Ownership over Alluvial Deposits

It is an uncontested fact that the subject land was formed from the alluvial deposits that have gradually settled along the banks of Cut-cut creek. This being the case, the law that governs ownership over the accreted portion is Article 84 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866, which remains in effect in relation to Article 457 of the Civil Code.

Article 84 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 specifically covers ownership over alluvial deposits along the banks of a creek. It reads:

"Art. 4. Accretions deposited gradually upon lands contiguous to creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes, by accessions or sediments from the waters thereof, belong to the owners of such lands."

Interestingly, Article 457 of the Civil Code states:

"Art. 57. To the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers belong the accretion which they gradually receive from the effects of the current of the waters."

It is therefore explicit from the foregoing provisions that alluvial deposits along the banks of a creek do not form part of the public domain as the alluvial property automatically belongs to the owner of the estate to which it may have been added. The only restriction provided for by law is that the owner of the adjoining property must register the same under the Torrens system; otherwise, the alluvial property may be subject to acquisition through prescription by third persons.
In contrast, properties of public dominion cannot be acquired by prescription. No matter how long the possession of the properties has been, there can be no prescription against the State regarding property of public domain. Even a city or municipality cannot acquire them by prescription as against the State. (Offices of the City Mayor of Parañaque City vs. Ebio, 2010)

However, respondents did not discharge their burden of proof. They did not show that the gradual and imperceptible deposition of soil through the effects of the current of the river had formed Lot 3998-B. Instead, their evidence revealed that the property was the dried-up riverbed of the Parañaque River, leading both the RTC and the CA to themselves hold that Lot 4998-B was "the land which was previously part of the Parañaque River xxx (and) became an orchard after it dried up." (Republic vs. Santos III, 2012).