FIL-ESTATE MANAGEMENT INC., MEGATOP REALTY DEVELOPMENT, INC., PEAKSUN ENTERPRISES AND EXPORT CORP., ARTURO DY, AND ELENA DY JAO, Petitioners, versus GEORGE H. TRONO, MA. TERESA TRONO, MA. VIRGINIA TRONO, JESSE TRONO, MA. CRISTINA TRONO, PATRICIA TRONO, MA. DIVINA TRONO, INOCENCIO TRONO, JR., CARMEN TRONO, AND ZENAIDA TRONO, Respondents. G. R. No. 130871, February 17, 2006.
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Section 2 of Presidential Decree (PD) 1529 partly provides:
Sec. 2. Nature of registration proceedings; jurisdiction of courts. Judicial proceedings for the registration of lands throughout the Philippines shall be in rem, and shall be based on the generally accepted principles underlying the Torrens System.
Courts of First Instance shall have exclusive jurisdiction over all applications for original registration of title to lands, including improvements and interests therein, and over all petitions filed after original registration of title, with power to hear and determine all questions arising upon such applications or petitions. x x x
Pursuant to the above provisions, the Regional Trial Court (formerly Court of First Instance) has the authority to act, not only on applications for original registration of title to land, but also on all petitions filed after the original registration of title. Thus, it has the authority and power to hear and determine all questions arising from such applications or petitions.
The Court of Appeals, therefore, erred in ruling that the Regional Trial Court, Branch 255, Las Pinas City has no jurisdiction over LRC Case No. M-228 on the ground that the land subject of respondents application for registration was already registered in the Registry of Deeds of Las Pias City.
Significantly, even respondents themselves admit in their comment on the instant petition that what they should have filed was a complaint for nullity of petitioners titles.
Likewise, Section 48 of PD 1529 provides:
Sec. 48. Certificate not subject to collateral attack. A certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack. It cannot be altered, modified, or cancelled except in a direct proceeding in accordance with law. (Underscoring ours)
Respondents application for registration of a parcel of land already covered by a Torrens title is actually a collateral attack against petitioners title not permitted under the principle of indefeasibility of a Torrens title. It is well settled that a Torrens title cannot be collaterally attacked; the issue on the validity of title, i.e., whether or not it was fraudulently issued, can only be raised in an action expressly instituted for the purpose. Hence, whether or not respondents have the right to claim title over the property in question is beyond the province of the instant proceeding. That should be threshed out in a proper action. 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.
In Ramos v. Rodriguez, we held:
It must be noted that petitioners failed to rebut the LRA report and only alleged that the title of the Payatas Estate was spurious, without offering any proof to substantiate this claim. TCT No. 8816, however, having been issued under the Torrens System, enjoys the conclusive presumption of validity. As we declared in an earlier case (Reyes and Nadres vs. Borbon and Director of Lands, 50 Phil. 791), (t)he very purpose of the Torrens system would be destroyed if the same land may be subsequently brought under a second action for registration. The application for registration of the petitioners in this case would, under the circumstances, appear to be a collateral attack of TCT No. 8816 which is not allowed under Section 48 of P.D. 1529. (underscoring ours)
Corollarily, Section 32 of the same law states:
Sec. 32. Review of decree of registration; Innocent purchaser for value. The decree of registration shall not be reopened or revised by reason of absence, minority, or other disability of any person adversely affected thereby, nor by any proceeding in any court for reversing judgment, subject, however, to the right of any person, including the government and the branches thereof, deprived of land or of any estate or interest therein by such adjudication or confirmation of title obtained by actual fraud, to file in the proper Court of First Instance a petition for reopening and review of the decree of registration not later than one year from and after the date of the entry of such decree of registration, but in no case shall such petition be entertained by the court where an innocent purchaser for value has acquired the land or an interest therein whose rights may be prejudiced. Whenever the phrase innocent purchaser for value or an equivalent phrase occurs in this Decree, it shall be deemed to include an innocent lessee, mortgagee, or other encumbrancer for value.
Upon the expiration of said period of one year, the decree of registration and the certificate of title issued shall become incontrovertible. Any person aggrieved by such decree of registration in any case may pursue his remedy by action for damages against the applicant or any other person responsible for the fraud. (underscoring ours)
A decree of registration that has become final shall be deemed conclusive not only on the questions actually contested and determined, but also upon all matters that might be litigated or decided in the land registration proceedings.
As per records of the Registry of Deeds of Las Pinas City, TCT No. T-9182 was registered in petitioners name as early as April 28, 1989, or five (5) years before the filing of respondents application for registration. Thus, it is too late for them (respondents) to question petitioners titles considering that the Certificates of Title issued to the latter have become incontrovertible after the lapse of one year from the decree of registration.
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