Court upholds Araneta, Manotok claims

http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/?page=news2_april6_2009

Court upholds Araneta, Manotok claims

By Rey E. Requejo

THE Supreme Court ended more than 30 years of litigation as it declared valid the land titles held by the Araneta and Manotok clans over 70 percent of the 1,342-hectare Maysilo Estate.

The high court upheld the findings of the Court of Appeals’ Special Division in an en banc resolution written by Associate Justice Dante Tinga.

The appellate court had established the rights of ownership of the Araneta Institute of Agriculture Inc., Manotok Realty Inc., and Manotok Estate Corp. over the pieces of property that were registered on May 3, 1917.

Eight justices concurred with the ruling, while Chief Justice Renato Puno, Associate Justices Consuelo Ynarez-Santiago, Antonio Carpio and Eduardo Nachura did not participate in the deliberations. Associate Justice Ma. Alicia Austria-Martinez was on leave.

The Court rejected the titles to the pieces of property held by the deceased Jose Dimson, his successors, and CLT Realty Development Corp.

“In view of the established rights of ownership of both the Manotoks and Araneta over the contested properties, we find that the imputed flaws on their titles cannot defeat the valid claims of the Manotoks and Araneta over the disputed portions of the Maysilo Estate,” the high court said as it quoted the appellate court’s report on Nov. 26, 2008.

The appellate court had said that the titles being held by Dimson had all been derived from the May 3, 1917 registered title.

It said that the Aranetas’ claim had been “well substantiated and proven to be superior to that of Dimson’s

One transfer certificate on the property covers a parcel of land measuring 581,872 square meters, while another covers four parcels of land with a total land area of 390,383 square meters.

The appellate court also noted that portions of the lot being disputed by the Manotoks and CLT Realty were expropriated in 1947. And because those were for resale to tenants, the Manotoks were able to establish some of their titles derived from those that had been expropriated.

“The Court has verified that the titles [of the Manotoks], as stated by the Special Division, sufficiently indicate that they could be traced back to the titles acquired by the Republic when it expropriated portions of the Maysilo Estate in the 1940s,” the Court said.

‘‘On the other hand, the Manotok titles that were affirmed by the Special Division are traceable to the titles of the Republic and thus have benefited, as they should, from the cleansing effect the expropriation had on whatever flaws that attached to the previous titles.”

On Dec. 14, 2007, the high court affirmed the validity of the May 3, 1917 registered title as the only genuine title of the disputed property stretching over the cities of Malabon, Caloocan and Quezon.

That decision set aside the Nov. 29, 2005 decision of the Court’s Third Division upholding the Court of Appeals, which in turn affirmed the ruling of the Regional Trial Court that declared as valid the title 994 issued on April 19, 1917.

The high court ruled that “there is only one title No. 994: the mother title that was received for transcription by the Register of Deeds on May 3, 1917, and that should be the date that should be reckoned as the date of registration of the title.”

The Court of Appeals had been mandated to determine, among other things, which of the contending parties were able to trace back their claims of title to title 994 dated May 3, 1917, and whether the imputed flaws in the titles of Manotok Realty Inc. and Manotok Estate Corp., and the Araneta Institute of Agriculture Inc. were borne by the evidence.

The Manotoks and Aranetas had sought a reversal of the Nov. 29, 2005 high court decision that effectively nullified the land titles in their names.

The questioned appelate court rulings affirmed the lower court’s decisions awarding to CLT Realty and the late Jose Dimson the properties being claimed by the Manotoks and Aranetas.

Dimson had claimed that he was the absolute owner of 50-hectares of land at the Maysilo Estate in Potrero, Malabon. The lower court then ruled in his favor, prompting the Aranetas to appeal to the appelate court, which in turn affirmed the lower court’s decision.

The Aranetas appealed to the high court when the appelate court also denied its motion for reconsideration.

On Aug. 10, 1992, CLT sought to recover from Manotok Realty Inc. and Manotok Estate Corp. Lot 26 of the Maysilo Estate in an action filed before the Caloocan City Regional Trial Court, Branch 129. The court granted its petition, prompting the Manotoks to appeal to the Court of Appeals, which turned them down.

