[G. R. No. 107764. October 4, 2002]
On April 25, 1985, petitioner Edna T. Collado filed with the land registration court an application for registration of a parcel of land with an approximate area of 1,200,766 square meters or 120.0766 hectares (“Lot” for brevity). The Lot is situated in Barangay San Isidro (formerly known as Boso-boso), Antipolo, Rizal, and covered by Survey Plan Psu-162620. Attached to the application was the technical description of the Lot as Lot Psu-162620 signed by Robert C. Pangyarihan, Officer-in-Charge of the Survey Division, Bureau of Lands, which stated, “[t]his survey is inside IN-12 Mariquina Watershed.” On March 24, 1986, petitioner Edna T. Collado filed an Amended Application to include additional co-applicants.] Subsequently, more applicants joined (collectively referred to as “petitioners” for brevity).
The Republic of the Philippines, through the Solicitor General, and the Municipality of Antipolo, through its Municipal Attorney and the Provincial Fiscal of Rizal, filed oppositions to petitioners’ application. In due course, the land registration court issued an order of general default against the whole world with the exception of the oppositors.
1. WETHER OR PETITIONER HAVE REGISTRABLE TITLE OVER THE LOT.
2. WETHER OR THE ISSUANCE OF EO 33 IS PREVAILED AND SHOULD BE GIVEN EFFECT.
Petitoners have occupied the lot for a long time and their possession have been poen, public, notorious and in the concept of owners. The lot was surveyed in the name of their predecessor-in – interest as early as 1902. There have been 9 transferes of rights and predecessor in-interest. Also , they have declared the lot or taxation and paid all the rest estate taxes. The land is not covered by any form of title as any public land Application. It is also not within any government reservation.
Private rights were vested on Leyva before the issuance of EO 33 (Establishing Marikina Watershed Reservation) since EO 33 contain a saving clause that in reservation are subject to exiting private rights.
Petitioner Filed to complete the requirement of possession under CA 141 (Republic Land Act) , under the Amendment by R> 1942 and P>D 1073 ( the Law prevailing at the time the petitioner applied for registration- when EO 33 was issued 1904 Leyva had in possission the lot for only 2 years. There is no proof that prior to the issuance of EO 33, the petitioner he acquired ownership or title or the lot either Deed. Acquisitive prescription, or any other mode of acquisition from the State.
Executive Order must be implemented and be given effect-
Even the lot were alienable and disposable prior to the Issuance of EO 33 reserved the lot as watershed. They cannot acquired- since the land has become non-disposable and alienable pulic land. The period of occupancy after the issuance of EO 33 could no longer be counted become the lot was no longer susceptible of occupancy, disposition, conveyance of or alienable. CA 141 only applies to alienable and disposable public agricultural land And not to forest land or other inalienable public lands cannot ripen into private ownership
Proclamation no. 1283 has been amended by Proclamation NO. 1637, revising the Area and location of proposed Townsite. The newq Proclamation excluded the lot in question and reverted it to Markinsa Watershed Reservation Coverage.
G.R. NO. 167707, OCTOBER 08, 2008
SEC.OF DENR VS. YAP
These are two consolidated cases. In G.R. No. 167707, Boracay Mayor Jose Yap et al filed for declaratory relief to have a judicial confirmation of imperfect title or survey of land for titling purposes for the land they’ve been occupying in Boracay. YaP et al ,alleged thatProclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 raised doubts on their right to secure titles over their occupied lands. They declared that they themselves, or through their predecessors-in-interest, had been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation in Boracay since June 12, 1945, or earlier since time immemorial. They declared their lands for tax purposes and paid realty taxes on them.The Republic, through the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), opposed the petition for declaratory relief. The OSG countered that Boracay Island was an
unclassified landof thepublic domain. It formed part of the mass of Landsclassified as “public forest,”
which was not available for disposition pursuant to Section 3(a) of Presidential Decree (PD) No.705 or the Revised Forestry Code. Since Boracay Island had not been classified as alienable and disposable, whatever possession they had cannot ripen into ownership. RTC Ruled in favor of Yap et al. The OSG appealed.
G.R. No. 173775
During the pendency of G.R. No. 167707, PGMA issued Proclamation No. 1064 classifying Boracay Island into four hundred (400) hectares of reserved forest land (protection purposes) and six hundred twenty-eight and 96/100 (628.96) hectares of agricultural land(alienable and disposable). The Proclamation likewise provided for a fifteen-meter buffer zone on each side of the centerline of roads and trails, reserved for right-of-way and which shall form part of the area reserved for forest land protection purposes. This was on May22, 2006Subsequently, Dr. Orlando Sacay, and other Boracay landowners in Boracay filed with this Court an original petition for prohibition, mandamus, and nullification of Proclamation No.
