible error in the measurement of public lands was only five per cent of the total area. (Royal Decree of January 19, 1883, article 27.)

7. ID.; ID.; ID.; UNIT OF MEASURE OR FIXED PRICE PER HECTARE. — Under the laws in force at the time the purchase by T was made, lands of the public domain were sold only by unit of measure, that is to say, at a fixed price per hectare or per quiñon, and not in the mass (cuerpos ciertos). (See Valdez v. Director of Lands, supra.)

8. ID.; ID.; ID.; RULES OF CONSTRUCTION, SPANISH CIVIL CODE. — Articles 1469 and 1470 of the Spanish Civil Code embody a rule or construction which has been followed, according to Manresa, by the Spanish Government in the sale of public lands.

9. ID.; ID.; ID.; PRINCIPLE GOVERNING SALE OF PUBLIC LANDS. — This court recognized and gave effect to the principle governing the sale of public lands in the case of Barretto v. Director of Lands (G.R. No. 29717, promulgated December 29, 1928, not reported).


D E C I S I O N


LAUREL, J.:


On January 9, 1932, Mateo C. Sanchez filed with the Court of First Instance of Masbate an application for the registration of three parcels of land situated in the barrio of Uson, municipality of Dimasalang, Province of Masbate, described in the plan (Exhibit A) and in the technical description (Exhibit A-1) attached to the application. The application was opposed by the Director of Lands on the ground that the said parcels of land are public lands and that the petitioner does not possess any title fit for registration; by the Director of Forestry on the ground that portions thereof are public forests; and by Martina Arizaleta and Jose, Isidro and Francisco Moraza who claimed lot No. 1 indicated in the plan. The oppositions filed by the last-named persons and by the Director of Forestry were later on withdrawn.

On October 8, 1934, the trial court rendered a decision overruling the opposition of the Director of Lands and ordering the registration of the three parcels of land in question in favor of the conjugal partnership of Mateo C. Sanchez and Priscila Zamora subject to a right of way indicated by the red line in Exhibit 1 of the Bureau of Forestry.

On December 12, 1934, the provincial fiscal of Masbate, on behalf of the Director of Lands and the Director of Forestry, filed a motion for new trial on the ground that the decision of the trial court was contrary to law and the weight of the evidence, which motion was set for hearing on December 22, 1934. On December 15, 1934, prior to the date set for the hearing of the motion for new trial, the provincial fiscal of Masbate, on behalf of the Director of Lands and the Director of Forestry, filed the bill of exceptions in this case which was approved by the trial court on January 7, 1935.

It is admitted by the appellant Director of Lands that the provincial fiscal of Masbate who represented him, filed the bill of exceptions while the motion for new trial was still pending resolution by the trial court. The presentation of the bill of exceptions prior to the resolution of a motion for new trial has the effect of withdrawing such motion for new trial. (Conspecto v. Fruto [1915], 31 Phil., 144, 147, cited with approval in Dimaliwat v. Dimaliwat [1931], 55 Phil., 673, 679; Heirs of Advincula v. Imperial [1932], 56 Phil., 837; Laxamana v. Carlos [1932], 57 Phil., 722, 725, 726.) The fact that the case before us is one of registration is immaterial because the rule with reference to the order of filing the motion for new trial, exception, appeal and bill of exceptions is the same in ordinary civil actions and in registration proceedings. (Laxamana v. Carlos, supra, citing sec. 14, Act No. 496, as amended by Act No. 1108, and Director of Lands v. Court of First Instance of Tarlac [1928], 51 Phil., 805.) It is well-settled that in order that the evidence adduced before the trial court may be reviewed by this court it is necessary, under section 497, subsection 2, of the Code of Civil Procedure, (a) that the excepting party file in the trial court a motion for new trial on the ground that the evidence was insufficient to justify the decision; (b) that the said motion be overruled by the trial judge; and (c) that due exception be taken to the overruling of the motion. (See Lopez v. Orozco [1908], 11 Phil., 53, 54; De la Rama v. De la Rama [1906], 201 U.S., 303; 11 Phil., 746, 751; Lazarte v. Nolan [1921], 42 Phil., 563, 566, citing Singayan v. Mabborang [1908], 10 Phil., 601, Sandeliz v. Reyes [1909], 12 Phil., 506, Buencamino v. Soriano [1915], 29 Phil., 230, and Layda v. Legazpi [1918], 39 Phil., 83; Granados and Granados v. Bandelaria [1923], 45 Phil., 505, 507-509 and cases cited; Dais v. Torres and Ibañez [1933], 57 Phil., 897, 904.) It has also been held that the motion and exceptions (Rubert and Guamis v. Luengo and Martinez [1907], 8 Phil., 732) and that in his brief the appellant should assign errors raising questions of fact (Granados and Granados v. Bandelaria, supra; Dais v. Torres and Ibañez, supra; Enriquez v. Enriquez [1907], 8 Phil., 565, 566; Capellania de Tambobong v. Antonio [1907], 8 Phil., 683, 684; Paterno v. City of Manila [1910], 17 Phil., 26-29; Santiago v. Felix [1913], 24 Phil., 378, 383, 384) and cite the pages of the record where evidence relied upon may be found. (Palarca v. Baguisi [1918], 38 Phil., 177, 178.) We are, therefore, constrained to accept the findings of fact made by the trial judge.

