SPECIAL FIRST DIVISION
G. R. No. 91486 - September 10, 2003
ALBERTO G. PINLAC, ATTY. ERIBERTO H. DECENA, RODOLFO F. REYES, FELIPE BRIONES, JUANITO METILLA, JR., FELIPE A. FLORES, HERMINIO ELEVADO, NARCISO S. SIMEROS, petitioners, vs.
COURT OF APPEALS, ATTY. CORAZON A. MERRERA, ATTY. JEAN MAKASIAR-PUNO, SERGIO ACABAN, represented by Atty. Ramon Gerona, ATTY. ROGELIO VELASCO, MARTINA S. NONA, OVIDEO MEJICA, ALFREDO ITALIA, MARIANO GUEVARRA, JESUS YUJUICO, DOMINADOR RIVERA, SATURNINA SALES, represented by Atty. Consolacion Sales-Demontano, FRED CHUA, SONIA SY CHUA, LAWRENCE CHUA, CAROLINA C. RUBIO, represented by Tessie Sebastian, GEORGE G. GUERRERO, BEATRIZ TANTOCO, represented by Filomena Cervantes, ATTY. MARCELA CELESTINO-GARCIA, FEDERICO GARCIA, ILDEFONSO MORALES, LEONCIA VELASCO, OCRAVIO F. LINA, ANA MARIA JARAMILLO, ESTRELLA BASA, JOSE ESTEVA, JR., CIRILO GONZALES, VILLY TOBIAS, MIGUEL DELA PAZ, RUBEN GUILLERMO, FAUSTO YADAO, represented by Jeremias Panlilio, RICARDO YAP, ROSAURO/PATRICK MARQUEZ, represented by Emmanuel Marquez, MODESTA FABRIG and MAXIMINO SALCEDA, MELIA LATOMBO, TERESITA PANGILINAN-RIVERO, ARCH. DANILO C. DE CASTRO, JOSE S. LEDESMA, JAIME P. ANG, VEICENTE P. ANG, MAURO U. GABRIEL, ATTY. VIRGINIA GOMEZ, GIL S. BONILLA, LOURDES BLANCO, represented by Catalina Blanco, JOSEFA SANCHEZ and ROSALINA VILLEGAS, represented by Heidi Bobis, SHIRLEY BUCAG, QUIRINA O. TUVERA, represented by Wilfredo Orejuros, GREGORIO AVENTINO, represented by Enrico Aventino, LEONARDO L. NICOLAS, NICOMEDES PENARANDA, FRANCISCA MEDRANO, OFELIA IGNACIO, ROSENDO ABUBO, represented by Santos Chavez, SOLEDAD BAUTISTA DE COLUMNA, represented by Zenaida Valle, MARQUITA/ SEBASTIAN LOPEZ, represented by Emmanuel Marquez, DELIA DORION, GERARDO L. SANTIAGO, FIDEL PANGANIBAN, represented by Manuel dela Roca, MATEO and OFELIA INOVEJAS, REMEDIOS C. DOVAS, represented by Josefa Capistrano, DOMINGO ALTAMIRANO and SPOUSES ROLANDO ALTAMIRANO and MINERVA FETALVERO, BEATRIZ RINGPIS, ROSARIO DE MATA, RUFINA CRUZ, represented by JOSEFA MANABAT, SPOUSES ANITA SALONGA-CAPAGCUAN and MAYNARD CAPAGCUAN, DISCORA YATCO, represented by VICTORINA Y. FIRME, and CONSUELO YATCO, GENEROSA MEDINA VDA. DE NOGUERA, represented by ATTY. RAYMUNDO M. NOGUERA, BEATRIZ SALANDANAN and LOURDES ALONTE-VASQUEZ, PEDRO COSIO and VICTORINA CARINO, RUTH C. ZARATE, PRECIOSISIMA V. YAPCHULAY, BASILISA B. YAPCHULAY, OFELIA B. YAPCHULAY, FELISA B. YAPCHULAY, FE B. YAPCHULAY, WILMA B. YAPCHULAY, FELIX B. YAPCHULAY, MARIANO B. YAPCHULAY, GEN. ALFREDO LIM, and other registered OWNERS OF VILAR-MALOLES (VILMA) SUBDIVISION, respondents.
