Ownership is not an issue in a reconstitution proceeding

The trial court nullified a decision reconstituting eleven transfer certificates of title after copies thereof were presented by the buyer of the properties. The registered owner questioned the nullification on the ground that it in effect vests ownership to the possessors of the certificates of titles. In sustaining the trial court, the Supreme Court ruled: “the trial court does not have jurisdiction to declare respondents as the “new owners” of the properties because this is not an issue in a petition for relief from judgment. In Strait Times, Inc. v. Court of Appeals [356 Phil. 217 (1998)] we stated: ‘It is judicially settled that a trial court does not acquire jurisdiction over a petition for the issuance of a new owner’s duplicate certificate of title, if the original is in fact not lost but is in the possession of an alleged buyer.Corollarily, such reconstituted certificate is itself void once the existence of the original is unquestionably demonstrated. Nonetheless, the nullity of the reconstituted certificate does not by itself settle the issue of ownership or title over the property; much less does it vest such title upon the holder of the original certificate. The issue of ownership must be litigated in appropriate proceedings. It cannot be determined in an action for the issuance of a new owner’s duplicate certificate of title or in proceedings to annul such newly issued duplicate.'”

In this case, respondents’ possession of the eleven TCTs is not necessarily equivalent to ownership of the lands covered by the TCTs. The certificate of title, by itself, does not vest ownership; it is merely an evidence of title over a particular property. Again, the issue of ownership of the eleven properties must be litigated in the appropriate proceedings.”

Espino v. Bulut, G.R. No. 183811, May 30, 2011

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