G.R. No. 184589, June 13, 2013
DEOGENES O. RODRIGUEZ, Petitioner, v. HON. COURT OF APPEALS AND PHILIPPINE CHINESE CHARITABLE ASSOCIATION, INC., Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:
It has been established by the evidence adduced by [Landicho] that the parcel of land under consideration was formerly several smaller parcels owned and possessed by the spouses Felix San Pascual and Juanita Vertudes, Ignacio Santos and Socorro Santos, Caconto Cayetano and Verneta Bartolome, Gavino Espiritu and Asuncion Cruz, and Lucio Manuel and Justina Ramos, all of whom in January 1960, executed instruments of conditional sale of their respective parcels of land in favor of [Landicho], x x x, and on July 20, 1965 all of them executed jointly a final deed of absolute sale x x x which superseded the conditional sale. Gavino Espiritu, one of the vendors, fifty-five years old, farmer, resident of Barrio Geronimo, Montalban, Rizal, testified that he and his co-vendors have been in possession of the parcel of land since 1930 and that the possession of [Landicho], together with her predecessors in interest, has been open, peaceful, continuous and adverse against the whole world in the concept of an owner. It has also been established that the parcel of land is within the Alienable or Disposable Block-I of I.C. Project No. 26 of San Mateo, Rizal, x x x; that the parcel of land is classified as “montañoso” with an assessed value of P12,560.00 under Tax Dec. No. 7081, x x x, taxes due to which for the current year had been paid, x x x; and that the same is not mortgaged or affected by any encumbrance.In the end, the CFI decreed:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
The oppositor did not present testimonial evidence but presented the report of investigation of Land Investigator Pedro R. Feliciano dated August 23, 1965, x x x which stated substantially that during the investigation and ocular inspection it has been ascertained that no public land application is involved and that no reservation is affected thereby, and therefore, he believed that the opposition already filed can be withdrawn; x x x, 1st Indorsement dated August 24, 1965 of the District Land Officer, District No. 7, Bureau of Lands, to the Director of Lands, recommending that, in view of said report of investigation, the opposition be withdrawn; and x x x, office memorandum of the Chief, Records Division, Bureau of Land, addressed to the Chief, Legal Division, dated September 23, 1965, to the effect that according to the records, plan Psu-201023 is not covered by any kind of public land application or patent.
It is therefore clear from the evidence on record that the applicant is entitled to the benefits provided by Section 48, of C.A. No. 141, as amended.7
WHEREFORE, the Court hereby confirms the title of the applicant, Purita Landicho, of legal age, married to Teodorico Landicho, Filipino, resident of 74-A South 19th St., Quezon City, to the parcel of land under consideration and orders the registration thereof in her name and personal circumstances aforementioned.Upon finality of its Decision dated November 16, 1965, the CFI issued an Order9 on December 22, 1965 directing the Commissioner of the Land Registration Commission (LRC) “to comply with Section 21 of Act No. 2347”10 on the issuance of a decree and original certificate of title (OCT).
The opposition of the Director of Lands is hereby dismissed.
Once this decision becomes final and executory, let the order for the issuance of the decree issue.8
a. Upon the filing of the instant motion, the Clerk of Court of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City be commanded to transmit to the Honorable Court the complete records and expediente of LRC No. x x x N-5098 (LRC Rec. No. N-27619);chanroblesvirtualawlibraryIn the course of the proceedings concerning the aforementioned Omnibus Motion, Rodriguez himself submitted as his Exhibit “GG” TCT No. 482970 of PCCAI but alleged that said certificate of title was fictitious. Thus, the RTC issued on November 3, 2006 a subpoena commanding PCCAI to appear at the hearing of Land Reg. Case No. N-5098 set on November 8, 2006 at 9:00 a.m.; to bring its TCT No. 482970 and Tax Declaration No. SM-02-0229; and to testify in connection therewith. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
b. After hearing, the Honorable Court give due course to the instant motions and issue an Order as follows:cralavvonlinelawlibraryi. Directing the Administrator of the Land Registration [Authority] to issue the Decree of Registration, in accordance with the tenor of the Decision dated November 16, 1965 x x x and the Order dated December 22, 1965 x x x, in the name of the petitioner [Rodriguez];chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
ii. Thereafter, ordering the Register of Deeds for Marikina City, through the Administrator of the Land Registration Administration as having direct supervisory authority there-over, to issue the Original Certificate of Title containing the Technical Description as duly confirmed in the said Decision and Order x x x in the name of the herein petitioner [Rodriguez].
