Sps Del Rosario v. Montaa : 134433 : May 28, 2004 : J. Austria-Martinez
: Second Division : Decision
[G.R. NO. 134433.May 28, 2004]
SPS. WILFREDO DEL ROSARIO and FE LUMOTAN DEL ROSARIO, Petitioners, v. VIRGILIO MONTAA and
GENEROSO CARLOBOS, Respondents.
D E C I S I O N
Before the Court is a Petition for Certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court assailing the
decision dated February 9, 1998 rendered by the Regional Trial Court of
Caloocan City (Branch 121) dismissing petitioners complaint for quieting of
title with recovery of possession de jure.
The facts of this case are undisputed.
On September 14, 1973, then President Ferdinand E. Marcos issued
Presidential Decree No. 293, canceling certain sales certificates and/or
transfer certificates of title in the name of Carmel Farms, Inc. which cover
the Tala Estate in Caloocan City, and declaring these properties open for
disposition to the Malacanang Homeowners Association, Inc. (MHAI) .Consequently, on October 25, 1983, petitioner
a member of the MHAI, filed an application to
purchase Lot No. 18, Blk-19, Pangarap Village, Caloocan City, which is part of
the Tala Estate.1 Meanwhile, respondent Virgilio Montaas father, Margarito Montaa, filed a
claim against the application of petitioner but was rejected by the Bureau of
Lands in its Order dated November 2, 1983.2 Eventually, the property was awarded to petitioner per Bureau of Lands Decision
dated December 10, 19843 and TCT No. 120788 was issued in the name of petitioner.4 Although not in actual possession of the disputed property, petitioner has been
paying the taxes thereon.5 cralawred
Four years after, or on January 29, 1988, this Court in Tuason v. Register of Deeds, Caloocan City,6 declared P.D. No. 293 unconstitutional.The decretal portion of the decision reads:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
WHEREFORE, Presidential Decree No. 293 is declared to be
unconstitutional and void ab initio in all its parts.The public respondents are commanded to
cancel the inscription on the titles of the petitioners and the petitioners in
intervention of the memorandum declaring their titles null and void and
declaring the property therein respectively described open for disposition and
sale to the members of the Malacanang Homeowners Association, Inc.; to do
whatever else is needful to restore the titles to full effect and efficacy; and
henceforth to refrain, cease and desist from implementing any provision or part
of said Presidential Decree No. 293.No
pronouncement as to costs.7 cralawred
Thus, on September 23, 1988, the Register of Deeds of Caloocan
City inscribed Entry No. 218192 on petitioners title, invalidating the
certificate of title pursuant to the pronouncement of the Court in the
above-entitled case.8 cralawred
Petitioner then visited the property some time in 1995 and
discovered that respondent Montaa had already constructed a house
thereon.Respondent claimed that
petitioner Fe had already lost her rights over the property.Consequently, on January 17, 1997,
Petitioner, joined by her husband Wilfredo del Rosario, filed a complaint for
Quieting of Title with Recovery of Possession de jure.9 cralawred
Respondent filed his Answer alleging that he is the true and
lawful owner of the property as his father bought the property from the Bureau
of Lands, and TCT No. T-120788 in the name of petitioner had already been
During pre-trial, the parties agreed on the following stipulation
parties admit that the defendants are in actual possession of the property in
parties admit that the annotation at the dorsal portion of TCT No. 127088 was
the result of the declaration of the Supreme Court citing PD 293 as
Thereafter, the trial court, in its decision dated February 9,
1998, dismissed the complaint finding that, inasmuch as petitioners title to
the property was included in those covered by P.D. No. 293, she cannot assert
any right thereon because her title springs from a null and void source.12 cralawred
Hence, the petition for certiorari filed by spouses del Rosario.
Petitioners believe that their title to the property is
indefeasible for the reason that prior to the declaration of nullity of P.D.
