Matunog & Associates

that law may be just



A resolution is not expropriation

The Sangguniang Panglungsod of Mandaluyong City passed a resolution authorizing the city mayor to institute expropriation proceedings to develop a parcel of land for low-cost housing for the benefit of the less privileged but deserving constituents of the city. The landowner opposed and filed a petition for certiorari and prohibition. The Regional Trial Court ruled that the resolution is null and void because the landowner was not invited to the hearings on the resolution and thus denied their right to due process, and that the purpose for the expropriation was not for public use and the expropriation would not benefit the greater number of inhabitants.

Mandaluyong City appealed to the Court of Appeals. The CA reversed. The Supreme Court sustained the CA, on the following grounds: (a) the Sanguniang Panglungsod does not exercise judicial or quasi-judicial functions; and (b) the Local Government Code (RA 7160) requires the local government to issue an ordinance, not a resolution, in expropriation proceedings. Consequently, the remedies of certiorari and prohibition are both improper and unavailing.

Yusay v. CA, G.R. No. 156684, April 6, 2011, Third Division

An adverse claim is not proper to protect an easement

To be registrable, an adverse claim must allege a claim of ownership or title on the land subject of the claim. Protecting an easement via the registration of an adverse claim is not allowed. However, while non-registrable, the subject of the adverse claim itself, that is, the existence of an easement of subjacent and lateral support may be judicially recognized and enforceable without need of annotation.

An easement or servitude is an encumbrance imposed upon an immovable for the benefit of another immovable belonging to a different owner. There are two kinds of easements according to source. An easement is established either by law or by will of the owners. The courts cannot impose or constitute any servitude where none existed. They can only declare its existence if in reality it exists by law or by the will of the owners. There are therefore no judicial easements.

Article 684 of the Civil Code provides that no proprietor shall make such excavations upon his land as to deprive any adjacent land or building of sufficient lateral or subjacent support. An owner, by virtue of his surface right, may make excavations on his land, but his right is subject to the limitation that he shall not deprive any adjacent land or building of sufficient lateral or subjacent support. Between two adjacent landowners, each has an absolute property right to have his land laterally supported by the soil of his neighbor, and if either, in excavating on his own premises, he so disturbs the lateral support of his neighbor’s land as to cause it, or, in its natural state, by the pressure of its own weight, to fall away or slide from its position, the one so excavating is liable.

(Castro v. Monsod, G.R. No. 183719, February 2, 2011)

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”

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)

How to distinguish between cases of “forcible entry” and “unlawful detainer”?

An action for “forcible entry” must contain allegation that one is in possession of the property and was ousted therefrom either by force, intimidation, threat, strategy, or stealth, an element of that kind of eviction suit.

On the other hand, an action is for unlawful detainer if the complaint sufficiently alleges the following: (1) initially, the defendant has possession of property by contract with or by tolerance of the plaintiff; (2) eventually, however, such possession became illegal upon plaintiff’s notice to defendant, terminating the latter’s right of possession; (3) still, the defendant remains in possession, depriving the plaintiff of the enjoyment of his property; and (4) within a year from plaintiff’s last demand that defendant vacate the property, the plaintiff files a complaint for defendant’s ejectment. If the defendant had possession of the land upon mere tolerance of the owner, such tolerance must be present at the beginning of defendant’s possession.

(Dionisio v. Linsangan, G.R. No. 178159, March 2, 2011)

Land Bank may challenge DAR’s land valuation in court

Land Bank of the Philippines has the legal personality to challenge DAR’s valuation of land in court said the Supreme Court denied the petition of Davao Fruits Corporation. Citing its decisions in Heirs of Lorenzo and Carmen Vidad v. Land Bank of the Philippines, G.R. No. 166461, 30 April 2010, 619 SCRA 609, and Heirs of Roque F. Tabuena v. Land Bank of the Philippines, G.R. No. 180557, 26 September 2008, 566 SCRA 557, 565-566, the Supreme Court ruled that LBP is an agency created primarily to provide financial support in all phases of agrarian reform pursuant to Section 74 of Republic Act (RA) No. 3844 and Section 64 of RA No. 6657. It is vested with the primary responsibility and authority in the valuation and compensation of covered landholdings to carry out the full implementation of the Agrarian Reform Program. It may agree with the DAR and the land owner as to the amount of just compensation to be paid to the latter and may also disagree with them and bring the matter to court for judicial determination.

(Davao Fruits Corporation v. Land Bank of the Philippines, G.R. Nos. 181566 and 181570, March 9, 2011)

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