Requirements to justify a judicial confirmation of imperfect titles


Existing law and jurisprudence provides that an applicant for judicial confirmation of imperfect title must prove compliance with Section 14 of Presidential Decree (P.D.) No. 1529 or the Property Registration Decree.  The pertinent portions of Section 14 provide:

“SEC. 14. Who may apply.—The following persons may file in the proper Court of First Instance 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.

(2) Those who have acquired ownership of private lands by prescription under the provisions of existing laws.xxx”

A CENRO certification that the land is within the alienable and disposable zone is sufficient to prove classification (Limcoma Multi-Purpose Cooperative v. Republic, G.R. No. 167652, July 10, 2007, 527 SCRA 233, 243-244, citing Republic v. Carrasco, G.R. No. 143491, December 6, 2006, 510 SCRA 150; Bureau of Forestry v. Court of Appeals, No. L-37995, August 31, 1987, 153 SCRA 351, 357 and Republic v. Court of Appeals,440 Phil. 697 (2002).

Open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the land in question on or before June 12, 1945 may be proved by testimonial and documentary evidence, such as tax declarations which are good indicia of possession in the concept of an owner, for no one in his right mind would be paying taxes for a property that is not in his actual or constructive possession (Llanes v. Republic,G.R. No. 177947, November 27, 2008, 572 SCRA 258).

The thirty (30)-year period of prescription for purposes of acquiring ownership and registration of public land under Section 14 (2) of P.D. No. 1529 only begins from the moment the State expressly declares that the public dominion property is no longer intended for public service or the development of the national wealth or that the property has been converted into patrimonial, and there must be an express declaration by the State that the public dominion property is no longer intended for public service or the development of the national wealth or that the property has been converted into patrimonial. Without such express declaration, the property, even if classified as alienable or disposable, remains property of the public dominion, pursuant to Article 420(2), and thus incapable of acquisition by prescription. It is only when such alienable and disposable lands are expressly declared by the State to be no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth that the period of acquisitive prescription can begin to run. Such declaration shall be in the form of a law duly enacted by Congress or a Presidential Proclamation in cases where the President is duly authorized by law.

In this case, the application was denied because the applicant failed to show proof of possession prior to 1945, or a congressional or presidential proclamation that the land is no longer intended for public service or for the development of the national wealth tolling the period of acquisitive prescription.

(Republic v. Rizalvo, G.R. No. 172011, March 7, 2011)

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