Reviewing registration decree; innocent purchaser for value

Section 32 of the Property Registration Decree unequivocally provides:
Sec. 32. Review of decree of registration; Innocent purchaser for value.

The decree of registration shall not be reopened or revised by reason of absence, minority, or other disability of any person adversely affected thereby, nor by any proceeding in any court for reversing judgments, subject, however, to the right of any person, including the government and the branches thereof, deprived of land or of any estate or interest therein by such adjudication or confirmation of title obtained by actual fraud, to file in the proper Court of First Instance [now Regional Trial Court] a petition for reopening and review of the decree of registration not later than one year from and after the date of the entry of such decree of registration, but in no case shall such petition be entertained by the court where an innocent purchaser for value has acquired the land or an interest therein, whose rights may be prejudiced. Whenever the phrase "innocent purchaser for value" or an equivalent phrase occurs in this Decree, it shall be deemed to include an innocent lessee, mortgagee, or other encumbrancer for value. Upon the expiration of said period of one year, the decree of registration and the certificate of title issued shall become incontrovertible. Any person aggrieved by such decree of registration in any case may pursue his remedy by action for damages against the applicant or any other persons responsible for the fraud.
In Estribillo v. Department of Agrarian Reform,[1] the Supreme Court affirmed the long-settled doctrine that certificates of title issued in administrative proceedings are as indefeasible as certificates of title issued in judicial proceedings. In one case, the DAR had already issued the corresponding OCTs after granting EPs to the tenant-beneficiaries in compliance with Presidential Decree No. 27 and Section 105[2] of Presidential Decree No. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree. Hence, the OCTs issued to petitioners pursuant to their EPs have already acquired the same protection accorded to other certificates of title issued judicially or administratively.[3]

A certificate of title becomes indefeasible and incontrovertible upon the expiration of one year from the date of the issuance of the order for the issuance of the patent. Land covered by such title may no longer be the subject matter of a cadastral proceeding, nor can it be decreed to another person.[4]

[1] G.R. No. 159674, 30 June 2006 , 494 SCRA 218.

[2] Sec. 105. Certificates of Land Transfer Emancipation Patents. - The Department of Agrarian Reform shall pursuant to P. D. No. 27 issue in duplicate, a Certificate of Land Transfer for every land brought under "Operation Land Transfer," the original of which shall be kept by the tenant-farmer and the duplicate, in the Registry of Deeds. After the tenant-farmer shall have fully complied with the requirements for a grant of title under P.D. No. 27, an Emancipation Patent which may cover previously titled or untitled property shall be issued by the Department of Agrarian Reform.

The Register of Deeds shall complete the entries on the aforementioned Emancipation Patent and shall assign an original certificate of title number in case of unregistered land, and in case of registered property, shall issue the corresponding transfer certificate of title without requiring the surrender of the owner's duplicate of the title to be cancelled.

In case of death of the grantee, the Department of Agrarian Reform shall determine his heirs or successors-in-interest and shall notify the Register of Deeds accordingly. In case of subsequent transfer of property covered by an Emancipation Patent or a Certificate of Title emanating from an Emancipation Patent, the Register of Deeds shall affect the transfer only upon receipt of the supporting papers from the Department of Agrarian Reform.

No fee, premium, of tax of any kind shall be charged or imposed in connection with the issuance of an original Emancipation Patent and for the registration or related documents.

[3] https://www.projectjurisprudence.com/2021/08/gr-no-175049-november-27-2008.html.

[4] Estribillo v. Department of Agrarian Reform, supra note 1 at 236-237 .

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