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6/29/2016

G.R.No.L28379

TodayisWednesday,June29,2016

RepublicofthePhilippines
SUPREMECOURT
Manila
ENBANC
G.R.No.L28379March27,1929
THEGOVERNMENTOFTHEPHILIPPINEISLANDS,applicantappellant,
vs.
CONSORCIACABANGIS,ETAL.,claimantsappellees.
AttorneyGeneralJaranillaforappellant.
AbadSantos,Camus&Delgadoforappellees.
VILLAREAL,J.:
TheGovernmentofthePhilippineIslandsappealstothiscourtfromthejudgmentoftheCourtofFirstInstanceof
ManilaincadastralproceedingNo.373oftheCourtofFirstInstanceofManila,G.L.R.O.CadastralRecordNo.
373,adjudicatingthetitleanddecreeingtheregistrationoflotsNos.36,39and40,block3055ofthecadastral
survey of the City of Manila in favor of Consuelo, Consorcia, Elvira and Tomas, surnamed Cabangis, in equal
parts,anddismissingtheclaimspresentedbytheGovernmentofthePhilippineIslandsandtheCityofManila.
In support of its appeal, the appellant assigns the following alleged errors as committed by the trial court in its
judgment,towit:
1.Thelowercourterredinnotholdingthatthelotsinquestionareofthepublicdomain,thesamehaving
beengainedfromthesea(ManilaBay)byaccession,byfillingsmadebytheBureauofPublicWorksand
bytheconstructionofthebreakwater(builtbytheBureauofNavigation)nearthemouthofVitasEstero.
2.Thelowercourterredinholdingthatthelotsinquestionformedpartofthebigparceloflandbelonging
tothespousesMaximoCabangisandTitaAndres,andinholdingthatthesespousesandtheirsuccessors
in interest have been in continuous, public, peaceful and uninterrupted possession of said lots up to the
timethiscasecameup.
3.The lower court erred in holding that said lots existed before, but that due to the current of the Pasig
River and to the action of the big waves in Manila Bay during the southwest monsoons, the same
disappeared.
4. The lower court erred in adjudicating the registration of the lands in question in the name of the
appellees,andindenyingtheappellant'smotionforanewtrial.
A preponderance of the evidence in the record which may properly be taken into consideration in deciding the
case,provesthefollowingfacts:
Lots36,39and40,block3035ofcadastralproceedingNo.71oftheCityofManila,G.L.R.O.RecordNo.373,
wereformerlyapartofalargeparceloflandbelongingtothepredecessorofthehereinclaimantsandappellees.
Fromtheyear1896saidlandbegantowearaway,duetotheactionofthewavesofManilaBay,untiltheyear
1901whenthesaidlotsbecamecompletelysubmergedinwaterinordinarytides,andremainedinsuchastate
until 1912 when the Government undertook the dredging of Vitas Estuary in order to facilitate navigation,
depositingallthesandandsilttakenfromthebedoftheestuaryonthelowlandswhichwerecompletelycovered
with water, surrounding that belonging to the Philippine Manufacturing Company, thereby slowly and gradually
formingthelots,thesubjectmatterofthisproceeding.
UptothemonthofFebruary,1927nobodyhaddeclaredlot39forthepurposesoftaxation,anditwasonlyinthe
year1926thatDr.PedroGil,inbehalfoftheclaimantsandappellees,declaredlotNo.40forsuchpurpose.
Inviewofthefactsjuststated,asprovedbyapreponderanceoftheevidence,thequestionarises:Whoownslots
36,39and40inquestion?
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The claimantsappellees contend that inasmuch as the said lots once formed a part of a large parcel of land
