G.R. No. 164961, June 30, 2014
HECTOR L. UY, Petitioner, v. VIRGINIA G. FULE; HEIRS OF THE LATE AMADO A. GARCIA, NAMELY: AIDA C. GARCIA, LOURDES G. SANTAYANA, AMANDO C. GARCIA, JR., MANUEL C. GARCIA, CARLOS C. GARCIA, AND CRISTINA G. MARALIT; HEIRS OF THE LATE GLORIA GARCIA ENCARNACION, NAMELY: MARVIC G. ENCARNACION, IBARRA G. ENCARNACION, MORETO G. ENCARNACION, JR., AND CARINA G. ENCARNACION; HEIRS OF THE LATE PABLO GARCIA, NAMELY: BERMEDIO GARCIA, CRISTETA GARCIA, NONORATO GARCIA, VICENTE GARCIA, PABLO GARCIA, JR., AND TERESITA GARCIA; HEIRS OF THE LATE ELISA G. HEMEDES, NAMELY: ROEL G. HEMEDES, ELISA G. HEMEDES, ROGELIO G. HEMEDES, ANDORA G. HEMEDES, AND FLORA G. HEMEDES, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
On December 21, 1998, the respondents filed a complaint for cancellation of titles, quieting of title, recovery of possession, and damages against the DAR Secretary; the Municipal Agrarian Reform Officer of Pili, Camarines Sur; DAR Technologist Carmen Sorita; DAR Team Leader Julian Israel; Engr. Sales; and Regional Director Antonio Nuesa of DAR Regional Office No. V (public defendants) and the farmer-beneficiaries (private defendants) in the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Pili, Camarines Sur, alleging that they had been denied due process; and that the titles of the defendants (who included the petitioner) in the disputed land constituted clouds on their own title. They prayed that the private defendants’ certificates of title, including those of their purchasers Chisan Uy and the petitioner, be cancelled; that the private defendants be ordered to surrender the possession of the disputed land to them; and that in default thereof the private defendants be ordered to pay the fair market value of the property, with reparation for damages in either case.10cralawred
- To Catalino Alcaide, OCT No. 8534 and OCT No. 8549, which were cancelled by TCT No. 29948 and TCT No. 29949 in the name of Chisan Uy;
- To Mariano Ronda, OCT No. 9852 and OCT No. 9853, which were cancelled by TCT No. 301120 and TCT No. 301121; and, in turn, TCT No. 301120 and TCT No. 301121 were cancelled by TCT No. 31436 and TCT No. 31437 in the name of petitioner Hector Uy;
- To Ponciano Ermita, OCT 8539;
- To Felipe Marcelo, OCT No. 8542;
- To Salvador Pedimonte, OCT Nos. 8545 and 8546;
- To Fabiana Pedimonte, OCT No. 9848; and
- To Leonila Pedimonte, OCT No. 9849.9
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING CONSIDERATIONS, judgment is hereby rendered:
- Declaring plaintiffs as the owners of the lands covered by TCT No. 30111 and declaring said title as VALID, BINDING AND EFFECTIVE, against the whole world;
- Declaring null and void all the proceedings taken by public defendants in the generation of the certificates of land transfer and emancipation patents, on the bases of which the OCTs mentioned in paragraphs 2 and 3 of this decision were issued by the Register of Deeds of Camarines Sur;
- Ordering the Register of Deeds of Camarines Sur to cancel all the OCTs and TCTs mentioned in paragraph 2 and 3 of this decision;
- Ordering defendants whose titles were cancelled to surrender the possession of the lands covered by their cancelled titles to the plaintiffs and condemning them to PERPETUAL SILENCE in so far as TCT 30111 is concerned.
WHEREFORE, this appeal is DENIED. The assailed Decision dated June 30, 2000 of the Regional Trial Court of Pili, Camarines Sur, Branch 32 in Civil Case No. P-2167 is hereby AFFIRMED.On the inclusion of the disputed land under the DAR’s OLT Program (P.D. No. 27), the CA observed:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Significantly, the disputed land was earlier extra-judicially settled by the plaintiffs-appellees as heirs of the original owner. The disputed land was already titled to plaintiffs-appellees at the time that public respondent DAR included it in the operation of PD No. 27. The DAR’s finding that the same was an “untitled” property is belied not only by the records but, more so, by the failure of defendants-appellants to refute plaintiffs-appellees’ assertion to the contrary.On whether the petitioner and Chisan Uy had been purchasers in good faith and for value without any notice of any defect in the title of the seller (i.e., the heirs of the farmers-beneficiaries), the CA decreed:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
Moreover, for a valid application of PD No. 27, the procedures outlined under PD No. 266 should have been observed, among which is the duty of the Register of Deeds to notify the registered owner concerning such application within a reasonable time. However, as found by the Trial Court, no such notice was served on plaintiffs-appellees, precisely due to the erroneous premise that the disputed land was “untitled property”.