The Manotoks then elevated the case to the high court, which then consolidated the two cases.

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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

Pekeng titulo ipinababasura ng residente ng Maysilo Estate sa Korte Suprema

Pekeng titulo ipinababasura ng residente ng Maysilo Estate sa Korte Suprema By: Jess V. Antiporda

MAHIGIT 300,000 residente ng 1,660-ektaryang Maysilo Estate na nakatakdang mawalan ng tirahan at kabuhayan kung hindi ibabasura ng Korte Suprema ang titulo ng mga naiwan ni Maria dela Concepcion Vidal at ng CLT Realty Development Corp.

Hiniling nila kay Chief Justice Reynato Puno na rebyuhin at rekonsiderahin ang naunang desisyon at tignan ang mga butas ng OCT 994 na may petsang Abril  19, 1917.

Hiningi nila kay Puno na rebyuhin sana ng mabuti ang kaso at tignan ang findings ng senado sa pamamagitan ng Committee Report No. 1031 noong Mayo 25,1998 at ibasura ang titulo ni Vidal at ng substituted heirs na pinamumunuan ni Bartolome Rivera.

Sinabi nila na dapat konsiderahin ng Mataas na Hukuman nag kaso dahil nakataya ang kinabukasan ng mahigit 300,000 katao at bilyung piso ang mawawala mula sa mga buyers in good faith, kabilang na ang pagsasara ng De la Salle-Gregorio Araneta University, Manila Central University, University of the East sa Caloocan at ilang bilang ng pribado at pampublikong paaralan.

Karamihan sa mga ari-arian na ito ay nagkakahalaga na ngayon ng bilyung piso kung saan nabili naman ito “in good faith”.

Halos 64 na barangay sa Caloocan ang bumubuo ng ikatlong bahagi ng Maysilo Estate kung saan nasasakupan nito ang bahagi ng Quezon City, Caloocan, Malabon at ang kahabaan ng North Luzon Expressway, kabilang na ang Bonifacio Monument, Bonifacio Market at daan-daang business establishments, tulad ng restaurant, motel, internet cafes, handicraft manufacturers, pabrika ng tela at damit, bodega at iba pa.

Naging batayan ng mga residente sa kanilang argumento sa pagbasura ng OCT 994 mula sa findings ng dalawang Senate panel na nagsasabing ang tumatayong heirs Vidal ay hindi puwedeng maging substitute nya dahil ang principal heir na si Bartolome Rivera, ay 65 anyos na nang tumestigo ito noong 1963 sa kaso.

Nakasaad pa sa annotations sa titutlo na si Vidal ay siyam na taong gulang nang gawin ang decree para sa 1 -899/1,000 share ng property at ginawa noong 1912. Lumalabas na si Bartolome Rivera ay mas matanda ng limang taon sa kinikilala niyang lola.

Lumalabas din na ang anak ni Vidal na nagkataon na ama ni Rivera ay mas matanda naman sa sarili niyang ina.

Maysilo: “Mother of all land titling scandals”

AS I SEE IT
‘Mother of all land titling scandals’
By Neal Cruz
Inquirer
Last updated 10:53pm (Mla time) 09/11/2007
THE SUPREME COURT EN BANC HEARD oral arguments for and against claimants to large tracts of prime land spanning four Metro Manila cities: Quezon, Caloocan, Malabon and Valenzuela. The Court will have to decide which of two original certificates of titles (OCTs) dating back to 1917, both numbered 994, and from which hundreds of transfer certificates of titles have emanated is authentic. The decision will finally settle what the late Chief Justice and Senate President Marcelo Fernan described as “the mother of all land title scandals in the country.” With Fernan as chair, the Senate justice and human rights committee, together with the committee on urban planning and housing resettlement, investigated this Maysilo Estate case.

