G.R. No. L-24864 May 30, 1996
FORTUNATO HALILI, doing business under the name and style Halili Transit [substituted by Emilia De Vera Vda. de Halili], Petitioner, v. COURT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, and HALILI BUS DRIVERS and CONDUCTORS UNION (PTGWO), Respondents.
G.R. No. L-24864 May 30, 1996
EMILIA DE VERA VDA. DE HALILI, Petitioner, v. COURT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, and HALILI BUS DRIVERS and CONDUCTORS UNION (PTGWO), Respondents.
G.R. No. L-24864 May 30, 1996
EMILLA DE VERA VDA. DE HALILI, Petitioner, v. HALILI BUS DRIVERS AND CONDUCTORS UNION PTGWO, and COURT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, Respondents.
G.R. No. L-24864 May 30, 1996
FELICIDAD M. TOLENTINO, as Administratrix of the ESTATE of FORTUNATO F. HALILI, Petitioner, v. COURT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS and HALILI BUS DRIVERS & CONDUCTORS UNION (PTGWO), Respondents.
HERMOSISIMA, JR, J.:
The herein petition was filed by the Halili Bus Drivers and Conductors Union (PTGWO), under the caption of the original case/cases, 1 as it may in fact be considered an incident thereto.
The above-captioned cases were claims for unpaid overtime pay of 897 union members against Fortunate Halili, then doing business under the name and style. Halili Transit which were initially commenced as a complaint 2 with the defunct Court of Industrial Relations on August 20, 1958.
After Fortunato Halili's demise, said cases were settled amicably. The Union and the Administratrix of Fortunato F. Halili's estate reached an Agreement on December 23, 1974, the pertinent portions of which read:
On January 6, 1975, pursuant to the abovementioned Agreement, the Administratrix of the Estate of Fortunato F. Halili executed a Deed of Conveyance of Real Property, transferring the aforementioned parcel of land to the Halili Bus and Conductors Union (PTGWO) in trust for the individual members of the Union claimants.
The parcel of land covered by the said Deed of Conveyance was registered without encumbrance in the name of the said Union on February 14, 1975 under Transfer Certificate of Title. No. 205755. 4
On August 9, 1982, the said Union, through its legal counsel, Atty. Benjamin C. Pineda, filed an urgent motion with the then Ministry of Labor and Employment (MOLE) requesting that authority be granted to sell and dispose of the property.
On September 23, 1982, the MOLE acting through Labor Arbiter Raymundo R. Valenzuela, granted the Union's motion to sell the subject property.
Thereafter, Atty. Benjamin C. Pineda filed a motion with the Supreme Court on December 1, 1982, requesting authority to sell the property. This Court, however, merely noted the motion in a Resolution dated December 8, 1982.
Relying on the earlier authority given him by the Ministry of Labor, Atty. Pineda subsequently filed another urgent motion with the MOLE, this time praying that the Union be authorized to sell the lot to the respondent herein Manila Memorial Park Cemetery, Inc. (MMPCI, for brevity).
In an Order, dated February 9, 1983, Labor Arbiter Valenzuela, for the MOLE, likewise granted the motion to sell the subject property to MMPCI.
The sale of the property held in trust by the seller-Union to the buyer-MMPCI was finally consummated on June 7, 1983.
On the basis of the Order of Arbiter Valenzuela and the Deed of Sale between the Union and MMPCI, Transfer Certificate of Title No. 205755 in the name of the Union was canceled and said property was registered in the name of respondent MMPCI, under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 301151 by the Register of Deeds of Quezon City on June 14, 1983.
Significantly, however, the Orders, dated September 23, 1982 and February 9, 1983, issued by Labor Arbiter Valenzuela which granted the two motions of the Union's former counsel, Atty. Benjamin C. Pineda, for an authority to sell the real property awarded to the Union, were set aside by this Court in a Resolution, dated October 18, 1983, to wit:
On the basis of this Resolution nullifying the above orders of the Labor Arbiter, the Union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) seeking to compel the buyer, private respondent Manila Memorial Park Cemetery, Inc., to reconvey the Union's property bought by MMPCI from Atty. Pineda upon the ground that the latter sold it without proper authority from the Supreme Court.
