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G.R. No. L-27594. November 28, 1975.

] THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, THE DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY, and the ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES, petitioners, vs. HON. SALVADOR C. REYES, as Judge of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, Branch III, PARAAQUE INVESTMENT & DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, ROMAN C. TAMAYO, THE COMMISSIONER OF THE LAND REGISTRATION COMMISSION and the REGISTER OF DEEDS OF NUEVA ECIJA, respondents. [G.R. No. L-28144. November 28, 1975.] ALIPIO ALINSUNURIN, now substituted by PARAAQUE INVESTMENT & DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION, petitioners, vs. THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, THE DIRECTOR OF FORESTRY and the ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES, respondents. Acting Solicitor General Hugo E. Gutierrez, Jr. and Assistant Solicitor General Reynato S. Puno for The Director of Lands, etc. Jaime B. Lumasag, Jr. and Jose J. Roy & Associates Law Office for Roman C. Tamayo. Nemesio P. Diaz and Celso B. Fernandez, Jr. for Alipio Alinsunurin, etc. SYNOPSIS Alipio Alinsurin, later substituted by Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation, sought to register under Act 496, a parcel of land indisputably included within the area reserved for military purposes under Presidential Proclamation No. 237, dated December 19, 1955. Applicant claimed that his predecessors acquired the land by virtue of a possessory information title issued during the Spanish Regime on March 5, 1895. The application was opposed by the Government. The lower court adjudicated (a) 2/3 portion of the land in favor of the corporation, subject to the rights of one Ariosto Santos per a manifestation submitted in court, and (b) 1/3 portion to Roman Tamayo. Within the extended period, the Government filed the corresponding record on appeal, copy of which was duly served upon the corporation and Tamayo. Pending approval of the Record on Appeal, and on motion of the corporation and of Tamayo, the lower court directed the issuance of a registration decree of the entire parcel applied for, 1/3 pro-indiviso in favor of Tamayo, and 2/3 pro-indiviso in favor of the corporation, and declared that as to Tamayo's share, the court's decision had become final, but as to the share of the corporation, the registration shall be subject to the final outcome of the appeal. Hence, the Government instituted this Special Civil Action for certiorari and mandamus and the Supreme Court issued a writ of preliminary injunction restraining the lower court from issuing a writ of possession, the corporation and Tamayo from exercising acts of ownership over the property, and the register of deeds from accepting for registration documents on the land until the government shall have filed a notice of lis pendens. During the pendency of the appeal in the registration case, a certain Honofre A. Andrada and others filed with the Court of First Instance a complaint against the corporation and Tamayo for reconveyance of a portion of the land in question. The trial court assumed jurisdiction over, and decided, the case in favor of Andrada. Pursuant thereto, but in violation of the Supreme Court's injunction (in L-27594), the corporation executed a subdivision plan of the parcel subject of the land registration, and the trial court ordered the Register of Deeds to cancel the original certificate of title and to issue new titles to Andrada, et al., "free from all liens and encumbrances."

The Supreme Court granted the petition for certiorari (L-27594) and reversed the appealed decision (L-28144). SYLLABUS 1. APPEAL; NOTICE OF APPEAL; FAILURE TO SERVE APPELLEE WITH NOTICE OF APPEAL CANNOT IMPAIR RIGHT OF APPEAL, IF APPELLEE WAS SERVED WITH COPY OF RECORD ON APPEAL. The failure of appellants to serve a copy of their notice of appeal to the counsel for one of the several appellees is not fatal to the appeal, where admittedly, he was served with a copy of the original, as well as the amended record on appeal in both of which the notice of appeal is embodied. Such failure cannot impair the right of appeal, especially if the substantial rights of the adverse party is not impaired and the appeal taken was from the entire decision which is not severable. 2. ID.; LAND REGISTRATION; EXECUTION PENDING APPEAL NOT APPLICABLE IN LAND REGISTRATION PROCEEDINGS. Execution pending appeal is not applicable in land registration proceedings. It is fraught with dangerous consequences. Innocent purchasers may be misled into purchasing real properties upon reliance on a judgment which may be reversed on appeal. 3. LAND REGISTRATION; TORRENS TITLE ISSUED BASED ON JUDGMENT THAT IS NOT FINAL IS A NULLITY. A Torrens Title issued on the basis of a judgment that is not final, the judgment being on appeal, is a nullity, as it is violative of the explicit provisions of the Land Registration Act, which requires that a decree shall be issued only after the decision adjudicating the title becomes final and executory, and it is on the basis of said decree that the register of deeds concerned issues the corresponding certificate of title. 4. id.; id.; appeal; ISSUANCE OF TITLE DESPITE TIMELY APPEAL IS ERRONEOUS. The lower court acted without jurisdiction or exceeded its jurisdiction in ordering the issuance of a decree of registration despite the appeal timely taken from the entire decision a quo. 5. ID.; ID.; LIS PENDENS, INSCRIBED PENDING AN APPEAL, EFFECT OF. Where the oppositors in a land registration case caused the notice of lis pendens to be duly inscribed in the Original Certificate of Title pending an appeal from the decision granting the registration, such inscription keeps the whole land subject matter of the appeal within the power of the court until the litigation is terminated. Such entry of lis pendens cannot be cancelled until the final termination of the litigation, and the notice must be carried over in all titles subsequently issued, which will yield to the ultimate result of the appeal. 6. ID.; ID.; ID.; ACTION FOR RECONVEYANCE PENDING APPEAL OF JUDGMENT IN REGISTRATION CASE. Where during the pendency of an appeal by the government from a decision of the land registration court, decreeing the registration of a parcel of land, a complaint for reconveyance of the same land was filed against the adjudicatee, and the trial court after deciding the same on the merits in favor of the plaintiff, despite the writ of injunction issued by this Court and the inscription of a notice of lis pendens in the primary entry book of the Register of Deeds and annotated on the title, directed the Register of Deeds to cancel the original certificate of title and to issue new titles to the plaintiffs free from all liens and encumbrances, such orders of the court cancelling the original title and issuing new ones are null and void. 7. ACTIONS; LAND REGISTRATION; ACTION FOR RECONVEYANCE BARRED BY PENDENCY OF AN APPEAL FROM LAND REGISTRATION DECREE INVOLVING THE SAME LAND. An action in personam for reconveyance of a portion of land,

adjudicated in a land registration case to defendants, which registration case is subject to the outcome of appeal by the Government (which was not a party to the action for reconveyance) is barred by the pendency of the appeal, and the trial court in such action in personam is without jurisdiction to order the register of deeds to cancel the original Certificate of Title and to issue titles to the transferees "free from all liens and encumbrances," nor can such be construed to authorize the register of deeds to cancel the notice of lis pendens, which was not entered by virtue of the reconveyance case. 8. LAND REGISTRATION; REGISTER OF DEEDS; LIS PENDENS; DUTY TO CARRY OVER NOTICE OF LIS PENDENS ON ALL TITLES SUBSEQUENTLY ISSUED. The register of deeds is duty bound to carry over a notice of lis pendens on all title subsequently issued. The act of a register of deeds in erasing the notice of lis pendens, in plain violation of his duty, constitutes misfeasance in the performance of his duties for which he may be held civilly and even criminally liable for any prejudice caused to innocent third parties, and cannot affect those who are protected by the notice inscribed in the original title. 9. ID.; INJUNCTION; VIOLATION BY REGISTER OF DEEDS OF COURT INJUNCTION, EFFECT OF. Where the Supreme Court, in its injunction order, restrained the register of deeds from accepting for registration documents referring to the subject land until the petitioners shall have filed a notice of lis pendens as to the title certificates of the adjudicatees under Section 24, Rule 14, Rules of Court, subject matter of the appealed land registration case, its plain meaning is to enjoin registration of documents and transactions unless the notice of lis pendens is annotated and so subject the same to the outcome of the litigation. In such case, subsequent transferees cannot be considered innocent purchasers for value. 10. COURTS; LOWER COURTS CANNOT OVERRULE INJUNCTION ISSUED BY SUPREME COURTS. A lower court cannot overrule injunctions issued by the Supreme Court. 11. LAND REGISTRATION; LIS PENDENS NOTICE TO ALL PERSONS. The entry of the notice of lis pendens in the day book (primary entry book) is sufficient to constitute registration and such entry is notice to all persons of such adverse claim. 12. ID.; EVIDENCE; EFFECT OF FAILURE TO SUBMIT TRACING PLAN. The original tracing cloth plan of the land applied for, approved by the Director of Lands, must be submitted in evidence. The submission of such plan is a statutory requirement of mandatory character. And unless a plan and its technical description are duly approved by the Director of Lands, the same are not of much value. 13. ID.; ID.; LAND REGISTRATION COMMISSION, NO AUTHORITY TO APPROVE ORIGINAL SURVEY PLANS. The applicant may not justify the non-submission of the original tracing cloth plan by claiming that the same may be with the Land Registration Commission (LRC) which checked or verified the survey plan and the technical descriptions thereof, for it is not the function of the LRC to check the original survey plan as it has no authority to approve original survey plans. 14. ID.; ID.; PURPOSE OF REQUIRING SUBMISSION OF TRACING CLOTH PLAN. The applicant is not relieved from submitting in evidence the original tracing cloth plan approved by the Director of Lands as required by law. One of the distinguishing marks of the Torrens System is the absolute certainty of the identity of a registered land. Consequently the primary purpose of the aforesaid requirement is to fix the exact or definite identity of the land as shown in the plan and technical descriptions. Hence, the applicant is not relieved of his duty of submitting the acreage.

