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    G.R. No. 131794   December 10, 2003 - RUBEN AUGUSTO, ET AL. v. TEODORO K. RISOS, ET AL.

     
    PHILIPPINE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

    SECOND DIVISION

    [G.R. No. 131794. December 10, 2003.]

    RUBEN AUGUSTO and ATTY. NOEL D. ARCHIVAL, Petitioners, v. HON. JUDGE TEODORO K. RISOS, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 27, Lapu-Lapu City, CLEOFE OMOLON, Respondents.

    D E C I S I O N


    CALLEJO, SR., J.:


    This is a petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the 1997 Rules of Court, as amended, filed by Ruben Augusto and Atty. Noel D. Archival, for the nullification of the December 5, 1997 Order 1 of the Regional Trial Court Branch 7, Lapu-Lapu City.chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

    The Antecedents


    Felisa Augusto and her siblings, Jose Augusto, Magdalena Augusto and Alfonso Augusto, all married, were the co-owners of a parcel of land, identified as Cadastral Lot No. 4429, with an area of 1,857 square meters. The lot is located in Barrio Mactan, Opon, Cebu.

    On April 20, 1961, the then Justice of the Peace and Ex-Officio Notary Public notarized a Deed of Absolute Sale where Felisa, Jose, Magdalena and Alfonso, all surnamed Augusto, sold the property to Guillermo Omolon for P200.00. Guillermo Omolon and his wife, Cleofe Omolon, caused the aforesaid document to be registered in the Office of the City Assessor of Lapu-Lapu City. Tax Declaration No. 02729 was issued thereafter, and the vendors took possession of the property.

    In the meantime, the property was registered in the names of Monico, Felisa, Jose, Filomeno, Teofilo and Sinfroso, all surnamed Augusto, under Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. RO-3560.

    Guillermo Omolon died intestate and was survived by Cleofe Omolon.

    Sometime in July 1995, Cleofe Omolon filed a petition for the reconstitution of the OCT covering Lot No. 4429, before the RTC of Lapu-Lapu City, Branch 54, docketed as LRC Case No. 21. On January 10, 1997, the RTC rendered a decision, the dispositive portion of which reads:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    WHEREFORE, all premises considered, the Court grants the petition and thus directs the Register of Deeds of Lapu-Lapu City to reconstitute the Original Certificate of Title for Lot No. 4429 of the Cadastral Survey of Opon strictly in accordance with the technical description of said lot. 2

    However, upon presentation of the aforesaid order to the Office of the Register of Deeds of Lapu-Lapu City, Cleofe was informed that the owner’s copy had already been issued to Ruben Augusto, pursuant to an Order issued by the court dated August 23, 1996, and that based on the record, the same was in the possession of Atty. Noel Archival.

    Hence, on May 14, 1997, Cleofe filed a petition before the RTC of Lapu-Lapu City, docketed as Cad. Case No. 21, alleging that as lawful co-owner and possessor of Lot No. 4429, she had every right to have and hold the owner’s duplicate of the said OCT. She prayed that after due proceedings, the respondents Ruben Augusto and Atty. Noel Archival be ordered to surrender the owner’s copy of the said title:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    WHEREFORE, it is most respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court that after due consideration, respondents be ordered to surrender the owner’s copy of Original Certificate of Title No. 3560 of the Register of Deeds of Lapu-Lapu City to the petitioner herein. 3

    In their Comment on the petition, therein respondents Ruben Augusto and Atty. Noel Archival alleged, inter alia, that the Deed of Absolute Sale executed by Felisa, Magdalena, Alfonso and Jose, all surnamed Augusto, was falsified and fictitious, and, thus, null and void. In the interim, Cleofe had her adverse claim annotated at the dorsal portion of the title in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Lapu-Lapu City.

    On October 22, 1997, the RTC issued an order directing Atty. Noel Archival to produce the owner’s copy of OCT No. 3560 to allow the annotation of Cleofe’s interest, upon which the owner’s duplicate copy of the title may thereafter be returned:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Noel Archival is hereby directed to produce the owner’s copy of OCT No. 3560, before the Office of the Clerk of Court within ten (10) days from receipt of this order to allow the annotation of petitioner’s interest, after which title may be returned to the Respondent.

