Action for reconveyance; for declaration of nullity of free patent

An action for reconveyance and an action for declaration of nullity of the free patent cannot be pursued simultaneously; the former recognizes the certificate of title issued pursuant to the free patent as indefeasible while the latter does not; they may, however, be pursued alternatively pursuant to Sec. 2, Rule 8 of the Rules of Court on alternative causes of action or defenses. (Mayuga vs. Atienza, G.R. No. 208197, Jan. 10, 2018)

An action for reconveyance involving land that is titled pursuant to a free patent is one that seeks to transfer property, wrongfully registered by another, to its rightful and legal owner or to one with a better title; as such, two facts must be alleged in the complaint and proved during the trial, namely: (1) the plaintiff was the owner of the land or possessed it in the concept of owner; and (2) the defendant illegally divested him of ownership and dispossessed him of the land. (Mayuga vs. Atienza, G.R. No. 208197, Jan. 10, 2018)

Differences among an action for declaration of nullity of free patents and the corresponding certificates of titles issued, an action for reversion and an action for reconveyance, viz.: an ordinary civil action for declaration of nullity of free patents and certificates of title is not the same as an action for reversion; the difference between them lies in the allegations as to the character of ownership of the realty whose title is sought to be nullified; in an action for reversion, the pertinent allegations in the complaint would admit State ownership of the disputed land; on the other hand, a cause of action for declaration of nullity of free patent and certificate of title would require allegations of the plaintiff’s ownership of the contested lot prior to the issuance of such free patent and certificate of title as well as the defendant’s fraud or mistake. (Mayuga vs. Atienza, G.R. No. 208197, Jan. 10, 2018)

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