G.R. No. 212388, December 10, 2014
REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. HEIRS OF SPOUSES DONATO SANCHEZ AND JUANA MENESES, REPRESENTED BY RODOLFO S. AGUINALDO, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
VELASCO JR., J.:
(2) From Book No. 35 of the Record Book of Cadastral Lots on file at the Cadastral Decree Section, this Authority, it appears that Decree No. 418121 was issued to Lot No. 854, Dagupan Cadastre on January 12, 1931, in Cadastral Case No. 40, GLRO Cad. Record No. 920. Copy of the said decree, however, is no longer available in this Authority.
(3) The plan and technical description of lot 854, cad 217, Case 3, Dagupan Cadastre, were verified correct by this Authority to represent the aforesaid lot and the same have been approved under (LRA) PR-07-01555-R pursuant to the provisions of Section 12 of Republic Act No. 26.
Section 15. If the court, after hearing, finds that the documents presented, as supported by parole evidence or otherwise, are sufficient and proper to warrant the reconstitution of the lost or destroyed certificate of title, and that the petitioner is the registered owner of the property or has an interest therein, that the said certificate of title was in force at the time it was lost or destroyed, and that the description, area and boundaries of the property are substantially the same as those contained in the lost or destroyed certificate of title, an order of reconstitution shall be issued. x x x
originally registered on the 29th day of January,  xxx as OCT No. 45361 pursuant to Decree No. 418121 issued in G.L.R.O. Cadastral Record No. 920.
The name of the registered owner of OCT No. 45361 is not available as per certification of the [RD of Lingayen], dated August 18, 1982, entries nos. 107415 and 107416, respectively.
1. Under the premises, the correct proceeding is a petition for cancellation of the old decree, re-issuance of decree and for issuance of OCT pursuant to that re-issued decree.
In the landmark decision of Teofilo Cacho vs. Court of Appeals, et al., G.R. No. 123361, March 3, 1997, our Supreme Court had affirmed the efficacy of filing a petition for cancellation of the old decree; the re-issuance of such decree and the issuance of OCT corresponding to that re-issued decree.“Thus, petitioner filed an omnibus motion for leave of court to file and to admit amended petition, but this was denied. Petitioner elevated the matter to his Court (docketed as Teofilo Cacho vs. Hon. Manindiara P. Mangotara, G.R. No. 85495) but we resolved to remand the case to the lower court, ordering the latter to accept the amended petition and to hear it as one for re-issuance of decree under the following guidelines:Following the principle laid down in the above-quoted case, a question may be asked: Why should a decree be canceled and re-issued when the same is valid and intact? Within the context of this discussion, there is no dispute that a decree has been validly issued. And in fact, in some instances, a copy of such decree is intact. What is not known is whether or not an OCT is issued pursuant to that decree. If such decree is valid, why is there a need to have it cancelled and re-issued?Considering the doctrines in Sta. Ana vs. Menla, 1 SCRA 1297 (1961) and Heirs of Cristobal Marcos vs. de Banuvar, 25 SCRA 315 , and the lower court findings that the decrees had in fact been issued, the omnibus motion should have been heard as a motion to re-issue the decrees in order to have a basis for the issuance of the titles and the respondents being heard in their opposition.
Considering the foregoing, we resolve to order the lower court to accept the amended petition subject to the private respondent’s being given the opportunity to answer and to present their defenses. The evidence already on record shall be allowed to stand but opportunity to controvert existing evidence shall be given the parties.”
Again, we invite you back to the highlighted provision of Section 39 of PD 1529 which states that: “The original certificate of title shall be a true copy of the decree of registration.” This provision is significant because it contemplates an OCT which is an exact replica of the decree. If the old decree will not be canceled and no new decree issued, the corresponding OCT issued today will bear the signature of the present Administrator while the decree upon which it was based shall bear the signature of the past Administrator. This is not consistent with the clear intention of the law which states that the OCT shall be true copy of the decree of registration. Ostensibly, therefore, the cancellation of the old decree and the issuance of a new one is necessary.
2. Republic Act No. 26 for reconstitution of lost OCT will not lie.
It is so basic under Republic Act No. 26 that the same shall only apply in cases where the issuance of OCT has been established, only that it was lost or destroyed under circumstances provided for under said law. Again, within the context of this discussion, RA No. 26 will not apply because in this case, there is no established proof that an OCT had been issued. In other words, the applicability of RA No. 26 hinges on the existence of priorly issued OCT.