1064. They allege that the Proclamation infringed on their “prior vested rights” over
portions of Boracay. They have been in continued possession of their respective lots inBoracay since time immemorial. They have also invested billions of pesos in developing their lands and building internationally renowned first class resorts on their lots.
The OSG again opposed Sacay’s petition. The OSG argued that Sacay et al do not have a vested right over their occupied portions in the island. Boracay is an unclassified public
forest land pursuant to Section 3(a) of PD No. 705. Being public forest, the claimed portionsof the island are inalienable and cannot be the subject of judicial confirmation of imperfect title. It is only the executive department, not the courts, which has authority to reclassify lands of the public domain into alienable and disposable lands. There is a need for a positive government act in order to release the lots for disposition.
Whether Proclamation No. 1801 and PTA Circular No. 3-82 pose any legal obstacle for respondents, and all those similarly situated, to acquire title to their occupied lands in Boracay Island.
The SC ruled against Yap et al and Sacay et al. The Regalian Doctrine dictates that all lands of the public domain belong to the State, that the State is the source of any asserted right to ownership of land and charged with the conservation of such patrimony. All lands that have not been acquired from the government, either by purchase or by grant,belong to the State as part of the inalienable public domain.
A positive act declaring land as alienable and disposable is required . In keeping with the presumption of State ownership, there must be a positive act of the government such as an official proclamation, declassifying inalienable public land into disposable land for agricultural or other purposes. In the case at bar, no such proclamation, executive order, administrative action, report, statute, or certification was presented. The records are bereft of evidence showing that, prior to 2006, the portions of Boracay occupied by private claimants were subject of a government proclamation that theland is alienable and disposable. Absent such well-nigh incontrovertible evidence, the Court cannot accept the submission that land soccupied by private claimants were already open to disposition before 2006. Matters of land classification or reclassification cannot be assumed. Also, private claimants also contend that their continued possession of portions of Boracay Island for the requisite period of ten (10) years under Act No. 926 ipso facto converted the island into private ownership.Private claimants’ continued possession under Act No. 926 does not create a presumption that the land is alienable It is plain error for petitioners to argue that under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and Public Land Act No. 926, mere possession by private individuals of lands creates the legal presumption that the lands are alienable and disposable.
Private claimants are not entitled to apply for judicial confirmation of imperfect title under CA No. 141. Neither do they have vested rights over the occupied lands under the said law . There are two requisites for judicial confirmation of imperfect or incomplete title under CA No. 141, namely:
(1) open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the subject land by himself or through his predecessors-in-interest under abona fide claim of ownership since time immemorial or from June 12, 1945; and(2) the classification of the land as alienable and disposable land of the public domain.The tax declarations in the name of private claimants are insufficient to prove the first element of possession. The SC noted that the earliest of the tax declarations in the name of private claimants were issued in 1993. Being of recent dates, the tax declarations are not sufficient to convince this Court that the period of possession and occupation commenced on June 12, 1945. Yap et al and Sacay et al insist that they have a vested right in Boracay, having been in possession of the island for a long time. They have invested millions of pesos in developing the island into a tourist spot. They say their continued possession and investments give them a vested right which cannot be unilaterally rescinded by Proclamation No. 1064.The continued possession and considerable investment of private claimants do not automatically give them a vested right in Boracay. Nor do these give them a right to apply for a title to the land they are presently occupying. The SC is constitutionally bound to decide cases based on the evidence presented and the laws applicable. As the law and jurisprudence stand, private claimants are ineligible to apply for a judicial confirmation of title over their occupied portions in Boracay even with their continued possession and considerable investment in the island.
Apex Mining Co., Inc. v. Southeast Mindanao Gold Mining Corp.
The case involves the “Diwalwal Gold Rush Area” (Diwalwal), a rich tract of mineral landlocated inside the Agusan-Davao-Surigao Forest Reserve in Davao del Norte and Davao Oriental. Since the early 1980s, Diwalwal has been stormed by conflicts brought about by numerous mining claims over it.On March 10, 1986, Marcopper Mining Corporation (MMC) was granted an Exploration Permit(EP 133) by the Bureau of Mines and Geo-Sciences (BMG). A long battle ensued between Apex and MMC with the latter seeking the cancellation of the mining claims of Apex on the ground that such mining claims were within a forest reservation (Agusan-Davao-Surigao Forest Reserve) and thus thea cquisition on mining rights should have been through an application for a permit to prospect with theBFD and not through registration of a DOL with the BMG. When it reached the SC in 1991, the Courtruled against Apex holding that the area is a forest reserve and thus it should have applied for a permit to prospect with the BFD.On February 16 1994,
MMC assigned all its rights to EP 133 to Southeast Mindanao GoldMining Corporation (SEM)
, a domestic corporation which is alleged to be a 100%-owned subsidiary of MMC. Subsequently, BMG registered SEM’s Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA)application and the Deed of Assignment. Several oppositions were filed. The Panel of Arbitrators created by the DENR upheld the validity of EP 133.
