Sunday, February 7, 2016

Land titles; presumption that land title was regularly issued

"x x x.

It cannot be gainsaid that the issuance of OCT No. 242 was a result of the registration decree of the Court of First Instance of Rizal, pursuant to land registration proceedings in Case No. 976. In the absence of proof to the contrary, OCT No. 242 and its derivatives, including ALIs TCT No. T-41262, enjoy the presumption of regularity and ALI need not allege or prove that its title was regularly issued. That is precisely the nature of such a presumption, it dispenses with proof. Rule 131, Section 3 of the Rules of Court provides:

Section 3. Disputable presumptions. The following presumptions are satisfactory if uncontradicted, but may be contradicted and overcome by other evidence:

x x x x
(m) That official duty has been regularly performed;
(n) That a court, or judge acting as such, whether in the Philippines or elsewhere, was acting in the lawful exercise of jurisdiction;
(o) That all the matters within an issue raised in a case were laid before the court and passed upon by it; and in like manner that all matters within an issue raised in a dispute submitted for arbitration were laid before the arbitrators and passed upon by them; x x x.

Thus, we held in Herce, Jr. v. Municipality of Cabuyao, Laguna[31]:

In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the Ordinary Decree Book, LRC (CLR) Rec. No. 6763, showing that Decree No. 4244 was issued on March 3, 1911, is presumed to have been regularly issued by the accountable public officers who enjoy the legal presumption of regularity in the performance of their functions. Thus, the proceedings that led to the issuance of Decree No. 4244 in favor of the Municipality of Cabuyao cannot be overturned without any countervailing proof to the contrary. In the words of Tichangco v. Enriquez:[32]

To overturn this legal presumption carelessly more than 90 years since the termination of the case will not only endanger judicial stability, but also violate the underlying principle of the Torrens system. Indeed, to do so would reduce the vaunted legal indefeasibility of Torrens titles to meaningless verbiage. (Emphasis supplied.)

The presumption of regularity enjoyed by the registration decree issued in Case No. 976 and OCT No. 242 includes the presumption that all the requisites for the issuance of a valid title had been complied with. ALI need not allege or prove that a duly approved survey plan accompanied the issuance of OCT No. 242 in 1950 because it is presumed. It is the party who seeks to overcome the presumption who would have the burden to present adequate and convincing evidence to the contrary. This, petitioners did not even attempt to do.

We cannot accept petitioners proposition that they did not have the burden of proof of showing the irregularity of ALIs title since the burden of proof purportedly did not shift to them since no full-blown trial was conducted by the RTC.

This specious argument deserves scant credit. Rule 131, Section 1 of the Rules of Court provides:

Section 1. Burden of proof. Burden of proof is the duty of a party to present evidence on the facts in issue necessary to establish his claim or defense by the amount of evidence required by law.

With the filing of the complaint, petitioners should already have alleged all the bases of their cause of action, particularly their allegation that ALIs title is null and void and that such title should be cancelled. However, a scrutiny of the complaint would show that petitioners never alleged the purported lack of an approved survey plan as a defect of ALIs title. All that the complaint alleged is that ALIs titles should be declared void for not being derivatives of the Carpos title. Implicit in that allegation is that petitioners were relying solely on the supposed priority of their own title over ALIs. It stands to reason then that ALI did not have to allege in its Answer that its mother title, OCT No. 242, was supported by a duly approved survey plan when petitioners did not raise the same as an issue in their complaint or in any other pleading filed with the trial court.

x x x."



versus -



G.R. No. 166577




February 3, 2010