G.R. No. 180427, September 30, 2013
CRISANTA GUIDO-ENRIQUEZ, Petitioner, v. ALICIA I. VICTORINO, HEIRS OF ANTONIA VDA. DE VICTORINO, AND HON. RANDY A. RUTAQUIO, IN HIS CAPACITY AS ACTING REGISTER OF DEEDS OF RIZAL FOR MORONG BRANCH, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
In February 1980, Antonia Vda. De Victorino [Antonia Victorino] filed with the Court of First Instance [CFI] of Rizal an Application for Registration of Title over a 10,603 square-meter lot, situated in Binangonan, Rizal (subject lot). Antonia Victorino alleged that she is the owner in fee simple of the subject lot which she and her late husband, Felixberto Victorino, acquired thru purchase. Antonia Victorino asserted that she and her predecessor-in-interest “have been in open, continuous, exclusive, notorious and adversed possession and occupation” of said land. Antonia Victorino presented the Tax Declaration over the said lot issued under her late husband's name.Aggrieved, herein petitioner filed a special civil action for certiorari with the CA.
The Republic, thru the Director of Lands, opposed said application alleging that the subject lot belongs to the Republic of the Philippines, thus, “not subject to private appropriation.”
Per Report, dated July 17, 1981, of the Division of Original Registration [of the Office of the Acting Commissioner of Land Registration], it appeared that the subject lot is a portion of a large parcel of land covered by TCT No. M-2102, registered under the name of Antonia Guido, et al., and, at the same time, overlapped with another lot which was also a subject of an application for registration. The Report likewise disclosed that a case for annulment of TCT No. 23377, the mother title of TCT No. M-2102, [was] filed by the Republic against [Guido, et. al., and] was pending before the CFI, Branch X, Pasig, Metro Manila, docketed as Civil Case No. 34242 (Guido Case).
On September 18, 1987, the National Land Titles and Deeds Registration Administration (Administration) submitted a Second Report alleging that a Decision was rendered in the Guido Case in favor of [Guido, et. al.,] which was appealed by the Republic. The Administration prayed that the decision in Antonia Victorino's application for registration “be held in abeyance until after Transfer Certificate of Title No. 23377 and all derivative titles have been canceled by the Court, the discrepancy has been corrected and the clearances requirements are complied with.”
However, sometime in June 1988, the Chief of the Surveys Division of the [Office of the] Regional Technical Director [of the Lands Management Sector, Region IV] informed the Administration that the “coordinates” used by the Administration were actually erroneous and, per confirmation by the Regional Director, the lot subject of Antonia Victorino's application does not overlap with any other parcel of land.
On August 11, 1988, the RTC-Pasig proceeded with the case and submitted the same for resolution.
On August 15, 1988, the RTC-Pasig issued a Decision granting Antonia Victorino's Application. The RTC-Pasig found that the subject lot “is not within any forest reservation nor mortgaged or encumbered in favor of any person or lending institution.” The dispositive portion of said Decision reads:chanrobles virtua1aw 1ibraryWHEREFORE, affirming the order of general default, decision is hereby rendered confirming the title of the applicant to the parcel of land covered by plan PSU-04-000590, consisting of 10,603 sq.m. and ordering the registration thereof in her name as follows:On November 3, 1988, the RTC-Pasig issued an Order for the Issuance of the Decree directing the Commissioner of the Land Registration Commission to implement the said Decision, considering the same has become final.
ANTONIA VDA. DE VICTORINO, of legal age, widow, Filipino, residing at Malinao, Pasig, Metro Manila.
x x x x
However, pending the resolution of the Guido Case, the Land Registration Authority held in abeyance the issuance of the decree in favor of Antonia Victorino.