15. ID.; ID.; LANDS ACQUIRED UNDER INFORMACION POSSESSORIA LIMITED TO 1,000 HECTARES. Where the claim of an applicant is based on an alleged informacion possessoria but the alleged informacion possessoria covers an area of "sies mil quinones, poco mas o menos" or an equivalent of 16,800 hectares, while under the Royal Decrees in force at the time of the supposed acquisition, no one could acquire public land in excess of 1,000 hectares, since the Royal Decrees of November 25, 1880 and October 26, 1881, prohibited any grant of public land in excess of 1,000 hectares, such a factor would weigh heavily against the applicant's claim. 16 ID.; ID.; INFORMACION POSSESSORIA, NATURE OF. A document which states: "en su virtud habieno examinado el Registro nuevamente formado por la perdida o destruccion del mismo y no hallando en ningun asiento contrario a lo relacionado reinscribe la posesion de la finca de este numero a favor de Don Melecio Padilla sin perjuicio de tercero que puede tener mejor derecho de la propiedad" is not a titulo de informacion possessoria, because it was merely a certification of possession over the property, and was issued without prejudice to a third party or parties having a better right. Under Spanish Law, in order that an informacion possessoria may be considered as title of ownership, it must be proven that the holder thereof has complied with the provisions of Article 393 of the Spanish Mortgage Law. 17. ID.; ID.; ID.; CONVERSION OF INFORMACION POSSESSORIA INTO RECORD OF OWNERSHIP. Where the supposed holder of an informacion possessoria died 5 years after the inscription of the informacion, he could not have converted the same into a record of ownership 20 years after such inscription, pursuant to Art, 393 of the Spanish Mortgage Law. One year after the promulgation of the Maura Law, or on April 17, 1895, the right to perfect possessory information title under the law expired. After that date, full property right of the land reverted to the government and the right of the cultivator and possessor to obtain gratuitous title was extinguished. 18. ID.; POSSESSION; OPEN AND CONTINUOUS POSSESSION. Where the evidence shows that before the military reservation on the land applied for was established, the land involved was largely mountainous and forested; that approximately 13,975 hectares of said land consist of public forest; that during the lifetime of applicant's predecessors-in-interest only a small portion thereof was cleared and cultivated under the "kaingin" system, while some portions were used as grazing land; that the succeeding possessors caused the planting of vegetables thereon by 40 tenants, that when the applicants took possession of the land, they had to abandon the place due to the unsettled peace and order conditions in the area, and that when they tried to reoccupy the land they were prevented by the army, it is obvious, on the basis of said facts, that neither the applicant nor his predecessors-in-interest had been in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of the property in question under bona fide claim of acquisition of ownership for at least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title. 19. ID.; ID.; CASUAL CULTIVATION OF PORTIONS OF LAND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE POSSESSION UNDER CLAIM OF OWNERSHIP. A mere casual cultivation of portions of a public land by the claimant, and the raising thereon of cattle, do not constitute possession under claim of ownership. In that sense possession is not exclusive and notorious so as to give rise to a presumptive grant from the State. While grazing livestock over the land is of course to be considered

with other acts of dominion to show possession, the mere occupancy thereof by grazing livestock upon it, without substantial inclosures or other permanent improvements, is not sufficient to support a claim of title through acquisitive prescription. 20. ID.; ID.; PUBLIC LAND; ACQUISITIVE PRESCRIPTION. The possession of public land, however long the period may have extended, never confers title thereto upon the possessor because the statute of limitations with regard to public land does not operate against the State, unless the occupant can prove possession and occupation of the same under claim of ownership for the required number of years to constitute a grant from the State. 21. ID.; ID.; ID.; TAX DECLARATION, PROOF THAT HOLDER HAD A CLAIM OVER THE PROPERTY. While tax receipts and declarations of ownership for taxation purposes are not incontrovertible evidence of ownership, they constitutes at least proof that the holder had a claim of title over the property. 22. ID.; ID.; ID.; PUBLIC LAND ACT EXCLUDES FORESTS. Section 48(b) of Com. Act No. 141, as amended, applies exclusively to public agricultural land. Forest lands or areas covered with forest are excluded, and are incapable of registration, and its inclusion in a title, whether such title be one issued during the Spanish sovereignty or under the present Torrens system of registration, nullifies the title. 23. ID.; ID.; MILITARY RESERVATIONS; CLAIMANT MUST SHOW TITLE. Under presidential proclamation reserving an area for military purposes which states that the same is subject to "private rights, if any there be," the applicant must prove its private rights over the property. For it is well settled that unless the applicant has shown by clear and convincing evidence that the property in question was ever acquired by him or his ancestors either by composition title from the Spanish Government or by possessory information title, or any other means for the acquisition of lands, the property must be held to be part of the public domain. DECISION ANTONIO, J p: These cases are interrelated, and so are decided jointly. In his application originally filed on February 24, 1964 with the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, the applicant Alipio Alinsunurin, claiming ownership in fee simple by inheritance from the late Maria Padilla, sought the registration of title under Act 496, as amended, of a vast tract of land, containing an area of 16,800 hectares, more or less, situated at the municipality of Laur, province of Nueva Ecija, admittedly inside the boundary of the military reservation of Fort Magsaysay. 1 On May 5, 1966, the Director of Lands, Director of Forestry, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines opposed the application, claiming that the applicant was without sufficient title and was not in open, exclusive, continuous and notorious possession and occupation of the land in question for at least thirty (30) years immediately preceding the filing of the application; that approximately 13,957 hectares of said land consist of the military reservation of Fort Magsaysay established under Proclamation No. 237, dated December 10, 1955 of the President. 2 On May 10, 1966, the applicant Alipio Alinsunurin filed a motion for substitution of parties, requesting that the Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation be considered as the applicant in his place, it having acquired all his rights, interests, ownership and dominion over the property subject matter of the application. 3 The motion was granted by the lower court in its order dated June 10, 1966. 4 It is beyond dispute that the land subject of the application is included within the area reserved for military purposes under Proclamation No. 237, dated December

