Petitioner Canlas applied for the original registration of title of a parcel of land, under Presidential Decree No. 1529. There was no opposition to Canlas’ application. Respondent Republic of the Philippines (Republic) did not submit its comment or opposition but filed a notice of appeal.
Canlas comes before this court, arguing that she has duly overcome the burden of proof by showing open, continuous, exclusive, adverse, and notorious possession and occupation of the property. This is allegedly shown in the following acts of Canlas and her predecessors-in-interest since the 1900’s: declaring the property in their names, paying taxes due on the property, having the property surveyed, and allowing the excavation in the property for the retrieval and hauling of “pulang lupa” for the making of clay pots.
Canlas argued further that “residence” is not synonymous with “possession and occupation” as implied by the Court of Appeals. Presidential Decree No. 1529 does not require the applicant to reside on the land being registered. The law also does not require that a relative of the applicant be present to oversee the property.
Republic argued that Canlas failed to present sufficient and convincing evidence to support her application for registration of the subject parcel of land. Canlas must offer more than a bare assertion of possession and occupation. It further argued that the property had been sporadically and irregularly declared for tax purposes under the name of Honorio Apran from 1949 until 1999 and the realty taxes on the property were paid only in 2003. The Republic observed that the tax declarations presented by Canlas had been made a few months before the application for registration was made and served only to establish a weak claim for a registrable title for her.
In her reply, Canlas presented Land Registration Authority’s report that changed the complexion of the instant case. Canlas changed the theory of her case from an application for original registration of land, to a declaration of a right to an indefeasible registrable title of the land.
Whether petitioner’s possession and occupation ripened into an indeafeasible right to title.
Petitioner has sufficiently overcome the burden of proof required in a judicial confirmation of incomplete or imperfect title to land. An applicant for land registration or judicial confirmation of incomplete or imperfect title under Section 14(1) of Presidential Decree No. 1529 must prove the following requisites:”(1) that the subject land forms part of the disposable and alienable lands of the public domain, and (2) that the applicant has been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession and occupation of the same under a bona fide claim of ownership since June 12, 1945, or earlier.” Concomitantly, the burden to prove these requisites rests on the applicant.
With regard to the first requisite, it is undisputed that the land subject of registration is part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. The trial court found the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ report sufficient to prove the existence of the first requisite.
As to the second requisite, petitioner has sufficiently shown that she, through her predecessors in-interest, have been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the parcel of land since June 12, 1945 or earlier. Documentary evidence to prove possession was presented and substantiated by the witnesses’ testimonies. There were sufficient pieces of evidence to show that petitioner and her predecessors-in-interest exercised specific acts of ownership such as: farming activities; allowing the excavation of land for “pulang lupa” to make clay pots; paying realty taxes; declaring the property for tax purposes; employing a caretaker; causing corrections in entries in public documents with regard to the land; and demanding unlawful occupants to vacate the premises.
Hence, petitioner has sufficiently overcome the burden of proof required in a judicial confirmation of incomplete or imperfect title to land.
G.R. No. 200894, November 10, 2014
LUZVIMINDA APRAN CANLAS, Petitioner, vs. REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Respondent.