No. 293, its actual existence was an operative fact that may have consequences
that cannot be ignored.Petitioners also
cite Clarita Aben v. Sps. Wilfredo Abella, et al. (CA-G.R. CV
No. 31544) decided by the Court of Appeals in February 19, 1993 upholding
Abens ownership of Lot 21, Block 80 of the Tala Estate which was awarded to
her by the Bureau of Lands pursuant to P.D. No. 293, to wit:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
While it is true that P.D. 293 had been declared null and void by
the Supreme Court, it did not declare herein plaintiff-appellees title null
and void.Instead, said court commanded
the Register of Deeds, Kalookan City, the then Ministry of Justice and the
National Treasurer to do whatever else is needful to restore the titles to
full effect and efficacy of the Tuasons and the members of the Consuelo
Homeowners Association who were also divested of their lands by the same P.D.
293.But as the evidence reveal,
plaintiff-appellees title has not yet been cancelled (Exhibit L). 13 cralawred
On the other hand, respondents contend that the petition was
filed out of time as petitioners received a copy of the RTCs Decision on May
25, 1998, and the petition was filed only on July 22, 1998 which is beyond the
15-day reglementary period provided for in Section 2, Rule 45 of the Rules of
Thus, the Court is now confronted with two issues:First, the procedural issue of whether or not
the instant petition was timely filed; and Second, whether or not petitioners
title to the property is deemed invalidated when this Court declared P.D. No.
293 unconstitutional in Tuason v. Register of Deeds, Caloocan City.
As regards the procedural issue, petitioners refute respondents
allegation that the petition was filed out of time, asserting that the present
action is one for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court, hence,
the sixty-day reglementary period is applicable.14 cralawred
What is being assailed in the present petition is the decision of
the Regional Trial Court dismissing their complaint for Quieting of Title with
Recovery of Possession de jure, which is a final order.
An order is deemed final when it finally disposes of the pending
action so that nothing more can be done with it in the lower court (Mejia v. Alimorong, 4 Phil. 572; Insular Government v. Roman Catholic Bishop of Nueva
Segovia, 17 Phil. 487; People v. Macaraig, 54 Phil. 904) .In other words, a final order is that which
gives an end to the litigation (Olsen & Co. v. Olsen, 48 Phil. 238) .The test to ascertain whether an order is
interlocutory or final is: does it leave something to be done in the trial
court with respect to the merits of the case?If it does, it is interlocutory; if it does not, it is final (Moran,
Comments on the Rules of Court, Vol. 1, 3rd ed. pp. 806-807) .A final order is that which disposes of the
whole subject-matter or terminates the particular proceedings or action,
leaving nothing to be done but to enforce by execution what has been determined
(2 Am. Jur., section 22, pp. 861-862). (Reyes v. De Leon, G.R. No. L-3720, June
24, 1952). 15 cralawred
Therefore, the proper mode of appeal
should be a Petition for Review on Certiorari under Rule 45 of the 1997
Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended, and not a special civil action for certiorari
under Rule 65.As such, it should have
been filed within the 15-day reglementary period.16 Clearly, on the basis of such ground alone, the petition should be dismissed.
Moreover, petitioners clearly disregarded the doctrine of hierarchy
of courts which serves as a general determinant of the proper forum for the
availment of the extraordinary remedies of certiorari, prohibition, mandamus,
quo warranto, and habeas corpus.17 As held in People v. Court of Appeals:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
There is after all a hierarchy of courts.That hierarchy is determinative of the venue
of appeals, and should also serve as a general determinant of the appropriate
forum for petitions for the extraordinary writs.A becoming regard for that judicial hierarchy
most certainly indicates that petitions for the issuance of extraordinary writs
against first level (inferior) courts should be filled with the Regional
Trial Court, and those against the latter, with the Court of Appeals.A direct invocation of the Supreme Courts
original jurisdiction to issue these writs should be allowed only when there
are special and important reasons therefor, clearly and specifically set out in
the petition.This is established
policy.It is a policy that us necessary
to prevent inordinate demands upon the Courts time and attention which are
better devoted to those matters within its exclusive jurisdiction, and to
prevent further over-crowding of the Courts docket.18 cralawred
While the doctrine admits of certain exceptions, i.e.,
special and important reasons or for exceptional and compelling circumstances,19 the circumstances of this case do not permit the application of such
Considering, therefore, that the present special civil action of certiorari
under Rule 65 is within the concurrent original jurisdiction of the Supreme
Court and the Court of Appeals, the petition should have been initially filed
in the Court of Appeals in strict observance of the doctrine on the hierarchy
However, the Court may brush aside the procedural barrier and
take cognizance of the petition as it raises an issue of paramount importance
and constitutional significance.20 Thus, in order to set matters at rest, the Court shall resolve the second issue
or the merits for future guidance of the bench and bar.