19, 1955, of the President. The land is largely uncultivated, mountainous and thickly forested with a heavy growth of timber of commercial quantities. 5 Except for a small area cultivated for vegetation by homesteaders issued patents by the Director of Lands, there were no occupants on the land. 6 It is claimed by the applicant that Melecio Padilla acquired the land by virtue of a possessory information title issued during the Spanish regime on March 5, 1895, and upon his death in 1900, he transmitted the ownership and possession thereof to his daughter and sole heir, Maria Padilla. The latter in turn continued to cultivate the land thru tenants and utilized portions for pasture, until her death sometime in 1944. On November 19, 1966, the lower court rendered decision holding that the parcel of land applied for, described in the technical description Plan II-6752, is adjudicated to and ordered to be registered in favor of (a) Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation, a Philippine corporation wholly owned by Filipino citizens, with address at Manila, Philippines two-thirds (2/3) portion, subject to the rights of Ariosto Santos per Joint Manifestation of Alipio Alinsunurin and Encarnacion Caballero-Alinsunurin, Ariosto Santos and Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation dated July 19, 1966 and marked as Exhibit "AA-4," 7 and (b) Roman C. Tamayo, Filipino citizen, married, resident of Cullit, Lallo, Cagayan, one-third (1/3) portion of the said property. On December 12, 1966, the oppositors Director of Lands, Director of Forestry and the Armed Forces of the Philippines filed a Notice of Appeal from the said decision to the Supreme Court, 8 copy of which notice was furnished counsel for the applicant Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation; however, no copy was furnished to counsel for Roman C. Tamayo, to whom one-third (1/3) portion of the land was adjudicated. On January 18, 1967, within the extended period granted by the court, the oppositors-appellants filed the corresponding Record on Appeal, copy of which was duly served upon appellees Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation and Roman C. Tamayo. By an order dated March 8, 1967, the lower court required the Provincial Fiscal to file an Amended Record on Appeal, so as to include therein certain orders and pleadings, within ten (10) days from receipt of the order. 9 On March 16, 1967, the Amended Record on Appeal was duly filed and copies served upon the appellees. Pending the approval of the Record on Appeal, the applicant Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation filed a motion for the issuance of a decree of registration pending appeal. Likewise, Roman C. Tamayo, thru counsel, filed a motion for the issuance of a decree of registration. Both motions were opposed by the Government. On March 11, 1967, the lower court, ruling that its decision of November 19, 1966 had become final as to the share of Roman C. Tamayo, directed the issuance of a decree of registration of the entire land, one-third (1/3) pro-indiviso in favor of Roman C. Tamayo, and two-thirds (2/3) pro-indiviso in favor of Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation, subject to the final outcome of the appeal. On March 14, 1967, the Commissioner of Land Registration forthwith issued Decree No. 113485 pursuant to the said order, and, on March 15, 1967, the Register of Deeds issued Original Certificate of Title No. 0-3151 of the Register of Deeds of the Province of Nueva Ecija.

On April 12, 1967, the lower court approved the Amended Record on Appeal which, together with the evidence and transcripts, was forwarded to this Court in due course of appeal. As the lower court denied reconsideration of the order directing the issuance of a decree of registration, on May 29, 1967, the Director of Lands, Director of Forestry and the Armed Forces of the Philippines instituted before this Court a special civil action for certiorari and mandamus with preliminary injunction (L-27594), seeking to nullify the order dated March 11, 1967, the decree of registration issued pursuant thereto (Decree No. 113485 dated March 14, 1967) and Original Certificate of Title No. 0-3151 of the Register of Deeds for the province of Nueva Ecija, and to command the respondent court to certify the entire proceedings and to allow appeal to the Supreme Court from its decision in toto in LRC Case No. N-675, LRC Rec. No. N-25545. On June 5, 1967, We issued a writ of preliminary injunction as follows: "NOW, THEREFORE, until further orders from this Court, You (respondent Judge) are hereby restrained from issuing a writ of possession in Land Registration Case No. N675, LRC Rec. No. N-25545 of the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija, entitled `Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation versus Director of Lands, et al.'; You (respondent Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation and Roman C. Tamayo), your agents or representatives are hereby restrained from taking possession and/or exercising acts of ownership, occupancy or possession over the property in question subject matter of Land :Registration Case No. N-675, LRC Rec. No. N-25545; and You (respondent Register of Deeds) are hereby restrained from accepting for registration documents referring to the subject land until petitioners shall have filed a notice of lis pendens as to the title certificates of Roman Tamayo and Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation, under Sec. 24, Rule 14, Rules of Court, subject of the above-mentioned Land Registration Case No. N-675, LRC Rec. No. N-25545." Accordingly, petitioners-appellants caused the entry of a notice of lis pendens to be duly inscribed in the primary entry hook of the Registry of Deeds of Nueva Ecija and annotated in the memorandum of encumbrances in Original Certificate of Title No. 0-3151. In due time, the respondents filed their answers to the petition for certiorari. The parties having filed their respective memoranda, the case is deemed submitted for decision. At the outset, We shall resolve the petition for certiorari and mandamus (L-27594). I Under the circumstances of this case, the failure of the appellants to serve a copy of their Notice of Appeal to the counsel for adjudicatee Roman C. Tamayo is not fatal to the appeal because, admittedly, he was served with a copy of the original, as well as the Amended Record on Appeal in both of which the Notice of Appeal is embodied. 10 Hence, such failure cannot impair the right of appeal. 11 What is more, the appeal taken by the Government was from the entire decision, which is not severable. Thus, the appeal affects the whole decision. 12 In any event, We rule that execution pending appeal is not applicable in a land registration proceeding. It is fraught with dangerous consequences. Innocent purchasers may be misled into purchasing real properties upon reliance on a judgment which may be reversed on appeal. A Torrens title issued on the basis of a judgment that is not final is a nullity, as it is violative of the explicit provisions of the Land Registration Act which requires that a

decree shall be issued only after the decision adjudicating the title becomes final and executory, and it is on the basis of said decree that the Register of Deeds concerned issues the corresponding certificate of title. Consequently, the lower court acted without jurisdiction or exceeded its jurisdiction in ordering the issuance of a decree of registration despite the appeal timely taken from the entire decision a quo. II In the instant case, as a precaution, oppositors-appellants caused notice of lis pendens to be duly inscribed in Original Certificate of Title No. 0-3151 of the Register of Deeds of Nueva Ecija, thereby keeping the whole land subject matter of the appeal within the power of the court until the litigation is terminated. 13 Such entry of notice of lis pendens cannot be cancelled until the final termination of the litigation. The notice of lis pendens must be carried over in all titles subsequently issued, which will yield to the ultimate result of the appeal. 14 During the pendency of the appeal, it appears that Honofre A. Andrada, et al., filed with the Court of First Instance of Nueva Ecija (Branch I, not the land registration court), a complaint against the appellee Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation, Rodolfo A. Cenidoza and Roman C. Tamayo, for reconveyance of a portion of the land in question (Civil Case No. 4696). The trial court assumed jurisdiction over the case despite the pendency of the appeal involving the same land, and decided the case in favor of plaintiffs. In violation of Our injunction adverted to above, Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation executed a subdivision plan of the original single parcel of land subject of the land registration proceedings covered by Original Certificate of Title No. 0-3151, and deeded over six (6) lots of the subdivision plan to plaintiffs Honofre A. Andrada and Nemesio P. Diaz. By an order dated September 23, 1968, entered in Civil Case No. 4696, the Register of Deeds of Nueva Ecija was directed to cancel Original Certificate of title No. 0-3151 and to issue new titles to the above-named transferees "free from all liens and encumbrances." Immediately, transfer certificates of title were issued to them and other transferees in which the Register of Deeds of Nueva Ecija did not carry over the notice of lis pendens originally inscribed in Original Certificate of Title No. 0-3151. Subsequently, other transactions were entered into involving portions of the land reconveyed in Civil Case No. 4696, including a transfer of about 4,000 hectares to the Land Bank of the Philippines in consideration of P8,940,000.00. We find the order to cancel Original Certificate of Title No. 0-3151 and to issue subsequent titles free from all liens and encumbrances to be void ab initio. Civil Case No. 4696 is an action in personam to which the appellants are not parties; its object was to decree reconveyance to plaintiffs of a portion of the area adjudicated to the Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation and Roman C. Tamayo in Land Registration Case No. N-675, LRC Rec. No. N-25545, which is subject to the outcome of the appeal. Such action is barred by the pendency of the appeal. In that case, the court is without jurisdiction to order the Register of Deeds to cancel Original Certificate of title No. 0-3151 and to issue titles to transferees "free from all liens and encumbrances." 15 Nor can such order be construed to authorize the Register of Deeds to cancel the notice of lis pendens, which was not entered by virtue of the reconveyance case. Thus, the Register of Deeds was duty bound to carry over the said notice of lis pendens on all titles subsequently issued. But, in plain violation of lis pendens in said titles; such act constitutes misfeasance in the performance of his duties for which he may be held civilly and even criminally

