Sunday, October 21, 2012


Malabanan vs Republic
On February 20, 1998 , Mario Malabanan filed an application for land registration covering a parcel of land identified as Lot 9864-A, Cad-452-D, Silang Cadastre,[2] situated in Barangay Tibig, Silang Cavite, and consisting of 71,324 square meters. Malabanan claimed that he had purchased the property from Eduardo Velazco,[3] and that he and his predecessors-in-interest had been in open, notorious, and continuous adverse and peaceful possession of the land for more than thirty (30) years. Malaban presented his witness Aristedes Velazco who testified that the property originally belonged to a 22-hectare property owned by his great-grandfather, Lino Velazco. Upon the latter’s death the property was divided by his four sons, one of them is Esteban, who is Aristedes’ grandfather. When Esteban and his wife Magdalena died, the latter being the administrator of all the properties inherited by the Velazco sons, their son Virgilio succeeded in administering the properties including the lot in questioned which belonged to his uncle Eduardo, the one sold to Malabanan. Malabanan presented also a Certification dated June 11, 2001 issued by CENRO-DENR stating that the subject property was "verified to be within the Alienable or Disposable land per Land Classification Map No. 3013 established under Project No. 20-A and approved as such under FAO 4-1656 on March 15, 1982.” Malabanan died so his heirs appealed to the CA. The RTC granted the application. The respondents appealed and CA reversed the RTC.
1.                  In order that an alienable and disposable land of the public domain may be registered under Section 14(1) of Presidential Decree No. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree, should the land be classified as alienable and disposable as of June 12, 1945 or is it sufficient that such classification occur at any time prior to the filing of the applicant for registration provided that it is established that the applicant has been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945 or earlier?


In  Sec.14 (1) states:
SECTION 14. Who may apply.—The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance an application for registration of title to land, whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives:
(1)   those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier.

When Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree explicitly provides that persons "who have acquired ownership over private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws," it unmistakably refers to the Civil Code as a valid basis for the registration of lands.
Section 14(1) mandates registration on the basis of possession, while Section 14(2) entitles registration on the basis of prescription. Registration under Section 14(1) is extended under the aegis of the Property Registration Decree and the Public Land Act while registration under Section 14(2) is made available both by the Property Registration Decree and the Civil Code.
We now lay down doctrines to be applied in the case:

(1) In connection with Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree, Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act recognizes and confirms that "those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, since June 12, 1945" have acquired ownership of, and registrable title to, such lands  based on the length and quality of their possession.
(a) Since Section 48(b) merely requires possession since 12 June 1945 and does not require that the lands should have been alienable and disposable during the entire period of possession, the possessor is entitled to secure judicial confirmation of his title thereto as soon as it is declared alienable and disposable, subject to the timeframe imposed by Section 47 of the Public Land Act.[51]

(b) The right to register granted under Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act is further confirmed by Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree.

(2) In complying with Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree, consider that under the Civil Code, prescription is recognized as a mode of acquiring ownership of patrimonial property. However, public domain lands become only patrimonial property not only with a declaration that these are alienable or disposable.  There must also be an express government manifestation that the property is already patrimonial or no longer retained for public service or the development of national wealth, under Article 422 of the Civil Code. And only when the property has become patrimonial can the prescriptive period for the acquisition of property of the public dominion begin to run.
(a) Patrimonial property is private property of the government. The person acquires ownership of patrimonial property by prescription under the Civil Code is entitled to secure registration thereof under Section 14(2) of the Property Registration Decree.

(b) There are two kinds of prescription by which patrimonial property may be acquired, one ordinary and other extraordinary. Under ordinary acquisitive prescription, a person acquires ownership of a patrimonial property through possession for at least ten (10) years, in good faith and with just title. Under extraordinary acquisitive prescription, a person's uninterrupted adverse possession of patrimonial property for at least thirty (30) years, regardless of good faith or just title, ripens into ownership.

There is no substantive evidence to establish that Malabanan or petitioners as his predecessors-in-interest have been in possession of the property since 12 June 1945 or earlier. The tax declaration they presented as evidence of their possession was dated to the year 1948. . Thus, they cannot avail themselves of registration under Section 14(1) of the Property Registration Decree.

Neither can petitioners properly invoke Section 14(2) as basis for registration. While the subject property was declared as alienable or disposable in 1982, there is no competent evidence that is no longer intended for public use service or for the development of the national evidence, conformably with Article 422 of the Civil Code. The classification of the subject property as alienable and disposable land of the public domain does not change its status as property of the public dominion under Article 420(2) of the Civil Code.  Thus, it is insusceptible to acquisition by prescription.
The petition is denied.

Biraogo vs Truth Commission
The President Aquino on July 30, 2010, signed Executive Order No. 1 establishing the Philippine Truth Commission of 2010 (Truth Commission).
One of its provisions states:
SECTION 1. Creation of a Commission. - There is hereby created the PHILIPPINE TRUTH COMMISSION, hereinafter referred to as the "COMMISSION," which shall primarily seek and find the truth on, and toward this end, investigate reports of graft and corruption of such scale and magnitude that shock and offend the moral and ethical sensibilities of the people, committed by public officers and employees, their co-principals, accomplices and accessories from the private sector, if any, during the previous administration; and thereafter recommend the appropriate action or measure to be taken thereon to ensure that the full measure of justice shall be served without fear or favor.

Petitioners asked the Court to declare it unconstitutional and to enjoin the PTC from performing its functions. 
Whether or not the Philippine Truth Commission created by the President unconstitutional?
Section 1, Article III (Bill of Rights) of the 1987 Constitution.  Section 1 reads:
Section 1. No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.

The equal protection of the laws is embraced in the concept of due process, as every unfair discrimination offends the requirements of justice and fair play. It has been embodied in a separate clause, however, to provide for a more specific guaranty against any form of undue favoritism or hostility from the government.  Equal protection simply requires that all persons or things similarly situated should be treated alike, both as to rights conferred and responsibilities imposed." What it simply requires is equality among equals as determined according to a valid classification. Indeed, the equal protection clause permits classification.  Such classification, however, to be valid must pass the test of reasonableness. The test has four requisites: (1) The classification rests on substantial distinctions; (2) It is germane to the purpose of the law; (3) It is not limited to existing conditions only; and (4) It applies equally to all members of the same class. "Superficial differences do not make for a valid classification."
Executive Order No. 1 should be struck down as violative of the equal protection clause.  The clear mandate of the envisioned truth commission is to investigate and find out the truth "concerning the reported cases of graft and corruption during the previous administration" only. The intent to single out the previous administration is plain, patent and manifest.  Mention of it has been made in at least three portions of the questioned executive order.
In this regard, it must be borne in mind that the Arroyo administration is but just a member of a class, that is, a class of past administrations. It is not a class of its own. Not to include past administrations similarly situated constitutes arbitrariness which the equal protection clause cannot sanction. Such discriminating differentiation clearly reverberates to label the commission as a vehicle for vindictiveness and selective retribution.
While reasonable prioritization is permitted, it should not be arbitrary lest it be struck down for being unconstitutional. In the often quoted language of Yick Wo v. Hopkins:
Though the law itself be fair on its face and impartial in appearance, yet, if applied and administered by public authority with an evil eye and an unequal hand, so as practically to make unjust and illegal discriminations between persons in similar circumstances, material to their rights, the denial of equal justice is still within the prohibition of the constitution. 
“The equal protection clause is violated by purposeful and intentional discrimination."
The petition is hereby granted.

No comments: