and ROSA CAJUCOM AZARCON,
G. R. No. L-43679
October 28, 1980
VALLARTA, LUIS T. VALLARTA,
E C I S I O N
JULIAN T. VALLARTA, CORAZON VALLARTA
and EMILIO LORENZO [HUSBAND],
certified to this Tribunal in 1976 by
the Court of Appeals on a question of law in that the issue is the
or interpretation placed upon pleadings and documentary evidence or the
correctness of the conclusions drawn therefrom.
are the Spouses Rosa Cajucom-Azarcon
and Leonardo Azarcon, hereinafter referred to as the appellants
The defendants are Leopoldo Vallarta, Luis T. Vallarta, Julian T.
Corazon Vallarta and her husband Emilio Lorenzo, who shall collectively
be called the appellees Vallartas.cralaw
centers around a parcel of irrigated
riceland situated at Sitio Bagnoy, San Juan de Dios, Aliaga, Nueva
of approximately ten hectares, previously owned by Dr. Jose V. Cajucom,
father of appellant Rosa Cajucom-Azarcon. It used to be covered by two
titles, namely: Original Certificate of Title No. P-2815
in the name of appellants Azarcons, and Original Certificate of Title
previously in the names of the appellees Vallartas, but now covered by
several Transfer Certificates of Title in their individual names.
Evidence for the
appellees Vallartas shows that
on March .14, 1932, Dr. Jose V. Cajucom sold to Julian Vallarta Sr.,
his first wife Francisca Trinidad, parents of the Vallartas, a parcel
agricultural land of nine  hectares situated in Sitio Bagnoy, San
de Dios, Aliaga, Nueva Ecija. The Vallartas claim that in a resurvey
on September 6, 1959, their parents discovered that the land sold,
to be only nine  hectares, was actually nineteen  hectares.
on October 7, 1960, Dr. Cajucom executed in favor of Julian Vallarta,
a "Waiver and Quit claim" over the excess ten  hectares, now in
in consideration of the amount of P5, 000.00.
The land referred to in said document was that described in Psu-171661,
a survey plan prepared for Dr. Cajucom on November 7, 1958, with an
of 106,632 square meters. A subsequent survey on September 6, 1959
disclosed an actual area of 102,704 sq. m. after deducting the areas
by irrigation canals.cralaw
On the other
hand, evidence for the appellants
Azarcons also show that on October 20, 1959, a year before the
waiver, Dr. Cajucom executed a "Deed of Absolute Sale" of the same land
in favor of the Azarcons, in the amount of P20,000.00. The document
referred to the same plan Psu-171661 and recited that the property was
unregistered land and that it was the "paraphernal" property of Dr.
having been inherited by him from his father, Nicolas Sarenas Cajucom.
appellant Rosa filed a Free Patent Application
over the disputed property.
In support of her application, Rosa presented the affidavits of Antonio
Puno, Antonio de la Cruz, Bruno Santos and Emilio Sanguesa attesting to
the actual occupation and cultivation of the land in dispute since 1934
by herself and/or her predecessors-in-interest.
The Free Patent Application was approved on February 26, 1961 and Free
Patent Entry No. 18504 was thereafter issued by the Director of Lands.
On May 8, 1961,
the Register of Deeds of Nueva
Ecija issued Original Certificate of Title No. P-2815 in the name of
Azarcons. Going back to the Vallartas, their evidence further discloses
that on May 12, 1964, Julian Vallarta, Sr. sold his one half portion of
the disputed property to his children by his first wife who died in
namely, Jaime, Julian, Jr., Francisca, Luis, Corazon, Librada, Cesar,
Mariano and Leopoldo, all surnamed Vallarta, in the amount of
Sometime in 1965,
the Vallarta heirs, including
appellees, filed with the Court of First Instance, Branch III, Nueva
an application for registration of the disputed property [LRC Rec. No.
L-26618]. The opposition of the Director of Lands and the Director of
having been withdrawn, decision was rendered on April 18, 1966
the title of the Vallarta heirs and ordering registration in their
Conformably thereto, on July 18, 1966, the Register of Deeds of Nueva
issued Original Certificate of Title No. L-3093 in the name of the
disputed property was subdivided and
the appellees herein secured for themselves Transfer Certificates of
in their names as previously mentioned. Appellees also secured the
Tax Declarations in their names
and paid real estate taxes on the property
from 1966-1969, as well as irrigation fees from 1956-1963 fully and
for the years 1964-1968.