liable for any prejudice caused to innocent third parties, but cannot affect the petitioners-appellants who are protected by Our writ of injunction and the notice of lis pendens inscribed in the original title. It must be remembered that Our injunction restrained the Register of Deeds "from accepting for registration documents referring to the subject land until the petitioners shall have filed a notice of lis pendens as to the title certificates of Roman C. Tamayo and Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation under section 24, Rule 14, Rules of Court, subject of the above-mentioned Land Registration Case No. N-675, LRC Rec. No. 25545." Its plain meaning is to enjoin registration of documents and transactions unless the notice of lis pendens is annotated and so subject the same to the outcome of the litigation. In such case, subsequent transferees cannot be considered innocent purchasers for value. On the other hand, the lower court's order dated September 23, 1968, in Civil Case No. 4696, cannot overrule an injunction of this Court (in L-27594). As a result, We consider the notice of lis pendens entered in virtue of this litigation to remain in full force and effect, and affects all subsequent transferees of the title of the land subject of this appeal. At any rate, it is well-settled that entry of the notice of lis pendens in the day book (primary entry book) is sufficient to constitute registration and such entry is notice to all persons of such adverse claim. 16 III We now consider the appeal on the merits. 1. To begin with, the original tracing cloth plan of the land applied for, which must be approved by the Director of Lands, was not submitted in evidence. The submission of such plan is a statutory requirement of mandatory character. 17 Unless a plan and its technical description are duly approved by the Director of Lands, the same are not of much value. 18 It is true that blueprints of two survey plans were presented before the trial court (both marked Exhibit "D"). The first blueprint copy of a plan of land as surveyed for Maria Padilla (Exhibit "D", p. 4, Exhibits of Applicant), was not formally offered in evidence. The second plan of the land, as surveyed for Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation (also marked as Exhibit "D", p. 3, Exhibits of Applicant) was submitted by the said applicant, but it lacks the approval of the Director of Lands. Of course, the applicant attempts to justify the non-submission of the original tracing cloth plan by claiming that the same must be with the Land Registration Commission which checked or verified the survey plan and the technical descriptions thereof. It is not the function of the LRC to check the original survey plan as it has no authority to approve original survey plans. If, for any reason, the original tracing cloth plan was forwarded there, the applicant may easily retrieve the same therefrom and submit the same in evidence. This was not done. It is also asserted that a blue print copy of the plan (Exhibit "D", p. 5, Exhibits of Applicant) was superimposed in the military plan of the reservation under Proclamation No. 231, which military plan was presented in evidence by the oppositors-appellants (Exhibit "6"), and it was agreed by the parties that the plan, Exhibit "D", superimposed in the plan of the area covered by the proclamation, is the plan of the land applied for (p. 15, Brief for Applicant-Appellee). Obviously, the superimposition of the copy of the survey plan of land as surveyed for applicant in the military map of the area under Proclamation No. 237 was for the sole purpose of showing that the land applied for is situated within the area covered

by the military reservation of Fort Magsaysay appropriately indicated in the perimeter map of said reservation (Exhibit "6"). But the applicant is not relieved from submitting in evidence the original tracing cloth plan approved by the Director of Lands as required by law. One of the distinguishing marks of the Torrens System is the absolute certainty of the identity of a registered land. Consequently, the primary purpose of the aforesaid requirement is to fix the exact or definite identity of the land as shown in the plan and technical descriptions. Hence, the applicant is not relieved of his duty of submitting the original tracing cloth of the survey plan of the land duly approved by the Director of Lands. It will be noticed that the plan (Exhibit "D", p. 5, Exhibits of Applicant) does not bear the approval of any officer authorized by law. In similar manner, the surveyor's certificate, also required in original land registration proceedings, was not offered in evidence. 2. We next consider the question of whether the applicant has a registerable title to the land applied for. The applicant relies on a purported titulo de informacion posesoria issued in the name of Melecio Padilla (Exhibit "T", pp. 64-68, Exhibits of Applicant). However, neither the original of the said titulo de informacion posesoria, nor a duly authenticated copy thereof, was submitted in evidence, and there are serious flaws on the faces of the alleged copies of the document, as in the circumstances surrounding their execution. Thus, the two (2) purported photostat copies of the said informacion posesoria title materially differ on the date when said informacion posesoria was issued. One copy showed that the said document was issued on March 5, 1895 (Exhibit "T"), while the other indicated that it was issued twelve (12) years earlier, or on March 5, 1883 (Exhibit "2"). Moreover, according to the official records of the Register of Deeds of Nueva Ecija, on the basis of the "List of Possessory Information Titles (Spanish Titles) of Nueva Ecija", the corresponding supporting documents of which are kept in the vault of said office, the name of Melecio Padilla does not appear among those listed as holders of informacion posesoria titles as of the year 1898 covering lands situated in Santor (now Laur), Nueva Ecija. According to said document, the name Melecio Padilla appears only in the list of holders of possessory information titles over lands situated in Pearanda, Nueva Ecija, but of a substantially smaller acreage. 19 Thus, the seven (7) parcels recorded in the name of Melecio Padilla covered only a total area of 49 hectares, 18 ares, and 325 centares. 20 In addition, the list of property owners in Santor (now Laur), Nueva Ecija existing in the Division of Archives does not include the name of Melecio Padilla. 21 It is true that an alleged copy of an informacion posesoria, in the name of Melecio Padilla, was recorded in the office of the Register of Deeds on November 10, 1942 by one Rodolfo Baltazar, Register of Deeds (Exhibit "H"), but the Register of Deeds of Nueva Ecija could not certify to its veracity, as the supposed document does not exist in their records. 22 There is another factor which weighs heavily against the claim of the applicant. The alleged informacion posesoria covers an area of "seis mil quiones, poco mas e menos" or an equivalent of 16,800 hectares. Under the Royal Decrees in force at the time of the supposed acquisition, no one could acquire public land in excess of 1,000 hectares. Thus, the Royal Decrees of November 25, 1880 and October 26, 1881, prohibited any grant of public land in excess of one thousand (1,000) hectares. 23 Besides, the document described in Exhibit "H" is not the titulo de informacion posesoria, because it was merely a certification of possession of Melecio Padilla over the property, and was issued without prejudice to a third party or parties

having a better right. 24 Thus, it states: "En su virtud habiendo examinado el Registro nuevamente formado por la perdida o destruccion del mismo y no hallando en ningun asiento contrario a lo relacionado reinscribe la posesion de la finca de este numero a favor de Don Melecio Padilla sin perjuicio de tercero que puede tener mejor derecho a la propiedad." Under Spanish law, in order that an informacion posesoria may be considered as title of ownership, it must be proven that the holder thereof has complied with the provisions of Article 395 of the Spanish Mortgage Law. It cannot be claimed that the registration of possession has been legally converted into a registration of ownership because Melecio Padilla had not complied with the requirements of Article 393 of the Spanish Mortgage Law, to wit: "that the applicant has been in open possession of the land; that an application to this effect be filed after the expiration of 20 years from the date of such registration; that such conversion be announced by means of a proclamation in a proper official bulletin; that the Court order the conversion of the registration of possession into a record of ownership; and that the Registrar make the proper record thereof in the Registry." 25 Evidently, Melecio Padilla, having died on February 9, 1900, barely five (5) years after the inscription of the informacion posesoria, could not have converted the same into a record of ownership twenty (20) years after such inscription, pursuant to Article 393 of the Spanish Mortgage Law. One year after the promulgation of the Maura Law, or on April 17, 1895, the right to perfect possessory information title under the law expired. After that date, full property right of the land reverted to the government and the right of the cultivator and possessor to obtain gratuitous title was extinguished. 26 Before the military reservation was established, the evidence is inconclusive as to possession, for it is shown by the evidence that the land involved is largely mountainous and forested. As a matter of fact, at the time of the hearing, it was conceded that approximately 13,957 hectares of said land consist of public forest. During the lifetime of Melecio Padilla, only a small portion thereof was cleared and cultivated under the "kaingin" system, while some portions were used as grazing land. After his death, his daughter, Maria Padilla, caused the planting of vegetables and had about forty (40) tenants for the purpose. 27 During the Japanese occupation, Maria Padilla died. Alipio Alinsunurin and Encarnacion Caballero took possession of the land approximately in 1950, but they had to abandon the place due to the unsettled peace and order conditions in the area. In 1955, entry by them was prevented by the Army. It seems obvious, on the basis of the facts in the record, that neither applicant Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation nor Alipio Alinsunurin nor the latter's predecessors-in-interest have been "in open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation" of the property in question, "under a bona fide claim of acquisition or ownership, for at least thirty years immediately preceding the filing of the application for confirmation of title." 28 A mere casual cultivation of portions of the land by the claimant, and the raising thereon of cattle, do not constitute possession under claim of ownership. In that sense, possession is not exclusive and notorious so as to give rise to a presumptive grant from the State. 29 While grazing livestock over land is of course to be considered with other acts of dominion to show possession, the mere occupancy of land by grazing livestock upon it, without substantial inclosures or other permanent improvements, is not sufficient to support a claim of title thru acquisitive prescription. 30 The possession of public land, however long the period may have

