[G.R. No. L-14634. January 28, 1961. ]
ARTURO NIETO, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. BARTOLOME QUINES and MIGUEL P. PIO, Defendants-Appellees.
Justiniano P. Cortez, for Plaintiff-Appellant.
Miguel P. Pio for Defendants-Appellees.
1. HOMESTEAD; NON-ISSUANCE OF PATENT; WHEN APPLICANT DEEMED EQUITABLE OWNER OF LAND. — A homestead applicant who has complied with all the terms and conditions which would entitle him to a patent, acquires a vested right on the land and should be regarded as the equitable owner thereof, although a patent may not have been actually issued to him.
2. LAND REGISTRATION; ADJUDICATED BY THE CADASTRAL COURT; WHEN TITLE BECOMES VESTED UPON THE OWNER. — The title of ownership on the land is vested upon the owner, upon the expiration of the period to appeal from the decision or adjudication by the cadastral court, without such an appeal having been perfected. The certificate of title would then be necessary for purposes of effecting registration of subsequent disposition of the land where court proceedings would no longer be necessary (De La Merced v. Court of Appeals, Et Al., L-17757, May 30, 1962).
3. ID.; ID.; DIFFERENCE FROM THE PROCEDURE UNDER THE PUBLIC LAND LAW. — The procedure for the registration of lands under Act 926 is purely administrative, and the decision of the Director of Lands is not conclusive. On the other hand, the proceedings under the Cadastral Act are judicial; the action is one in rem and any decision rendered therein by the cadastral court is binding against the whole world, including the Government.
4. ID.; ID.; ID.; CONFLICT BETWEEN CERTIFICATE OF TITLE ACQUIRED PURSUANT TO PUBLIC LAND AND THAT OBTAINED THRU JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS; WHICH SHOULD PREVAIL. — While with the due registration and issuance of a certificate of title over a land acquired pursuant to the Public Land Law, said property becomes registered in contemplation of Act 496 in view of its nature and manner of acquisition, such certificate of title, when in conflict with one obtained on the same date through judicial proceedings, must give way to the latter.
D E C I S I O N
GUTIERREZ DAVID, J.:
Sometime in 1917, Bartolome Quines filed with the Bureau of Lands a homestead application covering a tract of land situated in the municipality of Abulug, province of Cagayan. Upon the approval of his application in the following year, he began clearing and cultivating the land.
In the years 1923 to 1925, cadastral surveys were made by the Bureau of Lands in the municipality of Abulug, during which the tract of land applied for as a homestead by Bartolome Quines was designated as Lot No. 3044 of the Abulug Cadastre. After the surveys were completed, cadastral proceedings were initiated in 1927 by the Director of Lands in the Court of First Instance of Cagayan. Relying upon the assurance made by the employees of the Bureau of Lands that they would take care of his homestead in the cadastral proceedings, Bartolome Quines did not file any answer therein. However, one Maria Florentino filed an answer claiming several lots including Lot No. 3044. After hearing, the cadastral court, on August 16, 1930, rendered its decision wherein Maria Florentino was awarded the lots claimed by her. Lot No. 3044 was included, in the award, apparently because neither the Director of Lands nor any of his representatives appeared during the hearing to inform the court that it was under homestead application. On August 29, 1930, pending the issuance of the final decree of registration and the original certificate of title to Maria Florentino, a homestead covering lot No. 3044 was granted to Bartolome Quines, and pursuant thereto, the Register of Deeds of Cagayan, on September 15, 1930, issued Original Certificate of Title No. 623 in his name. Six months thereafter, or on March 12, 1931, the same Register of Deeds issued Original Certificate of Title No. 11982 in the name of Maria Florentino covering the lots awarded to her by the cadastral court including Lot No. 3044.
Sometime in 1952, Maria Florentino, with the consent of her husband Jose Villanueva, sold all the lots approved by Original Certificate of Title No. 11982 to Arturo Nieto, who subsequently secured the issuance of Transfer Certificate of Title No. 1402 in his name on January 21, 1963.