    Furnish copies of this order to petitioner and respondents as well as their respective counsels. 4

    The trial court declared that, based on the pleadings of the parties, the issue of ownership over the property had been raised, a matter which the court, sitting as a cadastral court, could not pass upon. The trial court further ruled that pending resolution of the issue of ownership over the property in an appropriate proceedings therefor, there was a need for the annotation of the petitioners’ interest over the property. The respondents therein filed a "Motion for a Partial Reconsideration" of the Order alleging that Cleofe’s interest over the property had been sufficiently protected by the annotation of her adverse claim. The respondents suggested that:chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

    WHEREFORE, it is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Court to partially reconsider its Order dated 22 October 1997 and issue a new order enjoin (sic) the respondent to produce the owner’s copy of OCT No. 3560 before the Office of the Register of Deeds, Lapu-Lapu City on 25 November 1997 at 2:30 p.m. Other reliefs just and equitable are likewise prayed for under the premises.

    Cebu City, 06 November 1997, Philippines. 5

    However, on November 14, 1997, the court issued an Order denying the motion of the respondents therein.

    On November 26, 1997, the respondents filed a notice of appeal from the said order to the Court of Appeals. On December 5, 1997, the RTC issued an order denying due course therefor, on its perception that the orders subject thereof were interlocutory; hence, not appealable.

    The respondents, now the petitioners, filed the instant petition alleging that the public respondent committed a grave abuse of discretion amounting to excess or lack of jurisdiction when it issued the assailed orders, and that there is no appeal nor any plain, speedy and adequate remedy in the ordinary course of law available to them. The petitioners argue that contrary to the ruling of the public respondent, its October 22, 1997 Order was final and appealable, as the same disposed of the case.

    In her comment on the petition, the private respondent averred that the October 22, 1997 Order of the public respondent was merely interlocutory as it did not fully dispose of the case and had reserved the further determination of other questions. By its order, the RTC merely required the petitioners to present the owner’s copy of OCT No. 3560 in the Office of the Register of Deeds for the annotation of her proprietary interest over the property and ordered the return of the said owner’s duplicate to the respondents after such annotation.

    The Ruling of the Court

    Section 1, Rule 41 of the Rules of Court provides that an appeal may be taken only from a final order, and not from an interlocutory one. 6 A final order is one which disposes of the whole subject matter or terminates a particular proceeding or action, leaving nothing to be done but to enforce by execution what has been determined. 7 An order or judgment is deemed final if it finally disposes of, adjudicates, or determines the rights, or some right or rights of the parties, either on the entire controversy or on some definite and separate branch thereof, and concludes them until it is reversed or set aside. Where no issue is left for future consideration, except the fact of compliance with the terms of the order, such order is final and appealable. 8 In contrast, an order is interlocutory if it does not finally dispose of the case.

    In this case, the order of the public respondent directing the petitioners to produce the owner’s copy of OCT No. 3560 in the Office of the Register of Deeds for the annotation of the private respondent’s interest over the property is merely interlocutory and not final; hence, not appealable by means of a writ of error. The public respondent had not fully disposed of the case as it had not yet ruled on whether to grant the private respondent’s prayer for the surrender of the owner’s copy of OCT No. 3560. As gleaned from the order of the respondent judge, he believed that he had no jurisdiction to delve into and resolve the issue of ownership over the property and was disposed to dismiss the petition. Before so doing, he believed it was necessary that the petitioner’s claim over the property be annotated at the dorsal portion of the title before the institution of an ordinary motion for the resolution of the conflicting claims of ownership over the property:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    Going over the pleadings of the parties, the court gathers that ownership over the land in question is disputed by the parties, which this court, sitting as a cadastral court, cannot pass upon. However, since the petitioner has also shown enough basis for claiming possession of the owner’s copy of OCT No. 3560, by virtue of the Deed of Absolute Sale (Annex "A"), and in view of the willingness of Atty. Archival to have petitioner’s interest annotated at the back of the title, the court feels that for the protection of both parties, the owner’s copy of OCT No. 3560 in the possession of Atty. Noel Archival must be produced, in order that petitioner’s interest may be annotated therein pending resolution of the issue on ownership in the proper proceedings.cralaw : red

    WHEREFORE, respondent Atty. Noel Archival is hereby directed to produce the owner’s copy of OCT No. 3560, before the Office of the Clerk of Court within ten (10) days from receipt of this order to allow the annotation of petitioner’s interest, after which the title may be returned to the Respondent. 9

