Estribillo v. DAR
G.R. No. 159674, Jun 30, 2006, 494 SCRA 218 (2006)
The petitioners, with the exception of two, are the recipients of Emancipation Patents (EPs) over parcels of land located at Barangay Angas, Sta. Josefa, Agusan del Sur. The two other petitioners, Emma Gonzaga and Ana Patiño, are the surviving spouses of deceased recipients of Emancipation Patents.
The parcels of land described above, the subject matters in this Petition, were formerly part of a forested area which have been denuded as a result of the logging operations of respondent Hacienda Maria, Inc. (HMI).
In 1956, HMI acquired such forested area through Sales Patent No. 2683. On 21 October 1972 PD 27 was issued mandating that tenanted rice and corn lands be brought under OLT and awarded to farmer-beneficiaries.
HMI requested that 527.8308 hectares of its landholdings be placed under the coverage of OLT. Receiving compensation therefor, HMI allowed petitioners and other occupants to cultivate the landholdings so that the same may be covered under said law.
From 1984 to 1988, the corresponding TCTs and EPs covering the entire 527.8308 hectares were issued to petitioners, among other persons.
In December 1997, HMI filed with the Regional Agrarian Reform Adjudicator (RARAD) of CARAGA, Region XIII, 17 petitions seeking the declaration of erroneous coverage under PD 27 of 277.5008 hectares of its former landholdings. HMI claimed that said area was not devoted to either rice or corn, that the area was untenanted, and that no compensation was paid therefor. HMI also sought for the cancellation of the EPs covering the disputed 277.5008 hectares which had been awarded to petitioners.
On 27 November 1998, after petitioners failed to submit a Position Paper, the RARAD rendered a Decision declaring as void the TCTs and EPs awarded to petitioners because the land covered was not devoted to rice and corn, and neither was there any established tenancy relations between HMI and petitioners when Presidential Decree No. 27 took effect on 21 October 1972. Petitioners filed a Motion for Reconsideration, but the same was denied.
Petitioners appealed to the DARAB, which affirmed the RARAD Decision ruling that theEP "is a title issued through the agrarian reform program of the government. Its issuance, correction and cancellation is governed by the rules and regulations issued by the Secretary of the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR). Hence, it is not the same as or in the same category of a Torrens title."
Petitioners proceeded to CA with Petition for Review on Certiorari, which was denied.
Whether or not the Emancipation Patents are ordinary titles which become indefeasible one year after their registration
YES. Certificates of Title issued pursuant to Emancipation Patents are as indefeasible as TCTs issued in registration proceedings. After complying with the procedure, therefore, in Section 105 of Presidential Decree No. 1529, otherwise known as the Property Registration Decree (where the DAR is required to issue the corresponding certificate of title after granting an Emancipation Patent to tenant-farmers who have complied with Presidential Decree No. 27), the TCTs issued to petitioners pursuant to their EPs acquire the same protection accorded to other TCTs. "The certificate of title becomes indefeasible and incontrovertible upon the expiration of one year from the date of the issuance of the order for the issuance of the patent, x x x. Lands covered by such title may no longer be the subject matter of a cadastral proceeding, nor can it be decreed to another person.
The EPs themselves, like the Certificates of Land Ownership Award (CLOAs) in Republic Act No. 6657 (the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law of 1988), are enrolled in the Torrens system of registration. The Property Registration Decree in fact devotes Chapter IX on the subject of EPs. Indeed, such EPs and CLOAs are, in themselves, entitled to be as indefeasible as certificates of title issued in registration proceedings.