PETITIONER further prays for such other measures of relief as may be deemed just and equitable in the premises.15
Initially, the issue of jurisdiction arose particularly as to whether this Court may take cognizance of the instant case previously assigned to the CFI Pasig and, subsequently, rule upon the Omnibus Motion of [Rodriguez] despite the lapse of more than forty (40) years after the finality of the Decision of November 16, 1965.The RTC decreed thus:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
Clearly, this Court has jurisdiction because, as earlier stated, the proceedings in this Court is merely a continuation of the land registration proceedings commenced in the CFI Pasig. More importantly, with the creation of this Court under the provisions of the Judiciary Reorganization Law, all cases involving properties within its territorial jurisdiction, specifically in San Mateo, Rizal, were transferred to this Court (Sec. 44, Batas Pambansa Blg. 129).
Consequently, there is no legal impediment for this Court to reiterate the Decision dated November 16, 1965 and the Order dated December 22, 1966 because the Rules on execution of Judgment pertaining to civil cases are not applicable to this kind of proceedings. A final and executory judgment in a land registration case, being merely declaratory in nature, does not prescribe. (Sta. Ana vs. Menla, 1 SCRA 1294; Heirs of Cristobal Marcos vs. de Banuvar, 25 SCRA 316; vda. De Barroga vs. Albano, 157 SCRA 131; Cacho v. Court of Appeals, 269 SCRA 159)
Secondly, a more important issue was put to fore—whether this Court may issue a writ of execution directing the Land Registration Authority (LRA) to issue a decree of registration over the subject property and the Register of Deeds of the Province of Rizal to issue an original certificate of title in the name of [Rodriguez].
Consistency dictates and being a mere continuation of the CFI Pasig proceedings, this Court can only reiterate the directives in the Order dated December 22, 1965 . It cannot, however, issue, as prayed for, a writ of execution directing the issuance of a decree of registration and an original certificate of title in the name of [Rodriguez].
Finally, during the proceedings in this case, this Court was made aware of the existence of claimants to the subject property. However, this Court cannot, at this time and in this proceedings, rule on the legality or illegality of these claims of ownership. It is best that these claims be ventilated in appropriate proceedings specifically sought to for this purpose.16 (Underscoring deleted.)
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Order dated December 22, 1966 of the Court of First Instance of Pasig, Branch 6, is hereby REITERATED. The Land Registration Authority is directed to issue a decree of registration while the Register of Deeds of the Province of Rizal is likewise directed to issue an original certificate of title of the subject property, both in favor and in the name of applicant Purita Landicho, of legal age, married to Teodorico Landicho, Filipino and a resident of 74-A South 19th St., Quezon City, after compliance with issuance requirements and procedures.17PCCAI filed a Motion for Reconsideration of the aforequoted Order of the RTC. The RTC resolved both the Motion for Leave to Intervene with the attached Answer-in-Intervention and Motion for Reconsideration of PCCAI in another Order dated November 22, 2007. The trial court held:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
This Court after receiving evidence that a Decision was rendered in favor of the applicants spouses Landicho as owner in fee simple of the subject parcels of land, and that no title was issued pursuant to the said Decision which has become final and executory even after an Order to that effect was issued, merely reiterated the said Order for the implementation of the Decision dated November 16, 1966, signed by the Hon. Andres Reyes as Judge. In other words, Intervention would not be allowed after the Decision has become final and executory. The issue in the instant Petition is the issuance of a decree of registration and nothing more is being tried.The LRA, upon receipt of a copy of the RTC Order dated April 10, 2007, filed a Manifestation dated February 4, 2008 informing the trial court that it cannot comply with said Order since there were already two existing titles covering the subject property, i.e., TCT No. 70589 of Araneta (traced back to OCT No. 301 of Meerkamp Co.) and TCT No. 482970 of PCCAI (traced back to Landicho’s TCT No. 167681); and to issue a decree of registration and OCT in Landicho’s name would only further aggravate the problem of double titling. The LRA also explained that the ROD issued a TCT, rather than an OCT, to Landicho for the subject property in 1966, following the Order dated July 7, 1966 of then LRC Commissioner Antonio H. Noblejas (Noblejas), who took cognizance of the fact that the subject property, as part of a bigger parcel of land, was already registered under OCT No. 301 in the name of Meerkamp Co., pursuant to Decree No. 1480 under GLRO Record No. 2429 issued in 1906. LRC Commissioner Noblejas additionally stated in his Order that:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Motion For Leave To Intervene and the Motion for Reconsideration filed by the PCCAI are both DENIED.18
