RODOLFO V. FRANCISCO vs. EMILIANA M. ROJAS, and the legitimate heirs of JOSE A. ROJAS, namely: JOSE FERDINAND M. ROJAS II, ROLANDO M. ROJAS, JOSE M. ROJAS, JR., CARMELITA ROJAS-JOSE, VICTOR M. ROJAS, and LOURDES M. ROJAS, all represented by JOSE FERDINAND M. ROJAS II, G.R. No. 167120, April 23, 2014
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The Franciscos have based their claim to ownership of the subject lots on the alleged fact of open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of alienable and disposable lands of the public domain. Their application represented to the land registration court that the parcels of land subjects of the case were unregistered and not yet brought within the coverage of the Torrens system of registration. These are obvious as they filed an application pursuant to Chapter III (I) of Presidential Decree No. (PD) 1529 (Property Registration Decree) by following the ordinary registration proceedings for the confirmation of their title. Specifically, under Section 14 (1) of PD 1529, three requisites must be satisfied: (1) open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the land since June 12, 1945 or earlier; (2) pertains to alienable and disposable land of the public domain, and (3) under a bona fide claim of ownership.
As the very nature of the action limits the subject matter to alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, an ordinary registration proceeding cannot be availed of by the Franciscos in order to establish claims over lands which had already been brought within the coverage of the Torrens system. Chapter III (I) of PD 1529 does not provide that original registration proceedings can be automatically and unilaterally converted into a proceeding for the issuance of new TCT involving parcels of land already registered under the Torrens system. Certainly, it is improper to make a legal short-cut by implementing the judgment of the land registration court against the parcels of land in the names of the Rojases and Guidos under the guise that it is contemplated in Guido.
A land registration court has no jurisdiction to order the registration of land already decreed in the name of another in an earlier land registration case. Issuance of another decree covering the same land is, therefore, null and void.24
The rationale behind the Torrens System is that the public should be able to rely on a registered title. The Torrens System was adopted in this country because it was believed to be the most effective measure to guarantee the integrity of land titles and to protect their indefeasibility once the claim of ownership is established and recognized. In Fil-Estate Management, Inc. v. Trono, we explained:
It has been invariably stated that the real purpose of the Torrens System is to quiet title to land and to stop forever any question as to its legality. Once a title is registered, the owner may rest secure, without the necessity of waiting in the portals of the court, or sitting on the "mirador su casa" to avoid the possibility of losing his land.25
It is clear that the March 23, 1998 Order of the RTC Binangonan, Rizal, Branch 69, which purports to merely enforce the September 15, 1977 Decision of the CFI, disturbs the stability of TCT No. M-2095, a collateral attack that is impermissible under Section 48 of PD 1529 and well-entrenched jurisprudence. After the promulgation of the Guido on November 21, 1991, it can no longer be said that an original registration proceeding is proper, since Guido held that Decreto No. 6145 and TCT No. 23377 (the mother title from which TCT No. M-2095 was derived) are genuine and authentic. What the land registration court should have done was to dismiss the application for registration upon learning that the same property was already covered by a valid TCT. We reiterate that, unlike ordinary civil actions, the adjudication of land in a land registration or cadastral proceeding does not become final and incontrovertible until after the expiration of one (1) year after the entry of the final decree of registration and that until such time the title is not finally adjudicated and the decision in the registration proceeding continues to be under the control and sound discretion of the court rendering it.26 Until then the court rendering the decree may, after hearing, set aside the decision or decree and adjudicate the land to another person.27
Likewise, on the assumption that what is being applied for formed part of a bigger parcel of land belonging to the Guidos and Rojases, then, as registered owners thereof, they (Guidos and Rojases) should have been mentioned in the Application for Registration as adjoining owners conformably with Section 15 of PD 1529, which requires in the application for registration the inclusion of the full names and addresses of the adjoining owners. Contrary to the mandatory requirement of the law, there is nothing in the application for registration alleging that the Rojases and Guidos are adjoining owners. As adjoining owners, respondents are indispensable parties entitled to actual and personal notice of the application for registration. A valid judgment cannot be rendered where there is want of indispensable parties like respondents who hold subsisting Torrens title to the property in question.
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