extended, never confers title thereto upon the possessor because the statute of limitations with regard to public land does not operate against the State, unless the occupant can prove possession and occupation of the same under claim of ownership for the required number of years to constitute a grant from the State. 31 Apart from the aforesaid inconclusive evidence of possession to support the applicant's claim of title, it does not appear that the said property has ever been declared for taxation purposes by either applicant or applicant's predecessors-ininterest. Thus, the only tax declarations submitted were those of Mamerto Garcia and Honofre Andrada, et al. (Exhibit "G", Tax Declaration No. 5676, covering an area of 7,340 hectares) and Mamerto Garcia, et al. (Exhibit "H-1", Tax Declaration No. 5577, over an area of 9,547 hectares) but both were filed only in 1958. The latter declaration contains an annotation that the property described therein is an unidentified property, as the declarant failed to identify the same, and it "was only through his insistence" that it was assessed. Neither applicant Paraaque Investment and Development Corporation nor its predecessor, Alipio Alinsunurin had submitted any tax declaration supporting its/his claim over the property. It is true that tax receipts and declarations of ownership for taxation purposes are not incontrovertible evidence of ownership, but they constitute at least proof that the holder had a claim of title over the property. It is obvious that the applicant has failed to submit convincing proof of actual, peaceful and adverse possession in the concept of owner of the entire area in question during the period required by law. This is especially true in view of the basic presumption that lands of whatever classification belong to the State and evidence of a land grant must be "well-nigh incontrovertible." 32 Even more important, Section 48[b] of CA No, 141, as amended, applies exclusively to public agricultural land. Forest lands or areas covered with forest are excluded. 33 It is well-settled that forest land is incapable of registration; and its inclusion in a title, whether such title be one issued during the Spanish sovereignty or under the present Torrens system of registration, nullifies the title. 34 Finally, the applicant urges that Proclamation No. 237 recognizes the existence of private property within the military reservation. It is true that the proclamation states that the same is subject "to private rights, if any there be", but applicant must prove its private rights over the property, which said party failed to do. 35 For it is well-settled that, unless the applicant has shown by clear and convincing evidence that the property in question was ever acquired by the applicant or his ancestors either by composition title from the Spanish Government or by possessory information title, or any other means for the acquisition of public lands, the property must be held to be part of the public domain. 36 WHEREFORE, decision in the above case is hereby rendered: (1) in G. R. No. L-27594, the petition for certiorari is granted; the order dated March 11, 1967 in LRC Case No. N-675, LRC Rec. No. N-25545, the decree of registration issued pursuant thereto (Decree No. 113485 dated March 14, 1967), and Original Certificate of Title No. 0-3151 of the Registry of Deeds of Nueva Ecija are all declared void; the Registry of Deeds of Nueva Ecija is ordered to recall and cancel all transfer certificates of title, including owners' duplicates and mortgagees' copies, if any, arising out of Original Certificate of Title No. 0-3151; the preliminary injunction issued on June 5, 1967 and the temporary restraining order issued on June 1, 1973 are made final and permanent, with costs against respondents (except respondent Judge); and

(2) in G. R. No. L-28144, the appealed decision is hereby reversed and set aside, and judgment is rendered dismissing the application for registration. Costs against appellee. Makalintal, C.J., Fernando, Teehankee, Esguerra, Muoz Palma, Aquino, Concepcion, Jr. and Martin, JJ., concur. Castro, J., concurs in the result. Barredo and Makasiar, JJ., did not take part. Footnotes 1. LRC Case No. N-675, LRC Rec. No. N-25545, pp. 320-323, Vol. II, Rec. on Appeal. 2. Vol. II, Record on Appeal, pp. 333-339. 3. Ibid., pp. 346-350. 4. Ibid., pp. 365-366. 5. Exhs. 6, 6-A-4, 10, 10-B, 11, 11-A to 11-J, pp. 15-32, Exhs. of Oppositors; also Exhibits 12, 12-B, pp. 33-37, Exhibits of Oppositors; pp. 926-944, 1012-1029, 10441054, t.s.n. A. Yango. 6. T s.n., A. Yango, pp. 974-976. 7. Original record, pp. 171-172. 8. Record on Appeal, Vol. II, p. 463. 9. Ibid., pp. 471-472. 10. Peralta. v. Solon, 77 Phil. 611; Lopez v. Lopez, 77 Phil. 133. 11. Arcega v. Dizon, 76 Phil. 164. 12. Municipality of Orion v. Concha, 50 Phil. 679. 13. Blas v. Muoz Palma, 107 Phil. 1078. 14. Rivera v. Tirona, 109 Phil. 505. 15. Cavan v. Wislizenus, 48 Phil. 632; Luna v. Mons. P. P. Santos, 102 Phil. 588. 16. Rivera v. Tirona, supra; Levin v. Bass, 91 Phil. 419; Villasor v. Camon, 89 Phil. 404. 17. Secs. 1858 and 1864, Revised Administrative Code; Sec. 25, Act No. 496; Aguillon v. Director of Lands, 17 Phil. 506. 18. Flores v. Director, 17 Phil. 512. 19. T.s.n., A. Yango, pp. 987-995, Exhibits 8, 8-A, 9, 9-A, 13, 13-A to 13-G, pp. 18, 19, 20, and 38, Exhibits of Oppositors. 20. Exhibits 13, 13-A to 13-G, Ibid. 21. T.s.n., A. Yango, pp. 1055-1059; Exhibit 14, "Direccion General de Administracion Civil, Provincia de Nueva Ecija, Ao de 1898, Estadistica de los terrenos agricolas de propiedad particular existentes en esta pueblo"; Exhibits 14, 14-A to 14-D; 15, 15-A to 15-C, pp. 39-46, Exhibits of Oppositors. 22. T.s.n., A. Yango, pp. 1006-1007. 23. Government v. Avila, 46 Phil. 146; Bayot v. Director of Lands, 98 Phil. 935; Director of Forestry v. Muoz, L-24196; Pinagkamaligan v. Peralta, L-25459, both decided on June 28, 1968, 23 SCRA 1183; Sanchez v. Director of Lands, 63 Phil. 378; Valdez v. Director Lands, 62 Phil. 362. 24. J.M. Tuason & Co., Inc. v. Santiago, et al., 99 Phil. 615, 628. 25. Fernandez Hermanos v. Director of Lands, 57 Phil. 929, 936. 26. Baltazar v. Government, 40 Phil. 267. 27. According to Esteban de la Cruz, in 1881 to 1895, the land was mountainous; some people used to make clearings and plant a little quantity of palay in the clearings; that Melecio Padilla claimed the land to be his, and five (5) persons were pasturing his animals (pp. 109-111, t.s.n., A. Yango, Hearing of September 24,

1959). Cirilo Pangilinan declared that Melecio Padilla had some five (5) persons herding his ten (10) carabaos that were pasturing on the land in question; that those persons cultivated portions of the property, but the proceeds thereof were theirs, and they were not obligated to give or share said proceeds with Padilla (pp. 113-120, t.s.n., Ibid.). Lazaro Leodones stated that Melecio Padilla had many cows grazing on the property, and there were some improvements, such as mango trees and fields planted tn rice; that Maria Padilla caused portions of the property to be planted with vegetables and she had around forty (40) to forty-five (45) tenants farming the land. He admitted, however, that he is related to Maria Padilla by affinity, as his wife is the sister of Maria's husband (pp. 570-573, t.s.n., Ibid.) 28. Section 48[b], CA No. 141, as amended. 29. Ramirez v. Director of Lands, 60 Phil. 114. 30. Province of Camarines Sur v. Director of Lands, 64 Phil. 600. 31. Province of Camarines Sur v. Director, Ibid.; Section 48, CA No. 141, as amended. 32. Santiago v. De los Santos, L-20241, November 22, 1974, 61 SCRA 146. ". . . Both under the 1935 and the present Constitutions the conservation no less than the utilization of the natural resources is ordained. There would be a failure to abide by its command if the judiciary does not scrutinize with care applications to private ownership of real estate. To be granted, they must be grounded in well-nigh incontrovertible evidence. Where, as in this case, no such proof would be forthcoming, there is no justification for viewing such claim with favor. It is a basic assumption of our polity that lands of whatever classification belong to the state. Unless alienated in accordance with law, it retains its rights over the same as dominus. Its disposition is justified only when shown that its utilization promotes the public welfare. . . ." (Ibid., pp. 151-152, emphasis supplied.) 33. Li Seng Giap v. Director of Lands, 55 Phil. 693. 34. Li Seng Giap v. Director of Lands, Ibid.; Director of Forestry v. Muoz, supra; Dizon v. Rodriguez, L-20300-01, and Republic v. Court of Appeals, L-20355-56, both promulgated on April 30, 1965, 13 SCRA 704; Republic v. Ayala y Cia, L-20950, May 31, 1965, 14 SCRA 259. 35. Director of Forestry v. Muoz, supra. 36. Lee Hong Hok v. David, 48 SCRA 372, 378-379. C o p y r i g h t 1 9 9 4 - 1 9 9 9 C D T e c h n o l o g i e s A s i a, I n c. G.R. No. L-27043 November 28, 1975 AGUSTIN SANCHEZ, ET AL. vs. MARIANO A. ZOSA, ET AL. SECOND DIVISION [G.R. No. L-27043. November 28, 1975.] AGUSTIN SANCHEZ and VICTORINA MUTIA DE SANCHEZ, petitioners, vs. THE HONORABLE MARIANO A. ZOSA, Judge of the Court of First Instance of Misamis Occidental; PORFIRIA C. YU and LIBORIO YU, respondents. Torcuato L. Galon for petitioners. Pacito G. Mutia & Lorenzo P. de Guzman for respondents. SYNOPSIS In an ejectment case, petitioners were ordered by the municipal court to vacate a lot allegedly owned by private respondents and to remove their house therefrom within 30 days. They were further ordered, should they appeal, "to pay plaintiffs (private respondents), or deposit with the Clerk of Court within the first week of