The new transfer certificate of title to be issued by virtue hereof is deemed to have been derived from Transfer Certificate of Title No. N-1. (Under Decree No. 1480 dated November 22, 1906) which should be deemed cancelled with respect to the said property and that the issuance of the same has been effected without the presentation of the owners duplicate of subsisting certificate of title.19 (Emphasis deleted.)At around the same time, PCCAI filed a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition before the Court of Appeals, docketed as CA-G.R. SP No. 101789, assailing the Orders dated April 10, 2007 and November 22, 2007 of the RTC for having been issued without or in excess of jurisdiction and/or with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. PCCAI acknowledged that it is the ministerial duty of the RTC to issue a writ of execution for a final and executory decision/order; however, PCCAI argued that when subsequent facts and circumstances transpired which renders the execution of the final and executory decision/order unjust or inequitable, then the trial court should refrain from issuing a writ of execution. PCCAI likewise asserted that the RTC, as a land registration court, did not have the jurisdiction to resolve conflicting claims of ownership over the subject property. PCCAI lastly maintained that it was an indispensable party in Land Reg. Case No. N-5098 and that it should have been allowed by the RTC to intervene during the hearing of Rodriguez’s Omnibus Motion for the execution of the Decision dated November 16, 1965 and Order dated December 22, 1965 of the CFI.
The Land Registration Authority, being the repository of land registration documents and the administrative agency with the necessary expertise concerning land registration matters, We cannot but agree with the above-quoted Manifestation. Moreover, from the above facts admitted by the parties and the LRA, it cannot be denied that there are conflicting claims on the ownership of the property which cannot be passed upon by the lower court as a land registration court for lack of jurisdiction.20The Court of Appeals additionally opined that the intervention of PCCAI in Land Reg. Case No. N-5098 was proper given the circumstances:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
Anent the issue of intervention, in the case of Information Technology of the Philippines vs. Comelec, G.R. 159139, August 22, 2006, the following doctrine was enunciated, to wit:cralavvonlinelawlibraryRodriguez moved for reconsideration of the foregoing Decision but was denied by the Court of Appeals in a Resolution dated September 17, 2008. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary“The basic doctrinal rule is that final judgments may no longer be modified, except only to correct clerical errors or mistakes, or when the judgment is void, or if supervening events or circumstances that transpire after the finality of the decision render its execution unjust and inequitable. In the interest of substantial justice, this Court has allowed exceptions to this rule. A person who has a legal interest in the matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the parties, or an interest against both, or is so situated as to be adversely affected by a distribution or other disposition of property in the custody of the court or of an officer thereof, may, with leave of court, be allowed to intervene in the action.”We are not unmindful that [PCCAI] filed its Intervention when the decision of the case was already final and executory and during the execution stage of the case. However, the supervening event which is the issuance of a decree of registration which was already implemented and enforced upon [the] order of the Administrator of the LRC way back in July 11, 1966 when the LRC issued TCT No. 167861 in the name of Purita Landicho instead of an OCT makes the said intervention proper and well-taken.
From the foregoing, it appears absurd and senseless that an OCT be issued in favor of Mr. Rodriguez. Furthermore, it is in the paramount interest of justice that the assailed orders be not implemented, [PCCAI] being an indispensable party in the execution and/or implementation of the said orders. The non-execution of the said orders will prevent further disarray, confusion and complexity on the issue of who is or who should be the real owner of the subject land which is a matter that can be threshed out in a proper case for quieting of title between adverse claimants.21
Based on the foregoing, the appellate court adjudged:cralavvonlinelawlibrary
All told, the assailed orders were issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or in excess of jurisdiction.
WHEREFORE, the assailed orders are REVERSED AND SET ASIDE. Accordingly, [Rodriguez, RTC Presiding Judge Josephine Zarate-Fernandez, the LRA Administrator, and Marikina City ROD] are enjoined to cease and desist from implementing the said orders pending the outcome of a proper case before an appropriate court where the issue of ownership of the subject land can be put to rest.22
The instant Petition has no merit.
THE [COURT OF APPEALS] HAD ABDICATED ITS JURISDICTION TO RESOLVE DISPUTES ON THE MERE MANIFESTATION OF THE LRA THAT THERE WERE ISSUES OF OWNERSHIP WHICH HAVE FIRST TO BE RESOLVED.
