The respondent filed application for land registration under her name by alleging that she and her predecessors-in-interest had been in open, peaceful, continuous, uninterrupted and adverse possession of the land in the concept of owner since time immemorial.
However, at the initial hearing of the application, Fiscal Liberato L. Reyes interposed an opposition in behalf of the Director of Lands and the Bureau of Public Works. The Republic insist that the land was within the unclassified which were denominated as forest lands and thus was public land; and that it could not be acquired by prescription.
The CFI rendered its decision, ordering the registration of the land in favor of the respondent on the ground that she had sufficiently established her open, public, continuous, and adverse possession in the concept of an owner for more than 30 years.
Whether or not the respondent then acquire the land through Section 14 (1) and (2) of Presidential Decree No. 1529 (Property Registration Decree considering that her possession and occupation of the land by her and her predecessors-in-interest could be traced back to as early as in 1926, and that the nature of their possession and occupation was that of a bona fide claim of ownership for over 30 years
(a) Under Section 14 (1) or possession and occupation in the concept of an owner
(b) Under Section 14 (2) or ownership through prescription
(a) NO. Under Section 14 (1) of the Property Registration Decree the respondent had to prove that: (1) the land formed part of the alienable and disposable land of the public domain; and (2) she, by herself or through her predecessors-in-interest, had been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the subject land under a bona fide claim of ownership from June 12, 1945, or earlier. It is the applicant who carries the burden of proving that the two requisites have been met. Failure to do so warrants the dismissal of the application.
The respondent failed to present evidence of the land, albeit public, having been declared alienable and disposable by the State. Even had the respondent’s effort to insert the certification that the land falls within the Alienable or Disposable Land, the same would nonetheless be vain and ineffectual. The standing doctrine that land of the public domain, to be the subject of appropriation, must be declared alienable and disposable either by the President or the Secretary of the DENR.
(b) NO. It is clear that property of public dominion, which generally includes property belonging to the State, cannot be the object of prescription or, indeed, be subject of the commerce of man. Lands of the public domain, whether declared alienable and disposable or not, are property of public dominion and thus insusceptible to acquisition by prescription. The period of possession prior to the reclassification of the land as alienable and disposable land of the public domain is not considered in reckoning the prescriptive period in favor of the possessor.
Mere showing of possession and occupation for 30 years or more is not sufficient. Since the effectivity of PD 1073 on 25 January 1977, it must now be shown that possession and occupation of the piece of land by the applicant, by himself or through his predecessors-in-interest, started on 12 June 1945 or earlier.
Who may apply for registration of title to land, whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives ?
Under Section 14 (1) and (2) of the Property Registration Decree state:
The following persons may file in the proper [Regional Trial Court] an application for registration of title to land, whether personally or through their duly authorized representatives:
(1) Those who by themselves or through their predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier.
In Republic v. Doldol, the Court provided a summary of these amendments:
Those who by themselves or through their predecessors in interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural lands of the public domain, under a bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership, since June 12, 1945, or earlier, immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title, except when prevented by war or force majeure. These shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a Government grant and shall be entitled to a certificate of title under the provisions of this chapter.