every month as reasonable rental for the lot where their house is constructed the amount of five pesos," and the sum of P100 as damages. There was no adjudication of back rentals. When petitioners appealed to the Court of First Instance, they paid the docket fee of P20 and the ordinary appeal bond of P50.00. To stay the execution, they deposited P150 to cover the damages adjudicated by the municipal court and the rentals for the next ten months following the judgment, from May 1966 to February 1967. In the Court of First Instance, private respondents asked for the execution of judgment of the municipal court on the ground that petitioners did not pay nor deposit in court the rentals for May to September, 1966 amounting to P25.00. Petitioners opposed the motion claiming that they had already filed a cash supersedeas bond P150 to cover the damages and rentals adjudged by the municipal court. The court a quo issued the order of execution stating that even granting that the supersedeas bond filed by petitioners covered the monthly rentals for May, 1966 to February, 1967, nevertheless that bond was supposed "to cover the costs, damages and rentals in arrears up to the rendition of the decision" only, and their failure to deposit rentals for May to September, 1966 was fatal. The Supreme Court reversed the order of the trial court. SYLLABUS 1. EJECTMENT EXECUTION; SUPERSEDEAS BOND; STAY OF EXECUTION. To stay execution in an ejectment suit, the defendant should perfect an appeal to the Court of First Instance, file a supersedeas bond and deposit from time to time with the Court of First Instance during the pendency of the appeal, the current rentals or the reasonable compensation for the use and occupation of the premises. The supersedeas bond answers for the rents or damages down to the perfection of the appeal. It does not answer for the future rents or damages that may accrue during the pendency of the appeal. Such current rents or damages are guaranteed by the periodical deposits or payments to be made by the defendant-appellant. The appeal bond answers for the costs. 2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; SUBSTANTIAL COMPLIANCE WITH RULE 70, SECTION 8. Where on appeal from a judgment of eviction, defendants-appellants paid the docket fee of P20 and the appeal bond of P50, and where said appellants were merely obligated to post only a supersedeas bond for one hundred pesos representing the damages adjudged by the municipal court, and to stay execution appellants not only substantially complied with Section 8, Rule 70 of the Rules of Court, but they did even more than was necessary by depositing in advance the future rentals for ten months instead of making monthly deposits as the rentals became due, it was a grave abuse of discretion for the trial court to order the execution of judgment and to cite the defendants for contempt of court for failure to deposit current rentals. Their deposit of P150 covered the damages and rentals for ten months next following the judgment. Their appeal bond P50 would answer for the costs. Their cash deposit was a good and sufficient supersedeas bond. After making that deposit in court, they had no more obligation to pay the current rentals to the plaintiffs or to the court. It would only be after the ten-month period when they would start depositing the rentals for subsequent months or would pay them to the plaintiffs. 3. CERTIORARI; INTERLOCUTORY ORDER; WHEN CERTIORARI LIES TO QUESTION PROPRIETY OF INTERLOCUTORY ORDER. Generally, certiorari does not lie to question the propriety of an interlocutory order of the trial court. Interlocutory orders ordinarily should be reviewed when an appeal is taken from the trial court's

judgment. Not every procedural error or erroneous legal factual conclusion amounts to grave abuse of discretion. An error of judgment is not necessarily a jurisdictional error. However, when a grave abuse of discretion was patiently committed, or the lower court acted capriciously and whimsically, then it devolves upon the Supreme Court in a certiorari proceeding to exercise its supervisory authority and to correct the error committed which, in such case, is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction. 4. EJECTMENT; WHERE PARTIES DISCUSS QUESTION OF TITLE IN AN EJECTMENT CASE, TRIAL COURT MAY PASS ON APPEAL THE ISSUE OF TITLE. Where the parties in their pleadings and memoranda in an ejectment case discussed the question of title to the lot in litigation, the trial court, to avoid duplicity of suits, may pass upon the issue regarding title to the lot, where said issue is interwoven with the issue of who is entitled to the de facto possession thereof. DECISION AQUINO, J p: The spouses Agustin Sanchez and Victorina Mutia de Sanchez filed this special civil action of certiorari in order to set aside (a) the order of the Court of First Instance of Misamis Occidental dated September 12, 1966 (Civil Case No. 2560), directing the execution against the said spouses of the judgment dated April 25, 1966 of the municipal court of Aloran, Misamis Occidental in an ejectment case (Civil Case No. 295) and (b) its order of December 21, 1966 requiring the spouses and their counsel to show cause why they should not be held in contempt of court. In its decision the municipal court ordered the Sanchez spouses to vacate a lot located at Barrio Centro, Aloran allegedly owned by the spouses Porfiria C. Yu and Liborio Yu, the plaintiffs in the ejectment suit. The Sanchez spouses were directed to remove their house from the disputed lot within thirty days from their receipt of the decision and, should they appeal, they were "ordered to pay to the plaintiffs or deposit with the clerk of court within the first week of every month as reasonable rental for the lot where their house is constructed the amount of five pesos" and the sum of one hundred pesos as damages. There was no adjudication of back rentals. From that decision, the Sanchez spouses appealed to the Court of First Instance. They paid the docket fee of twenty pesos and the ordinary appeal bond of fifty pesos (Sec. 5, Rule 40 and sec. 5[12], Rule 141, Rules of Court). To stay execution, they deposited in court the sum of one hundred fifty pesos to cover the damages adjudicated by the municipal court and the rentals for ten months, May, 1966 to February, 1967. The Yu spouses in their motion of August 27, 1966 asked for the execution of the judgment of the municipal court on the ground that the Sanchez spouses allegedly did not pay nor deposit in court the rentals for May to September, 1966 amounting to twenty-five pesos. The Sanchez spouses opposed the motion because, as already stated, they had filed a cash supersedeas bond on May 24, 1966 in the sum of one hundred fifty pesos to cover the damages and rentals adjudged by the municipal court. The lower court in its aforementioned order of September 12, 1966 held that even granting that the supersedeas bond filed by the Sanchez spouses covered the monthly rentals for May, 1966 to February, 1967, nevertheless, that bond was supposed "to cover the costs, damages and rentals in arrears up to the rendition of the decision only"; that Rule 70 of the Rules of Court "is very clear that current monthly rentals should be paid to the plaintiff or deposited with the Court as decreed by the decision", and that as the rentals for May to September, 1966 were