The resultant situation
a 10-hectare irrigated riceland sold successively by its previous owner
to the two sets of opposing parties herein, and covered by two distinct
original certificates of title in their respective favor.cralaw
letters of demand to vacate dated
March 5 and 22, 1968, having been ignored by the Vallartas on March 18,
1969, appellants Azarcons filed a petition with the Court of First
Branch III, of Nueva Ecija in LRC No. 26618 for the cancellation of the
Vallarta titles. On a Motion to Dismiss filed by the Vallartas and
going into the merits of the case, the Court dismissed the same on the
ground that it could not entertain in the same registration proceedings
a petition where its decision had long become final and executory. The
dismissal, however, was without prejudice to the filing of the proper
before the competent Court.
Thus, on May 6,
1968, the Azarcons filed the instant
Complaint for Cancellation and Annulment of Titles with the Court a
quo, which the Vallartas traversed and controverted, and with each
set of litigants asserting the validity, superiority, and
of their respective titles. Without trial and only on the basis of
and documentary evidence submitted, the lower Court rendered a Decision
in favor of the Vallartas on December 27, 1969, the dispositive portion
of which reads:
WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered in
of the defendants and against the plaintiffs, and declaring plaintiff's
Free Patent No. 167650 and/or OCT No. P-2815 of the Land Records of
Ecija null and void, and ordering the Register of Deeds of this
to cancel the same, at plaintiff's expense.
I.chanrobles virtual law library
In holding that the land covered
Free Patent Title of the plaintiffs-appellants is the private property
of Jose V. Cajucom, Sr. and not a part of the public domain;
II.chanrobles virtual law library
In holding that Free Patent
on May 8, 1961 and registered in the Registry of Deeds of Nueva Ecija
July 18, 1961 under Original Certificate of Title No. P-2815 under
91 of CA 141, ipso facto cancelled is null and void;
III.chanrobles virtual law library
In holding that the defendants
owners and in actual possession of the land in question since March 14,
1932, the same having been sold by Jose V. Cajucom in favor of Julian
IV.chanrobles virtual law library
In considering that the Land
3093 of the defendants is superior to the Free Patent Title of the
V.chanrobles virtual law library
In not considering the
by defendants for which they paid no docket fee to the Clerk of Court,
a collateral attack to the title of the plaintiffs-appellants.chanrobles virtual law library
with the judgment and with the denial
of their Motion for Reconsideration, the Azarcons elevated the case to
the Court of Appeals which certified the same to this Court. The
ascribe the following errors to the lower Court:
take issue with the following findings
of the trial Court:
In view of the existence of two distinct
over the same property, it is thus clear that the only issue to be
by this Court is: which of the two titles must prevail, is it Free
No. 167690 of the plaintiffs or Original Certificate of Title No.
[now Transfer Certificate of Titles Nos. 67396, 67397, 80934 and 80936]
of the defendants?
consideration of the applicable laws and jurisprudence,
the Court decides the foregoing issues in favor of the defendants.
