[G.R. No. 10802. November 2, 1916. ]
RAMON REY, applicant-appellee, v. FERMIN MORALES ET AL., objectors-appellants.
Valentin Manglapus for Appellants.
Delgado & Delgado for Appellee.
1. PROPERTY; RIGHT OF POSSESSION. — The possessor has a right to be respected in his possession as long as no other person appears with a better right.
2. REGISTRATION OF LAND; PROOF OF TITLE. — He who, by the testimony of witnesses, has proven his possession of real property under title of ownership, is entitled to rely on the provisions of chapter 3, book 2, of the Civil Code and under Act No. 926, and has a right to demand the issuance of title of ownership.
D E C I S I O N
TORRES, J. :
This appeal by bill of exceptions was raised by counsel for Fermin Morales Et. Al. and for Matias Almeyda from the judgment of March 24, 1914, in which the trial judge held that the applicant and his wife Sixta Dayao were the owners of the entire parcels of land designated by numbers, 3, 5, 6, and 8, of parcel No. 1, except that part relinquished in favor of Federico Madrid; of parcel No. 2, except that portion claimed by Isidoro Aglipay; and of parcel No. 4, with the exceptions of the portions relinquished in favor of Tomas Albito, Tomas Cuaresma, and Liberato Ilo (parcel No. 7 relinquished in favor of Hermogenes Romero being totally excluded from the application). In consequence the court ordered the registration, in the name of the applicant spouses Ramon Rey and Sixta Dayao, of the above-mentioned parcels of land specified in the application as Nos. 3, 5, 6, and 8, in their entirety, and those specified as Nos. 1, 2, and 4, after the exclusion of the aforestated portions.
March 15, 1913, the representative and attorney in fact of Ramon Rey and his wife Sixta Dayao filed a written application with the Court of Land Registration for the inscription in the registry, in accordance with law, of eight parcels of land claimed by the said married couple as absolute owners, situated in the municipality of Zaragoza, Province of Nueva Ecija, the metes and bounds of which are specified in the plans and technical descriptions attached to the application as Exhibits A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and H, and made a part thereof, and alleged that these lands had been acquired through purchase from their previous owners during the Spanish regime; that their muniments of title had been recorded in the property registry; that subsequently the original deeds of conveyance, as also the records books of the land registry office of Nueva Ecija, had all been destroyed by fire during the Revolution; that the said parcels of land were mortgaged for P500 to Captain Peter W. Davison, United States Army; that he had in writing consented to the filing of the application for their registration; and that said lands were occupied by tenants of the applicants.
Opposing the registration of parcel No. 1, there appeared Federico Madrid, the parcel he claimed being subsequently excluded from the application and relinquished in his favor; Pablo Camus, as the exclusive owner of lot 1-b, of 31,968 square meters, and Hipolito Castillo, claiming as his a portion of 18,861 square meters designated as lot 1-c, on the plan Exhibit A of the said parcel No. 1.
Opposing the registration of the parcel No. 2, described and particularized in Exhibit B, situated in the barrio of Concepcion of the municipality of Zaragoza there appeared: Salomon Masibay who as owner claimed a portion of the said parcel, to wit, 70 square ares inherited from his father, Pedro Masibay; Diego Venosa or Vinosa who claimed the 5 hectares he purchased from the previous owner Eduardo Cordero; Pedro Morales, who claimed Lot 2, comprising approximately 8 hectares and 50 ares, that he purchased from its previous owner Vicente Morales; Isidro Aglipay who claimed the 2 hectares and 50 ares he purchased from its previous owner Guillermo Gelacio; Fermin Morales, who claimed 5 hectares by right of clearing, putting under cultivation and prescription; Victor and Jose Gamit who both claimed as owners the 2 hectares and 50 ares inherited from their father Liberato Gamit; Lazaro Parbo who claimed the 5 hectares acquired by cultivation and prescription; and Cirilo Acosta Berber and Maria Rafael who, under claim of ownership, during the trial, opposed the registration of certain portions of the land.
Matias Almeyda claimed to have acquired, by right of clearing and putting under cultivation and by prescription, all of parcel No. 6, situated in the barrio of San Francisco of the same pueblo of Zaragoza, described and particularized in the plan Exhibit F and therefore opposed its registration, claiming it as his exclusive property.
