Law and facts on Manotok
In his dissent which happens to be longer than the ponencia, Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio stressed points of law and fact over the affirmation by the Supreme Court of a Court of Appeals decision ordering the cancellation of the Manotok land title and transferring it to the heirs of Homer Barque.
On the question of law, Carpio pointedly told the majority of the First Division that their opinion was wrong because it “patently violates… the Property Registration Decree which expressly states that a Torrens title ‘cannot be cancelled except in direct proceeding in accordance with law.”
What is in accordance with law in this case is a provision of BP 129 which provides “regional trial courts shall exercise exclusive original jurisdiction…in all civil actions which involve the title to, or possession of, real property or any interest therein.”
By ignoring this vital provision, Carpio claims that the heirs of Severino Manotok were denied due process.
The majority opinion penned by Associate Justice Consuelo Ynares, stressed that requiring the court of Appeals to remand the case to the RTC is a waste of time. That is saying that the facts, which should have been established by the regional trial court have already been determined by the Land Registration Commission and the Court of Appeals.
Speaking of dura lex sed lex.
It has been established beyond doubt that the survey plan – Fls3168 – said to be have been issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and submitted by the heirs of Homer Barque “is a spurious plan which may have been inserted in the file.”
The plan is supposed to be authenticated by the DENR but it was never submitted to the department’s NCR office for that purpose.
Privadi Dalire, chief of the geodetic surveys division of the land management bureau, was asked by Benjamin M. Bustos, chief of the reconstitution division of the LRA for a certified copy of the said subdivision plan.
He replied that his office does not have a record of the Fls-3168-D.
However, presumably without being asked, Ernesto S. Erive, chief of the surveys division, told Bustos that a microfilm copy of the plan “is on file in technical records and statistical section.”
Thus ensued the question of who is telling the truth between Dalire and Erive. The letter told the LRA administrator on Jan. 2 1997, in a hand-carried letter that “the copy of the subject plan was forwarded to this office”, and after verification and comparison “made in our microfilm records, it was found out that they are identical and bore the same stamps and initials used in this office.”
Who is lying?
Dalire stood pat on his report that his office does not have records of the subdivision plan. But he explained that the “LRA, however, furnished us with a machine copy of Fls-3168-D…and we found out that the copy of the plan did not originate from this office. Dalire forthwith requested that copy of Fls-3168-D be forwarded to him for evaluation and comment.”
Dalire wrote two more letters to the LRA on the same question but up to the time the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the heirs of Homer Barque, he never got a reply.
In one of his letters to the LRA, Dalire said “our inventory of approved plans enrolled in our file, our microfilm computer list of plans do not have this plan Fls-3168-D; logically we cannot issue any copy.”
So, there was, in the words of Dalire, a syndicate operating in the LRA. The CA and the Court of Appeals failed to take notice of the import of Dalire’s claim of a syndicate. The SC, in the pen of justice Santiago, merely affirmed the findings of the CA.
Forged letter, spurious plan
It appears that on Feb. 13, 1997, Dalire told the LRA administrator that the letter he purportedly wrote on Jan. 2, 1997 is a forgery. The letter is presumably a testimony to the existence and genuineness of the subdivision plan Fls-3168-D.
He pointed out that “the statement that the subject plan was forwarded to us by the chief, technical records statistics section of the NCR is not true..
He said that as of Feb. 13, 1997, “the NCR has not turned over the plan they reproduced in compliance with your (LRA administrator) urgent letter requests.
Dalire found himself left with no option except to tell the LRA administrator to disregard Fls-3168-D as being spurious. He explained that “there are many markings on the copy to prove it did not come from the LMB (Land Management Bureau).
Dalire said “we have no copy of Fls-3168-D on file so how can we issue a copy of plan that is non-existing?” He went on to say “the plan shows only initials. I sign in full copies of plans with the initials of my action officers and their codings below my signature. These are not present in the spurious copy of plan.”
He also told the LRA administrator that “the letter size of the rubber stamp ‘NOT FOR REGISTRATION/TITLING. FOR REFERENCE ONLY is smaller than our rubber stamp.”
He said “the submitted plan Fls-3168-D is a spurious document as categorically stated by Engr. Privadi J. G. Dalire…”
Expectedly, the heirs of Barque moved for reconsideration of the order after being informed that Bustos denied the request of reconstitution “for lack of merit.”
The Manotoks must have celebrated a well and hard-earned victory. The celebration was too early.
The LRA administrator gave due course to the motion for reconsideration and reversed his first order in favor of Manotoks saying that only the owner’s copy or co-owner’s duplicate of an original or transfer certificate of title could be used as a source of administrative reconstitution.
The reversed order practically suggests that Dalire went beyond his duty in helping insure the genuineness of a title sought to be reconstituted. It was his fault. That fault may have violated simple sense of law and common sense.