Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Section 32. PD 1529, Property Registration Code. - Review of decree of registration; Innocent purchaser for value. - RTC jurisdiction and venue.

See - file:///C:/Users/Asus/Documents/SAVE%20HERE/5_TO%20BLOG/1.2_HTML_APRIL%202015/G.R.%20No.%20179155.html#rnt25

G.R. No. 179155 April 2, 2014


"x x x.

Section 32 of PD 1529 provides that the review of a decree of registration falls within the jurisdiction of and, hence, should be filed in the "proper Court of First Instance," viz.:

Section 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 judgments, 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 persons responsible for the fraud. (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)

Since the LRA’s issuance of a decree of registration only proceeds from the land registration court’s directive, a petition taken under Section 32 of PD 1529 is effectively a review of the land registration court’s ruling. As such, case law instructs that for "as long as a final decree has not been entered by the [LRA] and the period of one (1) year has not elapsed from the date of entry of such decree, 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."49

While it is indeed undisputed that it was the RTC of Makati City, Branch 134 which rendered the decision directing the LRA to issue Decree No. N-217036, and should, applying the general rule as above-stated, be the same court before which a petition for the review of Decree No. N-217036 is filed, the Court must consider the circumstantial milieu in this case that, in the interest of orderly procedure, warrants the filing of the said petition before the Las Piñas City-RTC.

Particularly, the Court refers to the fact that the application for original registration in this case was only filed before the RTC of Makati City, Branch 134 because, during that time, i.e., December 1976, Las Piñas City had no RTC. Barring this situation, the aforesaid application should not have been filed before the RTC of Makati City, Branch 134 pursuant to the rules on venue prevailing at that time. Under Section 2, Rule 4 of the 1964 Revised Rules of Court, which took effect on January 1, 1964, the proper venue for real actions, such as an application for original registration, lies with the CFI of the province where the property is situated, viz.:

Sec. 2. Venue in Courts of First Instance.(a) Real actions. — Actions affecting title to, or for recovery of possession, or for partition or condemnation of, or foreclosure of mortgage on, real property, shall be commenced and tried in the province where the property or any part thereof lies.

As the land subject of this case is undeniably situated in Las Piñas City, the application for its original registration should have been filed before the Las Piñas City-RTC were it not for the fact that the said court had yet to be created at the time the application was filed. Be that as it may, and considering further that the complication at hand is actually one of venue and not of jurisdiction (given that RTCs do retain jurisdiction over review of registration decree cases pursuant to Section 32 of PD 1529), the Court, cognizant of the peculiarity of the situation, holds that the Las Piñas City-RTC has the authority over the petition for the review of Decree No. N-217036 filed in this case. Indeed, the filing of the petition for review before the Las Piñas City-RTC was only but a rectificatory implementation of the rules of procedure then-existing, which was temporarily set back only because of past exigencies. In light of the circumstances now prevailing, the Court perceives no compelling reason to deviate from applying the rightful procedure. After all, venue is only a matter of procedure50 and, hence, should succumb to the greater interests of the orderly administration of justice.51

x x x."