AS I SEE IT
Manotoks fighting two land battles
Now I am ready to believe that the Batasan blast was caused by methane gas.
Why? Because of three things:
1. Methane is produced by rotting garbage. The Batasan is full of dirt and trash, di ba?
2. Methane is produced by shit, and members of the Batasan are full of shit.
3. Methane is produced in a septic tank. The Batasan is one big septic tank.
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Congressmen can now say they earned the “cash gifts” (translation: bribes) distributed in Malacañang.
Malacañang can say the “distribution” was worth it.
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The Manotok family is fighting land battles on two fronts: in the case involving the Maysilo Estate in Malabon-Caloocan-Valenzuela-Quezon City; and in the case involving the Manotok-Barque in Matandang Balara, Quezon City. Being prime property, the two land areas are worth billions of pesos. The portion of Maysilo Estate being contested is 300 hectares; the Matandang Balara property, beside the Ayala Heights subdivision and the Capitol Golf Course, is 34 hectares.
The Supreme Court has already ruled on the two cases — against the Manotoks. But the family has successfully made the tribunal reopen the cases. The final Supreme Court decision will have a big impact on the country’s Torrens titling system.
The Manotoks have sent me two letters explaining their side on the cases after I devoted two columns on them. This is their version of the cases:
The Maysilo Estate case — More than 300 hectares of the 1,660-hectare estate are being claimed by Jose B. Dimson, a lawyer who filed his claim several years ago. Dimson says that Original Certificate of Title (OCT) 994, the mother title of 25 percent of the property he is claiming, (the bigger portion is being claimed by the so-called Rivera heirs of Maria de la Concepcion Vidal) was issued on April 19, 1917. On the other hand, the Manotoks and Aranetas have OCT 994 dated May 3, 1917. The Supreme Court has ruled that since the Rivera title antedates that of the Manotok-Araneta title, then the earlier title is superior.
The Land Registration Authority (LRA), however, has said the Dimson OCT is spurious, that it is non-existent and that it could have been “an elaborate scam perpetrated at the Caloocan City Register of Deeds.” The register of deeds, lawyer Yolanda Alfonso, and her deputy, Norberto Vasquez Jr., admitted during a Senate investigation that they changed the date of the Rivera title to April 19, 1917 for unexplained reasons, for which reason both of them have been charged criminally.
Testimonies in previous court cases also established that Vidal was only 9 years old when Decree 36455 over the land was issued on Dec. 3, 1912, while her supposed grandson, Bartolome Rivera, was already 65 years old when he testified in a Pasig court in 1963. “This is a fantastic case of the grandson being older than the grandmother,” said a report of the Land Registration Commission (now the LRA) in 1981.
Bartolome was the only surviving son of Severo Rivera, a son of Vidal who died in 1907. The mother was only 4 years old when she gave birth to Severo!
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The other case, Manotok vs Barque, also concerns two conflicting certificates of titles to 34 hectares of prime land in Quezon City, known as the Manotok Compound. The Monotoks, who actually live on the property, claim that they acquired the land from the government in 1920. The other title is held by the heirs of Homer Barque who is said to have bought the land in 1975.
After the 1988 fire that destroyed the Quezon City Register of Deeds records, the Manotoks applied for reconstitution and obtained the reconstituted title in 1991. The Barques applied for reconstitution of their own title in 1996. This started the case that is now with the Supreme Court en banc.
The LRA ordered the reconstitution of the Barque title. The Manotoks appealed to the Court of Appeals who sustained the LRA and ordered the cancellation of the Manotok title. The Manotoks went to the Supreme Court, raising a number of issues:
1. Whether the LRA has jurisdiction to rule on the validity of the Manotok title.
2. Whether the Court of Appeals may assume jurisdiction over the cases.
3. Whether the Court of Appeals may order the cancellation of the Manotok title and the reconstitution of the Barque title.
In a majority decision penned by Justice Consuelo Ynares-Santiago, the Supreme Court’s First Division:
1. Upheld the LRA decision declaring the Barque title as genuine (based on the owner’s duplicate certificate of title) and the Manotok title as spurious. It added that the LRA has jurisdiction to act on petitions for administrative reconstitution. Logically, the Court said, the LRA can declare a title sham or valid on its face.
2. Ruled that the Court of Appeals properly exercised its appellate jurisdiction over the judgment of the LRA. “No useful purpose will be served if the determination of an issue is remanded to the trial court only to have its decision raised again to the Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court,” it said.
3. Said that the Manotoks were not deprived of “their property” without due process when the Court of Appeals ordered the cancellation of their title even without a direct proceeding in the Regional Trial Court. By opposing the petition for reconstitution and by submitting their reconstituted title, the Manotoks acquiesced to the authority of the reconstituting officer, the LRA, and the Court of Appeals, and recognized their authority to pass judgment on their title.
Although the Supreme Court decision has become final and executory, the Manotoks were able to have the Court en banc reopen the case. This is now the case that the Supreme Court has to resolve.