This resolves the Petition-In-Intervention1 filed by the Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Land Registration Authority and the Motion for Clarification2 filed by respondents.
The facts may be briefly restated as follows: The controversy stemmed from a Petition for Quieting of Title filed by petitioners over 3 vast parcels of land known as Lot Nos. 1, 2 & 3. Lot No. 1 is covered by TCT No. 5690, while Lot Nos. 2 and 3 were originally covered by OCT No. 614 and OCT No. 333, respectively. On March 21, 1988, the trial court rendered a Partial Decision3 in favor of petitioners and against the defendants who were declared in default, including respondent owners of Vilmar-Maloles (Vilma) Subdivision whose properties were within Lot No. 2. The dispositive portion of which reads:
On May 17, 1989, the defaulted title owners of Vilma filed with the Court of Appeals a Petition to Annul the Partial Decision of the trial court, which was granted in a decision4 dated November 15, 1989. The appellate court ruled that the court a quo did not acquire jurisdiction over the person of respondents because of defective service of summons by publication. Petitioners motion for reconsideration of the said decision was denied; hence, they filed this petition for certiorari.
On January 19, 2001, we rendered a Decision denying the petition and affirming the Judgment of the Court of Appeals. The dispositive portion thereof reads:
Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration6 contending, inter alia, that the disposition of the trial court with respect to Lot No. 3, should not have been annulled by the Court of Appeals because the petition for annulment of judgment filed by the respondents concerned only Lot No. 2. They prayed that the January 19, 2001 decision of the Court which affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeals be reconsidered insofar as Lot No. 3 is concerned.
On November 20, 2001, the Court issued a Resolution partially granting petitioners motion for reconsideration by reinstating paragraphs 4 and 5 of the dipositive portion of the trial courts Partial Decision pertaining to Lot No. 3, thus
On July 22, 2002, the Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Land Registration Authority (LRA), thru the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), filed a motion for intervention and a Petition-In-Intervention praying that judgment be rendered declaring:
The rule on intervention, like all other rules of procedure is intended to make the powers of the Court fully and completely available for justice. It is aimed to facilitate a comprehensive adjudication of rival claims overriding technicalities on the timeliness of the filing thereof.9 Indeed, in exceptional cases, the Court has allowed intervention notwithstanding the rendition of judgment by the trial court. In one case, intervention was allowed even when the petition for review of the assailed judgment was already submitted for decision in the Supreme Court.10
In Mago v. Court of Appeals,11 intervention was granted even after the decision became final and executory, thus
But it is apparent that the courts a quo only considered the technicalities of the rules on intervention and of the petition for relief from judgment. The denial of their motion to intervene arising from the strict application of the rule was an injustice to petitioners whose substantial interest in the subject property cannot be disputed. It must be stressed that the trial court granted private respondent's petition for prohibition with injunction without petitioners being impleaded, in total disregard of their right to be heard, when on the face of the resolution of the Community Relations and Information Office (CRIO) sought to be enjoined, petitioners were the ones directly to be affected. We need not belabor the point that petitioners are indeed indispensable parties with such an interest in the controversy or subject matter that a final adjudication cannot be made in their absence without affecting, nay injuring, such interest.
In Director of Lands v. Court of Appeals where the motions for intervention were filed when the case had already reached this Court, it was declared:
It is quite clear and patent that the motions for intervention filed by the movants at this stage of the proceedings where trial had already been concluded x x x and on appeal x x x the same was affirmed by the Court of Appeals and the instant petition for certiorari to review said judgment is already submitted for decision by the Supreme Court, are obviously and manifestly late, beyond the period prescribed under x x x Section 2, Rule 12 of the Rules of Court [now Rule 19, Section 2 of the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure].
