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[ GR No. 42338, Oct 30, 1936 ]



63 Phil. 654

[ G. R. No. 42338, October 30, 1936 ]




The Director of Lands opposed the application for registration  of the  land described in the  plan Exhibit  A. The court  overruled the opposition; declared the applicant Pedro Lacaste and his sisters Ramona, Agustina and Concepcion owners of the land,  as sole heirs of the deceased Nicolas Lacaste; ordered its registration as applied for,  and declared the free patent No.  18007 issued by the Director of Lands in favor of Agustin Root over  a portion of this land, null and void.

The land here in question was in the possession of, and cultivated by,  Nicolas Lacaste  from 1883 up to  his death in  1927, and  from  this  latter date  the said  possession passed to his son Pedro Lacaste.  In  1895 Nicolas Lacaste commenced and obtained a possessory information, which was duly registered, over the land in question,  and from 1906 he paid the land tax thereon up to his death.  These facts have been fully established and no evidence  to  the contrary has been adduced.  By force of this possession, the land became private property.  (De los Reyes vs. Razon, 38 Phil., 480; Susi vs. Razon and Director of Lands, 48 Phil., 424; National Bank vs. Ortiz Luis, 53 Phil., 649.)

The Solicitor-General directs attention to the circumstance that the possessory information presented as evidence in this case refers to several  parcels of land  measuring in the aggregate  8 hectares, 71 ares and 77 centiares only, whereas the  area of the land applied for is  41  hectares, 87 ares and 23 centiares.   The brief of the Solicitor-General reproduces the description and area of the parcels of land covered by the possessory information, giving a total area of 8 hectares, 71 ares and 77 centiares.  However, we note that parcel No. 5, to which the brief of the Solicitor-General attributes an area of 3 hectares and 5 ares only, appears in the possessory information Exhibit X as containing  an area of 23  hectares  and  55  ares.  This error has an important bearing on this aspect of the case brought out by the Solicitor-General, because it  discloses that the difference  between the area of the  parcels covered by the possessory information and that of the land applied for, is not so great as to affect the identity of the land.

On the  other hand, it appears that in 1928 this land was applied for as a homestead by Agustin Root and Salvador Gangani.   In 1923, while Gangani's application was still pending,  free patent  No. 18007  was  issued in favor  of Root.  According to applicant Pedro Lacaste,  both Root and Gangani were his tenants  upon  the  land  after his father's death, and that in 1928,  1929 and 1930, they gave him a share of  the  fruits  thereof  by  way  of  canon. Thereafter and without his consent, Root and Gangani applied for the land as a homestead, whereupon  he filed his opposition with the Bureau of Lands.  The evidence for the government corroborates the  fact that Pedro  Lacaste actually filed his opposition, although the same was later denied.

If the land applied for had ceased to be  public and has passed to  private ownership, the Director of Lands could not grant a free patent therefor,  and having done so, the title thus  issued is  null and void.

It must be  noted that there  is no evidence  counter to the  facts  established by the applicant.  The only fact proven by the government, as  oppositor,  through its lone witness Fernando Bernardo, is  that before title was issued to Root and before  Gangani's application was approved, an investigation had been made by subordinate employees of the bureau who had not  been  put upon the witness stand in this case.

In view of the foregoing, the appealed judgment is affirmed, without special pronouncement as to the costs.  So ordered.

Villa-Real, Abad Santos, Imperial, Diaz, and Laurel, JJ., concur.