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[G.R. No. 42859. March 17, 1938. ]

GABRIEL LASAM, applicant-appellee, v. THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS and JOSE CHAN HONG HIN, ET AL., opponents-appellants.

Acting Solicitor-General Melencio and B. Pobre for Appellants.

Alfredo Catolico for Appellee.


1. REGISTRATION OF LAND; GENUINENESS OF TITLE AND IDENTITY OF LAND; NECESSARY EVIDENCE. — An applicant for registration of land, if he relies on a document evidencing his title thereto, must prove not only the genuineness of his title but the identity of the land therein referred to. The document in such a case is either a basis of his claim for registration or not at all. If, as in this case, he only claims a portion of what is included in his title, he must clearly prove that the property sought to be registered is included in that title.

2. ID.; POSSESSION UNDER LAND REGISTRATION ACT; CONSTRUCTIVE POSSESSION. — While "possession in the eyes of the law does not mean that a man has to have his feet on every square meter of ground before it can be said that he is in possession", possession under paragraph 6 of section 54 of Act No. 926, as amended by paragraph (b) of section 45 of Act No. 2874, is not gained by mere nominal claim. The mere planting of a sign or symbol of possession cannot justify a Magellan-like claim of dominion over an immense tract of territory. Possession as a means of acquiring ownership, while it may be constructive, is not a mere fiction.



On January 24, 1930, Gabriel Lasam filed with the Court of First Instance of Cagayan an application for the registration of 152 parcels of land containing a total area of 24,723,436 square meters, situated in the municipality of Solana, Province of Cagayan, described in the plan Exhibit K attached to the application. These 152 parcels include the parcel No. 9 here involved.

According to the lower court, the portions of said parcel No. 9 which were opposed during the time of survey were delimited and marked on its plan Psu-67516 attached to the record as lots A to Z, AA to HH, MM to ZZ, AAA to ZZZ, AAAA to ZZZZ, AAAAA, to FFFFF, NNNNN, 35 to 38, and 111 to 143, all inclusive. (Decision of the lower court, Bill of Exceptions of the Government, p. 35.)

The Director of Lands opposed the application on the ground that it is not supported by any title fit for registration and that the land sought to be registered is public land. The brothers Felipe, Jose, and Salvador, all surnamed Narag, who are first cousins to the applicant Lasam, also filed opposition on the ground that they are the owners of parcel No. 9. Oppositions were also filed by Tomas Furigay and 35 other persons as homesteaders; by the provincial fiscal, representing the Director of Forestry, on the ground that portions thereof are public forests; by Francisco Caronan and some 71 other parties, claiming the parcels occupied by them as their exclusive properties; by Jose Chan Hong Hin, on the ground that the application includes his property of about 22 hectares and 50 ares; and by Mauro Antonio, on the ground that the application includes the portion occupied by him and belonging to him. Pablo Soriano succeeded in having the order of general default set aside as to him and was allowed to register his opposition at a later date. Amended applications and oppositions by the parties were subsequently permitted to be filed.

After a protracted hearing, the lower court rejected all the oppositions filed, declared the applicant, Gabriel Lasam, the owner of parcel No. 9, as indicated in the plan Psu-67516 (Exhibit K), and decreed the registration of said parcel in his favor.

On September 10, 1934, counsel for various oppositors, after excepting to the decision, filed a motion for new trial which was denied, and the case was brought before this court by bill of exceptions.

The Narag brothers and the Director of Forestry appear to have abandoned their opposition. They made no attempt to substantiate their claims at the trial.

Counsel for the Director of Lands, Et. Al. and for Jose Chan Hong Hin, Et. Al. make various assignments of error in their respective briefs. It is not believed necessary however, to consider each and every assignment made as the questions presented may, in our opinion, be reduced to the following propositions: (a) Whether or not the applicant, Gabriel Lasam, is entitled to the registration of parcel No. 9 on the basis of the document presented as Exhibit L, hereinafter to be referred to, or in the alternative, whether or not he is entitled to registration on the basis of public, continuous, and adverse possession under a claim of ownership during the time prescribed by law (par. 9, application); and in the negative, (b) whether or not the numerous oppositors — excluding the homesteaders — are entitled to the parcels which they allege are included in the controverted parcel No. 9. The rights of the homesteaders necessarily depend on the resolution of these two propositions.

Exhibit L purports to be an application, dated June 27, 1873, addressed by Domingo Narag 1.
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