A free patent
which purports to convey land to
which the government did not have any title at the time of its issuance
does not vest any title in the patentee as against the true owner [Suva
vs. Ventura, 40 Off. Gaz., pp. 47-48, 4th Supp., Aug. 2341, Ct. App;
vs. Obligado, 70 Phil. 86; Director of Lands vs. Reyes, 69 Phil. 497:
vs. Anora, G. R. No. L-4176, February 29, 1952]. Plaintiffs were fully
aware that on February 26, 1961, when their application was approved,
land in question was not a part of the public domain as to be
by the Director of Lands, because as early as October 20, 1959 by
of their Exh. "A", they knew too well that the land of the private
of the patentees' father Jose V. Cajucom, from whom they
bought the same for P 2,000.00. That said land was no longer a part of
the public domain but of the private ownership of Jose V. Cajucom even
before the Second World War is further attested by the fact that as
as March 14, 1932, the same owner had disposed of his private property
to defendant's predecessors and reaffirmed by him on October 7, 1960
"3"). Pursuant to the abovecited cases where a person, who obtained
patent, knowingly made a false statement of material and essential
in his application, by stating that the land applied for was part of
public domain not occupied or claimed by any other person, when in
the same had formally belonged to another as his private property from
whom he alleged to have acquired it, it was held that in accordance
Section 91 of Com. Act No. 141, his title ipso facto cancelled,
and consequently, rendered null and void.cralaw
misrepresentation in plaintiffs'
application which legally results in the nullity of their free patent
their statements that they and their predecessors were in actual
of the land since 1926 and that they have paid continuously since July
4, 1926 the real estate tax thereof, both of which are contrary to the
evidence adduced in this case. As to possession, the defendants
their predecessors were in continuous possession of the disputed land
March 14, 1932. In fact, it was only on March 5, 1968 when plaintiffs
to take over said possession. The same is true on the matter of
of the realty tax [Exhs. "B" - "C", plaintiffs; Exhs. "5" to "18",
On the other
hand, the Court finds no defect,
fatal or otherwise, in defendants' titles, much less any legal ground
nullify them. On the contrary, Original Certificate of Title No. 3093
obtained by them in a decision of this Court [Branch III] in L.R.C.
No. L-26618 on April 18, 1966, without the plaintiffs opposing the
thereof and with no opposition on the part of the Director of Lands
"2"]. At any rate, said title is now indefeasible and incontestable.
We find the
foregoing conclusions drawn by the
trial Court from the documentary evidence submitted by the parties to
in order. The document of sale in favor of the Azarcons executed on
20, 1959 explicitly recites that the land sold was the exclusive
of the vendor, Dr. Jose Cajucom, who had inherited it from his father.
Indeed, if it were private property but still public land, he could not
have disposed of it in favor of Julian Vallarta, Sr. as early as 1932.
That was obviously the reason why both the Director of Lands and the
of Forestry withdrew their respective oppositions to the application
registration filed by the Vallartas. Not having been part of the public
domain, the Government was bereft of title to convey to any applicant.
Again, Rosa's allegation in support of her application for Free Patent
regarding her possession was, in fact, a misrepresentation, because the
Vallartas had been in possession since the sale in 1932 and had
in such occupancy, as shown by the demand by the Azarcons in 1968,
in their Complaint, that the Vallartas vacate the disputed property.cralaw
We are fully
cognizant of the well-settled rule
that where two certificates of title are issued to different persons
the same land in whole or in part, the earlier date must prevail as
the original parties, and in case of successive registration where more
than one certificate is issued over the land, the person holding under
the prior certificate is entitled to the land as against the person who
relies on the second certificate.
This presupposes, however, that the prior title is a valid one. Where,
as in the case at bar, it is evident that the prior title of the
suffers from an inherent informity, such a rule cannot be invoked in
Azarcons' contention that appellees'
counterclaim assailing the Azarcon title should have been considered by
the trial Court as merely a permissive counterclaim for which they
have been made to pay docketing fees, is untenable. It is a compulsory
counterclaim, which could have been barred if not set up. Accordingly,
no fees therefor need have been paid. Nor can it be successfully argued
that said counterclaim was a collateral attack on the Azarcon title. On
the contrary the validity of both titles of the opposing parties
was directly and squarely put in issue and formed the crux of the
We cannot but
decry the carelessness of the Bureau
of Lands in having issued the Free Patent in Rosa's favor. Surely, a
diligent search into their records would have revealed the true
of the disputed property as private land. It should also be noted that
in the voluntary registration proceedings filed by the Vallartas [LRC
No. L-26618], the Director of Lands, through the Provincial Fiscal who
represented him, should have known of the Free Patent previously issued
and should have informed the Court accordingly. Had more vigilance been
exercise by a government agency entrusted specifically with the task of
administering and disposing of public lands, the present litigation
have been averted.cralaw
judgment appealed from, being in
conformity with law, is hereby affirmed. Costs against
C.J., Makasiar, Fernandez,
and Guerrero, JJ., concur.cralaw
Free Patent No. 167650, Exh. "D".
Exhibits "24" - "28".
Exhibits "G" and "H".
Exhibits "13" - "18".
p. 60, Record on Appeal.
pp. 77-80, Record on Appeal.
Pajomayo,et al.,.vs. Manipon, 39 SCRA 677 .