October 15, 2009
AMADO P. MACASAET
‘There is a proof that Rosendo is dead but the Manahans claim it was Clodualdo who died. Where is the death certificate of Clodualdo Manahan? The lawyer of the Manahans never bothered to produce it to disprove the genuineness of the death of Rosendo.’
THE Manotoks produced a document that Rosendo Manahan died on July 30, 1963.
But he and his wife Felicitas appeared in Court for the Manahans.
The Manahans claimed that it was Clodualdo, a younger brother of Rosendo, who actually died. How can the person who reported a death to the municipality mistake the identity of the deceased?
It now appears that the name Clodualdo Manahan is one among five in a tombstone.
Milagros Manahan asked a tombstone maker whether he asks for a death certificate before doing one. She was told that he does not do that. All he does is get the name. It is not his duty to verify.
Who will now verify that the bones of Clodualdo supposedly mixed with those of four others in a common tomb are his or those of Rosendo of Clodualdo? The Court of Appeals never asked. The Manahan lawyer never volunteered.
Did the Court of Appeals try to verify the genuineness of a document that after the death of Rosendo, his widow, Felicitas married again, in fact twice? One of the Manotoks told me she is of the impression that the CA did not.
Worse, the Manahan never presented to the CA a document or marriage certificate that Rosendo is married to Felicitas.
The CA may not have entertained any doubt that Rosendo is flesh and blood although there is a document showing his death. There are documents showing that his widow Felicitas married Librado Calunia.
How did it happen that Rosendo presents himself as husband of Felicitas when there is a certificate that he died of pulmonary tuberculosis?
What does Felicitas’ marriage to Librado Calunia prove? That she has two husbands?
Or is somebody standing for Rosendo who is dead as proven by his own death certificate belied by the claim that the person who died was his younger brother Clodualdo?
There is a proof that Rosendo is dead but the Manahans claim it was Clodualdo who died. Where is the death certificate of Clodualdo Manahan? The lawyer of the Manahans never bothered to produce it to disprove the genuineness of the death of Rosendo.
There is no document civil registry, in the Church or in the National Statistics Office, that Clodualdo is dead.
Neither did the lawyer of the Manahans produce the marriage certificate of Rosendo to Felicitas.
And now Rosendo is with his wife Felicitas claiming they are the real owners of a 34-hectare property long awarded to Severino Manotok whose heirs introduced improvement on the land having been in possession for longer than 70 years.
The Manotoks have contract for sale, a deed of conveyance certified as in existence by the National Archives.
They also have a Torrens title.
Given the fact that the heirs of Homer Barque, the original adverse claimants to the property, have reportedly admitted that they submitted fake documents to prove their claim and given the fact that the documents presented by the Manahans cannot be verified, it may be proper for the Supreme Court to ask the Court of Appeals to make a review of the genuine and fake documents.
It is also of extreme value to the decision-making process of the Supreme Court to ask the Court of Appeals to verify whether Rosendo Manahan is really dead as proven by a death certificate.
It is also of extreme value in the decision making process of the Supreme Court to verify whether or not Felicitas is married to Librado Calunia as proven by a marriage certificate.
Verifying the genuineness of these documents is important for the Court so that it will not to be misled into believing that Rosendo Manahan is flesh and blood but there is a certified document proving his death.
None of this, it must be stressed, is relevant to the fact that the Manahans submitted to the Court documents they cannot prove exist. But the Court must have the certainty that it is not deciding a case where a litigant does not exist because he died a long time ago.
It is worth reiterating that this case started as administrative in the Land Registration Administration. In its first decision the LRA certified or ruled that the land indeed belongs to the Manotoks as proven by the uncontested documents in their possession.
The LRA later reversed its decision saying that the title of the Manotoks is “sham and spurious.”
The Manotoks appealed to the Court of Appeals. The CA’s first decision was also in favor of the Manotoks. But a later consolidated decision by two divisions threw out the first ruling.
In word, the Manotoks initially won twice but lost twice. The third “loss” was the decision of the Supreme Court awarding the property to the heirs of Homer Barque.
The Supreme Court is now deliberating on the report of the CA to which the case was remanded after former SC Associate Justice Florentino Feleciano was granted oral arguments by the Highest Tribunal.
Hundreds of thousands of landowners who bought friar lands are now eagerly awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court that finally might put all questions on friar lands on ice.
In the end, it becomes the clear duty of the Aquino administration to clean up the Augean stables in the Land Registration Commission.
I remember the World Bank made a grant to the government precisely for this purpose. I have no knowledge how the money was spent.
I am reasonably certain, however, that disputes over land ownership continue to pile up in Court.
The Supreme Court may find wisdom in coming up with a ruling that will end all disputes. But, unfortunately, it may also have the capability to encourage more disputes.
Let us wait for the ruling.