The Solicitor General summarized the interest of the Republic in Lot No. 3 (originally covered by OCT No. 333), as follows:
In a letter [Annex "B-2", Rollo, p. 1330], the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council certified that within the Project site/jurisdiction of the National Government Center Housing Project (NGCHP) and the NGC-EASTSIDE DEVELOPMENT PROJECT, the following government buildings, offices and complexes are situated:
Clearly, the intervention of the Republic is necessary to protect public interest as well as government properties located and projects undertaken on Lot No. 3. The Constitutional mandate that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law can certainly be invoked by the Republic which is an indispensable party to the case at bar. As correctly pointed out by the Solicitor General, while the provision is intended as a protection of individuals against arbitrary action of the State, it may also be invoked by the Republic to protect its properties.14
After a thorough re-examination of the case, we find that our November 20, 2001 Resolution reinstating paragraphs 4 and 5 of the trial courts Partial Decision pertaining to Lot No. 3, overlooked certain aspects which, if not corrected, will cause extreme and irreparable confusion and prejudice. The reinstated portions of the decision states:
We note that paragraph 4 does not at all specify which portions are in excess of the 4,574 square meter area of OCT No. 333 and which areas belong to the defaulted and non-defaulted respondents. Neither did the body of the trial courts decision state the metes and bounds that would serve as basis in implementing the dispositive portion thereof. Verily, this flaw goes into the very identity of the disputed land. Paragraphs 4 and 5 are therefore null and void for having been rendered in violation of the constitutional mandate that "no decision shall be rendered by any court without expressing therein clearly and distinctly the facts and the law on which it is based."16 Hence, the November 20, 2001 Resolution reinstating paragraphs 4 and 5 of the trial courts Partial Decision should be modified.
The OSGs prayer that OCT No. 333 be held as a valid and existing title is likewise meritorious. In Republic v. Tofemi Realty Corporation (Tofemi),17 an action for "Cancellation of Titles & Reversion" of TCT No. 55747 and TCT No. 55748, the validity of OCT No. 333 from which said transfer certificates of title originated, has already been settled. In dismissing the petition of the Republic, it was held therein that OCT No. 333 is a valid title duly issued by the Land Registration Court. The Republic did not appeal therefrom and the decision became final and executory. Pertinent portion of which states
The Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, known in local history as the "Philippine Bill of 1902", in its sections 13 to 18, mentions three (3) classes of land, to wit, "public land" or public domain", "mineral lands", and "timber land". (Ramos vs. Director of Lands, 39 Phil. 175). Early decisions as regards classification of public lands, such as Mapa vs. Insular Government, 10 Phil 175, Ramos vs. Director of Lands, supra, and Ankron vs. Government of the Philippine Islands, 40 Phil. 10, which were decided under the Philippine Bill of 1902 and the first Public Land Act No. 926 enacted by the Philippine Commission on October 7, 1926, or prior to the passage of Act No. 2874, had impliedly ruled that there was no legal provision vesting in the chief Executive or President of the Philippines the power to classify lands of the public domain into mineral, timber and agricultural; so that the courts then were free to make corresponding classifications in justiciable cases, or were invested with implicit power in so doing, depending upon the preponderance of the evidence. In Mapa vs. Insular Government, supra, Feb. 10, 1908, the Court of Land Registration granted the application for registration after finding that it was neither "timber" nor "mineral" and came within the definition of "Agricultural land" under Act 926. The Attorney General appealed. The Supreme Court affirmed the appealed judgment. In G.L.R.O. No. 1037, the application for registration was granted and consequently the issuance of a title was decreed in favor of the applicant because the Land Registration Court found that the land applied for is agricultural susceptible of private appropriation (Ramos vs. Director of Lands, supra; Ankron vs. Government of the Philippine Islands, supra). We repeat by way of emphasis, the record does not reveal that the Government has always considered the lot in question as forest reserve prior to the issuance of OCT 333. To declare the land now as forest land on the authority of LC Map 639 of Rizal approved on March 11, 1937 only, would deprive defendants of their registered property without due process of law. It was pronounced in Ramos vs. Director of lands, supra:
Stare decisis et non quieta movere. Stand by the decisions and disturb not what is settled. It is a salutary and necessary judicial practice that when a court has laid down a principle of law applicable to a certain state of facts, it must adhere to such principle and apply it to all future cases in which the facts sued upon are substantially the same.19 It is beyond cavil, therefore, that since the court had already ruled on the validity OCT No. 333, said issue must be laid to rest and must no longer be relitigated in the present case.
