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Heirs of Malabanan vs Republic

GR 179987
Apr 29, 2009

Facts:
1) Mario Malabanan applied for the registration of 71,324 sq. meters of land.
2) He claims that he bought the land from Eduardo Velazco who also claims that his great
grandfather owned the land
3) Malabanan submitted a certification from DENR CENRO stating that the land is alienable
and disposable in 1982.
4) The prosecutor did not oppose the registration.
5) RTC granted Malabanans request for registration.
6) Republic interposed an appeal claiming that Malabanan did not adhere to the
requirement of time required by the law and the he failed to prove that the land is an
alienable and disposable land.
7) CA ruled in favor of the republic reasoning that the possession of the land before it is
declared alienable and disposable cannot be included in the computation of possession
of the land, thus Malabanan did not adhere to the period requirement of the law.

Issue:
Can the heirs of Malabanan register the land?

Held:
No.

ARGUMENTS:
Petitioner:
1) 14(1): With respect to agricultural lands, any possession prior to the declaration of
alienable property as disposable may be counted in computing the period of possession.
(Naguit Doctrine)

2) 14(2): possession of the land for more than 30 years ipso jure converts the land into
private property, regardless of its classification. So long as during the time of
application, it is classified alienable and disposable.

OSG:
1) The land should have been declared alienable and disposable prior to June 12, 1945.
(Herbieto Doctrine)

2) 14(2): 14(2) speakes of private lands. The Court has yet to decide a case that presented
14(2) as a ground for application. Assuming that the 30 year period can run against
public land, the period only runs after the land has been declared alienable and
diposable.

COURT:
1) 14(1): 14(1) of CA 141 is virtually the same as 48(b) of PD 1529. 48(b) is more descriptive
in nature of the right enjoyed by a possessor. 14(1) seems to presume the pre-existence
of a right.
If the position of OSG is to be followed that the land has to be declared alienable and
disposable prior to June 12, 1945, then all lands not classified as alienable and
disposable AFTER June 12, 1945 cannot be registered.

As explained in Naguit, it is sufficient that the land is declared alienable and disposable
at the time that it is registered. Hebierto Doctrine is indeed obiter dictum.
2) 14(2): 14(2) provides the registration of land whose possession is after June 12, 1945. It
involves application of those who acquired ownership of private lands by prescription
under the provisions of the existing law.

The law mentioned in the provision refers to the Civil Code. Under the CC, prescriptive
acquisition may be ordinary or extra ordinary. It is therefore proper to refer to CC on the
provisions of property.

Artcle 422 is controlling in the conversion of the land of public dominion to patrimonial
property. It is only when a land becomes patrimonial that it becomes susceptible to
prescription. There must be an express declaration by the State that an alienable and
disposable land is no longer intended for public service. It is only after such express
declaration that the period may begin to run.

CONCLUSION:
14(2) applies for the case at bar. Possesion of the land is traced back to 1948. Since the
land in question has no express declaration of being patrimonial, Malabanan failed to
adhere to the period as required by law.