On the other hand, Bartolome Quines executed a deed of sale on December 23, 1953 transferring Lot No. 3044 as covered by Original Certificate of Title issued in his name to Atty. Miguel P. Pio. Discovering that the land he purchased was covered by another title in the name of Arturo Nieto, Atty. Pio, on January 8, 1954, filed an action against the latter in the Court of First Instance of Cagayan for quieting of title. The lower court, however, upon defendant’s motion, dismissed the action on the ground that the plaintiff had not yet acquired a legal title that could affect third persons, the sale not having been approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the deed not being registered in the office of the Register of Deeds.
Prior to the dismissal of the action to quiet title above mentioned, or on January 16, 1964, Arturo Nieto, the defendant therein, filed a complaint against Bartolome Quines in the Court of First Instance of Cagayan. The complaint, alleging, among other things, that the homestead patent and Original Certificate of Title No. 623 were obtained through fraud and misrepresentation, prayed that the patent and title be cancelled and that Transfer Certificate of Title No. 1402 issued in plaintiff’s name be declared as the true and valid title over the lot in dispute. It was likewise alleged that defendant Quines was not in possession of Lot No. 3044, but of certain portions of other lots belonging to plaintiff, and should, therefore, be ordered to vacate the same. Defendant Bartolome Quines, through his counsel Atty. Miguel P. Pio, answered the complaint denying its material allegations.
During the pendency of the action, the sale of Lot No. 3044 to Miguel P. Pio was approved by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources and was later registered in the office of the Register of Deeds of Cagayan who issued Transfer Certificate of Title No. 1984 in the name of Miguel P. Pio. Accordingly, Miguel P. Pio filed a motion for his inclusion as party defendant. His motion having been granted, defendant Miguel P. Pio answered the complaint denying the material allegations thereof and interposing a counterclaim for damages.
After trial, the lower court rendered judgment in defendants’ favor dismissing the complaint, ordering the cancellation of Original Certificate of Title No. 11982 and Transfer Certificate of Title No. 1402 insofar as they cover Lot No. 3044, and sentencing the plaintiff to pay the defendants P6,000 representing the owner’s share in the harvest from the years 1954 to 1957. His two motions for reconsideration having been denied, plaintiff Arturo Nieto appealed directly to this Court.
The appeal is without merit.
As established during the trial and found by the trial court, Bartolome Quines had been in the continuous and peaceful possession of Lot No. 3044 from the time his homestead application was approved in 1918 up to 1953 when he was forcibly ejected therefrom by Arturo Nieto. As a homestead applicant, he religiously complied with all the requirements of the Public Land Act and, on August 29, 1930, a homestead patent was issued in his favor. Considering the requirement that the final proof must be presented within 5 years from the approval of the homestead application (sec. 14, Public Land Act), it is safe to assume that Bartolome Quines submitted his final proof way back yet in 1923 and that the Director of Lands approved the same not long thereafter or before the land became the subject of the cadastral proceedings in 1927. Unfortunately, there was some delay in the ministerial act of issuing the patent and the same was actually issued only after the cadastral court had adjudicated the land to Maria Florentino. Nevertheless, having complied with all the terms and conditions which would entitle him to a patent, Bartolome Quines, even without a patent actually issued, has unquestionably acquired a vested right on the land and is to be regarded as the equitable owner thereof. (Balboa v. Farrales, 51 Phil., 498.) Under these circumstances and applying by analogy the principles governing sales of immovable property to two different persons by the same vendor, Bartolome Quines’ title must prevail over that of Maria Florentino not only because he had always been in possession of the land but also because he obtained title to the land prior to that of Maria Florentino.
Having arrived at the above conclusions, we deem it idle to consider the other points raised in this appeal.
IN VIEW OF THE FOREGOING, the decision appealed from is hereby affirmed. With costs against Appellant.
Bengzon, Padilla, Bautista Angelo, Labrador and Paredes, JJ., concur.
Reyes, J.B.L., JJ., concurs in the result.
Concepcion and Barrera, JJ., reserve their votes.