The scandal started in 1962 when Caloocan City registrar of deeds Yolanda Alfonso, together with assistant registrar of deeds Norberto Vazquez Jr., allowed the change of registration date of an original certificate of title (OCT) of Maysilo Estate, making it appear that there were two such titles to the same huge track of land spanning portions of the four cities and affecting hundreds of thousands of residents and businessmen from Sangandaan all the way to Monumento in Caloocan, up to Balintawak in Quezon City, including portions of the North Luzon Expressway and Araneta Subdivision in Malabon. Now, two OCTs— OCT 994 issued on April 19, 1917 and OCT 994 issued on May 3, 1917—cover the same parcel of land. Ironically, it was the Supreme Court itself that made the confusion worse by accepting, in a 1992 decision, the existence of two OCTs and ruling that the OCT dated April 19, 1917, being issued earlier than the OCT dated May 3, 1917 was the superior and valid title. Thus, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) lost its huge compound in Caloocan under a three-decade-old TCT originating from OCT 994 of May 3, 1917, to a claimant whose title originated from OCT 994 dated April 1917. But a technical plotting by the Land Registration Authority (LRA) showed that the claimant’s “lot” was located more than 12,000 meters away from the MWSS property. This decision wreaked havoc on the country’s land titling system.

Then Justice Secretary Teofisto Guingona formed a fact-finding inter-agency committee chaired by Undersecretary Ricardo Nepomuceno Jr. The investigation found that OCT 994 dated April 19, 1917 was non-existent for being “a fabrication” by Alfonso and Vazquez who “acted maliciously, fraudulently and in bad faith” when they signed a TCT in the name of a person bearing a wrong date of registration.

The investigation report said Alfonso’s “acquiescence in the alteration of the date of registration of OCT 994 in the titles” of a person as well as her act of deliberately ignoring the legal safeguards, especially her failure to require the presentation of a subdivision plan duly approved by the LRA or by the Land Management Bureau, for the titles of the applicant, are sufficient basis to find her guilty of grave misconduct. President Joseph Estrada dismissed Alfonso and Vazquez for grave misconduct and dishonesty.

The dismissals were affirmed by the Supreme Court. Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, who wrote the decision for the second division, stressed: “By failing to prevent the irregularity that she (Alfonso) had reason to suspect all along or to take immediate steps to rectify it, petitioner had tolerated the same and allowed it to wreak havoc on our land titling system. Sadly that condition continues to rear its ugly head today.”

This fabrication of OCT 994 dated April 19, 1917 has a bearing on the awarding by the Court of the vast Maysilo Estate to its rightful owners. The estate is being contested by claimants using the two OCTs: Manotok Realty and Real Estate Corp. and Araneta Institute of Agriculture Inc., which use OCT 994 dated May 3, 1917 as basis for their claim of ownership, and the heirs of Jose Dimson and his assignee, CLT Development Corp., who use OCT 994 dated April 19, 1917 as their legal basis.

An adverse decision based on the fake OCT would set a precedent that would endanger the rights of the rest of the country’s legitimate land title holders and the integrity of the country’s land titles.

The Manotoks and AIA have been in peaceful, continuous and legal possession of the Maysilo Estate since the 1940s. But some time in the 1960s, Dimson filed a case to claim ownership of the vast estate, using as basis the spurious OCT 994 dated April 19, 1917. Dimson was said to be a lawyer of Ma. Conception Vidal’s grandchild, Bernardino Rivera, and as payment for legal services rendered, the latter gave him a deed of conveyance of 25 percent of his share of the Maysilo Estate.

Then Pasig Judge Cecilia Muñoz Palma confirmed the conveyance but disallowed the actual awarding of property and title to Dimson in 1966 because his 25 percent share had already been properly adjudicated by Bernardino Rivera to his heirs and assignees. This meant there was no more available land to be given to Dimson.

In 1977, or 11 years later, Dimson moved to execute the deed of conveyance issued by the Pasig judge before a Caloocan court. Despite the irregularity and without the presentation of the original of OCT 994 and the subdivision plan approved by the LRA or the Bureau of Lands, Caloocan Judge Marcelino Sayo granted Dimson’s motion and issued in his favor TCT 15169 covering 500,000 sq m of Lot 25-A-2 of the Maysilo Estate. This lot is the property covered by the TCT of the AIA.