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[ GR No. L-13333, Nov 24, 1959 ]



106 Phil. 512

[ G.R. No. L-13333, November 24, 1959 ]




Petitioners  Zosimo Rojas, et  al:, claiming  to  be the registered owners  of Lot  No. 1, Psu-103916-Amd. originally decreed in their favor in Case  No. 398, G.L.R.O. Record No. 53546, have  filed  this original  petition for certiorari  seeking  to nullify the order of the Court of First Instance of  Cavite dated December 2, 1957, denying  their petition to set aside the decision  of June 30, 1957 rendered in another and subsequent  Land Registration Case No, 323,  G.L.R.O. Record No. 12440 decreeing, for the second time, the registration of the same Lot No. 1, this time  in favor of the City of Tagaytay.

At the instance of herein  petitioners, a writ of preliminary injunction was issued by this Court on January 24, 1958, restraining the respondent judge from taking further cognizance of  the  aforementioned registration case  No. 323  until further orders from this Court.

It appears on record that on January 22, 1957, the City of Tagaytay filed  with the Court  of  First  Instance of Cavite Land Registration  Case No. 323 applying for the registration in its name of 6 parcels of land, among which was Lot  No.  1,  plan Psu-103916-Amd., situated in the City  of  Tagaytay,  containing an area of  21,812 square meters and particularly described as follows:
"Bounded on the  Northeast, along line 1-2 by Lot No. 1 of Plan Psu-103916-Amd (should  be  Psu-103914-Amd). (Proposed Constabulary Barracks);  along line  2-3, by Lot 3  of Plan Psu103916-Amd.  (Portion of Molave  Avenue);  along 3-4,  by  property  of Congregation  de las  Beatas  de  la Virgen  Maria;  along line 4-5, by property  of Honorio Rojas  (lot 2,  Psu-103916) and along  line 5-2, by Lot 1  of  plan  Psu-103916-Amd (should be Psu-103914-Amd.)  (Proposed Constabulary Barracks:)"
The City of Tagaytay sought  original registration of this parcel of land, allegedly acquired by purchase from Zosimo Rojas,  either under  Act No. 496 or pursuant to Chapter VIII of  Commonwealth Act No. 141, said applicant and its predecessors-in-interest haying been in actual possession  of the land  since 1894.  No copy of the deed of sale was attached to the  application, allegedly because it was either lost or destroyed  during the  Japanese occupation.

As nobody appeared at the hearing to oppose the application, an order  of general defualt  was entered by the court  against the  whole world,  and  the  applicant was allowed to adduce its evidence.   

On  June 30, 1957, the court  decreed registration of said Lot No. 1,  plan Psu-103916. Amd. in the name of the  City of  Tagaytay, free from any  liens and  encumbrances, and the issuance of the corresponding certificate of title upon the finality of said decision.

On  July 15, 1957, Zosimo Rojas, supposed  vendor of the lot in question,  together with his present co-petitioners Manuel, Bernardo,  Deomedes, Felisa and Soledad, all surI  named Rojas filed in the same proceeding a petition to set,  aside the  decision  of  the  court  in so  far as said Lot No. 1, Psu-103916-Amd. was concerned; to lift the order  of   general  default  as  far  as  it  affected them because as adjoining owners cited  in  the application no actual  notice was  served them  as required in  Section 32  of Act 496, as  amended;  and praying that they be allowed to file their opposition  to the  registration of the aforesaid  lot for the reason, among others, that said Lot No. 1  was part of a bigger parcel of land already decreed in a previous land registration ease (Case No. 398, G.L.R.O. Rec. No.  53546) and  covered  by an  original certificate of title (O.C.T. No. 29)  issued by the Register of Deeds of Cavite in their names since  December 5, 1940.

The lower court denied this petition by order of December 2,  1957;  hence, the filing  of the instant action by the  Rojas  brothers for the purpose already stated above.

Petitioners assert that the court a quo, in adjudicating ownership of  the lot  involved herein in  favor of  the applicant-respondent, notwithstanding notice of its previous registration  and the existence of an  original certificate of  title covering the  same, acted  without jurisdiction. There is merit in this contention.