With respect, however, to the area covered by OCT No. 333, the principle of stare decisis is not applicable because the decision of the Court of Appeals did not indicate the boundaries of the lot covered by OCT No. 333. While it was held therein that the area of OCT No. 333 is 52,949,735 square meters, the metes and bounds of the land covered by OCT No. 333 was not specified. We cannot adopt the findings as to the area of OCT No. 333 for it might cause deprivation of property of adjacent land owners without due process of law.
So, also, the Court cannot nullify the entire Partial Decision of the court a quo. The defaulted defendants whose properties are located in Lot No. 1 did not question the decision of the trial court. Neither was it shown in the Petition-In-Intervention that the OSG is an indispensable party to Lot No. 1.
In their Motion for Clarification and Manifestation, respondents seek the clarification of paragraph 1 of the trial courts Partial Decision declaring petitioners as owners of, among others, Lot No. 2 where respondents properties are located. Paragraph 1, provides:
In view of the annulment of the trial courts Partial Decision with respect to Lot No. 2 originally covered by OCT No. 614, all portions of the decision pertaining to Lot No. 2, including that in paragraph 1 declaring petitioners as absolute owners in fee simple of Lot No. 2, is declared void. Likewise, the declaration of nullity of paragraphs 4 and 5 of the dispositive portion of the decision a quo concerning Lot No. 3, renders the disposition in paragraph 1 insofar as it affects Lot No. 3, also void. Under the 1997 Rules on Civil Procedure, specifically Rule 47, Section 7 thereof, a judgment of annulment shall set aside the questioned judgment or final order or resolution and render the same null and void, without prejudice to the original action being re-filed in the proper court.
In the meantime, the World War II Veterans Legionaries of the Philippines (WW II) filed a Petition-in-Intervention with prior leave of court. It alleges that the Court of Appeals decision dated November 15, 1989 in CA-G.R. SP No. 17596, which is the subject of the instant petition for review, ran counter to the June 22, 1989 decision of the same court in CA-G.R. SP No. 17221, which merely amended the first paragraph of the Partial Decision of the trial court in Civil Case No. Q-35672. The latter decision of the appellate court was affirmed by this Court in G.R. No. 90245 on April 8, 1990.
We find no conflict between the two decisions of the Court of Appeals. It is true that both decisions affected the portion of the Partial Decision of the trial court which declared petitioners, who are individual members of the WW II, as absolute owners of Lot Nos. 1, 2 and 3. However, the decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 17221 merely granted WW IIs prayer that it be substituted for its individual members, who were declared the owners of Lot Nos. 1, 2 and 3 in the Partial Decision. Aside from this, the decision in CA-G.R. SP No. 17221 had nothing to do with the merits of the case. As such, it did not contradict the Court of Appeals decision of November 15, 1989 in CA-G.R. SP No. 17596 which set aside the Partial Decision of the trial court.
WHEREFORE, in view of all the foregoing, the Petition-In-Intervention of the Republic of the Philippines is PARTIALLY GRANTED. The Resolution promulgated on November 20, 2001 is MODIFIED as follows: The Decision dated March 21, 1988 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Branch 83, in Civil Case No. Q-35762, is annulled insofar as it concerns Lot No. 2, originally covered by OCT No. 614 and Lot No. 3 originally covered by OCT No. 333. The November 15, 1999 Decision of the Court of Appeals in CA-G.R. No. 17596 is affirmed in all other respects.
As clarified above, paragraph 1 of the dispositive portion of the decision of the court a quo is void insofar as it declares petitioners as absolute owners in fee simple of Lot Nos. 2 and 3.
The Petition-in-Intervention filed by the World War Veterans Legionaries of the Philippines is DENIED for lack of merit.
Davide, Jr., C.J., Bellosillo, Carpio, and Carpio-Morales, JJ., concur.
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