Prescinding from the said wrong premise that the disputed land was an untitled property, no payment of just compensation was made to the registered owners. Such failure or absence of payment violates the very law (PD 27) from which the titles of defendants were purportedly derived. Hence, the land transfer initiated by the DAR involving the disputed land is not only irregular but also unlawful for having been undertaken in violation of the law.
Moreover, a land covered by a title which is outstanding cannot be the subject of an application for registration unless the existing title which has become indefeasible is first nullified by a proper court proceeding. Consequently, the Emancipation Patents and the Certificates of Titles issued as a result of the DAR’s Operation Land Transfer program over an already registered land have no legal foundation or basis. Such subsequent titles must be cancelled because they cast clouds on the earlier existing, valid and uncancelled title of plaintiffs-appellees. For all intents and purposes, they are redundant titles that cannot supplant or supersede existing valid titles.20
We disagree. Even assuming arguendo that they had no notice of any defect in their transferors’ titles, and the lands sold to them should be included in the DAR’s Operation Land Transfer (OLT) program, no valid title could have passed to them because the transfers are void under PD 27. PD 27 explicitly provides:In its resolution of August 18, 2004 denying the petitioner’s motion for reconsideration, the CA, citing Baltazar v. Court of Appeals,22 correctly observed:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibrary
x x x x
Title to land acquired pursuant to this Decree or the Land Reform Program of the Government shall not be transferable except by hereditary succession or to the Government in accordance with the provisions of this Decree, the Code of Agrarian Reforms and other existing laws and regulations;
x x x x (Emphasis supplied)
Based on the above-quoted provision, appellant-purchasers Hector and Chisan Uy are clearly not the qualified transferees of the lands sold to them.
More importantly, the policy of the State in passing PD 27 is to emancipate the tiller of the soil from his bondage by transferring to him the ownership of the land he tills. The prohibition against its transfer is for the purpose of preserving the land for the sole benefit and enjoyment of the farmer and his family. To sustain the transfer of the lands to appellants-purchasers would clearly not achieve that purpose. It would, in fact, defeat it.
The titles of appellant-purchasers Hector Uy and Chisan Uy are, therefore, voided. Ownership of the lands unlawfully transferred to them, remains with plaintiffs-appellees. However, this is without prejudice to whatever legal remedies these appellant-purchasers may avail to recover what they had paid to their transferors.21
The property subject of the said Baltazar case was titled in the name of the private respondent Good Earth Enterprises, Inc. Petitioner therein, Baltazar, claimed ownership of the property, tracing his rights from an alleged vast Spanish grant to one “Don Hermogenes Rodriguez, Governor General of Intramuros, Manila” down to a deed of sale over the subject lots allegedly executed by one Pedro Asedillo (for whose mother, Baltazar had been a tenant sharing in the rice harvest from the lots). Baltazar filed a case for declaration of ownership and reconveyance, and was declared by the court as the true owner of the property. Consequently, Good Earth’s title was cancelled and another one issued in Baltazar’s name. Baltazar promptly sold the land to third parties. Good Earth filed a case for annulment of judgment and reconveyance. Baltazar argued that his vendees are innocent purchasers for value. The Supreme Court, in upholding Good Earth’s title, declared:ChanRoblesVirtualawlibraryWe might assume for the moment and for purposes of argument only that Baltazar’s vendees had successfully proven they were purchasers in good faith and for value. Even so, as between two persons both of whom are in good faith and both innocent of any negligence, the law must protect and prefer the lawful holder of registered title over the transferee of a vendor bereft of any transmissible rights. Under the foregoing principle derived from the above case law, Baltazar’s vendees have no rights as against Good Earth. Their recourse is against Baltazar himself.” (Emphasis supplied.)23cralawredLike Baltazar, Hector and Chisan Uy’s transferors had no transmissible rights because their titles were void, having emanated from an erroneous declaration that the property is untitled, and from an irregular or procedurally flawed implementation of the agrarian reform law (as there was no notice to the registered owner that the subject property would be placed under the Operation Land Transfer program, and there was no payment of just compensation). Accordingly, Hector and Chisan Uy’s titles are likewise void.24
x x x x