THE [COURT OF APPEALS] HAS RESOLVED AN ISSUE WHICH WAS IRRELEVANT AND IMMATERIAL OR HAD OTHERWISE BEEN RESOLVED.
THE [COURT OF APPEALS] HAD COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION TANTAMOUNT TO LACK OF JURISDICTION IN RULING THAT THE [PCCAI] HAD LEGAL STANDING TO PREVENT OR SUSPEND THE OPERATION OF THE LAND REGISTRATION LAWS BY WAY OF THE ISSUANCE OF THE ORDER DIRECTING THE LAND REGISTRATION ADMINISTRATOR TO COMPLY WITH THE ORDER DATED DECEMBER 16, 1965.
THE [PCCAI] HAD NO RIGHT TO INTERVENE IN LRC NO. N-5098.
THE [PCCAI] CANNOT CLAIM BUYER IN GOOD FAITH STATUS AS ITS TITLE WAS DEFECTIVE ON ITS FACE.
[RODRIGUEZ] IS ENTITLED TO THE CORRECTIVE AND PREROGATIVE WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO INSURE THAT THE LAND REGISTRATION LAWS ARE PROPERLY AND FULLY IMPLEMENTED.23
1 Rollo, pp. 57-70; penned by Associate Justice Agustin S. Dizon with Associate Justices Regalado E. Maambong and Celia C. Librea-Leagogo, concurring.cralawlibrary
2 Id. at 71-73; penned by Associate Justice Regalado E. Maambong with Associate Justices Celia C. Librea-Leagogo and Sixto C. Marella, Jr., concurring.cralawlibrary
3 Id. at 114-117.cralawlibrary
4 Id. at 118-119.cralawlibrary
5 CA rollo, p. 316.cralawlibrary
6 Rollo, pp. 76-79; penned by Judge Andres Reyes.cralawlibrary
7 Id. at 77-78.cralawlibrary
8 Id. at 78-79.cralawlibrary
9 Id. at 80.cralawlibrary
10 Act No. 2347 is entitled “An Act to provide for the reorganization of the Courts of First Instance and of the Court of Land Registration,” Section 21 of which reads:cralavvonlinelawlibrarySEC. 21. Of the decree. — Immediately after final decision by the court directing the registration of any property, the clerk shall send a certified copy of such decision to the Chief of the General Land Registration Office, who shall prepare the decree in accordance with section forty of Act Numbered Four hundred and ninety-six, and he shall forward a certified copy of said decree to the register of deeds of the province or city in which the property is situated. The register shall then comply with the duties assigned to him in section forty-one of Act Numbered Four hundred and ninety-six.Sections 40 and 41 of Act No. 496, otherwise known as the Land Registration Act, referred to in the aforequoted provision, described in detail the steps in the issuance of a decree of registration and OCT, to wit:cralavvonlinelawlibrarySEC. 40. Every decree of registration shall bear the day of the year, hour, and minute of its entry, and shall be signed by the clerk. It shall state whether the owner is married or unmarried, and if married, the name of the husband or wife. If the owner is under disability, it shall state the nature of the disability, and if a minor shall state his age. It shall contain a description of the land as finally determined by the court, and shall set forth the estate of the owner and also, in such manner as to show their relative priority, all particular estates, mortgages, easements, liens, attachments, and other encumbrances, including rights of husband or wife, if any, to which the land or owner’s estate is subject, and may contain any other matter properly to be determined in pursuance of this Act. The decree shall be stated in a convenient form for transcription upon the certificate of title hereinafter mentioned.11 Rollo, pp. 81- 83.cralawlibrary
SEC. 41. Immediately after final decision by the court directing the registration of any property, the clerk shall send a certified copy of such decision to the Chief of the General Land Registration Office, who shall prepare the decree in accordance with Section forty of Act Numbered Four hundred and ninety[-]six, and he shall forward a certified copy of said decree to the register of deeds of the province or city in which the property is situated. The register of deeds shall transcribe the decree in a book to be called the “Registration Book,” in which a leaf, or leaves, in consecutive order shall be devoted exclusively to each title. The entry made by the register of deeds in this book in each case shall be the original certificate of title, and shall be signed by him and sealed with the seal of the court. All certificates of title shall be numbered consecutively, beginning with number one. The register of deeds shall in each case make an exact duplicate of the original certificate, including the seal, but putting on it the words “Owner’s duplicate certificate,” and deliver the same to the owner, or to his attorney duly authorized. In case of a variance between the owner’s duplicate certificate and the original certificate, the original shall prevail. The certified copy of the decree of registration shall be filed and numbered by the register of deeds with reference noted on it to the place of record of the original certificate of title: Provided, however, That when an application includes land lying in more than one province, or one province and the city of Manila, the court shall cause the part lying in each province or in the city of Manila to be described separately by metes and bounds in the decree of registration, and the clerk shall send to the register of deeds for each province, or the city of Manila, as the case may be, a copy of the decree containing a description of the land within that province or city, and the register of deeds shall register same and issue an owner’s duplicate thereof, and thereafter for all matters pertaining to registration under this Act the portion in each province or city shall be treated as a separate parcel of land.