The Chief of the Legal and Enforcement Division of the NLRC, tasked to act on the complaint, refused to take cognizance of the case for lack of jurisdiction, viz:
Hence, the Union filed this Petition/Motion with Prayer for Clarification, through which it seeks, among others, the recovery of subject real property comprising of 33,952 square meters sold to respondent MMPCI, to wit:
The petition has no merit.
Article 217 of the Labor Code, as amended by Section 9 of Republic Act 6715 delineates the scope of jurisdiction of the National Labor Relations Commission and the Labor Arbiters, to wit:
The subject matter of the instant petition, which is the reconveyance of the disputed real property to the Union by the respondent MMPCI does not fall under any of the issues cognizable by the NLRC as enumerated in Article 217 of the Labor Code. Hence, the public respondent NLRC committed no error in dismissing the complaint brought before them by the petitioner Union for the simple reason that said Tribunal has no jurisdiction to entertain the same.
The fact that the subject real property was registered under the Torrens System of registration in the name of respondent MMPCI under Transfer Certificate of Title No. 301151 by the Register of Deeds of Quezon City on June 14, 1983, makes the instant petition all the more dismissible, considering that the best proof of ownership of a piece of land is the Certificate of Title. 8
Section 48 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree provides:
A certificate of title accumulates in one document a precise and correct statement of the exact status of the fee held by its owner. The certificate, in the absence of fraud, is the evidence of title and shows exactly the real interest of its owner. The title once registered, with very few exceptions, should not thereafter be impugned, altered, changed, modified, enlarged, or diminished, except in some direct proceeding permitted by law. Otherwise, all security in registered titles would be lost. 9
In the present petition, the Union seeks from respondent MMPCI the recovery of the subject property. It is evident that the objective of such claim is to nullify the title of private respondent to the property in question, which thereby challenges the judgment pursuant to which the title was decreed. This is apparently a collateral attack which is not permitted under the principle of indefeasibility of a Torrens Title. It is well settled that a Torrens Title cannot be collaterally attacked. The issue on the validity of title, i.e., whether or not it was fraudulently issued, can only be raised in an action expressly instituted for that purpose. Hence, whether or not petitioners have the right to claim ownership of the land in question is beyond the province of the instant proceeding. 10
Furthermore, all portions of said land, now known as Holy Cross Memorial Park, have already been sold out to individual lot buyers, who are innocent purchasers for value, and contain the interred remains of the lot owners and/or their relatives. Where innocent third persons, relying on the correctness of the Certificate of Title thus issued, acquire rights over the property, the Court cannot disregard such rights and order the total cancellation of the certificate. The effect of such an outright cancellation would be to impair public confidence in the Certificate of Title, for everyone dealing with property registered under the Torrens System would have to inquire in every instance as to whether the title has been regularly or irregularly issued by the Court. And this is contrary to the evident purpose of the law. Every person dealing with registered land may safely rely on the correctness of the Certificate of Title issued therefor and the law will in no way oblige him to go behind the certificate to determine the condition of the property. 11
As adverted to earlier, ownership of the lot in question had already been vested in the Union upon sale to it by the Heirs of Halili. Considering this, the Union had every right to dispose of the property. After the termination of the above-entitled cases, judgment therefor having become final and executory, even as of 1982, neither the NLRC nor this Court will have any authority to look into the validity of the disposal by the Union of the property so acquired by the Union in the proceedings. Under the circumstances, therefore, it is to be assumed that the sale by the Union, as virtual owner of the property, to the respondent MMPCI would not need any authority to sell from the NLRC or from this Court and we hereby write finis to these cases in order to avoid multiplicity of suits and considering that these cases were instituted as early as 1958.
WHEREFORE, the instant petition is DISMISSED for lack of merit.
Narvasa C.J., Padilla, Regalado, Davide, Jr., Romero, Bellosillo, Melo, Puno, Vitug, Kapunan, Mendoza, Francisco, Panganiban and Torres, Jr., JJ., concur.