It is not controverted that Original  Certificate of Title No. 29 issued in the names of petitioners on December 5,  1940,  covers a parcel of land  containing  an area  of 67,434  square  meters described  and  delimited  in  the original plan Psu-103916.   Petitioners  allege that Lot No. 1, with an area of 21,812 square meters, is  within and forms a part of the aforementioned parcel of land. On  the other hand, applicant-respondent claims that although  the disputed  Lot  No. 1 originally belonged  to petitioners, the latter  sold  it to the said respondent  in 1937, for which reason, it  is alleged, Lot No. 1 was segregated from survey plan  Psu-103916 and embodied  in subsequent survey plan Psu-103916 Amd.  And since plan Psu-103916-Amd.  (amendment-subdivision, prepared  for the City  of Tagaytay)  was approved by  the  Director  of Lands on February 9,, 1940, applicant-respondent contends that said plan could not have  been approved  had it  included, as property  of the  City  of Tagaytay,  portions belonging to the petitioners.

This argument is fallacious.   There is no  conflict  between original  survey plan Psu-103916   (which is the basis of petitioners' title)  and the amendatory plan Psu103916-Amd.  for the latter is but a subdivision  plan,  as its  own title states  (see  Annex C which is respondent's Exh.  A, upon which the decree in its  favor was based.) Both  plans refer to a parcel of land whose total area is 67,434  square  meters; the only difference is  that the original plan refers to one single parcel, while the second plan refers to the same parcel but  subdivided into four (4) lots  (Nos.  1, 2,  3, and 4)  whose aggregate area is the same 67,434 square meters.  Consequently, there is no reason for the Director of  Lands to disapprove the subdivision plan  No. Psu-103916-Amd.   The  fact that this latter plan  was  prepared  in the  name of the  City  of Tagaytay  does not make the City the owner  of  the lots therein described.  Indeed,  respondent claims  only Lot 1 of the four mentioned in the plan.  Be this as  it may, the fact is that the whole parcel  of 67,434 square  meters which, as stated, includes Lot No. 1  of subdivision plan Psu-103916-Amd. was  subsequently decreed, on June 15, 1940, in favor of herein petitioners, and Original Certificate of Title No. 29  covering the  same  was issued in  their names on  December 5,  1940 by the Register of Deeds of Cavite Province.  This  decree and certificate of title duly registered, being in rem, are binding upon all, and with even greater force upon the respondent City of Tagaytay which, according to its own allegations, derives  its right of ownership in virtue of its  purchase  from the registered owners Rojas.  Under this situation, the most  logical and natural course open to respondent, in the ordinary course of business or civil transactions, was to have its  deed  of purchase  registered  and obtain a transfer certificate  of title in its name after  securing the  court's approval  of the subdivision plan segregating Lot 1 from the  bigger  lot described in petitioners'  Original Certificate of Title No. 29.  If there be question as to the sale by Rojas  to the City of  Tagaytay, as it seems is now  the case, and the supposed deed  has  been allegedly lost or destroyed during the war, respondent's remedy, if it really purchased Lot 1, is  to  compel the  execution of  another deed for the conveyance to it of the  portion it had  bought.  Certainly, respondent can not, as it did on January 22, 1957, apply for  the registration  in  its name of the already registered  Lot No, 1,  apparently, as averred by the petitioners, at  the back of the registered owners.

As thus  viewed, the pivotal issue is one of jurisdiction on the part of the lower court.   All the other contentions of respondent  regarding, possession in good  faith, laches or  claims  of  better  right,  while perhaps  valid  in  an appropriate ordinary action,  as to which we  here express no  opinion, can not avail in  the case at bar if the court a quo, sitting as land registration court, had no jurisdiction over  the  subject matter  in decreeing  on June 30, 1967, the  registration,  in favor of respondent City,  of a lot already previously decreed and registered is favor of the petitioners.