In the Tuason case, the Court declared P.D. No. 239 as
unconstitutional and void ab initio in all its parts.21 It becomes imperative to determine the effect of such declaration on Torrens
titles that have been issued to persons who in good faith, had availed of the
benefits under P.D. No. 239 before it was declared void ab initio for
being unconstitutional.We have
consistently held that the Torrens system is not a means of acquiring titles to
lands; it is merely a system of registration of titles to lands.22 cralawred
At this point, a brief discourse on the decision of the Court in Tuason v. Register of Deeds, Caloocan City is in order.
In 1965, petitioners Tuason spouses bought from Carmel Farms,
Inc. (Carmel for brevity) a parcel of land in the subdivision of Carmel by
virtue of which Carmels Torrens title over said lot was cancelled and a new
title issued in the name of the Tuason spouses.Eight years thereafter, or in September 14, 1973, the then President
Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 293, portions of which read
.. . according to the records of the Bureau of Lands, neither the
original purchasers nor their subsequent transferees have made full payment of
all installments of the purchase money and interest on the lots claimed by the
Carmel Farms, Inc., including those on which the dwellings of the members of
said Association stand.Hence, title
to said land has remained with the Government, and the land now occupied by
the members of said association has never ceased to form part of the
property of the Republic of the Philippines, any and all acts affecting said
land and purporting to segregate it from the said property of the Republic of
the Philippines being therefore null and void ab initio as against the
law and public policy.
NOW THEREFORE, I, FERDINAND E. MARCOS, President of the
Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by the Constitution as
Commander-in-chief of all the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and pursuant to
Proclamation 1081, dated September 21, 1972, and General Order No. 1, dated
September 22, 1972, do hereby order and decree that any and all sales contracts
between the government and the original purchasers, are hereby cancelled, and
those between the latter and the subsequent transferees, and any and all
transfers thereafter, covering lots 979, 981, 982, 985, 988, 989, 990, 991-new,
1226, 1228, 1230, and 980-C-2 (LRC PSD-1730),
all of Tala Estate, Caloocan
City, are hereby declared invalid and null and void ab initio as against
the Government; that Transfer Certificates of Title Nos. 62603, 62604, 62605,
covering lots 1, 2 and 3, PCS-4383, all in the name of Carmel Farms, Inc.,
which are a consolidation and subdivision survey of the lots hereinbefore
enumerated, are declared invalid and considered cancelled as against the
Government; and that said lots are declared open for disposition and sale to
themembers of the Malacanang Homeowners
Association, Inc., the present bona fide occupants thereof, pursuant to
Commonwealth Act No. 32, as amended.23 cralawred
Thereupon, the Register of Deeds of
Caloocan City inscribed the following in TCT No. 8314 of the Tuason spouses:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
MEMORANDUM. Pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 293, this
certificate of title is declared invalid and null and void ab initio and
considered cancelled as against the Government and the property described
herein is declared open for disposition and sale to the members of the
Malacanang Homeowners Association, Inc.24 cralawred
Aggrieved, the Tuason spouses filed with
this Court a petition for certiorari assailing P.D. No. 293 as arbitrary,
depriving them of their property in favor of a selected group and violating
constitutional provisions on due process and eminent domain as well as the Land
Registration Act on the indefeasibility of Torrens titles.The Solicitor General opposed the
petition.The Court en banc resolved:chanroblesvirtua1awlibrary
The procedural issue is quite easily disposed of.It is true that the extrodinary writ of certiorari may properly issue to nullify only judicial or quasi-judicial
acts, unlike the writ of prohibition which may be directed against acts
either judicial or ministerial.Section 1, Rule 65 of the Rules of Court deals with the writ of certiorari in relation to any tribunal, board or officer exercising judicial
functions, while Section 2 of the same Rule treats of the writ of prohibition
in relation to proceedings of any tribunal, corporation, board, or person x x
exercising functions judicial or ministerial.But the petition will be shown upon analysis to be in reality directed
against an unlawful exercise of judicial power.