After a hearing of the case at which evidence was presented by both sides, the court rendered the aforementioned judgment to which the objectors excepted and moved in writing for a rehearing and a new trial. This motion was overruled, exception was taken by the respondents and, upon the filing of the proper bill of exceptions, the same was approved and transmitted to the clerk of this court.
So we are now called upon to decide who is the owner or who are the owners of the parcels of land designated by Nos. 1, 2, and 6 in the application, which the applicant as exclusive owner seeks to register in his name.
During the last revolt against Spain the applicant Ramon Rey lost by fire a trunk containing thirteen title deeds to his land; on July 30, 1901, he had this fact attested by five prominent residents of the pueblo of Zaragoza in the document Exhibit M (rec., p. 150); and in a certificate issued by the then municipal president of the same pueblo on September 16, 1901, Exhibit LL (rec., p. 149) it was set forth that Ramon Rey was the possessor of a parcel of rice land of about 15 cavanes of seed in area, situated in the barrio of Batitang, bounded on the north by Diego Venosa’s lands, on the east by the Manaul Estuary, on the south by the lands of the deceased Castor Castillo, and on the west by the main thoroughfare of the aforesaid barrio. In order to prove his profession and ownership of the other lands, the applicant petitioned the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija in 1902 to take the testimony of several witnesses that he might perpetuate the said testimony in truth of the fact that he was the owner of the nine parcels of land described in his application, of which the sixth and seventh appear to be related to those now in dispute and are described as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
"Sixth. Another parcel situated in the sitio of Batitang, barrio of Concepcion, of the said pueblo of Zaragoza; has an area of 15 hectares and 75 ares, more or less, and is bounded on the north by the new highway of the said sitio, on the east by lands of Diego Venosa, on the south by the Manaul Estuary, and on the west by lands of the heirs of the deceased Castor Castillo; is valued at P1,500 and was acquired by purchase from Alipio Cabangbang in the year 1892.
"Seventh. Another parcel, situated in Manaul in the said pueblo of Zaragoza, also used for rice cultivation, of an area more or less of 25 hectares, bounded on the north and west by lands of Don Vicente de Castro, on the south by the Manaul Estuary, and on the east by lands of Don Federico Madrid; is valued at P625 and was acquired by purchase from Don Vicente de Castro and Don Casimiro Escamis de la Cruz in the 1889."cralaw virtua1aw library
In accordance with the provisions of section 371 et seq. of the Code of Civil Procedure with regard to perpetuation of testimony, on October 28, 1902, the proceedings prayed for by Ramon Rey were had in order that he might prove that the lands described in his application were his property.
The record of those proceedings shows that the witnesses Casimiro Escamis and Marcelino Nieves testified that Ramon Rey owned the nine parcels of land specified in said application, and that the judge of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, in conformity with section 373 of the Code of Civil Procedure, thereupon ordered that the said testimony or depositions, together with the petition and record of the proceedings, be sealed and filed away by the clerk of the court of the said province. It does not appear that any person whatsoever objected to the taking of this testimony of the witnesses Marcelino Nieves and Casimiro Escamis; therefore the testimony of Marcelino Nieves, who did not testify at the hearing of this case, constitutes prima facie proof of the facts referred to in his deposition; and Casimiro Escamis, examined as a witness during the course of the trial of the present case, besides corroborating the statements made in his testimony taken in 1902, explained in greater detail his former testimony, which was neither refuted nor rebutted by any contrary evidence on the part of the objectors.
