Inapplicability of General Procedural Principles to Cadastral Cases

Rule 132 of the (old) Rules of Court provides: These rules shall not apply to land registration, cadastral and election cases, naturalization and insolvency proceedings, and other cases not herein provided for, except by analogy or in a suppletory character and whenever practicable and convenient. (Despite being old, this rule and jurisprudence in relation hereto are still applicable, having been revived in the present 1997 Rules.)

The Rules of Court may be applied in cadastral cases when two conditions are present: (1) analogy or need to supplement the cadastral law, and (2) practicability and convenience.

If the nature and objective of the cadastral scheme are kept in view, a motion to dismiss in a cadastral case on the ground of prior judgment would seem to be out of place. The Government initiates a cadastral case, compelling all claimants in a municipality to litigate against one another regarding their respective claims of ownership. By this plan, all the private lands in a town are registered in one single collective proceeding. Thus, the piece-meal and isolated registration of lands, so inadequate in more ways than one, is avoided. The principal aim is to settle as much as possible all disputes over land and to remove all clouds over land titles, as far a practicable, in a community. To attain this purpose, the cadastral court should allow all claimants ample freedom to ventilate whatever right they may assert over real estate, permitting them, in keeping with the law of evidence, to offer proofs in support of their allegations. To countenance the contrary opinion, by suppressing the presentation of evidence in support of claims, would but serve to perpetuate conflicts over land, for such stifled affirmations of ownership will fester like wounds unskillfully treated. No sufficient leeway having been give all claimants to demonstrate the strength and consistently of their alleged rights, the stability of decrees of title is jeopardized. In Haw Pia vs. Roman A. Cruz (G.R. No. 48506), we declared that the Court of First Instance in a cadastral proceeding cannot appoint a receiver because its jurisdiction is special and limited. We declined in that case to apply the new Rules of Court by analogy.

We are, therefore, of the opinion that while in a cadastral case res judicata is available to a claimant in order to defeat the alleged rights of another claimant, nevertheless prior judgment can not set up in a motion to dismiss. (G.R. No. L-48480; July 30, 1943)