The decree reveals that Mr. Marcos exercised an obviously judicial
function.He made a determination of
facts, and applied the law to those facts, declaring what the legal rights of
the parties were in the premises.These
acts essentially constitute a judicial function, or an exercise of
jurisdiction which is the power and authority to hear or try and decide
or determine a cause.He adjudged it to
be an established fact that neither the original purchasers nor their
subsequent transferees have made full payment of all installments of the
purchase money and interest on the lots claimed by Carmel Farms, Inc.,
including those on which the dwellings of the members of x x (the) Association
(of homeowners) stand.And applying the
law to that situation, he made the adjudication that title of said land has
remained with the Government, and the land now occupied by the members of said
association has never ceased to form part of the property of the Republic of
the Philippines, and that any and all acts affecting said land and purporting
to segregate it from the said property of the Republic x x (were) null and void
ab initio as against the law and public policy.
These acts may thus be properly struck down by the writ of certiorari , because done by an officer in the performance of what in essence is
a judicial function, if it be shown that the acts were done without or in
excess of jurisdiction, or with grave abuse of discretion.Since Mr. Marcos was never vested with
judicial power such power, as everyone knows, being vested in the Supreme
Court and such inferior courts as my be established by law the judicial acts
done by him were in the circumstances indisputably perpetrated without
jurisdiction.The acts were completely
alien to his office as chief executive, and utterly beyond the permissible
scope of the legislative power that he had assumed as head of the martial law
Moreover, he had assumed to exercise power i.e., determined the
relevant facts and applied the law thereto without a trial at which all
interested parties were accorded the opportunity to adduce evidence to furnish
the basis for a determination of the facts material to the controversy.He made the finding ostensibly on the basis
of the records of the Bureau of Lands.Prescinding from the fact that there is no indication whatever the
nature and reliability of these records and that they are in no sense
conclusive, it is undeniable that the petitioners Tuasons (and the petitioners
in intervention) were never confronted with those records and afforded a chance
to dispute their trustworthiness and present countervailing evidence.This is yet another fatal defect.The adjudication was patently and grossly
violative of the right to due process to which the petitioners are entitled in
virtue of the Constitution.Mr. Marcos,
in other words, not only arrogated unto himself a power never granted to him by
the Constitution or the laws but had in addition exercised it unconstitutionally.
In any event, this Court has it in its power to treat the Petition for Certiorari as one for prohibition if the averments of the former
sufficiently made out a case for the latter.Considered in this wise, it will also appear that an executive officer
had acted without jurisdiction exercised judicial power not granted to him by
the Constitution or the laws and had furthermore performed the act in
violation of the constitutional rights of the parties thereby affected.The Court will grant such relief as may be
proper and efficacious in the premises even if not specifically sought or set
out in the prayer of the appropriate pleading, the permissible relief being
determined after all not by the prayer but by the basic averments of the
There is no dispute about the fact that title to the land purchased
by Carmel was actually issued to it by the Government.This of course gives rise to the strong
presumption that official duty has been regularly performed, that official duty
being in this case the ascertainment by the Chief of the Bureau of Public Lands
of the fulfillment of the condition prescribed by law for such issuance, i.e.,
the payment in full of the price, together with all accrued interest.Against this presumption there is no
evidence.It must hence be accorded full
sway in these proceedings.Furthermore,
the title having been duly issued to Carmel, it became effective in the manner
provided in section one hundred and twenty-two of the Land Registration Act.
