This very interesting 2-part article was taken from Neal Cruz’s As I See It:
The Maysilo Estate land case
Published on page A14 of the August 7, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
PROOF THAT THE WHEELS OF JUSTICE IN the Philippines are the slowest in the world is the land cases that take several generations to finish in the courts. Original claimants are long dead before a court case is decided, and it is his or her grandchildren and other heirs who continue the case.
One of the longest land cases on record is the ownership of the vast Maysilo Estate which covers a land area of 1,660 hectares in parts of Caloocan, Malabon, Valenzuela and Quezon City. The estate, which was previously owned by the family of Don Gonzalo Tuason y Patino was subdivided into five titles—OCTs 982, 983, 984, 985 and 994.
The present controversy, still under litigation, concerns only OCT 994, dated May 3, 1917, covering 1,342 hectares. The date has become the main issue in the controversy.
On July 3, 1917, the Court of First Instance of Rizal ordered the partition of the land covering OCT 994 among the 32 co-owners, two of whom were Jose Rato and Maria de la Concepcion Vidal.
The land acquired by Jose Rato was registered under TCT 8692 covering Lot 25-A-3 of the Maysilo Estate with an area of 1,174,468.90 square meters. Subsequently, TCT 21857 was issued in the name of Jose Rato covering the same area on May 23, 1932.
TCT 21857 was later subdivided into TCT 26538 (592,606.90 sq m) and TCT 26539 (581,872 sq m), both issued in the name of Jose Rato.
Later on, the Araneta Institute of Agriculture (AIA) acquired a portion of it—390,262 sq m—covered by TCT 26538. The same was registered under TCT (7784)-737 in the name of AIA. On the other hand, Victoneta Inc. acquired the land covered by TCT 26539, for which TCT 6196 was issued on Oct. 18, 1947 in favor of Victoneta.
Less than two years later, AIA acquired the land covered by TCT 6196 from Victoneta. On May 20, 1949, TCT 13574 was issued for that parcel of land in the name of AIA.
One of the original owners of Maysilo Estate under OCT 994 was the late Maria de la Concepcion Vidal. She was married to Pioquinto Rivera and had four children—Epifania, Pedro, Potenciana and Severo.
Epifania died in 1954 but left no children. Pedro had two daughters—Eleuteria and Teresa. Teresa is now deceased and is survived by children Pelagia, Modesta, Venancio, Felipe and Fidela, all surnamed Angeles.
Potenciana is survived by three children—Josefa, Gregorio and Rosuaro, all surnamed Aquino.
Severo died sometime in 1907 and is survived by his son Bartolome Rivera, whose mother was Luisa Pinangyarihan.
On Sept. 30, 1960, Bartolome Rivera and lawyer Jose Dimson entered into an agreement wherein the former assigned to the latter 25 percent of the total land area of Lot Nos. 25, 26, 27, 28-B and 29 as attorney’s fees.
On June 13, 1966, the Pasig CFI, through Judge Cecilia Muñoz-Palma, approved the Deed of Conveyance to Jose Dimson of the 25 percent of whatever Bartolome Rivera was entitled to under Lots 25, 26, 27, 28-B and 29 from OCT 994. The surviving heirs of Maria de la Concepcion Vidal asked a Caloocan court to partition their shares under OCT 994 which the court approved on Dec. 29, 1965.
But in an order dated Aug. 16, 1966, Judge Palma denied Dimson’s motion to award him the 25 percent share because there was no more portion left to be given to Dimson. In their opposition to Dimson’s motion, the heirs led by Victoria Rivera said that whatever portions of the property covered by OCT 994 which had not been disposed of by the previous owners had already been assigned and adjudicated to Bartolome Rivera and his assignees.
Eleven years later, Dimson filed a case before the Caloocan CFI to confirm the order of confirmation of Pasig Judge Palma without however presenting the Aug. 16, 1966 order dismissing his motion for the awarding of his share of the property.
Lawyers say that Dimson’s case was filed in the wrong court since his action was essentially an enforcement of an order which was issued by a Pasig judge. The case should have been filed before Judge Palma.
But on Oct. 18, 1977, Caloocan City Judge Marcelino Sayo granted Dimson’s petition despite the fact that he never presented the original copy of OCT 994 and a subdivision plan duly approved by the Bureau of Lands or the LRA, and ordered separate TCTs for Lots 25-A-1, 25-A-2, 26 and 28 in the name of Dimson.
With titles now in his name for a portion of the Maysilo Estate, Dimson then filed an action for recovery of possession with damages and annulment of TCTs against AIA, claiming that the latter’s TCT overlapped a portion of his property.
The Caloocan RTC upheld Dimson’s claims and ordered AIA to vacate the property overlapped. The Court of Appeals upheld the findings of the lower court.
AIA then filed a motion for reconsideration. The Department of Justice and the Senate, in separate reports, affirmed AIA’s contention that OCT 994 was issued on May 3, 1917 by the Register of Deeds by virtue of Decree 36455 issued on April 19, 1917 in Land Registration Case 4429. AIA then filed a motion for reconsideration and/or new trial based on newly discovered evidence (the DOJ and Senate reports).