Meanwhile, on November 21, 1991, the Supreme Court issued a Decision [Republic v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 84966, November 21, 1991, 204 SCRA 160] in [the] Guido Case in favor of [Antonia Guido, et. al.] and declared TCT 23377 issued under the name of Guido, et. al. true and authentic. The Supreme Court, however, took judicial notice of the fact that prior to the reconstitution of TCT 23377 in favor of [Antonia Guido, et. al.], “certain portions of the area were in possession of occupants who successfully obtained certificates of title over the area occupied by them … and also (of) occupants who had not obtained certificates of title over the area possessed by them but the lengths of their possession were long enough to amount to ownership, had the land been in fact unregistered.” The High Court, thus, ruled that “(a)lthough prescription is unavailing against (Antonina Guido, et. al.) because they are holders of a valid certificate of title, the equitable presumption of laches may be applied against them for failure to assert their ownership for such an unreasonable length of time.” The dispositive portion of said Decision reads:chanrobles virtua1aw 1ibraryACCORDINGLY, the decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 12933 is AFFIRMED subject to the herein declared superior rights of bona fide occupants with registered titles within the area covered by questioned decree and bona fide occupants therein with length of possession which had ripened to ownership, the latter to be determined in an appropriate proceeding.On May 21, 2001, Private Respondent Alicia Victorino filed a Manifestation and Motion for an Alias Order for Issuance of a Decree in the Name of the New Owner-Transferee. Private Respondent alleged that Antonia Victorino sold the subject lot in her favor on August 1, 1995. Private Respondent likewise notified the RTC-Pasig of Antonia Victorino's death on December 7, 1995. Private Respondent prayed that, considering the decision of the Supreme Court, dated November 21, 1991, adjudicating the subject lot in favor of its lawful occupants, and the Decision of the RTC-Pasig, dated August 15, 1988, granting Antonia's application for registration over said lot, the RTC-Pasig should issue an order annotating these decisions of the Supreme Court and the RTC-Pasig in TCT M-2102 to segregate Antonia's portion. Private Respondent also prayed that an Alias Order for the Issuance of decree of registration be issued in her favor as the subject lot's new owner/transferee.
On August 8, 2002, the Land Registration Authority (LRA) manifested that the subject lot was “deemed excluded from TCT No. 23377 of the Guidos.” The LRA alleged that it was imperative that a memorandum of the court's decision adjudicating ownership of the subject lot to Antonia Victorino be annotated in TCT M-2102 to enable the LRA to comply with the issuance of the decree.
On November 19, 2002, the RTC-Pasig issued the 1st assailed Order granting Private Respondent's Motion and directing the Land Registration Authority to issue the corresponding decree “in accordance with the adjudication of (the Trial Court's) Decision dated August 15, 1988 after payment of all taxes due on the land.” The RTC-Pasig likewise ordered the Register of Deeds of Rizal, Morong Branch, to annotate on TCT M-2102 the following memorandum:chanrobles virtua1aw 1ibraryBy virtue of the decision of the Court dated August 15, 1988 in Land Reg. Case No. N-10371, LRC Record No. N-55139, AntoniaVda. De Victorino, applicant, plan Psu-04-000590, has been adjudicated in favor of applicant and pursuant to the decision of the Supreme Court in G.R. No. 84966, promulgated on November 21, 1991, entitled Republic of the Philippines vs. The Court of Appeals and Antonina Guido, et. al. (204 SCRA 160), afore-said lots are excluded from this certificate of title.On December 4, 2002, Petitioner Crisanta Guido-Enriquez filed a Motion for Clarification arguing that the November 19, 2002 Order varies the terms of the August 15, 1988 Decision of the RTC-Pasig. The August 15, 1988 Decision did not order the segregation of the subject lot from the lot covered by TCT M-2102, hence, the assailed Decision of November 19, 2002 ordering said segregation effectively modified the previous decision. Petitioner sought to clarify whether the August 15, 1988 Decision ordered the segregation of the subject lot and whether the Land Registration Authority has the authority to move for said segregation.
On March 6, 2003, in its 2nd assailed Order, the RTC-Pasig denied Petitioner's Motion for being moot and ordered the issuance of the decree in the name of Antonia Vda. De Victorino. Consequently, on even date, an Alias Order for the Issuance of the Decree which is the subject of the 3rd assailed Order was issued.