It may well be the fact that Carmel really did fail to make full
payment of the price of the land purchased by it from the Government pursuant
to the provisions of Act 1120.This is a
possibility that cannot be totally discounted.If this be the fact, the Government may bring suit to recover the unpaid
installments and interest, invalidate any sale or encumbrance involving the
land subject of the sale, and enforce the lien of the Government against the
land by selling the same in the manner provided by Act Numbered One Hundred and
Ninety for the foreclosure of mortgages.This it can do despite the lapse of considerable period of time.Prescription does not lie against the
Government.But until and unless such a
suit is brought and results in a judgment favorable to the Government, the
acquisition of title by Carmel and the purchases by the petitioners and the
petitioners-intervenors from it of portions of the land covered by its original
title must be respected.At any rate,
the eventuation of that contingency will not and cannot in any manner affect
this Courts conclusion, herein affirmed, of the unconstitutionality and
invalidity of Presidential Decree No. 293, and the absolute lack of any right
to the land or any portion thereof on the part of the members of the so-called
Malacanang Homeowners Association, Inc.The decree was not as claimed a licit instance of the application of
social justice principles or the exercise of police power.It was in truth a disguised, vile stratagem
deliberately resorted to favor a few individuals, in callous and disdainful
disregard of the rights of others.It
was in reality a taking of private property without due process and without
compensation whatever, from persons relying on the indefeasibility of their
titles in accordance with and as explicitly guaranteed by law.25 cralawred
Nevertheless, certain factors must likewise be taken into
account.One is that the Register of
Deeds of Caloocan City has already invalidated petitioners title over the
property, TCT No. 120788,26 pursuant to the decree of this Court in Tuason v. Register of Deeds,
Caloocan City, and as it stands now, petitioners are holders of a canceled
transfer certificate of title.Another
is that Petitioners, while paying the real estate taxes due on the property,
are not in actual physical possession thereof.27 These circumstances work against petitioners interest and confirm their lack
of cause of action.The court a quo,
therefore, did not err in dismissing petitioners complaint.
Petitioners cannot rely on the ruling of the Court of Appeals in
the Aben case.Unlike in the
present case, the certificate of title of the plaintiff in the Aben case
was not canceled by the Register of Deeds.28 Also, the defendants therein admitted that the plaintiff was in actual
possession of the property even prior to the issuance of the certificate of
In fine, the Court finds the petition to be without merit.
petition is dismissed for lack of merit and the decision of the Regional Trial
Court of Caloocan City (Branch 121) in Civil Case No. C-489 is AFFIRMED.
Quisumbing, Callejo, Sr., and
TINGA, JJ., concur.
Puno, (Chairman), on official leave.
*** Also referred to as Fe Lomutan
or Fe Lumutan in the records of this case.
1 RTC Records, Folder of Exhibits, Exhibit M.
Records, Exhibit G.
3 RTC Records, Exhibit J.
4 RTC Records, Exhibit B.
5 RTC Records, Exhibits C to E-13.
9 Entitled, Sps. Wilfredo del Rosario & Fe Lumotan del Rosario v. Virgilio
Montana and John Doe.
10 RTC Records, Answer with Counterclaim, pp. 37-41.
11 RTC Records, Pre-trial Order, pp. 52-55.
12 RTC Records, RTC Decision, p. 110.
13 Petition, p. 5; Rollo, p. 7.
14 Rollo, p. 33; Reply, p. 1.
16 Rule 45, Section 2 of the 1997 Rules of Civil Procedure, as amended.
citing People v. Cuaresma, 172 SCRA 415, 424.
21 Supra, Tuason case, note 6.
Tuason case, note 6, pp. 617-618.
Pre-trial Order, pp. 52-55.
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