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[ GR No. 26337, Dec 17, 1926 ]



49 Phil. 769

[ G.R. No. 26337, December 17, 1926 ]




This  action  was  commenced in the Court of First Instance of the Province  of Iloilo.  Its purpose was to recover of the defendant the  municipality of Iloilo the sum of P15,780 as the value of two lots Nos. 537 and 703 which, the plaintiff claimed, the defendant municipality had illegally appropriated, together with the sum  of P5,000 as damages and  costs.  The recovery of said sums was opposed by the defendants upon the ground that the plaintiff and appellant  was not and  never had been  the owner of said lots  Nos. 537 and  703..   The municipality  of Iloilo contended that it had purchased said  lots from Concepcion Lopez  on the  9th day of March,  1925, for the purpose of widening the adjoining  streets  and had paid therefor the sum of P25,000.   The other defendants answered the petition and  supported the contention  of the  municipality.

After hearing  the evidence  upon the  issue  presented, the Honorable Leopoldo Rovira reached the conclusion that  a preponderance  of the evidence supported the contention of the defendants, and rendered a judgment  absolving them from all liability under the complaint, without any finding as to costs.  From that judgment the plaintiff appealed.

In order that the facts in the present cause may be more clearly understood,  reference to the following map may be made:

See Image Vol. 49 Phil. 771

It appears from the documentary evidence found in the record that prior to the 9th day of March, 1915, Concepcion Lopez was the owner of lots 228-A, 228-B, 537, and 703 as seen in said map, and that on said 9th day of March, 1915, all of said lots constituted lot No, 228.  On the 9th day of March, 1915,  Concepcion Lopez sold to the City of Iloilo a part of said lot, now numbered 537 and 703 for the sum of P25,000.  The  City of  Iloilo promised to pay to Concepcion Lopez the said sum of  P25,000  within a  period of ten years  (Exhibit  1).  On the 10th  day of November, 1915, after the presentation of a petition for the registration of lot 228,  a certificate of title  (No. 464)  was  issued in favor of Concepcion for said lot 228, including lots 537 and 703.  The inclusion of said lots  (537 and 703) in said certificate of title was evidently an error on the part of someone connected with the office of the registrar of titles under the Torrens system.

Later and on  the 27th day of April, 1918,  Concepcion Lopez sold to Maximo M. Kalaw and wife said lot 228, including lots 537 and 703 evidently by mistake (see transfer certificate No. 617 and Exhibits B and 6).  It is  said that the inclusion of said lots 537 and 703 was a mistake because Concepcion Lopez  as  well as Maximo M. Kalaw  and wife were  ignorant of the fact  that said  lots were included in their  transfer certificate of title.  Later  and  on  the 11th day of August, 1919,  Concepcion Lopez, representing Maximo  M, Kalaw, sold said lots (228, 537, and 703) to Julio Ledesma, which sale was ratified by Maximo M. Kalaw and his wife on the 15th day of August, 1919  (see Exhibit D.) Later a transfer certificate of title No.  908 was  issued in favor of Julio  Ledesma (Exhibit H).   According to the admissions of Julio Ledesma lots 537  and 703  were included by mistake.

On the 15th day of September, 1919, Julio Ledesma sold a portion  of lot No. 228 to Tomas Locsin et al.   Later  a subdivision of lot 228 was made into two lots  228-A and 228-B.  Lot  228-A  remained  the property of Julio Ledesma (see transfer certificate of title  No. 1131, Exhibit I).  Said  lots 537 and  703,  according to said  transfer certificate,  remained the property of Julio Ledesma.

On the 2d day of August, 1922, folio Ledesma sold to the appellant herein lots Nos. 228-A, 537, and 703 (see transfer certificate 1989 in favor of Celso Ledesma, Exhibit J).

Again, according to Julio Ledesma, lots 537 and 703 were included in the transfer of lot No. 228-A to Celso Ledesma by mistake.

The theory of the  appellant is that, by reason of the fact that said  lots 537 and 703  had been included in the registered title  (title No. 464) of Concepcion  Lopez in November, 1915, and Concepcion included in  each succeeding transfer  of  title to  him said lots, that he was the indisputable owner  thereof, and because the City of Iloilo had appropriated said lots, that he was entitled to recover the value of said lots together with damages.

With reference to the theory of the appellant, an examination  of the record shows  that  as early as April,  1915, said lots had been turned over by Concepcion Lopez to the City of Iloilo under  a contract of sale for  street purposes.

That fact was well known.  The said lots had been included  as  a  part of the streets of the City  of Iloilo.   They had been segregated from the lot formerly owned by Concepcion Lopez.  Said lots 537 and 703  had become a part of a public  highway established by law.  The same were therefore  illegally included, in accordance  with the provisions of  section  39  of Act No.  496, in the certificate  of title issued  to  Concepcion Lopez  on the 10th  day of November, 1915.   That  fact was  recognized by  Concepcion Lopez as well as by each of the subsequent purchasers  of said lots.   The simple possession of a certificate of title, under the Torrens system,  does not necessarily make the possessor a true owner of all the property described therein.

If a person obtains a title, under the Torrens system, which includes by mistake  or oversight land which cannot be registered under the Torrens system, he does not, by virtue  of said certificate alone, become the owner of the lands illegally included.   (Legarda and Prieto vs. Saleeby, 31 Phil., 590.)

The inclusion of public highways in a certificate of title does  not thereby necessarily give  to  the holder  of such certificate said public highways.   The appellant, therefore, even though a part of said streets (lots 537 and 703) had been  included in the original  certificate of title and in the subsequent transfers of title,  did  not become the owner  of said lots and is not therefore entitled to recover their value from the  City of Iloilo nor  the  damages prayed for.

For all of the  foregoing reasons, the  judgment of the lower court is hereby  affirmed, with costs..   So ordered.

Avancena, C. J., Street, Villamor, Johns, Romualdez, and Villa-Real, JJ, concur.

Malcolm, and Ostrand, JJ., concur in the result.