During the pendency of the case, DENR AO No. 2002-18 was issued declaring anemergency situation in the Diwalwal Gold Rush Area and ordering the stoppage of all miningoperations therein.
W/N EP 133 and its subsequent transfer to SEM is valid.2.
W/N the DENR Secretary has authority to issue DAO 66 declaring 729 hectares of the areas covered by the Agusan-Davao-Surigao Forest Reserve as non-forest lands and open to small-scale mining purposes.3.
Who (among petitioners Apex and Balite) has priority right over Diwalwal?Held/Ratio:1.
INVALID. One of the terms and conditions of EP 133 is: “That this permit shall be for the
exclusive use and benefit of the permittee or his duly authorized agents
and shall be used for mineral exploration purposes only and for no other purpose.” While it may be true that SEM is a100% subsidiary corporation of MMC, there is no showing that the former is the duly authorized agent of the latter. As such, the
assignment is null and void
as it directly contravenes the terms and conditions of the grant of EP 133.a.
The Deed of Assignment was a total abdication of MMC’s rights over the permit.
It is not a mere grant of authority to SEM as agent. b.
Reason for the stipulation.
Exploration permits are strictly granted to entities or individuals possessing the resources and capability to undertake mining operations. Without such a condition, non-qualified entities or individuals could circumvent the strict requirements under the law by the simple expediency of acquiring the permit from the original permittee. c.
The fact that SEM is a 100% subsidiary of MMC does not automatically make it an agent of MMC. A corporation is an artificial being invested by law with a personality separate and distinct from persons composing it as well as from that of any other legal entity to which it may be related. Absent any clear proof to the contrary, SEM is a separate and distinct entity from MMC.d.
Doctrine of piercing the corporate veil inapplicable.
Only in cases where the corporate fiction was used as a shield for fraud, illegality or inequity may the veil be pierced and removed. The doctrine of piercing the corporate veil cannot therefore be used as a vehicle to commit prohibited acts. The assignment of the permit in favor of SEM is utilized to circumvent the condition of non transferability of the exploration permit. To allow SEM to
avail itself of this doctrine and to approve the validity of the assignment is tantamount to sanctioning an illegal act which is what the doctrine precisely seeks to forest all.e.
PD 463 requires approval of Secretary of DENR.
Also, PD 463 (Mineral Resources Development Decree), which is the governing law when the assignment was executed, explicitly requires that the transfer or assignment of mining rights, including the right to explore a mining area, must be with the prior approval of the Secretary of DENR. Such is not present in this case.f.
EP 133 expired by non-renewal.
Although EP 133 was extended for 12 months until July 6,1994, MMC never renewed its permit prior and after its expiration. With the expiration of EP 133 on July 6, 1994, MMC lost any right to the Diwalwal Gold RushArea. SEM, on the other hand, has not acquired any right to the said area because the transfer of EP 133 in its favor is invalid. Hence, both MMC and SEM have not acquired any vested right over the area covered by EP 133.2.
NO. The DENR Secretary has no power to convert forest reserves into non-forest reserves. Such power is vested with the President. The DENR Secretary may only recommend to the Presidentwhich forest reservations are to be withdrawn from the coverage thereof. Thus, DAO No. 66 isnull and void for having been issued in excess of the DENR Secretary’s authority.3.
Neither MMC nor SEM has any right over Diwalwal, it is thus necessary to make a
of the existing right of the remaining claimants, petitioners Apex and Balite, in the dispute.)
The issue on who has priority right over Diwalwal is deemed overtaken by the issuance of Proclamation 297 and DAO No. 2002-18, both being constitutionally-sanctioned acts of the Executive Branch
. Mining operations in the Diwalwal Mineral Reservation are now, therefore, within the full control of the State through the executive branch.
Pursuant to Sec. 5 of RA 7942, the State can either: (1) directly undertake theexploration, development and utilization of the area or (2) opt to award mining operations in themineral reservation to private entities including petitioners Apex and Balite, if it wishes. Theexercise of this prerogative lies with the Executive Department over which courts will notinterfere.