LORENZA C. ONGCO, PETITIONER, VS. VALERIANA UNGCO DALISAY, RESPONDENT, G.R. No. 190810, July 18, 2012.- The Lawyer's Post.
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In the present case, petitioner Ongco is not an indispensable party. As already noted, her interests are inchoate and merely collateral, as she is only in the process of applying for a free patent. Also, the action for land registration may proceed and be carried to judgment without joining her. This is because the issues to be threshed out in a land registration proceeding — such as whether the subject land is alienable and disposable land of the public domain; and whether the applicant or her predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the said land under a bona fide claim of ownership since 12 June 1945, or earlier — can be threshed out without joining petitioner.
True, the evidence to be adduced by petitioner Ongco – to prove that she, not Dalisay, has been in possession of the land subject of the application for registration of respondent — has a bearing on the determination of the latter’s right to register her title to the land. In particular, this evidence will help debunk the claim of respondent that she has been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the subject parcel of land. In fact, this same evidence must have been the reason why the Republic did not interpose any objection to the Motion for Intervention. None of these facts, however, makes petitioner an indispensable party; for there are many other ways of establishing the fact of open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the subject parcel of land or the lack thereof.
If any, the only indispensable party to a land registration case is the Republic. Against it, no order of default would be effective, because the Regalian doctrine presumes that all lands not otherwise appearing to be clearly under private ownership are presumed to belong to the State.13
In any case, we note that petitioner is not left without any remedy in case respondent succeeds in getting a decree of registration. Under Section 32 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, or the Property Registration Decree, there is a remedy available to any person deprived of land — or of any estate or interest therein – through an adjudication or a confirmation of title obtained by actual fraud. The person may file, in the proper court, a petition for reopening and reviewing the decree of registration within one year from the date of entry thereof. This Court has ruled that actual fraud is committed by a registration applicant’s failure or intentional omission to disclose the fact of actual physical possession of the premises by the party seeking a review of the decree. It is fraud to knowingly omit or conceal a fact from which benefit is obtained, to the prejudice of a third person.14 Thus, if he is so minded, petitioner can still file for a petition to review the decree of registration.
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