Petitioner's Motion for Reconsideration thereof was denied by the RTC-Pasig in the 4th assailed Order dated September 2, 2003.3
WHEREFORE, the instant Petition for Certiorari is DENIED. The assailed Order, dated March 6, 2003, and Order, dated September 2, 2003, of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 156, in Land Reg. Case No. N-10371, are hereby AFFIRMED.The CA held that:chanrobles virtua1aw 1ibrary
Accordingly, the Order, dated November 19, 2002, of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig City, Branch 156, in Land Reg. Case No. N-10371, is hereby AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that Private Respondent's Manifestation and Motion for An Alias Order of a Decree in the Name of the New Owner/Transferee, dated May 18, 2001, is GRANTED IN PART. The prayer for the issuance of a Decree in Private Respondent's name is DENIED. All other dispositions therein are hereby AFFIRMED in toto.chanroblesvirtualawlibrary
The Honorable Supreme Court acknowledged the right of the bona fide occupant of a portion of the lot under TCT No. M-2102 and, in allowing said bona fide occupants to retain the portion of Guido's lot they are in possession of, the Supreme Court effectively segregated, albeit constructively, and reserved said occupied portions for the benefit of the occupants. The Supreme Court declared that the Guidos, et al. waived their right over the property in favor of “those who possessed certain specific portions for such lengths of time as to amount to full ownership.” Antonia Victorino, thru her predecessor-in-interest, was found to have possessed a certain specific portion, PSU-04-000590, going as far back as 1933. The RTC-Pasig decreed Antonia Victorino to be a lawful occupant of the subject lot. Hence as a lawful or bona fide occupant of a portion of a parcel of land covered by [TCT No.] M-2102 of the Guidos, the annotation in [TCT No.] M-2102 and segregation of the portion of the lot granted in favor of Antonia Victorino is proper.Herein petitioner filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but the CA denied it in its assailed Resolution dated October 25, 2007.
True, there was no categorical directive by the RTC-Pasig to segregate the subject lot from the rest of the parcel of land covered by [TCT No.] M-2101 (sic). However, We agree with Private Respondent that the segregation of the subject lot was the result of Antonia Victorino acquiring title over a portion of the said property of the Guidos. The segregation was the consequence of the grant of Antonia Victorino's application for registration.
x x x x5
1. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS AND REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT DISMISSED THE PETITION FOR CERTIORARI AND PROHIBITION IN CA-G.R. SP NO. 80534 AND, AT THE SAME TIME, AFFIRMING WITH MODIFICATION THE NOVEMBER 19, 2002 ORDER ISSUED BY THE HONORABLE PRESIDING JUDGE OF BRANCH 156 OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG CITY THAT DIRECTED THE REGISTER OF DEEDS FOR RIZAL, MORONG BRANCH, TO ANNOTATE ON TRANSFER CERTIFICATE OF TITLE NO. M-2102 OF THE REGISTRY OF DEEDS FOR RIZAL, MORONG BRANCH, A MEMORANDUM WHICH, IN EFFECT, DEPRIVES PETITIONER AND THE OTHER CO-OWNERS, WITHOUT DUE PROCESS OF LAW, OF 10,603 SQUARE METERS OF THEIR LAND.The petition lacks merit.
2. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS AND REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT SUSTAINED THE HONORABLE PRESIDING JUDGE OF BRANCH 156 OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG CITY IN HIS ISSUANCE OF THE MARCH 6, 2003 ORDER UPHOLDING THE NOVEMBER 19, 2002 ORDER; THE MARCH 6, 2003 ALIAS ORDER FOR THE ISSUANCE OF THE DECREE; AND, THE SEPTEMBER 2, 2003 ORDER, WHICH VARIED THE TENOR OF THE AUGUST 15, 1988 DECISION IN LAND REG. CASE NO. N-10371 AND LRC CASE NO. N-55139, ENTITLED IN RE: APPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION OF LAND TITLE, ANTONIA VDA. DE VICTORINO, APPLICANT.
3. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS AND REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT UPHELD THE FOUR (4) ORDERS ISSUED BY THE HONORABLE PRESIDING JUDGE OF BRANCH 156 OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG CITY, NOTWITHSTANDING THE FACT THAT THESE ORDERS ALTERED, CHANGED, MODIFIED AND DIMINISHED IN A PROCEEDING THAT IS IMPROPER FOR ALTERING, CHANGING, MODIFYING AND DIMINISHING A CERTIFICATE OF LAND TITLE.
4. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS AND REVERSIBLE ERROR WHEN IT RULED THAT THE PROCEEDING THAT WAS HELD IN CONNECTION WITH LAND REG. CASE NO. N-10371 AND LRC CASE NO. N-55139 , ENTITLED IN RE: APPLICATION FOR REGISTRATION OF LAND TITLE, ANTONIA VDA. DE VICTORINO, APPLICANT, AND RESULTING IN THE RENDITION OF THE AUGUST 15, 1988 DECISION RENDERED BY BRANCH 156 OF THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT OF PASIG CITY IS THE APPROPRIATE PROCEEDING CONTEMPLATED BY THE HONORABLE COURT IN ITS NOVEMBER 21, 1991 DECISION IN G.R. NO. 84966 ENTITLED REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. COURT OF APPEALS.
5. THE HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS COMMITTED SERIOUS AND REVERSIBLE ERROR THAT DEPRIVED THE PETITIONER OF DUE PROCESS WHEN IT ALLOWED THE PRESIDING JUDGE WHO RENDERED THE AUGUST 15, 1988 DECISION IN LAND REG. CASE NO. N-10371 AND LRC CASE NO. N-55139 TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS THAT RESULTED IN A DECISION THAT HELD THAT THE PROCEEDING IN THE REGIONAL TRIAL COURT IS THE APPROPRIATE PROCEEDING ENVISIONED IN THE NOVEMBER 21, 1991 DECISION OF THE HONORABLE COURT IN G.R. NO. 84966 ENTITLED REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES VS. COURT OF APPEALS.6
x x x xIt is evident from the above discussion that this Court gave primary importance to the fact that the respondent in the abovequoted case was able to adequately prove its claim of bona fide occupancy over the subject lot, during the proceedings in an application for registration of title filed by its predecessors-in-interest. In the same manner, respondents have proven their bona fide occupancy through the application for registration of title filed by their predecessor-in-interest. Hence, there is no need for another proceeding to prove that respondents and their predecessor-in-interest have occupied the subject lot honestly, openly and in good faith.
We agree that respondent had already proven its claim in an appropriate proceeding. In L.R.C. No. 049-B, initiated by the heirs of de la Cruz (the predecessors of respondent), it was shown that the possession of applicant heirs had already ripened to ownership as of March 29, 1976. This ruling inured to respondent's benefit.
The records do not show that respondent ever obtained a certificate of title over the disputed property. Nevertheless, the right of ownership of respondent's predecessors-in-interest had been recognized. As the purchaser of the property, respondent became the owner of the property and acquired the right to exercise all the attributes of ownership, including the right to possession (jus possidendi). Respondent, who was in actual possession of the property before the writ of possession was implemented, possessed it as owner of the property. It can thus rightfully assert its right of possession which is among the bundle of rights enjoyed by an owner of a property under Art. 428 of the New Civil Code.
Hence, respondent can rightfully claim the superior rights we acknowledged in Republic v. CA and the CA correctly nullified petitioner's writ of possession insofar as it affected the property in the possession of respondent.
x x x x17
x x x xNoting that Justice Villarama no longer took part in the abovequoted Resolution of the CA, this Court finds nothing erroneous or irregular in the above ruling of the appellate court.
