CASE DIGEST: Republic vs. Rizalvo

G.R. No. 172011:March 7, 2011.

REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, v. TEODORO P. RIZALVO, JR., Respondent.

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:


FACTS:

OnDecember 7, 2000, respondent Teodoro P. Rizalvo, Jr. filed before the MTC of Bauang, La Union, acting as a land registration court, an application for the registration of a parcel of land referred to in Survey Plan Psu-200706, located inBauang, La Union. Respondent alleged that he is the owner in fee simple of the subject parcel of land, that he obtained title over the land by virtue of a Deed of Transfer datedDecember 31, 1962, and that he is currently in possession of the land.In support of his claim, he presented, among others, Tax Declaration No. 22206for the year 1994 in his name, and Proof of Payment of real property taxes beginning in 1952 up to the time of filing of the application.

OnApril 20, 2001, the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) filed an Opposition alleging that neither respondent nor his predecessors-in-interest had been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the subject property sinceJune 12, 1945or earlier and that the tax declarations and tax payment receipts did not constitute competent and sufficient evidence of ownership.The OSG also asserted that the subject property was a portion of public domain belonging to the Republic of thePhilippinesand hence not subject to private acquisition.

The Land Investigator/Inspector Dionisio L. Picar of the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) ofSan Fernando, La Union thereafter certified that the subject parcel of land was within the alienable and disposable zone and that the applicant was in actual occupation and possession of the land.

The MTC, acting as a land registration court, approved the application for registration, which the OSG appealed.

ISSUE: Whether or not the respondent was in open, continuous, adverse, and public possession of the land in question in the manner and length of time required by law as to entitle respondent to judicial confirmation of imperfect title

HELD:

The petition is granted.

CIVIL LAW: Requisites for registrability of title.

Under Section 14 (1) of the Property Registration Decree, applicants forregistrationof title must sufficiently establishfirst,that the subject land forms part of the disposable and alienable lands of the public domain;second,that the applicant and his predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the same; andthird,that it is under abona fideclaim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier.

The first requirement was satisfied in this case.The certification and reportdatedJuly 17, 2001submitted by Special Investigator IDionisio L. Picar of the CENRO of San Fernando City, La Union, states that the entire land area in question is within the alienable and disposable zone.

Respondent has likewise met the second requirement as to ownership and possession.The MTC and the CA both agreed that respondent has presented sufficient testimonial and documentary evidence to show that he and his predecessors-in-interest were in open, continuous,exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the land in question. Said findings are binding upon this Court absent any showing that the lower courts committed error.

However, the third requirement has not been satisfied.Respondent only managed to presentoral and documentary evidence of his and his mothers ownership and possession of the land since 1958 through a photocopy of the Deed of Absolute Sale datedJuly 8, 1958between Eufrecina Navarro and Bibiana P. Rizalvo.He presented Tax Declaration No. 11078 for the year 1948 in the name ofEufrecina Navarro and real property tax receipts beginning in 1952. What is required by law is open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation under abona fideclaim of ownership sinceJune 12, 1945or earlier.

Under Section 14(2) applicant is likewise not entitled to registration of title through prescription, since the 30-year period will only commence from the moment the State expressly declaresthat the public dominion property is no longer intended for public service or the development of the national wealth or that the property has been converted into patrimonial. There was no such declaration in this case.

Petition is GRANTED.

The decision of the MTC and CA are REVERSED.

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