not deposited in court nor paid to the plaintiff, "the Court has no other alternative but to grant the motion for immediate execution" (p. 36, Rollo). A motion for the reconsideration of that order was denied. The Sanchez spouses filed on October 24, 1966 a "motion to lift the order of immediate execution" on the ground that the municipal court's judgment was void. Respondent Judge denied it in his order of November 5, 1966 wherein the order for immediate execution was reiterated. On December 5, 1966, while the Sanchez spouses were in Talusan, Malangas, Zamboanga del Sur and while their house was closed, there being nobody staying therein at the moment, the sheriff executed the judgment by removing the contents of the house, placing them on the street and storing them in the municipal building. The personal effects were returned to the Sanchez spouses on December 19, 1966. Apparently, because the Sanchez spouses returned to their house (they had been occupying the premises since 1929) the trial court, upon the ex-parte motion of the Yu spouses, required them to appear in Court on January 7, 1967 and to show cause why they should not be declared in contempt of court. The instant certiorari petition was filed on January 4, 1967. This Court on January 11, 1967 issued a temporary restraining order, enjoining the trial court from enforcing its orders of September 12 and December 21, 1966. The issue is whether the Sanchez spouses, after depositing the rentals for ten months, were still obligated to pay to the Yu spouses the current monthly rentals for the same period or to deposit them in court and whether because of their failure to do so the judgment of the municipal court became executory. And since the Sanchez spouses have been occupying the disputed lot from December, 1966 up to this time apparently without having deposited any additional rentals, it becomes necessary to determine how the litigation should be finally adjudicated. We hold that the trial court obviously erred in holding that the sum of one hundred fifty pesos deposited by the Sanchez spouses covered only "the costs, damages and rentals in arrears up to the rendition of the decision" in April, 1966 and that the said bond did not relieve the Sanchez spouses of their supposed obligation of paying the current rentals to the Yu spouses or of depositing them in court. Rule 70 of the Rules of Court provides that "if judgment is rendered against the defendant, execution shall issue immediately, unless an appeal has been perfected and the defendant to stay execution files a sufficient bond, approved by the municipal or city court and executed to the plaintiff to enter the action in the Court of First Instance and to pay the rents, damages and costs accruing down to the time of the judgment appealed from, and unless, during the pendency of the appeal, he deposits with the appellate court the amount of rent due from time to time under the contract, if any, as found by the judgment of the municipal or city court to exist." (Sec. 8) To stay execution in an ejectment suit, the defendant should perfect an appeal to the Court of First Instance, file a supersedeas bond and deposit from time to time with the Court of First Instance, during the pendency of the appeal, the current rentals or the reasonable compensation for the use and occupation of the premises. The supersedeas bond answers for the rents or damages down to the time of the perfection of the appeal. It does not answer for the future rents or damages that may accrue during the pendency of the appeal. Such current rents or damages are guaranteed by the periodical deposits or payments to be made by the defendantappellant. The appeal bond answers for the costs. (See 3 Moran's Comments on the

Rules of Court, 1970 Ed., pp. 329-331; Zamora vs. Dinglasan and Hilario, 77 Phil. 46, 54). To stay execution, the Sanchez spouses not only complied substantially with the aforequoted provisions of section 8 but they did even more than what was necessary. They deposited in advance the future rentals became due. When they perfected their appeal to the Court of First Instance in May, 1966, they were obligated to post only a supersedeas bond for one hundred pesos representing the damages adjudged by the municipal court. Their deposit of one hundred fifty pesos covered the damages and rentals up to February, 1967. The appeal bond of fifty pesos would answer for the costs. Their cash deposit was a good and sufficient supersedeas bond. After making that deposit in court, they had no more obligation to pay the current rentals to the Yu spouses or to the court. It would only be after February, 1967 when they would start depositing the rentals for March and the subsequent months or would pay them to the Yu spouses. The Sanchez spouses were indisputably entitled to a stay of execution up to February, 1967. It results that the execution ordered by the lower court in its order of September 12, 1966 was premature and uncalled for. It committed a grave abuse of discretion in ordering such execution and in citing the Sanchez spouses for contempt of court. Generally, certiorari does not lie to question the propriety of an interlocutory order of the trial court. Interlocutory orders ordinarily should be reviewed when an appeal is taken from the trial court's judgment. Not every procedural error or erroneous legal or factual conclusion amounts to grave abuse of discretion. An error of judgment is not necessarily a jurisdictional error. However, when a grave abuse of discretion was patently committed, or the lower court acted capriciously and whimsically, then it devolves upon this Court in a certiorari proceeding to exercise its supervisory authority and to correct the error committed which, in such a case, is equivalent to lack of jurisdiction (De Midgely vs. Ferandos, L-34313, May 13, 1975, 64 SCRA 23, 30; Manila Electric Co. and Sheriff of Quezon City vs. Hon. Enriquez, etc. and Espinosa, 110 Phil. 499, 503; Abad Santos vs. Province of Tarlac, 67 Phil. 480; Herrera vs. Barretto and Joaquin, 25 Phil. 245, 251). The parties in their pleadings and memoranda discussed the question of title to the lot in litigation. To avoid duplicity of suits, the lower court may pass upon the issue regarding title to the lot which seems to be interwoven with the issue of who is entitled to the de facto possession thereof. If the Sanchez spouses had not made any deposit of the rentals for the period from March, 1967 up to this time, then the trial court should give them a reasonable time to make the deposit. WHEREFORE, the trial court's orders of September 12 and December 21, 1966 are reversed and get aside. The case is returned to the lower court for further proceedings in consonance with this decision. Costs against respondents Porfiria C. Yu and Liborio Yu. SO ORDERED. Fernando (Chairman), Barredo, Antonio and Concepcion, Jr., JJ., concur. C o p y r i g h t 1 9 9 4 - 1 9 9 9 C D T e c h n o l o g i e s A s i a, I n c. G.R. No. L-25320 November 28, 1975 UNITED STATES LINES CO. vs. ASSOCIATED WATCHMEN AND SECURITY UNION

FIRST DIVISION [G.R. No. L-25320. November 28, 1975.] UNITED STATES LINES CO., petitioner, vs. ASSOCIATED WATCHMEN AND SECURITY UNION (PTGWO), NARCISO LIM, APOLINAR BERNARDO, ANIANO SINCUANGCO, PAULINO HINUYANES, VIVENCIO DIAMANTE, JOSE DAPLAS, EXEQUIEL GARCIA, EUGENIO PARUDA, QUINTIN ROBLEDO, SISENANDO VILLASANA, JOAQUIN DIAMANTE and COURT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, respondents. Ross, Selph, Salcedo, Del Rosario, Bito & Mesa for petitioner. Engracio P. Jose for respondents. SYNOPSIS In a decision dated January 14, 1959, the Court of Industrial Relations ordered the reinstatement of private respondents with backwages. On June 29, 1963, the Supreme Court affirmed the decision and remanded the case for satisfaction of judgment. On March 5, 1964, petitioner filed a Summary Satisfaction of Judgment. Thereafter, the Court of Industrial Relations on March 13, 1964, dismissed the case on motion of private respondents, assisted by their counsel, who alleged that their claims had been paid and that all of them, except three who had resigned, had been admitted to work. On March 14, 1964, petitioner filed its Report on Final Satisfaction of Judgement. However, on May 27, 1965, or one year and two months after the dismissal of the case, private respondents thru a new counsel moved for Complete Satisfaction of Judgement, claiming that the previous computation of backwages was only up to the date of reinstatement and did not include overtime pay, night premium or differential pay, and for Sunday and Holiday pay, and praying that the order of March 13, 1964 be set aside and that the backwages be computed anew. The CIR granted the motion insofar as the computation of backwages was concerned, but denied the same with respect to the new claim for overtime pay, night premium, or differential pay and Sunday and Holiday pay. The Supreme Court set aside the order, and held that the CIR acted without or in excess of jurisdiction because the ground relied upon, which is the alleged incorrect computation of backwages, was one that already existed and was available at the time private respondents filed their motion to dismiss the case for satisfaction of judgment. SYLLABUS 1. LABOR RELATIONS; COURT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS; JUDGMENT; LIMIT OF EFFECTIVENESS OF AWARD BY THE COURT OF INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS. Section 17 of Com. Act 103. limiting the effectiveness of an award, contemplates two kinds of award, order or decision. The first is that which provides for a specific period within which the award order or decision shall be valid and effective. The second is one without any specified period for its effectiveness in which case, the award, order or decision shall remain valid and effective for three years from the date thereof. After the lapse of the three years, the award, order or decision may be terminated by any party to the controversy by giving notice to the Court. 2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; COMPUTATION OF THREE YEAR PERIOD. Where no period for its effectiveness is specified, the award, order or decision shall be considered valid and effective for three years from the date it was rendered, should no appeal from said decision have been taken to the Supreme Court. However, where the decision is appealed to the Supreme Court, the three-year period of effectiveness should be counted from its affirmance by the Supreme Court. 3. ID.; ID.; ID.; CONDITIONS FOR REOPENING FINAL AWARD OF LABOR COURT UNDER SEC. 17, COM. ACT 103. The conditions for reopening of final award of the

