Law on Natural Resources - Lee Hong Hok vs David

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Regalian Doctrine
  LEE HONG HOK, et al,  vs. ​  ANIANO DAVID G.R. No. L-30389 December 27, 1972 | ​FERNANDO, ​  J.:  Nature:  Lee Hong Kok, et al filed an appeal on certiorari seeking to reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals which affirmed the decision of the lower court in dismissing the complaint to have the Torrens Title of Aniano David be declared null and void. Facts: ●  Aniano David acquired lawful title to a parcel of land pursuant to his miscellaneous sales application. An order of award and for issuance of a sales patent was made by the Director of Lands on June 18, 1958, covering Lot 2892 containing an area of 226 square meters, which is a portion of Lot 2863 of the Naga Cadastre. ● On the basis of the order of award of the Director of Lands, the Undersecretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources issued Miscellaneous Sales Patent No. V-1209 pursuant to which an OCT was issued by the Register of Deeds of Naga City to Aniano David. ● Since the filing of the sales application of Aniano David and during all the proceedings in connection with said application, up to the actual issuance of the sales patent in his favor, ​ Lee Hong Kok did not put up any opposition or adverse claim to Lot 2892. ● The opposition was fatal because after the registration and issuance of the certificate and duplicate certificate of title based on a public land patent, the land covered thereby automatically comes under the operation of RA 496 subject to all the safeguards provided therein.  Under Section 38 of RA 496, any question concerning the validity of the certificate of title based on fraud should be raised within 1 year from the date of the issuance of the patent otherwise the certificate of title becomes​  indefeasible ​ after the lapse of 1 year. ● The contention of Lee Hong Kok was that David’s lot is a private property for it was formed thru the process of accretion. Issue:  Can the patent certificate of Aniano David to the property be nullified? Held:  No. There is no legal justification for nullifying the right to the disputed lot arising from the grant made in his favor. 1.The lot in question is NOT a private property as the Director of Lands and the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources have always sustained its public character for having been formed by reclamation and not accretion. a.RECLAMATION is the act of filling submerged land by deliberate acts and reclaiming title thereto. b.ACCRETION - is the process whereby the soil is deposited; accretion resulting from the gradual deposit by or sedimentation from the  waters belongs to the owners of the land bordering on streams, torrents, lakes, or rivers i. Therefore the only remedy available to the appellants is an action for reconveyance on the ground of fraud . ii.But did he commit any fraud? 1.NO. Aniano David has not committed any fraud in applying for the purchase of the Lot  because everything was done in the open. The notices regarding the auction sale of the land were published, the actual sale and award thereof to Aniano David were not clandestine but open and public official acts of an officer of the Government. The application was merely a renewal of his deceased wife's application who had occupied the land since 1938. 2. If the grant was  presumed to be​  invalid, who has the right to question it? a.Only the Government, represented by the Director of Lands or the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources can bring an action to cancel a void certificate of title pursuant to a void patent.   b.The private parties cannot claim that the patent and title issued for the land involved are void since they are not the registered owners thereof nor had they been declared as owners in the cadastral proceedings of the Naga Cadastre after claiming it as their private property. c.Citing Maninang vs Consolacion: ‘The fact that the grant was made by the government is undisputed.  Whether the grant was in conformity with the law or not is a question which the government may raise,  but until it is raised by the government and set aside, the defendant cannot question it. The legality of the grant is a question between the grantee and the government.’ 3.By what authority does the government have in disposing of the land in question? a.IMPERIUM refers to the government authority possessed by the state which is appropriately embraced in the concept of sovereignty. DOMINIUM, on the other hand, is appropriate with reference to lands held by the state in its proprietary character. In such capacity, it may provide for the exploitation and use of lands and other natural resources, including their disposition, except as limited by the Constitution.  b.The manifestation of the concept of​  ​  jura regalia​ ,​  which was adopted by the present Constitution, was embodied in ​ the universal feudal theory that all lands were held from the Crown, the ownership however is vested in the state rather than the head thereof. c.As to the unappropriated public lands constituting the public domain, the sole power of legislation is vested in Congress. d.There being no evidence whatever that the property in question was ever acquired by the applicants or their ancestors either by composition title from the Spanish Government or by possessory information title or by any other means for the acquisition of public lands, the property must be held to be public domain (Heirs of ​ Datu Pendatun v. Director of Lands ). e. “No public land can be acquired by private persons without any grant, express or implied, from the government.”​  Therefore it is indispensable that there be a showing of a title from the state or any other mode of acquisition recognized by law otherwise the property is and remains part of the public domain. 4.Was David’s title to the property already indefeasible? a.  As far back as 1919, in Aquino v. Director of Lands, ​ 29  Justice Malcolm, speaking for the Court, stated: ​ The proceedings under the Land Registration Law and under the provisions of Chapter VI of the Public Land Law are the same in that both are against the whole world, both take the nature of judicial proceedings, and  for both the decree of registration issued is conclusive and final.   b. Meanwhile in Cabacug v. Lao. There is this revealing excerpt appearing in that decision: It is said, and  with reason,  that a holder of a land acquired under a free patent is more favorably situated than that of an owner of registered property.  Not only does a free patent have a force and effect of a Torrens Title, but in addition the person to whom it is granted has likewise in his favor the right to repurchase within a period of five years. ​ 33  It is quite apparent, therefore, that petitioners' stand is legally indefensible. RULING: The decision of the CA of January 31, 1969 and its resolution of March 14, 1969 are affirmed. IMPORTANT CONCEPTS   IMPERIUM DOMINIUM The State’s authority to govern is embraced in the concept of sovereignty that includes passing laws concerning a territory, maintaining peace and order over it, and defending it against foreign invasion. 1.The capacity of the State to own and acquire property. It covers such rights as title to land, exploitation and use of it, and disposition or sale of the same.  2.It refers to lands held by the government in a proprietary character: can provide for the exploitation and use of lands and other natural resources.    When the State acts in this capacity, ​  jure imperii, ​ it generally enjoys state immunity. The Regalian Doctrine whereby all lands of the public domain belong to the State, and anyone claiming title has the burden to show ownership, comes within this concept. In this capacity,  jure gestium​ , the State descends to the status of ordinary persons and thus becomes liable as such.
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