    In fine, the assailed order of the respondent judge partook of the nature of an ad cautelam order. This is not to say that the respondent court sitting as a cadastral court had no jurisdiction to delve into and resolve the issue of ownership over the property. Apropos is our ruling in Vda. de Arceo v. Court of Appeals, Et Al., 10 viz:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    The first question must, however, be resolved against the petitioners. We have held that under Section 2 of the Property Registration Decree, the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court, sitting as a land registration court, is no longer as circumscribed as it was under Act No. 496, the former land registration law. We said that the Decree "has eliminated the distinction between the general jurisdiction vested in the regional trial court and the limited jurisdiction conferred upon it by the former law when acting merely as a cadastral court." The amendment was" [a]imed at avoiding multiplicity of suits, the change has simplified registration proceedings by conferring upon the required trial courts the authority to act not only on applications for ‘original registration’ but also ‘over all petitions filed after original registration of title, with power to hear and determine all questions arising from such applications or petitions." At any rate, we have also stated that the limited jurisdiction-rule governing land registration courts is subject to recognized exceptions, to wit, (1) where the parties mutually agreed or have acquiesced in submitting controversial issues for determination; (2) where they have been given full opportunity to present their evidence; and (3) where the court has considered the evidence already of record and is convinced that the same is sufficient for rendering a decision upon such controversial issues. By the same token, it has been held that the rule is not, in reality, one of jurisdiction, but rather, of mere procedure, which may be waived. It is not amiss to state likewise that where the issue, say, of ownership, is ineluctably tied up with the question of right of registration, the cadastral court commits no error in assuming jurisdiction over it, as, for instance, in this case, where both parties rely on their respective exhibits to defeat one another’s claims over the parcels sought to be registered, in which case, registration would not be possible or would be unduly prolonged unless the court first decided it. 11

    Earlier, we ruled in Averia, Jr. v. Caguioa, 12 thus:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    The above provision has eliminated the distinction between the general jurisdiction vested in the regional trial court and the limited jurisdiction conferred upon it by the former law when acting merely as a cadastral court. Aimed at avoiding multiplicity of suits, the change has simplified registration proceedings by conferring upon the regional trial courts the authority to act not only on applications for "original registration" but also "over all petitions filed after original registration of title, with power to hear and determine all questions arising upon such applications or petitions."cralaw virtua1aw library

    Consequently, and specifically with reference to Section 112 of the Land Registration Act (now Section 108 of P.D. No. 1529), the court is no longer fettered by its former limited jurisdiction which enabled it to grant relief only in cases where there was "unanimity among the parties" or none of them raised any "adverse claim or serious objection." Under the amended law, the court is now authorized to hear and decide not only such non-controversial cases but even the contentious and substantial issues, such as the question at bar, which were beyond its competence before. 13chanrob1es virtua1 1aw 1ibrary

    IN LIGHT OF ALL THE FOREGOING, the petition is DISMISSED. The December 5, 1997 Order of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 7, Lapu-Lapu City, is AFFIRMED. Costs against the petitioners.

    SO ORDERED.

    Puno, Quisumbing, Austria-Martinez and Tinga, JJ., concur.

    Endnotes:



    1. Penned by Executive Judge Teodoro K. Risos, Presiding Judge, Regional Trial Court, Branch 27, Lapu-Lapu City.

    2. Rollo, p. 73.

    3. Id. at 17.

    4. Id. at 21.

    5. Id. at 24.

    6. SECTION 1. Subject of appeal. — An appeal may be taken from a judgment or final order that completely disposes of the case, or of a particular matter therein when declared by these Rules to be appealable.

    No appeal may be taken from:chanrob1es virtual 1aw library

    (a) An order denying a motion for new trial or reconsideration;

    (b) An order denying a petition for relief or any similar motion seeking relief from judgment;

    (c) An interlocutory order;

    7. Metropolitan Manila Development Authority v. JANCOM Environmental Corporation, 375 SCRA 320 (2002).

    8. Investments, Inc. v. Court of Appeals, 147 SCRA 334 (1987).

    9. Rollo, p. 21.

    10. 185 SCRA 489 (1990).

    11. Id. at 494–495.

    12. 146 SCRA 459 (1986).

    13. Id. at 462.

    G.R. No. 131794   December 10, 2003 - RUBEN AUGUSTO, ET AL. v. TEODORO K. RISOS, ET AL.


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