G.R. No. 191516, June 04, 2014
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. FRANCISCA, GERONIMO AND CRISPIN, ALL SURNAMED SANTOS, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
The [respondents] Francisca, Geronimo and [Crispin], all surnamed Santos, filed an Application for Registration of title for four parcels of land described as Lot Nos. 536, 1101, 1214, 1215, all Mcadm 590-D of the Taguig Cadastre, covering areas of 12,221, 4,218, 9,237 and 1,000 square meters, respectively. Lot No. 536, described in SWO-13-000480, is situated in Barrio Wawa, Taguig, while Lot Nos. 1101, 1214 and 1215, described in SWO-13-000464, are located in Barrio Sta. Ana, Taguig.
The Application of the [respondents] [was] accompanied by the following required documents:1. Original or tracing cloth of Survey plan SWO-13-000464 and SWO-13-000480, with four blue print copies thereof;After the submission of the jurisdictional requirements, trial on the merits followed.
2. Technical Description of SWO-13-000464 and SWO-13-000480;
3. Surveyor's Certificate;
4. Tax Declaration; [and]
5. Deed of Extrajudicial Settlement.
On December 9, 1996, Eusebio M. Santos, brother of the [respondents], filed a Motion to Intervene stating that he has a legal interest in the case being one of the co-owners of the lots sought to be registered.
On April 28, 1997, [respondents] and Eusebio Santos filed a Joint Motion-Manifestation praying that the latter be included as one of the applicants. Accordingly, on September 8, 1997, the Court a quo ordered the inclusion of Eusebio Santos as one of the applicants for the land registration.
On January 23, 2004, the applicants filed a Motion for Partial Dropping of Application re: the application for the Wawa property [Lot No. 536]. On March 9, 2004, the court a quo granted said motion and ordered the withdrawal of the Wawa property from the application.
On March 16, 2004, the applicants presented their evidence ex-parte.
On March 28, 2006, applicant Francisca Santos was presented as a witness on behalf of all the applicants.
The court a quo, based on the above-mentioned oral and documentary evidence submitted, was satisfied that the [respondents] have discharged their burden of proving their registrable right over the said properties. Accordingly, on April 19, 2006, the court a quo ordered the registration of the said properties in the names of the [respondents].
The Solicitor General did not agree with the foregong Decision of the court a quo. Hence, on July 3, 2008, the Solicitor General filed its Appellants' Brief before this Court [the CA]. The [respondents], however, failed to submit a corresponding Appellees' Brief. Due to the failure of the [respondents] to submit the Appellees' Brief, despite notice from the Court [the CA], the Appeal was considered submitted for decision.3
As the rule now stands, an applicant must prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable and disposable by establishing the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order; an administrative action; investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators; and a legislative act or a statute. The applicant may also secure a certification from the government that the land claimed to have been possessed for the required number of years is alienable and disposable. In a line of cases, we have ruled that mere notations appearing in survey plans are inadequate proof of the covered properties’ alienable and disposable character. Our ruling in Republic of the Philippines v. Tri-Plus Corporation is particularly instructive:It must be stressed that incontrovertible evidence must be presented to establish that the land subject of the application is alienable or disposable.
x x x x
x x x To prove that the land subject of an application for registration is alienable, an applicant must establish the existence of a positive act of the government such as a presidential proclamation or an executive order, an administrative action, investigation reports of Bureau of Lands investigators, and a legislative act or statute. The applicant may also secure a certification from the Government that the lands applied for are alienable and disposable. x x x
x x x x
In Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc., this Court explained that a Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) or CENRO certification, by itself, fails to prove the alienable and disposable character of a parcel of land. We ruled:[I]t is not enough for the PENRO or CENRO to certify that a land is alienable and disposable. The applicant for land registration must prove that the DENR Secretary had approved the land classification and released the land of the public domain as alienable and disposable, and that the land subject of the application for registration falls within the approved area per verification through survey by the PENRO or CENRO. In addition, the applicant for land registration must present a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official records. These facts must be established to prove that the land is alienable and disposable. Respondents failed to do so because the certifications presented by respondent do not, by themselves, prove that the land is alienable and disposable. (Emphasis ours)
x x x x
The present rule on the matter then requires that an application for original registration be accompanied by: (1) CENRO or PENRO Certification; and (2) a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official records. x x x
x x x x
In view of the failure of the respondent to establish by sufficient proof that the subject parcels of land had been classified as part of the alienable and disposable land of the public domain, his application for registration of title should be denied.
x x x x
x x x Our Constitution, no less, embodies the Regalian doctrine that all lands of the public domain belong to the State, which is the source of any asserted right to ownership of land. The courts are then empowered, as we are duty-bound, to ensure that such ownership of the State is duly protected by the proper observance by parties of the rules and requirements on land registration.7
* Designated Acting Member, per Special Order No. 1691 dated May 22, 2014.
1 Penned by Associate Justice Jose L. Sabio, Jr., with Associate Justices Vicente S. E. Veloso and Ricardo R. Rosario, concurring; rollo, pp 26-34.
2 Penned by Associate Justice Ricardo R. Rosario, with Associate Justices Vicente S. E. Veloso and Florito S. Macalino, concurring; id. at 44-45.
3Rollo, pp. 27-29.
4 Records, p. 260.
5 G.R. No. 195097; August 14, 2012, 678 SCRA 317.
6Republic v. Medida, supra, at 330-331.
7Id. at 326-331. (Emphasis and underscoring ours)