Even accepting, however, the facts found by the trial judge, we do not feel justified in granting to the applicant, Mateo C. Sanchez, more land than what his title calls for.

The findings of fact of the lower court are contained in the following paragraph of its decision:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Se ha demostrado por las pruebas de solicitante, a satisfaccion de Juzgado, que desde el año 1886 Juan Perez de Tagle estaba en posesion de los tres lotes de terreno cuyo registro se solicita, y desde el año 1889 hasta 1894 se han tomado los pasos por el mismo para adquirir dichos terrenos por compra del Estado, habiendo sido dichas parcelas medidas y tasadas por la Inspeccion General de Montes (exhibits B y B-1); que en 1896, dichos tres lotes de terreno, que forman una sola parcela, fueron vendidos por Juan Perez de Tagle a favor de Dolores Ramirez; que a la muerte de esta, occurrida en 1904, le heredo y le sucedio en la posesion su hija Remedios Medina, quien, asu vez, en 10 de abril de 1917 lo vendio, con consentimiento de su esposo, el testigo Antero Zafra, a favor de Jose Y. de Egurrola (Exhibit C), y este a su vez, en 10 de septiembre de 1921, lo traspaso en venta a favor del aqui solicitante Mateo C. Sanchez y que tanto la posesion de este asi como la de sus antecesores sobre el terreno en cuestion, ha sido simpre quieta, publica, continuada y adversa y en concepto de dueño, habiendolo dedicado desde entonces hasta ahora para pasto de ganados."cralaw virtua1aw library

It should be observed that the land found to have been occupied by Juan Perez de Tagle since 1886 is that in reference to which "se han tomado los pasos por el mismo para adquirir dichos terrenos por compra del Estado, habiendo sido dichas parcelas medidas y tasadas por la Inspeccion General de Montes (exhibits B y B-1)" Exhibit B refers to the preliminary steps of inspection and survey ordered in connection with the application of Juan Perez de Tagle for the acquisition by purchase from the Government of one parcel of land "que linda por el norte con bosques del Estado, por el sur con cogonales del Estado, por el este y oeste con bosques tambien del Estado."cralaw virtua1aw library

Exhibit B-1 is entitled "expediente general referente a la enajenacion en publica subasta de un terreno situado en la jurisdiccion del Pueblo de Uson (Masbate y Ticao) promovido por D. Juan Perez de Tagle" and adjudicated on May 13, 1894 to the applicant Tagle "el terreno de referencia radica en el Sitio de Bagsulan jurisdiccion de dicho pueblo y fuera de la que por la principalia se considera como legua comunal, sus limites son: al norte, este, sur y oeste con terrenos del Estado cuya superficie es de Ciento treinta y una hectareas y mil trescientos metros cuadrados tasados a tres pesos cincuenta centimos la hectaria," for P458.88.

Mateo C. Sanchez, however, seeks the judicial confirmation of a title to 1,107 hectares, 91 ares and 70 centares of public land. Why is there a difference of 976 hectares, 78 ares and 70 centares between the area stated in the grant and that stated in the application? In his brief, the applicant accounts for this gross discrepancy by stating that "surveys made during the Spanish regime were in most cases imperfect and inaccurate, because of lack of proper means and scientific instruments", so that, in his opinion, the area of 131 hectares and 13 ares stated in Exhibit B-1 "can not be exact."cralaw virtua1aw library

We are not inclined to hold that the area stated in Exhibit B-1 is erroneous. In accordance with the Royal Decree of June 25, 1880 (published in the Gazeta de Manila on September 8, 1880), said to have marked the beginning of modern Spanish land legislation in the Philippines (Vargas & Mañalac, Philippine Land Registration Law, pp. 11-14), the "Decreto del Gobierno General de 20 de agosto de 1880" was promulgated providing, among other things, that no title could be issued without a correct survey of the land covered thereby being first made and without the corresponding plan thereof showing the correct boundaries and exactitud (de) la cabida y linderos." For a better understanding of the said decree, we shall quote its pertinent provisions:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"Considerando que al demanda de terrenos baldios realengos y de composiciones de tierras cultivadas, aumenta diariamente en proporcion considerable, haciendo cada vez mas imposible que los empleados de Montes puedan desempeñar el servicio de medicion tasacion, con la brevedad conveniente.

"Considerando que es de sumo inters facilitar todo lo posible el establecimiento de la verdadera propiedad rural, este Gobierno General viene en decretar lo siguiente:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph

"1.
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