The dismissal by the RTC of LRC Case No. N-201 for lack of jurisdiction is patently erroneous.
Basic as a hornbook principle is that jurisdiction over the subject matter of a case is conferred by law and determined by the allegations in the complaint which comprise a concise statement of the ultimate facts constituting the plaintiff's cause of action. The nature of an action, as well as which court or body has jurisdiction over it, is determined based on the allegations contained in the complaint of the plaintiff, irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein. The averments in the complaint and the character of the relief sought are the ones to be consulted. Once vested by the allegations in the complaint, jurisdiction also remains vested irrespective of whether or not the plaintiff is entitled to recover upon all or some of the claims asserted therein.
As a necessary consequence, the jurisdiction of the court cannot be made to depend upon the defenses set up in the answer or upon the motion to dismiss; for otherwise, the question of jurisdiction would almost entirely depend upon the defendant. What determines the jurisdiction of the court is the nature of the action pleaded as appearing from the allegations in the complaint. The averments therein and the character of the relief sought are the ones to be consulted.
Under Act No. 496, otherwise known as the Land Registration Act, as amended by Act No. 2347, jurisdiction over all applications for registration of title to land was conferred upon the Courts of First Instance (CFI) of the respective provinces in which the land sought to be registered was situated. Jurisdiction over land registration cases, as in ordinary actions, is acquired upon the filing in court of the application for registration, and is retained up to the end of the litigation.
The land registration laws were updated and codified by the Property Registration Decree, and under Section 17 thereof, jurisdiction over an application for land registration was still vested on the CFI of the province or city where the land was situated,viz:
SEC. 17. What and where to file. – The application for land registration shall be filed with the Court of First Instance of the province or city where the land is situated. The applicant shall file together with the application all original muniments of titles or copies thereof and a survey plan of the land approved by the Bureau of Lands.
The Clerk of Court shall not accept any application unless it is shown that the applicant has furnished the Director of Lands with a copy of the application and all annexes.
Batas Pambansa Blg. 129, otherwise known as The Judiciary Reorganization Act of 1980, created the RTC in place of the CFI. Presently, jurisdiction over an application for land registration remains with the RTC where the land is situated, except when such jurisdiction is delegated by the Supreme Court to the Metropolitan Trial Court, Municipal Trial Courts, and Municipal Circuit Trial Courts under certain circumstances.
It is not disputed that the Application for Original Registration of Title filed by petitioner before the RTC of the City of
Respondent sought the dismissal of LRC Case No. N-201 on the ground of lack of jurisdiction, not because of the insufficiency of the allegations and prayer therein, but because the evidence presented by petitioner itself during the trial supposedly showed that the subject property is a foreshore land, which is not alienable and disposable. The RTC granted the Motion to Dismiss of respondent in its Order dated September 7, 2000. The RTC went beyond the allegations and prayer for relief in the Application for Original Registration of petitioner, and already scrutinized and weighed the testimony of Engr. Dorado, the only witness petitioner was able to present.
As to whether or not the subject property is indeed foreshore land is a factual issue which the RTC should resolve in the exercise of its jurisdiction, after giving both parties the opportunity to present their respective evidence at a full-blown trial. As we have explained in the Estate of the Late Jesus S. Yujuico v. Republic:
The plain import of
Firmly entrenched is the principle that jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred by law. Consequently, the proper CFI (now the RTC) under Section 14 of PD 1529 (Property Registration Decree) has jurisdiction over applications for registration of title to land.
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Conformably, the Pasig-Rizal CFI, Branch XXII has jurisdiction over the subject matter of the land registration case filed by Fermina Castro, petitioners’ predecessor-in-interest, since jurisdiction over the subject matter is determined by the allegations of the initiatory pleading – the application. Settled is the rule that “the authority to decide a case and not the decision rendered therein is what makes up jurisdiction. When there is jurisdiction, the decision of all questions arising in the case is but an exercise of jurisdiction.
In our view, it was imprecise to state in Municipality of Antipolo that the “
It is true that petitioner, as the applicant, has the burden of proving that the subject property is alienable and disposable and its title to the same is capable of registration. However, we stress that the RTC, when it issued its Order dated
The RTC Order dated
x x x."