HEIRS OF DELFIN and MARIA TAPPA, Petitioners, vs. HEIRS OF JOSE BACUD, HENRY CALABAZARON and VICENTE MALUPENG, Respondents. G.R. No. 187633, April 4, 2016.
“x x x.
There is no collateral attack
on the Certificate of Title.
Spouses Tappa argue that respondents collaterally attacked the certificate of title of Lot No. 3441 when they raised the issue of its validity. Spouses Tappa used the same argument against the CA when it declared the certificate of title to be without legal effect. 85
Spouses Tappa's argument is without merit. The certificate of title was not collaterally attacked. Section 48 of PD 1529,86 provides that "[a] certificate of title shall not be subject to collateral attack. It cannot be altered, modified, or canceled except in a direct proceeding in accordance with law." This rule is not applicable in this case.
We reiterate our ruling in Lee Tek Sheng v. Court of Appeals,87 where we stated that, "[ w ]hat cannot be collaterally attacked is the certificate of title and not the title. The certificate referred to is that document issued by the Register of Deeds x x x. By title, the law refers to ownership which is represented by that document."88 Ownership is different from a certificate of title, the latter being only the best proof of ownership of a piece of land. 89 Title as a concept of ownership should not be confused with the certificate of title as evidence of such ownership although both are interchangeably used.90
In Vda. de Figuracion v. Figuracion-Gerilla, 91 citing Lacbayan v. Samay, Jr., 92 we reaffirm this ruling, and stated that:
Mere issuance of a certificate of title in the name of any person does not foreclose the possibility that the real property may be under co-ownership with persons not named in the certificate, or that the registrant may only be a trustee, or that other parties may have acquired interest over the property subsequent to the issuance of the certificate of title. Stated differently, placing a parcel of land under the mantle of the Torrens system does not mean that ownership thereof can no longer be disputed. The certificate cannot always be considered as conclusive evidence of ownership.93
In this case, what respondents dispute, as raised in their Answer, is Spouses Tappa's claim of sole ownership over Lot No. 3341. As affirmative defense, respondents claimed that Spouses Tappa were owners of only one-half (1/2) of the lot since it was originally owned by Genaro, the father of Lorenzo and Irene. 94 Respondents claim that Lorenzo and Irene became ipso facto co-owners of the lot. 95 Thus, respondents claim that, by virtue of a valid transfer from Irene's heirs, they now have ownership and title over portions of Lot No. 3341, and that they have been in continuous, exclusive, and uninterrupted possession of their occupied portions.96 Malupeng and Calabazaron claim ownership and title over their respective portions by virtue of a valid sale. Bacud claims ownership and title by virtue of succession. Therefore, it is the ownership and title of Spouses Tappa which respondents ultimately attack. OCT No. P-69103 only serves as the document representing Spouses Tappas' title.
Respondents cannot likewise argue that the certificate of title of Spouses Tappa is indefeasible.97 We have already ruled that the one-year prescriptive period does not apply when the person seeking annulment of title or reconveyance is in possession of the property.98 This is because the action partakes of a suit to quiet title, which is imprescriptible.99 In this case, respondents have been proved to be in possession of the disputed portions of Lot No. 3341. Thus, their claim against Spouses Tappa cannot be barred by the one-year prescriptive period.
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