Will reconstitution of Decree lie then? Again, the answer is no. There is no showing that the decree is lost. In fact, it can be established that a decree, pursuant either to a cadastral proceeding or an ordinary land registration case, has been issued. Under existing land registration laws and jurisprudence, there is no such thing as reconstitution of a decree. RA No. 26 cannot likewise be the basis because the latter refers to an OCT and not a decree of registration.
3. For as long as a decree has not yet been transcribed (entered in registration book of the RD), the court which adjudicated and ordered for the issuance of such decree continues to be clothed with jurisdiction.
This matter has been settled in several cases, to name a few:“There is nothing in the law that limits the period within which the court may order or issue a decree. The reason is what is stated in the consideration of the second assignment error, that the judgment is merely declaratory in character and does not need to be asserted or enforced against the adverse party. Furthermore, the issuance of a decree is a ministerial duty both of the judge and of the Land Registration Commission; failure of the court or of the clerk to issue the decree for the reason that no motion therefore has been filed can not prejudice the owner, or the person in whom the land is ordered to be registered.”Furthermore, in Gomez v. Court of Appeals, No. L-77770, December 15, 1988, 168 SCRA 503, the Supreme Court declared that:
“We fail to understand the arguments of the appellant in support of the above assignment, except in so far as it supports his theory that after a decision in a land registration case has become final, it may not be enforced after the lapse of a period of 10 years, except by another proceeding to enforce the judgment may be enforced within 5 years by motion, and after five years but within 10 years, by an action (Sec. 6, Rule 39). This provision of the Rules refers to civil actions and is not applicable to special proceedings, such as a land registration case. This is so because a party in a civil action must immediately enforce a judgment that is secured as against the adverse party. And his failure to act to enforce the same within a reasonable time as provided in the Rules makes the decision unenforceable against the losing party.” (Sta. Ana vs. Menla, 1 SCRA 1297 and Heirs of Cristobal Marcos vs. de Banuvar, 25 SCRA 315)“. . . Unlike ordinary civil actions, the adjudication of land in a cadastral or land registration proceeding does not become final, in the sense of incontrovertibility (,) until after the expiration of one (1) year after (sic) the entry of the final decree of registration. This Court, in several decisions, has held that as long as a final decree has not been entered by the Land Registration Commission (now NLTDRA) and the period of one (1) year has not elapsed from the date of entry of such decree, the title is not finally adjudicated and the decision in the registration proceeding continues to be under the control and sound discretion of the court rendering it.” (Also cited in Labarada v. CA and Ramos v. Rodriguez, 244 SCRA 418, 423-424)
4. The heirs of the original adjudicate may file the petition in representation of the decedent and the re-issued decree shall still be under the name of the original adjudicate.
It is a well settled rule that succession operates upon the death of the decedent. The heirs shall then succeed into the shoes of the decedent. The heirs shall have the legal interest in the property, thus, they cannot be prohibited from filing the necessary petition.
As the term connotes, a mere re-issuance of the decree means that the new decree shall be issued which shall, in all respects, be the same as that of the original decree. Nothing in the said decree shall be amended nor modified; hence, it must be under the name of the original adjudicatee.
In sum, from the foregoing, it may be safely concluded that for as long as the decree issued in an ordinary or cadastral registration case has not yet been entered, meaning, it has not yet been transcribed in the Registration Book of the concerned Registrar of Deeds, such decree has not yet attained finality and therefore may still be subject to cancellation in the same land registration case. Upon cancellation of such decree, the decree owner (adjudicatee or his heirs) may then pray for the issuance of a new decree number and, consequently, pray for the issuance of an original certificate of title based on the newly issued decree of registration.
* Additional member per raffle dated December 9, 2014.
1 Penned by Associate Justice Zenaida T. Galapate-Laguilles and concurred in by Associate Justices Marlene Gonzales-Sison and Amy C. Lazaro-Javier.
2 An Act Providing a Special Procedure for the Reconstitution of Torrens Certificates of Title Lost or Destroyed.
3 Rendered by Judge Robert O. Rudio.
4 G.R. No. 173210, April 24, 2009, 586 SCRA 600.