On Aug. 5, 1998, the CA denied AIA’s motion, relying mainly on the decision of the Supreme Court in Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System vs. CA (215 SCRA 783) and Heirs of Gonzaga vs. CA (261 SCRA 327).
AIA then appealed the CA ruling to the Supreme Court on Aug. 5, 1998. On Nov. 5, 2005, the Supreme Court dismissed AIA’s petition. (To be continued)
Published on Page A12 of the August 9, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
Continued from last Monday
IN THE controversy over the ownership of a portion of Maysilo Estate, specifically OCT 994, from which a number of TCTs emanated, the issue is which of two OCTs with different dates, over the same piece of land, is superior to the other. A portion of the land covered by OCT 994 was bought by the Araneta Institute of Agriculture (AIA) in the late 1940s. AIA has been in peaceful and uncontested ownership and possession of the property since then. OCT 994, from which AIA’s title came, is dated May 3, 1917.
In 1977, a lawyer by the name of Jose Dimson filed a case before the Caloocan regional trial court for the execution of a decision 11 years before by Judge Cecilia Muñoz-Palma confirming the Deed of Conveyance issued to him by one of the alleged heirs of Maria de la Concepcion Vidal, one of the owners of the vast estate (see column of Aug. 7). The basis of Dimson’s title is OCT 994 dated April 19, 1917.
Following a ruling in MWSS vs. CA, in which the Supreme Court said that where two certificates of title over the same land exist, the earlier prevails, the lower court upheld Dimson’s title.
But lawyers of AIA argue that:
1. There is only one OCT 994, that which was issued on May 3, 1917 and not on April 19, 1917. The same is upheld by several officials of the Land Registration Authority and the certification issued by the Caloocan Register of Deeds as well as by the Department of Justice and the Senate.
2. The Supreme Court should have made a distinction between a decree of registration and certificate of title. Section 41 of the Land Registration Act says that a certificate of title takes effect not when the decree was issued but only on the date of transcription of the decree of registration. Since the transcription of the decree of OCT 994 was made on
May 3, 1917, it should be deemed the date its certificate of title was issued.
3. The Supreme Court should have at least granted a new trial and remanded the case back to the lower court since the DOJ and the Senate reports have probative value and hold some persuasive effect since both are deemed regular acts. The same could trace the original certificates of title from which the disputed TCTs were derived.
4. The issue of whether or not only one valid OCT 994 was issued on May 3, 1917 is very important. The Supreme Court should have taken it into consideration because it involved a total of 1,342 hectares of prime land in four cities now occupied by various public and commercial buildings, residential houses and schools.
5. The Court of Appeals, in its decision, went beyond the issues raised when it concluded that AIA’s title is a nullity when it was not touched upon by the Caloocan RTC in its decision. This alone should have compelled the Supreme Court to review the findings of the Court of Appeals.
6. The MWSS case does not apply in the present case because no pronouncement on the validity of Dimson’s petition before the Caloocan RTC was made by the court because AIA was not a party in the MWSS case, and the issues raised in the MWSS are different from the present controversy.
7. The Caloocan RTC had no jurisdiction to award and issue TCTs to Dimson because the Pasig RTC should have been asked to implement its own order.
8. Dimson’s title was irregularly issued because it was made without the presentation of the owner’s certificate of the transferor (Section 55, Land Registration Act) and the corresponding subdivision plan duly approved by the Bureau of Lands or the Land Registration Authority (Section 58, Land Registration Act).
9. It is highly improbable that Dimson’s title came from OCT 994 because as early as 1920, the Maysilo Estate had already been partitioned and distributed to the different owners as shown in the cases of Bustamante vs. Tuason (47 PR 696) and Garcia vs. CA (35 SCRA 380).
10. In at least three different cases pending in different courts, two in the Supreme Court and one in the Court of Appeals, the title of Dimson has been established to be “spurious, inexistent, fraudulent and of impossible origin” (Phil-Ville Development and Housing Corp. vs. CLT Realty Development Corp; Alfonso vs. Office of the President and Phil-Ville Development and Housing Corp.; and Republic of the Philippines vs. Lilia Sevilla and Jose Seelin.
Based on the above facts and arguments, it is easy to determine which of the two parties has a better right to the land.
Property owners and legal experts have expressed apprehension over the implications of the Supreme Court ruling. They said that if the title of the winning claimant (Dimson) is upheld, it would create a crisis among the present owners of the lands originating from OCT 994 dated May 3, 1917. As things stand, most of the current owners and occupants of the lots in the areas affected by the Supreme Court ruling originate from OCT 994 dated May 3, 1917. They are asking: What will happen to our titles? Will the current titleholders be evicted? Hundreds or thousands of lot owners in the affected areas face the danger of losing their homes if Dimson’s title is upheld, they fear. If I am not mistaken, however, the land titles of “buyers in good faith” are protected by law.
But certainly, this issue has far-reaching effects not only on the validity of land titles in the country but the entire system of land registration. This will undermine the integrity of our torrens system and evoke fears that land titles that have been issued within the regular and normal process are still not fool-proof.
Hopefully the Supreme Court will side with the truth and not be pressured to create a huge mistake out of a forgery and lie.