Screenshot from 2015-02-16 09:29:17_v1


It seems that the April 19, 1917 Maysilo Estate group are at it again. And now they just invaded a property using armed men. Please check this WARNING TO THE PUBLIC published in the Philippine Star on the following dates: February 15, 16 & 17, 2015. Be warned not to transact with these land-grabbers.

Please read this excellent article:,2166636

The said property is rightfully co-owned and previously (before the land-grabbing) occupied by CHUA TEE & Company and General Metal Container Corporation of the Philippines.

This is the first time this property had been invaded after all these decades. So what does this mean?

The invaders woke-up one morning and realized that they owned the property?

The invaders woke-up one morning and found a title to the property?

You be the judge.

SC ruling dispossesses millions of lot owners

GOTCHA By Jarius Bondoc (The Philippine Star) Updated April 02, 2012 12:00 AM

Catastrophic is the Supreme Court ruling on the Piedad Estate. On surface, it merely reverts to the State a thousand hectares of Quezon City prime commercial-residential land straddling Commonwealth Avenue. Yet actually upset are the Torrens titling, home financing, and executive-legislative-judicial remediating systems.

That this occurs because an absent justice was made to “cast a tie-breaker” is another blow against impeached Chief Justice Renato Corona. The implications are farther-reaching, though. From the SC’s 8-7 final vote, millions of lot owners nationwide can lose their property if falling within former friar lands like Piedad Estate.

It all began with the Manotok clan, owner of a 34-hectare slice of Piedad near UP-Diliman and posh Ayala Heights, repelling two belated claimants. One group came out to contest the Manotok holding after fire gutted the Quezon City land registry in 1985. Another emerged, as court battle ensued, to say that land tenure had passed on to them. The Court of Appeals deemed the last-minute claimants’ titles and deeds bogus.

Chaos from the city hall fire had given rise to land-grabbing gangs. The Manotoks filed for reconstitution of property documents dating back to 1919. Something odd happened in court: their papers suddenly came under questioning. Two items supposedly were missing from the files. One, the original Sale Certificate from the US colonial government to the Manotok forebears, of the land confiscated from Spanish friars. Two, the Secretary of Interior’s signature in the original Assignment of Sale Certificate. Yet it was the government’s duty, not the landowners’, to protect the deed registry. (Manila had come under invasion and countless calamities in the past century.) As for the lacking signature, landowners should not be faulted for a bureaucrat’s lapse.

The case reached the SC. Upheld in August 2010 was the finding that the two counterclaims were fakes. But in light of supposed flaws in the Manotok deeds, the government must repossess the entire 1,282-hectare Piedad Estate.

The Manotoks and contestants both moved for reconsideration. On March 6, 2012, the SC promulgated a final decision, penned by Justice Martin Villarama. The counterclaims again were denied. So was the Manotok ownership right.

Concurring with Villarama’s ponencia were: CJ Corona, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza, and Mariano del Castillo.

Justice Antonio Carpio led the dissent, joined by Justices Presbitero Velasco, Arturo Brion, Roberto Abad, Maria Lourdes Sereno, Bienvenido Reyes, and Estela Perlas-Bernabe.

Setting legal circles abuzz was how the majority got eight votes versus the dissenters’ seven. Del Castillo was absent during the March 6 promulgation, having gone on leave starting February 13, for a second heart bypass. He extended the leave on March 21, and returned to work only on March 28, last week. He had not participated in any division or en banc deliberations during his leave, or voted on any case.

Except, curiously, del Castillo voted on this Piedad case; at least, so says Corona. Concurring and dissenting justices all signed above their names. Above del Castillo’s is the handwritten note: “I certify that J. del Castillo sent his vote concurring with Justice Villarama.” Scribbled next is Corona’s signature, same as the one with his name at the top of the list. Del Castillo’s signature does not appear above his name, implying he had not read the ponencia.

In effect, Corona had voted twice in the Piedad case, making his side win by one vote, instead of ending tied. Why he dared do this in the middle of his impeachment trial, only he knows. Some say it has to do with his defense by the Iglesia ni Cristo sect. The lawyers of one of the counterclaimants hold office at the College of Law, New Era University, run by the INC.

Del Castillo’s absentee vote “shows how influential the CJ is over the Supreme Court and the judiciary,” says impeachment prosecution spokesman Rep. Miro Quimbo. “As we’ve been saying, he’s so strong that he played a great part in the issuance of the SC order that almost let former President Gloria Arroyo and husband flee the country.”

Corona reportedly denies signing for del Castillo, or swaying the justices’ votes, or any impropriety in the Piedad ruling. In December 2011 he was impeached by 188 congressmen, almost double the one-third needed from members of the House of Representatives. Del Castillo also is facing impeachment raps for plagiarism in a ponencia against “comfort women” forced into sex slavery by World War II Japanese invaders.

In dissent, Carpio cites scores of other friar land sales in the early 1900s with the Secretary of Interior’s signature also missing. With the majority ruling, he says, all these landholdings would be voided. For, it ignores the fact that the National Archives has copies of the documents. Too, that Congress already had corrected the missing signature via a recent all-encompassing law arising from the Banilad friar estate in Cebu. Lastly, that the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources in 2005 had clarified that the Banilad legislation covered other erstwhile friar lands as well.

