REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES v. SARMIENTO
[G.R. No. 169397. March 13, 2007]
Land Titles and Deeds Case Digest by John Paul C. Ladiao (21 Sept 2015)
Topic: Survey of the Land – Form & Contents Sections 15-19
Restituto Sarmiento (respondent) through his brother-attorney-in-fact Magdaleno Sarmiento (Magdaleno) filed on November 29, 2000 with the Metropolitan Trial Court (MeTC) of Taguig, Metro Manila an application for registration1 of a parcel of land, delineated as Lot 535-D under Approved Survey Plan Swo-13-000465 with a total land area of 2,664 square meters and located at Barangay Wawa, Taguig, Metro Manila (the lot).
Respondent claimed to have acquired the lot through donation under a Kasulatan ng Pagkakaloob dated July 16, 1988 executed by his father, Placido Sarmiento (Placido), which lot formed part of Lot 535 that was allegedly inherited by Placido from Florentina Sarmiento (Florentina).
Respondent further claimed that he and his predecessors-in-interest have been in open, continuous, uninterrupted, adverse, and public possession of the lot in the concept of an owner for more than 30 years.
To discharge the onus, respondent relies on the blue print copy of the conversion and subdivision plan approved by the DENR Center which bears the notation of the surveyor-geodetic engineer that "this survey is inside the alienable and disposable area, Project No. 27-B. L.C. Map No. 2623, certified on January 3, 1968 by the Bureau of Forestry."
By Decision of May 20, 2005, the appellate court held that as the lot was sufficiently identified by the blue print copy of the plan and the technical description, the presentation of the original tracing cloth ceased to become indispensable for the grant of the application.
The appellate court thus affirmed the decision of the MeTC. Petitioner’s motion for reconsideration having been denied by Resolution28 of August 19, 2005, petitioner now comes before this Court on a petition for review on certiorari.
On January 17, 2001, the Solicitor General, through the Prosecutor of Taguig who was deputized to assist in the case, filed, as counsel for the Republic of the Philippines (petitioner), an Opposition to respondent’s application for registration.
Whether or not the blue print copy of the conversion and subdivision plan approved by the DENR Center which bears the notation of the surveyor-geodetic engineer that "this survey is inside the alienable and disposable area, certified by the Bureau of Forestry." is a sufficient proof that the land in question has been declared alienable.
NO. The application for registration filed by respondent is DENIED.
To prove that the land in question formed part of the alienable and disposable lands of the public domain, petitioners relied on the printed words which read: "This survey plan is inside Alienable and Disposable Land Area, Project No. 27-B as per L.C. Map No. 2623, certified by the Bureau of Forestry on January 3, 1968," appearing on Exhibit "E" (Survey Plan No. Swo-13-000227).
This proof is not sufficient. Section 2, Article XII of the 1987 Constitution, provides: "All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the State. . . ."
In the present case, petitioners cite a surveyor-geodetic engineer's notation in Exhibit "E" indicating that the survey was inside alienable and disposable land. Such notation does not constitute a positive government act validly changing the classification of the land in question. Verily, a mere surveyor has no authority to reclassify lands of the public domain. By relying solely on the said surveyor's assertion, petitioners have not sufficiently proven that the land in question has been declared alienable.