belonging to their predecessors, whom they succeeded, and their immediate predecessor in interest, Tomas
Cabangis, having taken possession thereof as soon as they were reclaimed, giving his permission to some
fishermentodrytheirfishingnetsanddeposittheirbancasthereon,saidlotsbelongtothem.
Article339,subsection1,oftheCivilCode,reads:
Article339.Propertyofpublicownershipis
1.Thatdevotedtopublicuse,suchasroads,canals,rivers,torrents,portsandbridgesconstructedbythe
State,riverbanks,shorts,roadsteads,andthatofasimilarcharacter.
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Article1,case3,oftheLawofWatersofAugust3,1866,providesasfollows:
ARTICLE1.Thefollowingarepartofthenationaldomainopentopublicuse:
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3.TheShores.Bytheshoreisunderstoodthatspacecoveredanduncoveredbythemovementofthetide.
Its interior or terrestrial limit is the line reached by the highest equinoctial tides. Where the tides are not
appreciable, the shore begins on the land side at the line reached by the sea during ordinary storms or
tempests.
InthecaseofAragonvs.InsularGovernment(19Phil.,223),withreferencetoarticle339oftheCivilCodejust
quoted,thiscourtsaid:
Weshouldnotbeunderstood,bythisdecision,toholdthatinacaseofgradualencroachmentorerosionbythe
ebbandflowofthetide,privatepropertymaynotbecome'propertyofpublicownership,'asdefinedinarticle339
ofthecode,whereitappearsthattheownerhastoallintentsandpurposesabandoneditandpermittedittobe
totallydestroyed,soastobecomeapartofthe'playa'(shoreoftheseas),'rada'(roadstead),orthelike....
IntheEnciclopediaJuridicaEspanola,volumeXII,page558,wereadthefollowing:
Withrelativefrequencytheoppositephenomenonoccursthatis,theseaadvancesandprivateproperties
arepermanentlyinvadedbythewaves,andinthiscasetheybecomepartoftheshoreorbeach.Theythen
pass to the public domain, but the owner thus dispossessed does not retain any right to the natural
products resulting from their new nature it is a de facto case of eminent domain, and not subject to
indemnity.
Now then , when said land was reclaimed, did the claimantsappellees or their predecessors recover it as their
originalproperty?
Aswehaveseen,thelandbelongingtothepredecessorsofthehereinclaimantsappelleesbegantowearwayin
1896,owingtothegradualerosioncausedbytheebbandflowofthetide,untiltheyear1901,whenthewatersof
ManilaBaycompletelysubmergedaportionofit,includedwithinlots36,39and40hereinquestion,remaining
thus under water until reclaimed as a result of certain work done by the Government in 1912. According to the
abovecitedauthoritiessaidportionofland,thatis,lots36,39and40,whichwasprivateproperty,becameapart
of the public domain. The predecessors of the herein claimantsappellees could have protected their land by
building a retaining wall, with the consent of competent authority, in 1896 when the waters of the sea began to
wearitaway,inaccordancewiththeprovisionsofArticle29oftheaforecitedLawofWatersofAugust3,1866,
and their failure to do so until 1901, when a portion of the same became completely covered by said waters,
remainingthussubmergeduntil1912,constitutesabandonment.
Nowthen:Thelotsunderdiscussionhavingbeenreclaimedfromtheseasasaresultofcertainworkdonebythe
Government,towhomdotheybelong?
Theanswertothisquestionisfoundinarticle5oftheaforementionedLawofWaters,whichisasfollows:

ART. 5. Lands reclaimed from the sea in consequence of works constructed by the State, or by the
provinces, pueblos or private persons, with proper permission, shall become the property of the party
constructingsuchworks,unlessotherwiseprovidedbythetermsofthegrantofauthority.
Thefactthatfrom1912somefishermenhadbeendryingtheirfishingnetsanddepositingtheirbancasonlots36,
39and40,bypermissionofTomasCabangis,doesnotconferonthelatterorhissuccessorstheownershipof
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saidlots,because,astheywereconvertedintopublicland,noprivatepersoncouldacquiretitletheretoexceptin
theformandmannerestablishedbythelaw.
InthecaseofBuzonvs.InsularGovernmentandCityofManila(13Phil.,324),citedbytheclaimantsappellees,
thiscourt,admittingthefindingsandholdingsofthelowercourt,saidthefollowing:
Ifweheedtheparolevidence,wefindthattheseashorewasformerlyaboutonehundredbrazas distant
fromthelandinquestionthat,inthecourseoftime,andbytheremovalofaconsiderablequantityofsand
fromtheshoreatthebackofthelandfortheuseofthestreetcarcompanyinfillinginCalleCervantes,the
seawaterinordinarytidesnowcoverspartofthelanddescribedinthepetition.
Thefactthatcertainland,notthebedofariverorofthesea,iscoveredbyseawaterduringtheperiodof
ordinaryhightide,isnotareasonestablishedbyanylawtocausethelossthereof,especiallywhen,asin
thepresentcase,itbecomescoveredbywaterowingtocircumstancesentirelyindependentofthewillof
theowner.
InthecaseofDirectorofLandsvs.Aguilar(G.R.No.22034),1alsocitedbytheclaimantsappellees,whereinthe
Governmentadducednoevidenceinsupportofitscontention,thelowercourtsaidinpart:
The contention of the claimants Cabangis is to the effect that said lots are a part of the adjoining land
adjudicatedtotheirdeceasedfather,DonTomasCabangis,which,foroverfiftyyearshadbelongedtotheir
deceasedgrandmother,TitaAndres,andthat,duetocertainimprovementsmadeinManilaBay,thewaters
oftheseacoveredalargepartofthelotshereinclaimed.
TheGovernmentofthePhilippineIslandsalsoclaimstheownershipofsaidlots,because,atordinaryhigh
tide,theyarecoveredbythesea.
Uponpetitionoftheparties,thelowercourtmadeanocularinspectionofsaidlotsonSeptember12,1923,
andonsaidinspectionfoundsomelightmaterialhousesbuiltthereon,andthatonthatoccasionthewaters
oftheseadidnotreachtheaforesaidlots.
Fromtheevidenceadducedatthetrialofthiscause,itmaybeinferredthatTitaAndres,duringherlifetime
was the owner of a rather large parcel of land which was adjudicated by a decree to her son Tomas
Cabangisthelotsnowinquestionarecontiguoustothatlandandarecoveredbythewatersoftheseaat
extraordinary high tide some 50 years before the sea did not reach said strip of land, and on it were
constructed,forthemostpart,lightmaterialhouses,occupiedbythetenantsofTitaAndres,towhomthey
paid rent. Upon her death, her son Tomas Cabangis succeeded to the possession, and his children
succeededhim,theybeingthepresentclaimants,Consuelo,Jesus,Tomas,andConsorciaCabangis.
TheGovernmentofthePhilippineIslandsdidnotadduceanyevidenceinsupportofitscontention,withthe
exception of registry record No. 8147, to show that the lots here in question were not excluded from the
applicationpresentedinsaidproceeding.
ItwillbeseenthatinthecaseofBuzonvs.InsularGovernmentandCityofManila,citedabove,theriseofthe
watersoftheseathatcoveredthelandsthereindispute,wasduenottotheactionofthetidebuttothefactthat
alargequantityofsandwastakenfromtheseaatthesideofsaidlandinordertofillinCervantesStreet,andthis
court properly held that because of this act, entirely independent of the will of the owner of said land, the latter
couldnotlosetheownershipthereof,andthemerefactthatthewatersoftheseacovereditasaresultofsaid
act, is not sufficient to convert it into public land, especially, as the land was high and appropriate for building
purposes.
InthecaseoftheDirectorofLandsvs.Aguilaralsocitedbytheclaimantsappellees,theInsularGovernmentdid
notpresentanyevidenceinsupportofitscontention,thusleavinguncontradictedtheevidenceadducedbythe
claimantsAguilaretal.,astotheownership,possessionandoccupationofsaidlots.
In the instant case the evidence shows that from 1896, the waves of Manila Bay had been gradually and
constantly washing away the sand that formed the lots here in question, until 1901, when the sea water
completelycoveredthem,andthustheyremaineduntiltheyear1912.Inthelatteryeartheywerereclaimedfrom
theseabyfillinginwithsandandsiltextractedfromthebedofVitasEstuarywhentheGovernmentdredgedsaid
estuary in order to facilitate navigation. Neither the herein claimantsappellees nor their predecessors did
anythingtopreventtheirdestruction.
Inconclusion,then,weholdthatthelotsinquestionhavingdisappearedonaccountofthegradualerosiondueto
theebbandflowofthetide,andhavingremainedinsuchastateuntiltheywerereclaimedfromtheseabythe
fillingindonebytheGovernment,theyarepublicland.(Aragonvs.InsularGovernment,19Phil.,223Francisco
vs.GovernmentofthePhilippineIslands,28Phil.,505).
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Byvirtuewhereof,thejudgmentappealedfromisreversedandlotsNos.36,39and40ofcadastralproceeding
No.373oftheCityofManilaareheldtobepubliclandbelongingtotheGovernmentoftheUnitedStatesunder
theadministrationandcontroloftheGovernmentofthePhilippineIslands.Soordered.
Johnson,Street,Malcolm,Ostrand,JohnsandRomualdez,JJ.,concur.
TheLawphilProjectArellanoLawFoundation

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