The applicant alleged that he was the exclusive owner of the parcel of land No. 1, situated in the barrio of Carmen and containing an area of 31 hectares, 78 ares and 41 centares. Under oath he stated that he acquired said parcel by purchase from Casimiro Escamis de la Cruz; that this land was bounded on the north and west by lands of Federico Madrid and Aniceto Balmonte and on the south by the Manaul Estuary; that being a Spaniard, he had to leave the province at the outbreak of the insurrection and to abandon his property; that, although since the year 1902 he had not been in actual possession of the land, nevertheless each year he had paid the tax thereon up to 1908, adding that Escamis had sold him a piece of land, forty cavanes in ares, which he, Rey, put under cultivation. These facts were corroborated by the vendor, Escamis, who testified under oath that, during the Spanish regime, he sold the applicant the parcel of land situated in Manaul, which land had an area of 25 hectares and was at present bounded by the properties of Juan Berza and Federico Madrid, and by the Dalagot and Manaul Estuaries; that the said purchaser, Ramon Rey, was in possession of same up to the time of the revolt against Spain; that since then he had lost such possession and had not yet succeeded in recovering it as others were occupying the property. On cross-examination, Escamis further stated that the land which previously had belonged to Juan Berza was now held by Hipolito Castillo, and that one of the lots of land situated south of the property in dispute and which formerly belonged to Federico Madrid, was now owned by Pablo Camus.
Marcelino Ortega, 49 years of age, testified that from the year 1896 until the outbreak of the Revolution he was caretaker for Ramon Rey’s land in Manaul, to wit, parcel No. 1; that he employed about thirteen laborers in sowing the land; that about 25 cavanes of seed were under cultivation; and that the rest was uncultivated.
In support of the alleged sale by Casimiro Escamis to the applicant, the latter presented in evidence the Exhibit N (rec., p. 185), an information by the principal residents of the pueblo of Zaragoza, dated July 15, 1885, attesting that as owner Casimiro de la Cruz possessed a parcel of rice land of an area of 40 cavanes of seed in the sitio of Manaul, bounded on the north, east and south by the streams called Manaul and Dalagot, and on the west by the lands of Juan Berza. Escamis stated that this parcel of land is the one he sold to the applicant Ramon Rey, for P400, on October 25, 1889, as specified in the document presented during the trial as Exhibit N (rec., p. 186).
The objector Pablo Camus who claims the lot 1-b of the said parcel No. 1 tried, by means of his father, to prove himself to have been the owner of this piece of land for the past 30 years, but he introduced no other evidence to establish this fact.
However, the objector Hipolito Castillo alleges himself to be the exclusive owner of the lot c-1 of the same parcel No. 1 by right of unconditional purchase on July 9, 1909, (proven by Exhibit 3, record, pp. 277-8) from its former owner Juan Berza who sold him a parcel of land situated in the sitio of Dalagot of the pueblo of Zaragoza, of an area of about 7 cavanes of seed, bounded as follows: On the north by the Dalagot Estuary, on the west by Silvino Palapal’s lands belonging formerly to Alberto Gamit, on the south by the lands of Tomas Valentino, Camilo Romano, and Pedro Bernardino, and on the east by the lands of Ludovico Damaso and Antonio Ramos. This objector further states that he claims a small portion of the land above described for the reason that it was included in Ramon Rey’s application.
It is to be noted that the lot 1-a, a part of the said parcel No. 1, which measures 206,187 square meters, is not claimed by anybody because though the Attorney-General, representing the Government of the Philippine Islands, opposed the registration of parcel No. 1, he subsequently withdrew this opposition in the written motion on page 64 of the trial record, thereby leaving lot 1-a, with no adverse claim.
From the foregoing facts it is obvious that the preponderance of the evidence with regard solely to possession, as owner, of lot 1-a of said parcel No. 1, is in favor of the applicant. He has not proven that he is entitled by law to the ownership of lot 1-c of 18,681 square meters, now held by Hipolito Castillo as owner according to the unrebutted evidence introduced at the trial, and the record shows no proof that the objector Castillo held the said lot 1-c on plan A as a precarious holder and not under title of ownership. Furthermore, the applicant lost possession of lot 1-c of parcel No. 1 and abandoned it from time of Revolution which began in August, 1896; since which date it has been held under just title and in good faith by Hipolito Castillo; and this application for registration was not presented by the applicant until the year 1913. It is therefore evidence that the latter has, by prescription, totally lost all the said lot of land (art. 1957, Civil Code), in spite of having paid, as he maintains, the land tax thereon until 1908, for the mere fact of the payment of the land tax is not proof of the possession of the land by the person who makes such payment.