Anent Petitioner's Motion for Clarification, Petitioner asked if the Hon. Justice Martin S. Villarama, Jr., Chairman of this Division, was the presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Pasig, Branch 156, who rendered the August 15, 1988 Decision. Petitioner, thus, alleged that “there is something seriously amiss” which affects this Court's Decision, dated September 6, 2007.
There is nothing seriously amiss whether legally, morally or ethically about the participation of Justice Villarama, Jr.
True, Justice Villarama, Jr. was the ponente of the August 15, 1988 Decision [of the RTC]. Indeed, We indicated the same in Our Decision, footnote number 15, page 5 of the Decision. It is likewise true that Justices under Section 1, Rule 137 of the Rules of Court, are prohibited from sitting “in any case … in which he has presided in any inferior court when his ruling or decision is the subject of review.”
However, a careful review of the records of this case will show that although Justice Villarama, Jr. penned the August 15, 1988 [RTC] Decision, said Decision had already attained finality on or before November 3, 1988 and was not the subject of review in this Petition. Said August 15, 1988 decision, which is a final judgment, was merely incidental or part of the “history” of the case. Attention is invited to the fact that the issues raised by Petitioner in this case revolved only on the alleged invalidity of said Alias Decree and the annotation. It is the issuance of the Decree in the name of the Private Respondent and the annotation thereof to Petitioner's title which initiated this Petition for Certiorari, or the Orders dated November 19, 2002, dated March 6, 2003 and dated September 2, 2003. Said orders, however, were no longer penned by then Judge Villarama, Jr. but by respondent Judge Alex L. Quiroz, Justice Villarama, Jr.'s successor. Clearly, the August 15, 1988 Decision penned by then Judge Villarama, Jr. was not in issue or under review in this Petition for which a judicial officer is prohibited from participating.
The fact alone that the issuances under review in this Petition, in effect, affirms the final and executory [RTC] decision, dated August 15, 1988, does not mean that this Court acted with partiality and without the necessary prudence in rendering Our Decision, dated September 6, 2007. Our Decision was rendered after judicious review of the law, the records and the jurisprudence.
x x x x18
* Designated Acting Member in lieu of Associate Justice Jose Catral Mendoza, per Special Order No. 1557 dated September 19, 2013.cralawnad
1 Penned by Associate Justice Noel G. Tijam, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Martin S. Villarama, Jr. (now a member of this Court) and Sesinando E. Villon: rollo. pp. 60-74.cralawnad
2 Penned by Associate Justice Noel C. Tijam, with the concurrence of Associate Justices Sesinando E. Villon and Myrna Dimaranan-Vidal, rollo,pp. 75-77.cralawnad
3Rollo, pp. 61-66. (Some citations omitted; emphases in the original)
4Id. at 73. (Italics and emphasis in the original)
5Id. at 71. (Italics in the original)
6Id. at 29-30.cralawnad
7FGU Insurance Corporation v. Regional Trial Court of Makati City, Branch 66, G.R. No. 161282, February 23, 2011, 644 SCRA 50, 56.cralawnad
9 The exceptions are: (1) the correction of clerical errors; (2) the so-called nunc pro tunc entries which cause no prejudice to any party; (3) void judgments; and (4) whenever circumstances transpire after the finality of the decision rendering its execution unjust and inequitable. (Villa v. GSIS, G.R. No. 174642, October 30, 2009, 604 SCRA 742, 750.)
10 See Annex “M” to Petition, CA rollo, pp. 70-75.cralawnad
11Republic of the Philippines v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 84966, November 21, 1991, 204 SCRA 160.cralawnad
12Id. at 180.cralawnad
13 See RTC Decision, records, vol. I, pp. 189-191.cralawnad
14 See records, vol. I, p. 2.cralawnad
15Acosta v. Salazar, G.R. No. 161034, June 30, 2009, 591 SCRA 262, 270; Ignacio v. Basilio, 418 Phil. 256, 264 (2001).cralawnad
16 537 Phil. 822 (2006).cralawnad
17Id. at 831-832. (Italics in the original)
18Rollo, pp. 76-77.