12 Id. at 84-89.cralawlibrary
13 Sometimes spelled as “A. Doronilla Dev., Inc.”
14 241 Phil. 28 (1988).cralawlibrary
15 Rollo, pp. 105-106.cralawlibrary
16 Id. at 115-117.cralawlibrary
17 Id. at 117.cralawlibrary
18 Id. at 119.cralawlibrary
19 CA rollo, p. 317.cralawlibrary
20 Rollo, p. 68.cralawlibrary
21 Id. at 68-69.cralawlibrary
22 Id. at 69.cralawlibrary
23 Id. at 12-13.cralawlibrary
24 Id. at 69.cralawlibrary
25 Presidential Decree No. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree, took effect on June 11, 1978. By the time Rodriguez filed his Omnibus Motion before the RTC on May 18, 2005, praying for the execution of the CFI Decision dated November 16, 1965 and Order dated December 22, 1965 in Land Reg. Case No. N-5098, the Property Registration Decree was already in effect. Relevant provisions of said Decree read:cralavvonlinelawlibrarySection 30. When judgment becomes final; duty to cause issuance of decree. - The judgment rendered in a land registration proceedings becomes final upon the expiration of thirty days to be counted from the date of receipt of notice of the judgment. An appeal may be taken from the judgment of the court as in ordinary civil cases.26 Ching v. Court of Appeals, 260 Phil. 14, 23 (1990).cralawlibrary
After judgment has become final and executory, it shall devolve upon the court to forthwith issue an order in accordance with Section 39 of this Decree to the Commissioner for the issuance of the decree of registration and the corresponding certificate of title in favor of the person adjudged entitled to registration.
SEC. 39. Preparation of Decree and Certificate of Title. – After the judgment directing the registration of title to land has become final, the court shall, within fifteen days from entry of judgment, issue an order directing the Commissioner to issue the corresponding decree of registration and certificate of title. The clerk of court shall send, within fifteen days from the entry of judgment, certified copies of the judgment and of the order of the court directing the Commissioner to issue the corresponding decree of registration and certificate of title, and a certificate stating that the decision has not been amended, reconsidered, nor appealed, and has become final. Thereupon, the Commissioner shall cause to be prepared the decree of registration as well as the original and duplicate of the corresponding original certificate of title. The original certificate of title shall be a true copy of the decree of registration. The decree of registration shall be signed by the Commissioner, entered and filed in the Land Registration Commission. The original of the original certificate of title shall also be signed by the Commissioner and shall be sent, together with the owner’s duplicate certificate, to the Register of Deeds of the city or province where the property is situated for entry in his registration book.
SEC. 40. Entry of Original Certificate of Title. – Upon receipt by the Register of Deeds of the original and duplicate copies of the original certificate of title, the same shall be entered in his record book and shall be numbered, dated, signed and sealed by the Register of Deeds with the seal of his office. Said certificate of title shall take effect upon the date of entry thereof. The Register of Deeds shall forthwith send notice by mail to the registered owner that his owner’s duplicate is ready for delivery to him upon payment of legal fees.
27 G.R. No. 171209, June 27, 2012, 675 SCRA 145, 168.cralawlibrary
29 Section 1 of Executive Order No. 649 dated February 9, 1981, in relation to Book IV, Title III, Chapter 9, Section 28 of Executive Order No. 292 dated July 25, 1987, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987.cralawlibrary
30 Atty. Gomez v. Court of Appeals, 250 Phil. 504, 511 (1988).cralawlibrary
31 314 Phil. 326 (1995).cralawlibrary
32 350 Phil. 779 (1998).cralawlibrary
33 Id. at 789.cralawlibrary
34 Quinto v. Commission on Elections, G.R. No. 189698, February 22, 2010, 613 SCRA 385, 401-402.