In a quite  impressive line  of decisions,  it  has  been well-settled that a Court of  First  Instance has no jurisdiction  to  decree again  the  registration of  land already decreed in an  earlier land registration case and a second decree for the same land is null and void.[1]  This is  so, because when once decreed by a  court of competent jurisdiction, the title  to the  land thus determined is already a res judicata binding on the whole world, the proceedings being in rem.   The  court has no power in  a  subsequent proceeding (not based on fraud  and within the statutory period) to adjudicate the  same  title in favor  of another person.  Furthermore, the registration of the property in the name of the first registered owner in the Registration Book is a  standing notice to the world that said property is already registered  in  his  name.

Hence,  the later applicant is chargeable with notice that the land he applied  for is already covered by  a title  so that  he has no  right whatsoever  to apply for  it.   To declare the later title valid would defeat the  very purpose of the Torrens  system which is to quiet title to the property and guarantee  its indefeasibility.  It would undermine the faith and confidence  of the people  in  the efficacy of the registration law.[2]

Applicant-respondent  also  alleges that even granting that Original Certificate of Title No. 29 includes Lot No. 1,  such registration  did  not confer ownership  upon the petitioners/at least insofar as  that portion occupied by the  City  Hall of  Tagaytay  is  concerned,  it being contended that such building  and the  land  whereon it was erected are properties for public use and, hence,  are outside the scope and efficacy of the Torrens  title acquired by petitioners, pursuant to Section 39 of Act 496.

The aforementioned Section 39 of  the Land" Registration Act  reads:

SEC. 39. Every person receiving a certificate of title in pursuance of  a decree of  registration, and every  subsequent purchaser of registered land  who takes  a certificate of title  for value in good faith shall hold the  same free of  all incumbrances except those noted on 'said  certificate, and any of the following incumbrances which may be subsisting,  namely:

First.  Liens,  claims,  or rights arising or existing  under  the laws or Constitution . . .  which the statutes of the Philippine Islands can not require to appear of record in the registry.

Second.   Taxes within two  years  after the  same  become due and payable.

Third. Any public  highway, way, private way  established by law, or  any Government irrigation canal or lateral thereof, where the certificate of title does not state that the boundaries of such highway,  way,  or irrigation canal or lateral thereof,  have been  determined.

The aforequoted  provision specifically  enumerates  the only cases that may limit the registered owners absolute title over the property:  (1) liens, claimsor rights existing or  arising under the  laws or the Constitution and which the statutes do not require their  annotation or appearance in  the registry;  (2) taxes  within 2 years after they become  due  and payable;  (3) encumbrance  or  lien  duly annotated in the certificate of title; and (4) any public highway, way,  private way established by  law,  or any Government  irrigation canal  or  lateral thereof  existing on the property even if  not annotated in the certificate. It is clear therefrom that  even  if  we  concede,  for  the sake of argument,  that a municipal building or city hall and  the land whereon it  is erected may be considered as properties for public use, under the well-accepted principle  of inclusio unins est exclusio alterias, respondent cannot validly invoke the provision of law quoted above.

This decision is  limited only to the action of the trial court, sitting as land registration court, decreeing, for the second time, the registration of Lot No. 1 of subdivision plan Psu-103916 Amd.  in favor of respondent  City of Tagaytay, a lot already previously decreed by a  competent court in favor of the petitioners, which action, we hold, is null and void. Wherefore, petition  is  granted and  the  lower court's order of December 2, 1957 as well as the decision  dated June 30, 1957, are  hereby set aside.  The injunction heretofore issued is made  permanent, with costs against  the respondent City of Tagaytay. It is  so ordered.               

Paras,  C.  J., Bengzon, Padilla, Montemayor, Bautista Angelo, Labrador, Reyes, J. B. L., Endencia, and Gutierrez David, JJ., concur.

[1] Pamintuan vs. San Agustin, 43 Phil., 558, 561; Timbol vs. Diaz 14 Phil.,  587, 590; Reyes vs. Borbon, 50  PM1., 791, 795;  Singian vs. Manila Railroad Co., 60 Phil.,  192,203; Addison vs.  Payatas Estate Improvement Co., 60 Phil., 673; Siddco  vs. Aznar, 92 Phil., 952;  49 Off.  Gaz.,  [4] 1390.

[2] Ventura, Land Titles & Deeds, p. 183; Legarda vs. Saleeby, 31 Phil., 590, 593.