x x x It appearing that Atty. Nelson P. Paraiso, counsel for petitioners in G.R. No. 165320, failed to file reply to the comment on the petition for review on certiorari as required in the Resolution dated 24 August 2005 within the extended period which expired on 01 December 2006, the petition is hereby ordered DENIED for failure to comply with said resolution, which amounts to failure to prosecute.As such, only the petitioner’s appeal remains unresolved. Towards that end, he insists that the CA erred: (a) in failing to find that he was an innocent purchaser for value who had the better right than the respondents over the disputed land; and (b) in failing to find that the law applicable to the dispute was R.A. No. 6657 (approved on June 10, 1988), not P. D. No. 27.26cralawred
In any event, petitioner failed to sufficiently show that the Court of Appeals committed any reversible error in the challenged decision and resolution as to warrant the exercise of this Court’s discretionary appellate jurisdiction. Besides, the issues raised are factual in nature.25
A buyer for value in good faith is one who buys property of another, without notice that some other person has a right to, or interest in, such property and pays full and fair price for the same, at the time of such purchase, or before he has notice of the claim or interest of some other persons in the property. He buys the property with the well-founded belief that the person from whom he receives the thing had title to the property and capacity to convey it.An examination of the deed of sale executed between Isabel Ronda, et al. and the petitioner respecting the portions covered by TCT No. 31120 and TCT No. 31121 indicates that the TCTs were issued only on August 17, 1998 but the deed of sale was executed on July 31, 1998. While it is true, as the petitioner argues, that succession occurs from the moment of death of the decedent pursuant to Article 777 of the Civil Code,46 his argument did not extend to whether or not he was a buyer in good faith, but only to whether or not, if at all, Isabel Ronda, et al., as the heirs of Mariano Ronda, held the right to transfer ownership over their predecessor’s property. The argument did not also address whether or not the transfer to the petitioner was valid.
To prove good faith, a buyer of registered and titled land need only show that he relied on the face of the title to the property. He need not prove that he made further inquiry for he is not obliged to explore beyond the four corners of the title. Such degree of proof of good faith, however, is sufficient only when the following conditions concur: first, the seller is the registered owner of the land; second, the latter is in possession thereof; and third, at the time of the sale, the buyer was not aware of any claim or interest of some other person in the property, or of any defect or restriction in the title of the seller or in his capacity to convey title to the property.
Absent one or two of the foregoing conditions, then the law itself puts the buyer on notice and obliges the latter to exercise a higher degree of diligence by scrutinizing the certificate of title and examining all factual circumstances in order to determine the seller’s title and capacity to transfer any interest in the property. Under such circumstance, it was no longer sufficient for said buyer to merely show that he had relied on the face of the title; he must now also show that he had exercised reasonable precaution by inquiring beyond the title. Failure to exercise such degree of precaution makes him a buyer in bad faith.45
In view of the result thus reached by us, it becomes superfluous to settle the issue of which between P.D. No. 27 and Section 27 of R.A. No. 6657 should control, and whether or not the R.A. No. 6657 has repealed P.D. No. 27. Even so, the Court has expressly clarified that R.A. No. 6657 did not repeal or supersede P.D. No. 27, stating in Sigre v. Court of Appeals:49WHEREFORE, we DENY the petition for review on certiorari; AFFIRM the decision of the Court of Appeals promulgated on February 17, 2004; and ORDER the petitioner to pay the costs of suit.Finally, the Court need not belabor the fact that R.A. 6657 or the CARP Law operates distinctly from P.D. 27. R.A. 6657 covers all public and private agricultural land including other lands of the public domain suitable for agriculture as provided for in Proclamation No. 131 and Executive Order No. 229; while, P.D. 27 covers rice and corn lands. On this score, E.O. 229, which provides for the mechanism of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, specifically states: “(P)residential Decree No. 27, as amended, shall continue to operate with respect to rice and corn lands, covered thereunder. xxx.” It cannot be gainsaid, therefore, that R.A. 6657 did not repeal or supersede, in any way, P.D. 27. And whatever provisions of P.D. 27 that are not inconsistent with R.A. 6657 shall be suppletory to the latter, and all rights acquired by the tenant-farmer under P.D. 27 are retained even with the passage of R.A. 6657.
