Case Digest: Republic v. Jaralve

G.R. No. 175177 : October 24, 2012

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. GLORIA JARALVE substituted by ALAN JESS JARALVE DOCUMENTO, JR., EDGARDO JARALVE, SERAFIN UY, JR., SHELLA UY, NIMFA LAGNADA, PANTALEON SAY A-ANG, STARGLAD INTERNATIONAL AND DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ANNIE TAN, TEOTIMO CABARRUBIAS, JESSICA DACLAN, MA. EMMA RAMAS, DANILO DEEN, and ERIC ANTHONY DEEN. Respondents.

LEONARDO-DE CASTRO, J.:


FACTS:

On October 22, 1996, Gloria Jaralve, Edgardo Jaralve, Serafin Uy, Jr., Shella Uy, Nimfa Lagnada, Pantaleon Saya-Ang, Starglad International and Development Corporation, Annie Tan, Teotimo Cabarrubias, Jessica Daclan, and Ma. Emma Ramas filed an Application with the RTC of Cebu City, for the registration in their names of Lot Sgs-07-000307 (subject property), under Presidential Decree No. 1529. Jaralve, et al. declared that they were the co-owners in fee simple of the subject property, with an area of 731,380 square meters, belonging to Cadastral Lot 18590, and situated in Barangay Quiot, City of Cebu. They claimed that they had acquired ownership over the subject property by way of purchase from predecessors-in-interest who had been in continuous, open, adverse, public, uninterrupted, exclusive, and notorious possession thereof for more than thirty (30) years, or from June 12, 1945. To prove that the subject property is alienable and disposable land of the public domain, they presented the CENRO Certificate dated March 20, 1996.

The Republic of the Philippines (Republic) opposed the application on the ground that the applicants failed to prove that the land sought to be registered is alienable and disposable. The Republic also argued that the CENRO Certificate that Jaralve, et al. relied on was erroneously issued; thus, it did not afford them any vested right.

The RTC ruled in favor of Jaralve, et al. On appeal, the CA affirmed the RTC.

ISSUE: Whether or not the grant of Jaralve, et al.s application for registration of title to the subject property was proper under the law and jurisprudence?

HELD: The Court finds the petition meritorious.

CIVIL LAW: Regalian doctrine; alienable and disposable lands of public domain- proof required

This Court agrees with the petitioner that the respondents failed to prove in accordance with law that the subject property is within the alienable and disposable portion of the public domain. The Public Land Act or Commonwealth Act No. 141, until this day, is the existing general law governing the classification and disposition of lands of the public domain, except for timber and mineral lands. Under the Regalian doctrine embodied in our Constitution, land that has not been acquired from the government, either by purchase, grant, or any other mode recognized by law, belongs to the State as part of the public domain.

Land classification or reclassification cannot be assumed. It must be proved. This Court, in Republic v. T.A.N. Properties, Inc., ruled that a CENRO or PENRO Certification is not enough to certify that a land is alienable and disposable: "Further, it is not enough for the PENRO or CENRO to certify that a land is alienable and disposable. The applicant for land registration must prove that the DENR Secretary had approved the land classification and released the land of the public domain as alienable and disposable, and that the land subject of the application for registration falls within the approved area per verification through survey by the PENRO or CENRO. In addition, the applicant for land registration must present a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary and certified as a true copy by the legal custodian of the official records. These facts must be established to prove that the land is alienable and disposable."

Moreover, DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 20 dated May 30, 1988, delineated the functions and authorities of the offices within the DENR. Under Section G(1) of the above DAO, CENROs issue certificates of land classification status for areas below 50 hectares. For those falling above 50 hectares, the issuance of such certificates is within the function of the PENROs, as per Section F(1) of the same DAO. This delineation, with regard to the offices authorized to issue certificates of land classification status, was retained in DAO No. 38 dated April 19, 1990.

In the case at bar, the subject property has an area of 731,380 square meters or 73.138 hectares. Clearly, under DAO No. 38, series of 1990, the subject property is beyond the authority of the CENRO to certify as alienable and disposable.

Petition is GRANTED. CA resolution is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

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