Cirilo Acosta Berber, Pedro Morales, Fermin Morales, Lazaro Parbo, the brothers Victor and Jose Gamit, Agripino Gaman, Diego Venosa, Salomon Masibay, and Maria Rafael opposed the application for the registration of the parcel No. 2, situated in the same pueblo of Zaragoza, containing 509,159 square meters, and alleged themselves to be the exclusive owners of their respective pieces of land, described and included in the said parcel No. 2, having been in possession of the same from 13 to 40 years.
The objector Maria Rafael presented in evidence document Exhibit 4 (rec., p. 279) by means of which on February 6, 1914, Juana Allado sold her piece of land situated in the sitio of Manaul or Batitang, barrio of Concepcion, pueblo of Zaragoza, with the following boundaries: on the north, the lands of Diego Venosa; on the east, those of Fermin Morales, formerly belonging to Vicente Morales; on the south also by Fermin Morales’ lands; and on the west by Pedro Morales’ lands, formerly owned by Vicente Morales. This land which the vendor Juana Allado acquired from her father Antonino Allado, now deceased, contains an area of 1 hectare, 75 ares, and 50 centares and, according to the said document Exhibit 4, was sold to the objector Maria Rafael in May, 1910. Maria Rafael corroborated these facts in her testimony (rec., p. 352) and as proof alleged that during the years 1912 and 1913 she had been paying (as attested by the ten receipts, Exhibit 5, found on pages 280 to 289 of the record) the correspondent tax on certain land situated in the barrio of Concepcion of the municipality of Zaragoza.
The objector Pedro Morales introduced in evidence Exhibit 6 (rec., pp. 290, 291) a document in which, on September 15, 1913, Vicente Morales set forth that he solemnly ratified the verbal sale that he had made to Pedro Morales, in May, 1910, of a parcel of land located in the sitio of Concepcion, municipality of Zaragoza, containing an approximate area of seven cavanes of rice seed, the bounds of which are as follows: on the north, the lands of Diego Venosa and Tiburcio; on the east, those of the same Diego Venosa and the Manaul Estuary; on the south, the lands of Fermin Morales, Pedro Mendoza and Eulogio Esteban; and on the west, those formerly belonging to Pedro Masibay and Espiridion Suclayan but now to Agripino Galman. In this deed of sale the vendor further stated that he had cleared and broken the said land more than 25 years ago and that from that time he had possession thereof until he sold the same to the objector Pedro Morales.
Agripino Galman presented two documents in support of his opposition; the first, executed December 27, 1910 (Exhibit 11, rec., p. 300), is an instrument of partition by which Victoriano Cubangbang, the owner of 5 hectares situated in the sitio of Manaul of the pueblo of Zaragoza, ordered the said property to be divided equally between his son Arsenio Cubangbang and his nephew Rafael Cubangbang, allotting the southern half to the former and the northern half to the latter. The land mentioned in the said deed bounded on the north by the lands of Fruto Garcia and Jose Canta; on the east, by those of Vicente Morales; on the south, by those of Pedro Masibay; and on the west, by those of the heirs of German Castillo, was acquired more than 30 years before by the said Victoriano Cubangbang by original clearing and occupation; the second, a notarial instrument dated May 27, 1911 (Exhibit 10, rec., p. 298), shows that the said Rafael Cubangbang, to whom was allotted the northern half of the land described above, sold his share to the objector Agripino Galman for the sum of P250, the aforesaid Arsenio Cubangbang being then the adjacent owner on the south.
With respect to Diego Venosa’s opposition, unquestionably this objector is the owner of a parcel of land of four hectares situated in the sitio of Manaul of the pueblo of Zaragoza, bounded on the north by Jose Canta’s lands, on the south and west by those of Vicente Morales, and on the east by the Manaul Estuary (Exhibit 2; rec., pp. 259-263), the title attesting his right of possession having been awarded him by virtue of possessory proceedings had on April 4, 1895, and duly recorded in the property registry of Nueva Ecija, July 1, 1897. The other objectors presented no muniments of title to the parcel of land they claimed.
Pascual Fermin, the applicant’s witness, testified that the two pieces of land situated on the streams Batitang and Manaul adjoin each other and belong to the applicant; that he is sure of this because for about two years he has cultivated 6 hectares of said land which contains an area of about 40 cavanes of seed, the rest being cultivated by other persons; and added that during the Spanish sovereignty, Pedro Morales owned no land whatever in that sitio nor did Agripino Galman or the brothers Victor and Jose Gamit, that they had taken possession of parcels of land some years ago, but that they had occupied them only since the Revolution.
