by Jessa Christine Abellon

DIRECTOR OF LANDS v. ISIDORO ABAJA ET AL., GR No. 42134, 1936-10-21

Facts:

On June 12, 1919, the Assistant Director of Lands filed  in the Court of First Instance of Occidental Negros a petition  praying that the titles with  respect to  a  tract  of land  containing ... about 23,443,355 square meters, divided into lots and situated in the municipality of Hog,  Occidental Negros, be settled and adjudicated in accordance with  the provisions of Act No. 2259, otherwise known  as the  Cadastral  Act.  After due... hearing, the lower court, in a decision dated August 15, 1925, declared lot No. 712, comprising about 1,322 square meters,  public land because no  one appeared to  claim  it. On  January 25, 1934, a motion  was filed in the same court by the herein... appellants, Roman de Arruza and Mario Luzuriaga, through their  attorney, praying that the aforesaid decision  of  the lower court be set aside  in so far as lot No. 712 was concerned, that a new trial be granted and that they be allowed to present their... claim under the provisions of Act No. 4043.  On February 2,  1934, the provincial fiscal of Occidental Negros, on behalf of the government, filed an opposition to the appellants' motion contending that the Court of First Instance of Occidental Negros had  no... jurisdiction to  reopen  the case with respect  to lot No. 712 because the motion was not filed within the time limit prescribed by Act No. 4043.  On April 20, 1934, the judge of the said court  denied  the motion of  the appellants

Issues:

whether the ten-year period mentioned in Act No. 4043 should be counted from the date the decision was rendered or from... the date judicial proceedings were instituted in a  cadastral case

Ruling:

In  determining the  intention of the lawmaker, we are permitted to look to prior laws on the same subject and to investigate the antecedents or the  legislative history  of the statute involved

Act No. 4043 was not the only Act passed by the Philippine Legislature to  enable persons whose  lands had been declared public lands by virtue of the operation of the cadastral  system to recover said lands after  complying with certain prescribed... conditions.

A cursory scrutiny of these four Acts will show that while the titles of Acts Nos. 4043  and 4195  refer to "parcels of land  that  have... been declared public land, by virtue of judicial decisions rendered etc.", those of the earlier Acts Nos. 3059 and  3672 fail to make any such allusion.

The title of Act No. 4043 ... is as follows:

"An Act to authorize the filing in the proper court, under certain  conditions, of certain claims of title  to parcels of land that have been declared public land, by virtue of judicial decisions rendered within the fifteen years next preceding the ... approval of this Act."

Upon the other hand,  the bodies  of all the four Acts just mentioned speak in clear and, unmistakable terms of parcels of land that "have been, or are  about to be,  declared land of public domain, by virtue of... judicial proceedings instituted etc,"

Act No. 4043 was originally House Bill No.  949 (First Session, Ninth Philippine Legislature).  The  said bill as presented referred in both its title and... body solely to the rendition  of judicial decisions.   The first paragraph of the explanatory note prepared by the authors of the bill reads:

"The  attached bill is  practically the same as Act  No. 3672 approved by the Eighth Legislature with  the exception that it authorizes the filing of claims to lots that have been declared public land by virtue of judicial decisions rendered... during  the last  ten  years

The fact that in all the four Acts so far passed by the Philippine Legislature  on the subject there has been a repeated and consistent reference to the institution of judicial proceedings has the starting point in the computation of the period of ten years... therein laid down  is... significant

It shows beyond question the desire of the Legislature to adhere to the one and only method of computation consistently followed by it since the beginning.

Principles: