SC Rules on Maysilo Land Case

SC rules on Maysilo land case

Reverses decisions of trial court, CA, own 3rd division; SC ruling affects 1,342 hectares in Metro Manila

Rey G. Panaligan

The Supreme Court (SC) has reversed the decisions of the trial court, the Court of Appeals (CA), and its own third division with a ruling that the original mother title over 1,342 hectares of prime land — known as the Maysilo Estate — in the cities of Quezon, Malabon, and Caloocan was Original Certificate of Title (OCT) No. 994 registered on May 3, 1917, and not “OCT 994” issued on April 19, 1917.

In resolution written by Justice Dante O. Tinga, the SC ruled that there is only one OCT No. 994 that was received for transcription by the Register of Deeds on May 3, 1917, and “that should be the date which should be reckoned as the date of registration of the title.”

“Any title that traces its source to OCT 994 dated April 17, 1917, is void, for such mother title is inexistent,” the SC said.

Senior Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing and Justices Ma. Alicia Austria Martinez, Conchita Carpio Morales, Adolfo S. Azcuna, Minita V. Chico Nazario, and Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro concurred with the resolution.

Justice Angelina Sandoval Gutierrez, who wrote the Nov. 29, 2005 decision of the SC’s third division, dissented together with Justices Presbitero J. Velasco Jr. and Ruben T. Reyes.

Justice Renato C. Corona voted to grant the motions for reconsideration filed by Manotok Realty, Inc., and Manotok Estate Corporation, and the Araneta Institute of Agriculture, Inc., and to annul the titles issued in the names of CLT Realty and the heirs of Jose Dimson.

Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno did not take part due to his relationship with one of the counsel, while Justice Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura did not take part as he had appeared in the oral arguments in the case as then Solicitor General.

Justices Consuelo Ynares Santiago and Antonio T. Carpio also did not take part.

With the ruling, the SC, in effect, invalidated the titles over portions of the vast tracts of land in the three cities of Metro Manila registered in the names of CLT Realty Development Corporation and the heirs of Jose B. Dimson based on OCT 994 issued on April 19, 1917.

The Caloocan City court of first instance (now regional trial court) had validated the land titles of the Dimsons and CLT over portions of the Maysilo Estate. The trial court ruling was affirmed by the CA whose decision was upheld by the SC’s third division on Nov. 29, 2005.

But the SC said that while it is sufficient to invalidate the Dimson and CLT claims over the subject property merely on the basis of the inexistence of OCT 994 dated April 17, 1917, it decided to remand the case to the “Special Division of the Court of Appeals” for reception of further evidence. It named Associates Justice Josefina Guevara Salonga, Lucas Bersamin, Jaapar Dimaampao as members of the special division.

“Considering that the genuine OCT No. 994 is that issued on/registered on 3 May 1917, a remand would be appropriate to determine which of the parties, if any, derived valid title from the said genuine OCT No. 994,” the SC said.

It directed the CA’s special division to determine, among others, which of the contending parties are able to trace back their claims of title to OCT 994 dated May 3, 1917, and whether the imputed flaws in the titles of the Manotok Realty, Inc. and Manotok Estate Corporation, and the Araneta Institute of Agriculture, Inc., are borne by the evidence.

The remand was an offshoot of motions for reconsiderations filed by the Manotoks and the Araneta school which had asked the SC to reverse its third division decision on Nov. 29, 2005.

In her dissenting opinion, Justice Gutierrez said the majority resolution written by Justice Tinga to remand the case to the CA “grossly violates the settled rule that no new issues shall be raised for the first time on appeal.”

“The remand of these cases to the appellate court is an attempt on his part to prolong the litigation and disturb the findings of the said courts sustained by overwhelming evidence,” she said.

Justice Gutierrez stressed that the titles of Dimson and his heirs and those of CLT Realty are valid, while “the titles of the Manotok Corporations and Araneta Institute are spurious.”

“These are the findings of the three trial courts and affirmed by the three divisions of the Court of Appeals. To litigate these findings once again will entirely change the settled jurisprudence of this Court. The doctrine that there should be an end to litigation has been seriously disturbed. This is a sad day for the Court,” she lamented