So the application for registration of parcel No. 6, situated in the barrio of San Fernando of the same pueblo of Zaragoza, was opposed by Matias Almeyda who claims this entire parcel of land as his exclusive property. He stated under oath that 40 years ago this land was broken and put under cultivation by himself and his father; that since this date this land has been in his quiet and uninterrupted possession; that this land was located in the place called Yniquid, where the applicant had no land whatever; that later a part of this land was measured by applicant’s order, thereby relinquishing only that part of same situated in the northern portion of the disputed property; and that proceedings for a possessory information title of this land were begun by himself, Exhibit 1 being a copy thereof.
In fact it appears fully proven by means of the said Exhibit 1 (rec., pp. 246 and 255) that in 1893 Matias Almeyda Madrid brought before the justice of the peace court of the pueblo of Zaragoza possessory information proceedings in regard to three parcels of land which he alleged to have held for the past 15 years, the second of which, situated "in the sitio of Yniquid of the barrio of Carmen, contains an area of approximately 4 cavanes of rice seed and is bounded on the north by the property of Castor Avaro, on the south by that of Antonio Mantal, on the east by that of Don Daniel Pagaduan y Lorenzo, and on the west by that of Felix Cumalog and Apolinario Vendiola. Its approximate value is fifty pesos." The application was duly approved June 19, 1893, and subsequently the possession of the lands was preventively made a matter of record, although the record of the original proceedings remained on file in the property registry of the province. This objector added that the contiguous owner on the west is Petronilo de la Cruz, who succeeded Apolinario Vendiola in his possession (rec., p. 405); that Antonio Tagudin succeeded the original adjacent holder Castor Alvaro (rec., p. 406); that Daniel Pagaduan succeeded the former adjacent holder Antonio Mantal; and that Daniel Pagaduan y Lorenzo is the only adjacent-boundary owner, all the rest having died, sold their respective lands, or gone away from the province. The adjacent owner on the north, Antonio Tagudin, 50 years of age, testified he had been for the past thirty years the owner of the property adjacent to the land in question and had always seen the objector Almeyda cultivating the parcel of land No. 6 (rec., p. 400).
The applicant Ramon Rey testified that in 1888 he purchased the land designated parcel No. 6, situated in the barrio of San Francisco, from one Aquilino Ariza, for the sum of P400 and that, although owner of the same at the trial, he could not give its present boundaries because the adjacent owners had changed every year (rec., p. 437). However, the witnesses Casimiro Escamis and Marcelino Nieves asserted in the proceedings for perpetuation of testimony (Exhibit O) that the lands purchased by Ramon Rey from Aquilino Ariza are to be found in the sitios of Magatal and Punagulong of the barrio of Santa Lucia, in the sitio of Camachili of the barrio of Carmen, and that one of them consists of a building lot in the same town of Zaragoza.
In spite of the contents of Exhibit 1, it appears fully proven that, by the judgment of rendered on April 30, 1912, in the action for recovery of possession brought by Ramon Rey in the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija against Veronica Almeyda, sister of the objector Matias Almeyda or Almeda, the said defendant was ordered to restore or deliver the possession of the litigated land to the plaintiff Ramon Rey. This land is described as follows:jgc:chanrobles.com.ph
". . . land situated in the sitio of Yniquid, barrio of Carmen, pueblo of Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija, of an area a little more or less equivalent to 4 cavanes of seed and bounded on the north by the property of Antonio Tagudin, on the east by that of Daniel Pagaduan, on the south and east by the properties of Petronila de la Cruz, Magno Orsino and Victor Cumalog."cralaw virtua1aw library
In addition to the foregoing, the said judgment was rendered against a person who is not the present objector Matias Almeda and therefore should not prejudice him. (Acasio v. Albano, 10 Phil. Rep., 410.) However, there should be taken into account, even supposing the applicant entitled to the ownership of the land described in the said judgment, that the land in question had an area of only 4 cavanes of seed, or 40,248 square meters, equivalent to 4 hectares, 2 ares, and 48 centares, and, as the total area of the parcel No. 6 which the appellant seeks to register in his own name consists of 81,919 square meters, there is evidently a surplus area of 41,671 square meters, or 4 hectares, 16 ares, 71 centares, surface measurement, which is almost the exact area adjudicated in the possessory proceedings (Exhibit 1, rec., p. 246) as the second parcel, to Matias Almeyda Madrid in the year 1893. This objector satisfactorily explained in his testimony the succession of adjacent-boundary owners from the aforesaid date to the present time, including those now mentioned in Ramon Rey’s application and in the plan Exhibit F.
