"x x x.
First, petitioner argued that the lower court failed to acquire jurisdiction over the application, because the RTC set the date and hour of the initial hearing beyond the 90-day period provided under the Property Registration Decree.
The Property Registration Decree provides:
Sec. 23. Notice of initial hearing, publication, etc. - The court shall, within five days from filing of the application, issue an order setting the date and hour of the initial hearing which shall not be earlier than forty-five days nor later than ninety days from the date of the order. x x x.
In this case, the application for original registration was filed on 17 July 1997. On 18 July 1997, or a day after the filing of the application, the RTC immediately issued an Order setting the case for initial hearing on 22 October 1997, which was 96 days from the Order. While the date set by the RTC was beyond the 90-day period provided for in Section 23, this fact did not affect the jurisdiction of the trial court. In Republic v. Manna Properties, Inc., petitioner Republic therein contended that there was failure to comply with the jurisdictional requirements for original registration, because there were 125 days between the Order setting the date of the initial hearing and the initial hearing itself. We ruled that the lapse of time between the issuance of the Order setting the date of initial hearing and the date of the initial hearing itself was not fatal to the application. Thus, we held:
x x x [A] party to an action has no control over the Administrator or the Clerk of Court acting as a land court; he has no right to meddle unduly with the business of such official in the performance of his duties. A party cannot intervene in matters within the exclusive power of the trial court. No fault is attributable to such party if the trial court errs on matters within its sole power. It is unfair to punish an applicant for an act or omission over which the applicant has neither responsibility nor control, especially if the applicant has complied with all the requirements of the law.
Indeed, it would be the height of injustice to penalize respondent Corporation by dismissing its application for registration on account of events beyond its control.
Moreover, since the RTC issued a second Order on 7 August 1997 setting the initial hearing on 4 November 1997, within the 90-day period provided by law, petitioner Republic argued that the jurisdictional defect was still not cured, as the second Order was issued more than five days from the filing of the application, again contrary to the prescribed period under the Property Registration Decree.
Petitioner is incorrect.
The RTC’s failure to issue the Order setting the date and hour of the initial hearing within five days from the filing of the application for registration, as provided in the Property Registration Decree, did not affect the court’s its jurisdiction. Observance of the five-day period was merely directory, and failure to issue the Order within that period did not deprive the RTC of its jurisdiction over the case. To rule that compliance with the five-day period is mandatory would make jurisdiction over the subject matter dependent upon the trial court. Jurisdiction over the subject matter is conferred only by the Constitution or the law. It cannot be contingent upon the action or inaction of the court.
This does not mean that courts may disregard the statutory periods with impunity. We cannot assume that the law deliberately meant the provision “to become meaningless and to be treated as a dead letter.” However, the records of this case do not show such blatant disregard for the law. In fact, the RTC immediately set the case for initial hearing a day after the filing of the application for registration, except that it had to issue a second Order because the initial hearing had been set beyond the 90-day period provided by law.
x x x."