Since the SC ruled otherwise, not only the Manotoks’ 34 and Piedad Estate’s 1,282 hectares in Quezon City are affected. All one-time friar lands are too. In Metro Manila alone, Carpio says, these consist of 35,033 hectares. (Makati, one of the 17 cities, has an area of 2,736 hectares; the whole metropolis, 63,600 hectares.) The SC’s 8-7 ruling imperils over half of Metro Manila. Former friar lands exist elsewhere, as industrial, commercial or residential estates.

“If we do not apply the DENR memo … the SC will be disquieting titles held by generations of landowners since the passage in 1904 of the (Friar Lands Act),” says Carpio. “Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of landowners would surely be dispossessed of their lands in these areas. This is a disaster waiting to happen – a blow to the integrity of our Torrens system and the stability of land titles in this country.”

* * *

Twice to vote

Twice to vote
By: Conrado R. Banal
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Disturbing issues hound Chief Justice Renato Corona regarding his actions in the Supreme Court even while he is standing trial at the Senate that may cost him his powerful position.

According to reports, in a landmark case involving a 30-year dispute over some 34 hectares of prime property in Quezon City, the Chief Justice in effect voted not just once but twice.

The SC early this month issued a ruling en banc that the so-called Piedad Estate, which is close to the Ayala Heights project of premier developer Ayala Land, should belong to the government.

The en banc voting was close at 8 versus 7, meaning it could have gone either way. It seems the Chief Justice himself broke the deadlock, but not with his own vote.

Together with his own vote, he supposedly also used the vote of a justice on leave for more than a month—Justice Mariano del Castillo. The ailing Del Castillo reportedly was not even able to take part in the deliberation.

In fact, all other SC documents would show that Del Castillo was on leave. In this particular case, the Chief Justice simply used the vote of the absent justice. It was the tie-breaking vote, at that.

Disturbing questions thus arise. For one, can an absent justice, who could not be present in the discussion of the issues in a case, vote on en banc decision? May the Chief Justice really take the place of an absent justice?

Is it legal, and if it is, is it the proper thing to do, particularly for a man who is supposed to be the paragon of fairness and morality in this country?

* * *

We have been following this interesting case since the 1990s and have written a number of pieces on it. It started way back when, in 1988, a mysterious fire broke out at the office of the Registry of Deeds at the Quezon City hall. The result was a flood of apparently spurious titles over pieces of property in the city.

The longtime owner of the Piedad Estate was the Manotok family, whose ancestor bought the land from the government in the 1930s. For the past 80 years or so, the family has been paying for the real estate tax on the property.

All of a sudden after the fire at city hall, two other titles appeared, purportedly as evidence of the real ownership of the property. Two other names surfaced in the land title mess, Manahan and Barque, both claiming ownership of the property.

Thus the Manotok family went to court to challenge the alleged “reconstituted” titles. The case dragged on for over two decades, going back and forth between the Court of Appeals and the SC.

This is important: The ownership of the Manotok family, who had control over the property for the longest time by sheer of possession, was never in question in the original case.

In an earlier decision, the SC negated the claims of the two groups—the Manahans and Barques. Thus, you would think that the Manotok family has won in the long-running land dispute.

For whatever mysterious reason, the SC also decided that the CA should answer a question that came from nowhere. And that was, “Did the Manotok family own the land or not?”

The CA eventually ruled that the property should go back to the government because of one reason: Some bureaucrat’s signature was missing in the documents presented by the Manotok family.

Look at that: it was the government that failed to do its job. The court in effect said that, because of such a government failure, the poor individual must be punished.

The SC in 2010 upheld the CA decision. The SC early this month ruled with finality on the case. That was the ruling in which the Chief Justice voted twice, if only to beat the dissenting opinion, penned by Senior Justice Antonio Carpio.

* * *

Horror stories are flying on the possible reason for the daring role that the impeached Renato Corona played in this landmark decision.

One story points at the group of lawyers specializing in land disputes in Quezon City. It is said that the Chief Justice could possibly owe the group favors in connection with the ongoing trial at the Senate.

Those stories are rather difficult to substantiate. The fact is they are going around business and legal circles. They are not doing the impeachment process any good.

But more than the reputation of the embattled Chief Justice, the land title system in this country can be in danger of collapse.

Thousands—if not millions—of individuals already have titles on their properties in former friar lands, seized by the Americans during their occupation of the Philippines, and then sold to various individuals.

More than half of Metro Manila used to be friar lands. The question is this: What will happen to the titles covering all those properties?

The recent SC ruling takes the force of law, and it could therefore encourage other crooks to lay claim on thousands upon thousands of hectares of property all over the country.

The decision may even open up an entire new racket in the property sector: Some syndicates would be selling land titles over certain property owned by millions of Filipinos for the past several years.

Officials of the Land Registration Authority have long admitted such a problem. It seems that, for some time now, the LRA has been trying to settle land disputes—all in Quezon City.

The cases were all handled by a certain group of lawyers associated with an organization.