Although the applicant has not proven his right to the ownership of this land by documentary evidence, since he has duly proven the loss of his title deeds during the Revolution, nevertheless, he has shown by the testimony of witnesses that he held possession of the parcel No. 6. Wherefore, in accordance with the provisions of chapter 3 of book 2 of the Civil Code, relating to possession and with those of Act No. 926, the applicant has a right to apply for title to a part of parcel No. 6, to wit, an area equivalent to 4 hectares, 2 ares, and 48 centares, which portion shall be located in the western part of the land described as parcel 6 in the plan Exhibit F, in order that it be as far as possible from the other lands of the objector Matias Almeyda, and plan Exhibit F shall be amended in accordance with the findings of this decision.
This conclusion of the trial judge is in accordance with the law and the evidence as regards the objectors Pablo Camus, Pedro Morales, Cirilo Acosta, Fermin Morales, Lazaro Parbo, Victor Gamit, Jose Gamit, Agripino Galman, Salomon Masibay, and Maria Rafael, with respect to the failure of their claims against the application for the registration of the parcels of land Nos. 1 and 2, comprising the lots occupied by these ten objectors respectively because these objectors have neither proven that they are entitled to hold said lands nor that they have had possession of them for the number of years required by law to obtain ownership and because the documents presented by some of these objectors do not prove their ownership of the land that is the subject-matter of their respective oppositions.
That the possessor is entitled to be respected in his possession, as long as no other person comes forward with a better title, is a well established principle of law. In this instance applicant’s ownership title to the said two parcels No. 1 and No. 2 does not appear to be invalidated by any allegation that the ownership of the lands was acquired by prescription.
From all the foregoing it appears that the application for registration was withdrawn with respect to the parcel No. 7, the subject-matter of the adverse claim of Hermogenes Romero, with respect to the portion of land held by Federico Madrid, comprised within the parcel No. 1 and also with respect to the portions of the parcel No. 4 held by the objectors Liberato Ilo, Tomas Albito, and Tomas Cuaresma, respectively.
The same judgment from which this appeal is taken ordered the exclusion of the portion of the parcel of land held by Isidro Aglipay, in lot No. 2 and also declares that the portion of land now held by Diego Venosa is outside of and toward the north of said lot. We hold that the said Venosa is the lawful owner of the land he occupies; that there is no evidence that the applicant Ramon Rey is entitled to the same; that finally, the adverse claims of Hipolito Castillo concerning the portion of the parcel which he occupies as owner in lot No. 1 and of Matias Almeyda, concerning the portion of land said to be comprised in the parcel No. 6, are both sustained.
For the foregoing reasons, we are of the opinion that registration should be granted and other legal steps taken in the names of the applicant Ramon Rey and his wife for parcels Nos. 3, 5, and 8, in their entirety; for parcel No. 1, after exclusion of the pieces of land held by Federico and Hipolito Castillo; for parcel No. 2, with the exception of the pieces of land held by Isidro Aglipay, and of that belonging to Diego Venosa, provided all or any of the latter’s land be comprised in the said parcel No. 2; for parcel No. 4, with the exception of the pieces of land held by Tomas Albito, Liberato Ilo, and Tomas Cuaresma respectively, and, finally, for an area of 4 hectares, 2 ares, and 48 centares in the northern part of parcel No. 6, referred to in the plan Exhibit F, without including, however, the piece of land now held by Matias Almeyda who has proven his property right therein. The judgment appealed from is thus affirmed in so far as it accords with this decision, and reversed in so far as it does not, without special finding as to the costs of both instances. So ordered.
Carson, Moreland, Trent, and Araullo, JJ., concur.
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