Land title registration under Sec. 14(1) of P.D. 1529

Under Section 14(1) President Decree (P.D.) No. 1529, applicants for registration of title must sufficiently establish the following requisites: first, 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; and third, that the possession is under a bona fide claim of ownership since 12 June 1945, or earlier.

The first requisite of Section 14(1) entails only that the property sought to be registered be alienable and disposable at the time of the filing of the application for registration. To prove that the land sought to be registered is alienable and disposable, the present rule is that the application for original registration must be accompanied by (1) a CENRO or PENRO Certification; and (2) a copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary, and certified as true copy by the legal custodian of the official records. This strict requirement for the registration of lands has been consistently applied and affirmed by the Supreme Court in a plethora of cases.

In Republic v. RRDC (G.R. No. 190817. Jan. 10, 2018), to prove that the subject land is alienable and disposable, RRDC presented a CENRO certification stating that the subject land is "alienable and disposable and not covered by any public land application." RRDC, however, failed to present a certified true copy of the original classification approved by the DENR Secretary declaring the subject land alienable and disposable. Clearly, the evidence presented by RRDC falls short of the requirements in Republic v. T.A.N. Properties (578 Phil. 441, 461. 2008). Thus, it is wrong to say that the subject land is alienable and disposable part of the public domain and susceptible to original registration.

Furthermore, RRDC also failed to prove that it and its individual predecessors-in-interest sufficiently complied with the required period and nature of possession.

An applicant for land registration must exhibit that it and its predecessors-in-interest had been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the land under a bona fide claim of ownership since 12 June 1945 or earlier.It has been held that possession is open when it is patent, visible, apparent, notorious, and not clandestine; it is continuous when uninterrupted, unbroken, and not intermittent or occasional; it is exclusive when the adverse possessor can show exclusive dominion over the land and an appropriation of it to his own use and benefit; and notorious when it is so conspicuous, that it is generally known and talked of by the public or the people in the neighborhood.

In Republic vs. Remman Enterprises, Inc., the Surpreme Court held that for purposes of land registration under Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529, proof of specific acts of ownership must be presented to substantiate the claim of open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the land subject of the application. Applicants for land registration cannot just offer general statements which are mere conclusions of law rather than factual evidence of possession. Actual possession is in the manifestation of acts of dominion over it of such nature as a party would actually exercise over his own property.

In Republic v. Gielczyk (720 Phil. 385,403. 2013), the Supreme Court explained that "possession" and "occupation" are not synonymous to each other. Possession is broader than occupation because it includes constructive possession; whereas occupation delimits the all-encompassing effect of constructive possession. Thus, taken together with the words open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious, the word occupation means that for one's title to land to be judicially recognized, his possession of the land must not be mere fiction.

In Republic v. RRDC (G.R. No. 190817. Jan. 10, 2018), aside from the deeds of absolute sale covering the subject land which were executed prior to 12 June 1945, RRDC did not present any evidence which would show that its predecessors-in-interest actually exercised acts of dominion over the subject land even before the cut-off period. As such, RRDC failed to prove that its possession of the land, or at the very least, its individual predecessors-in-interest's possession over the same was not mere fiction.

Neither would the tax declarations presented by RRDC suffice to prove the required possession. To recall, the earliest of these tax declarations dates back only to 1948. Clearly, the required possession and occupation since 12 June 1945 or earlier, was not demonstrated.

From the foregoing, it is clear that RRDC failed to prove that its individual predecessors-in-interest had been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the subject land under a bona fide claim of ownership since 12 June 1945 or earlier; and that said possession and occupation converted the subject land into a private property by operation of law. Consequently, the subject land cannot be registered in the name of RRDC under Section 14(1) of P.D. No. 1529.

SUGGESTED READINGS: 


[1] Republic v. Estate of Virginia Santos, G.R. No. 218345, 07 December 2016.
[2] Republic v. Roasa, 752 Phil. 439, 447 (2015).
[3] Republic v. De Guzman Vda. De Joson, 728 Phil. 550, 563 (2014).
[4] Republic v. Alora, 762 Phil. 695, 704 (2015); Republic v. Sps. Castuera, 750 Phil. 884, 890-891 (2015); Republic v. Lualhati, 757 Phil. 119, 131 (2015); Republic v. Sese, 735 Phil. 108, 121 (2014).
[5] Republic vs. Gielczyk, 720 Phil. 385,403 (2013).
[6] Republic vs. Remman Enterprises, Inc. 727 Phil. 608, 625 (2014).

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