1Sandoval v. Court of Appeals, G. R. No. 106657, August 1, 1996, 260 SCRA 283, 296-297, citing Agricultural and Home Extension Development Corporation v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 92310, September 10, 1992, 213 SCRA 563, 565-566; Santos v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 90380, September 13, 1990, 189 SCRA 550; Fule v. De Legare, G.R. No. L-17951, February 28, 1963, 7 SCRA 351, 356; De Santos v. Intermediate Appellate Court, No. L-69591, January 25, 1988, 157 SCRA 295, 301-302.
2Duran v. Intermediate Appellate Court, G. R. No. L-64159, September 10, 1985, 138 SCRA 489, 494; Arriola v. Gomez de la Serna, 14 Phil. 627 (1909).
3Embrado v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 51457, June 27, 1994, 233 SCRA 335, 344.
4Rollo (G.R. No. 164961), pp. 9-22; penned by Associate Justice Noel G. Tijam, and concurred in by Associate Justice Ruben T. Reyes (later Presiding Justice, and a Member of the Court, but now retired) and Associate Justice Edgardo P. Cruz (retired).
5 Id. at 145-152.
6 Id. at 10-11.
7 Id. at 11.
8 Id. at 11-12.
9 Id. at 12-13.
11 Supra note 5.
12 Id. at 152.
13 Id. at 15-16.
14 Id. at 16.
15 Id. at 14.
16 Id. at 14-15.
17 Id. at 15.
19 Supra note 4, at 21.
20 Id. at 19-20.
21 Id. at 20-21.
22 No. L-78728, December 8, 1988, 168 SCRA 354.
23Rollo, p. 63.
24 Id. at 64.
25Rollo (G.R. No. 165320), p. 467.
26Rollo (G.R. No. 164961), p. 77.
27 Id. at 78-79.
28 Id. at 80-81.
29 Id. at 81.
30 Id. at 84.
31 G.R. No. 107967, March 1, 1994, 230 SCRA 550.
32 Id. at 560.
33 P.D. No. 27 provides:
Title to land acquired pursuant to this Decree or the Land Reform Program of the Government shall not be transferable except by hereditary succession or to the Government in accordance with the provisions of this Decree, the Code of Agrarian Reforms and other existing laws and regulations.
34 Section 27 of R.A. No. 6657 states:
Section 27. Transferability of Awarded Lands.—Lands acquired by beneficiaries under this Act may not be sold, transferred or conveyed except through hereditary succession, or to the government, or to the LBP, or to other qualified beneficiaries for a period of ten (10) years. Provided, however, that the children or the spouse of the transferor shall have a right to repurchase the land from the government or LBP within a period of two (2) years. Due notice of the availability of the land shall be given by the LBP to the Barangay Agrarian Reform Committee (BARC) of the barangay where the land is situated. The Provincial Agrarian Reform Coordinating Committee (PARCCOM), As herein provided, shall, in turn, be given due notice thereof by the BARC.
If the land has not yet been fully paid by the beneficiary, the rights to the land may be transferred or conveyed, with prior approval of the DAR, to any heir of the beneficiary or to any other beneficiary who, as a condition for such transfer or conveyance, shall cultivate the land himself. Failing compliance herewith, the land shall be transferred to the LBP which shall give due notice of the availability of the land in the manner specified in the immediately preceding paragraph.
In the event of such transfer to the LBP, the latter shall compensate the beneficiary in one lump sum for the amounts the latter has already paid, together with the value of improvements he has made on the land.
35Rollo (G.R. No. 164961), pp. 103-104.
36 R.A. No. 6657, Section 76. Repealing Clause. — Section 35 of Republic Act No. 3834, Presidential Decree No. 316, the last two paragraphs of Section 12 of Presidential Decree No. 946, Presidential Decree No. 1038, and all other laws, decrees executive orders, rules and regulations, issuances or parts thereof inconsistent with this Act are hereby repealed or amended accordingly.
38 Id. at 182-183.
39 Id. at 205-206.
40 Id. at 194-195.
41 Supra note 1.
42 Supra note 2.
43 Supra note 3.
44 G.R. No. 157434, September 19, 2006, 502 SCRA 334.
45 Id. at 346-348.
46Rollo (G.R. No. 164961), p. 82.
47 Supra note 44.
48Lucena v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 77468, August 25, 1999, 313 SCRA 47, 57.
49 G.R. No. 109568 & 113454, August 8, 2002, 387 SCRA 15, 29.