Case Digest: Yu Change vs. Republic

G.R. No. 171726 : February 23, 2011

VICENTE YU CHANG AND SOLEDAD YU CHANG, Petitioners, v. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.

VILLARAMA, JR., J.:

FACTS:

Petitioner Soledad Yu Chang, for herself and in representation of her brother and co-petitioner, Vicente Yu Chang, filed a petition for registration of title over a piece of land. In their petition, they declared that they are the co-owners of the subject lots; that they and their predecessors-in-interest “have been in actual, physical, material, exclusive, open, occupation and possession of the above described parcels of land for more than 100 years”; and that allegedly, they have continuously, peacefully, and adversely possessed the property in the concept of owners.

The trial court rendered a Decision granting petitioners' application. The CA reversed the trial court's decision and dismissed petitioners’ application for land registration on account that the land is classified as forest land and is thus not subject to appropriation and alienation. The CA considered the petition to be governed by Section 48(b) of Commonwealth Act (C.A.) No. 141 or the Public Land Act, as amended, and held that petitioners were not able to present incontrovertible evidence that the parcels of land sought to be registered are alienable and disposable.

Petitioners insist that the subject properties could no longer be considered and classified as forest land since there are buildings, residential houses and even government structures existing and standing on the land.

ISSUE: Whether or not the appellate court erred in dismissing their application for registration of title on the ground that they failed to prove compliance with the requirements of Section 48(b) of the Public Land Act.

HELD:

The petition lacks merit.

CIVIL LAW: Forest land

Petitioners did not adduce any evidence to the effect that the lots subject of their application are alienable and disposable land of the public domain. Instead, petitioners contend that the subject properties could no longer be considered and classified as forest land since there are building structures, residential houses and even government buildings existing and standing on the area. This, however, is hardly the proof required under the law.

A forested area classified as forest land of the public domain does not lose such classification simply because loggers or settlers may have stripped it of its forest cover. Unless and until the land classified as forest land is released in an official proclamation to that effect so that it may form part of the disposable agricultural lands of the public domain, the rules on confirmation of imperfect title do not apply.

DENIED.

CA AFFIRMED.

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