labor court under Section 17 of Com. Act No. 103 are: (1) it must be upon the grounds not ready directly and impliedly litigated and the grounds must not be available to the parties in the previous proceedings, and (2) the reopening must not affect the period already elapsed at the time the order to be reopened was issued. 4. ID.; ID.; ID.; AWARD MAY NOT BE REOPENED UPON GROUNDS ALREADY LITIGATED. It is too late to reopen a case, and it is in excess of jurisdiction for the Court of Industrial Relations to grant the reopening thereof for the purpose of computing anew the employees backwages upon grounds which had been directly or impliedly litigated and decided by said court or upon grounds available to the parties at the former proceeding but not availed of by any of them. DECISION MARTIN, J p: Appeal from the order of the Court of Industrial Relations in Case No. 958-ULP, entitled "Associated Watchmen and Security Union (PTGWO), et al. versus United States Lines, et al.", setting aside its order of March 13, 1964 dismissing the case and granting the reopening thereof insofar as the computation of respondents' back wages is concerned. On January 14, 1959, the Court of Industrial Relations (CIR) 1 rendered its decision in Case No. 958-ULP ordering the United States Lines Co. (herein referred to as petitioner) to reinstate eleven (11) watchmen (herein referred to as individual private respondents) to their former positions with back salaries from the date of their dismissal up to the time of their reinstatement. In due season, petitioner appealed the decision to this Court 2 which affirmed the same on June 29, 1963. Thereafter, the records of the case were remanded to the CIR for satisfaction of judgment. On August 8, 1963, petitioner manifested before the CIR that it had advised the private respondents to return to work immediately but not later than August 22, 1963. Upon motion by private respondents, the CIR ordered the court examiner to make a computation of their back wages. On November 16, 1963 the Court examiner finished the computation of the back wage. of private respondents from the date of their respective dismissals up to August 22, 1963. Meanwhile, six (6) of the private respondents, namely, J. Daplas, A. Bernardo, J. Diamante, M. Lim, A. Sincuangco and E. Paruda, reported for work while the remaining five (5) did not, despite the notices sent to them. On December 9, 1963, the private respondents with the exception of E. Paruda and V. Diamante, filed a motion to approve the examiner's report stating that they have no objection to and are satisfied with it. However, two (2) private respondents, E. Paruda and V. Diamante, asked in the same motion that they be allowed to reserve their right to have their cases re-examined. Petitioner opposed the motion to approve the examiner's report claiming that the private respondents had earnings elsewhere which should be deducted from their back wages. Negotiations for the settlement of their dispute regarding the computation of the back wages due the private respondents were started by the parties until a settlement was arrived at with the petitioner making the corresponding payments of the claim of the private respondents and the latter executing receipts and releases with the conformity of their counsel. On March 5, 1964 petitioner filed a Summary of Satisfaction of Judgment alleging therein that the judgment has been satisfied with respect to the payment of all back wages and reinstatement of the private respondents except the back wages of Quintin Robledo who signed a conditional release. Later, however, petitioner found

that Quintin Robledo did not work elsewhere and so, he was paid additional back wages for which, he executed the corresponding receipt and release. On March 10, 1964, the private respondents assisted by their counsel, filed a motion to dismiss the case for satisfaction of judgment alleging that their claims (11 watchmen) have been paid and that all of them have been admitted to work with the exception of the three who have resigned. Acting on the said motion, the CIR issued an order on March 13, 1964 dismissing. On March 14, 1964, petitioner filed its Report on Final Satisfaction of Judgment. However, on May 27, 1965, or one year and two months after the dismissal of the case, the private respondents thru a new counsel, filed with the CIR, a Motion for Complete Satisfaction of Judgment, praying that the order of March 13, 1964 be set aside and the back wages of the private respondents be computed anew. They claim that the previous computation of their back wages was only up to August 22, 1963, the day when they were actually admitted to work and that the same did not include premium pay for Sunday or holiday work, or night premium or differential pay. On September 6, 1965, the CIR issued the now questioned order, the dispositive portion of which reads: "FOREGOING PREMISES CONSIDERED, movants' motion for setting aside the order of March 13, 1964, and the reopening of the same insofar as the computation of complainants' back wages is concerned should be, as it is hereby GRANTED, but should be, as it is hereby DENIED with respect to the complainants' new claim for overtime pay, night premium or differential pay and Sunday and holiday pay. Consequently, the Clerk of Court is hereby directed to set this case for further hearing." From said order, petitioner has come to this Court pressing upon the lower court the following errors: I "IN SETTING ASIDE THE ORDER OF THE SAME COURT DATED MARCH 13, 1964 AND REOPENING THE CASE FOR THE COMPUTATION OF RESPONDENT WATCHMEN'S BACK WAGES. II "IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE DECISION DATED JANUARY 14, 1959 HAS ALREADY BEEN FULLY SATISFIED BY THE PETITIONER. III "IN NOT HOLDING THAT THE COMPLAINANTS ARE ESTOPPED FROM CLAIMING THAT THE DECISION DATED JANUARY 14, 1959 HAS NOT YET BEEN SATISFIED." The crux of the problem in this appeal is whether the CIR can still reopen Case No. 958-ULP after having dismissed it. The solution to the problem will depend on whether the order of January 14, 1959 directing the petitioner to reinstate the private respondents was still effective at the time the latter filed their Motion for Complete Satisfaction of Judgment on May 27, 1965. Section 17 of Commonwealth Act 103 provides: "Sec. 17. Limit of effectiveness of award. An award, order or decision of the Court shall be valid and effective during the time therein specified. In the absence of such specification, any party or both parties to a controversy may terminate the effectiveness of an award, order or decision after three years have elapsed from the date of said award, order or decision by giving notice to that effect to the Court: Provided, however, That any time during the effectiveness of an award, order or decision, the Court may, on application of an interested party, and after due

hearing, alter, modify in whole or in part, or set aside any such award, order or decision, or reopen any question involved therein." Two kinds of award, order or decision are contemplated in the foregoing provision. The first is that which provides for a specified period within which the award, order or decision shall be valid and effective. The second is one without any specified period for its effectiveness in which case the award, order or decision shall remain valid and effective for three years from the date thereof. After the lapse of the three years, the award, order or decision may be terminated by any party to the controversy by giving notice to the Court. A careful examination of the decision of the CIR dated January 14, 1959 shows that no period for its effectiveness is specified; hence, it can be considered valid and effective for three years from the date it was rendered on January 14, 1959, should no appeal from said decision have been taken to the Supreme Court. However, in the case before Us, the decision was appealed to the Supreme Court, therefore the three-year period of effectiveness of said decision should have been counted from its affirmance by the Supreme Court on June 29, 1963. When the private respondents therefore filed on May 27, 1964 their Motion for Complete Satisfaction of Judgment praying that the order of March 13, 1964 be set aside and the back wages of the private respondents be computed anew, they still had the time to do so, because the aforesaid decision of the CIR was still effective within the three-year period from the time it was affirmed by the Supreme Court on June 29, 1963. In the exercise of its discretion the CIR could still set aside its previous award, order or decision because the three-year period has not yet expired. 3 Unfortunately, the ground relied upon by the private respondents in their Motion for Complete Satisfaction of Judgment, which is the alleged incorrect computation of their back wages made by the Court examiner, was one that already existed and was available to the private respondents at the time they filed their motion to dismiss the case for satisfaction of judgment. They should have raised the same before the lower court. In Philippine Land-Air-Sea Labor Union (PLASLU) vs. Cebu Portland Cement Co., 4 this Court prescribed the conditions for reopening final award of the Labor Court under Section 17 of Commonwealth Act No. 103. They are: (1) it must be upon grounds not already directly or impliedly litigated and the grounds must not be available to the parties in the previous proceedings and (2) the reopening must not affect the period already elapsed at the time the order to be reopened was issued. At this stage, it would be too late for them to reopen the case upon grounds which had been directly or impliedly litigated and decided by said court or upon grounds available to the parties at the former proceeding but not availed of by any of them. In Pepsi-Cola, etc. vs. Phil. Labor Organization, 5 this Court stated: "Petitioner invokes Section 17 of Commonwealth Act 103 to the effect ". . . at any time during the effectiveness of an award, order or decision, the court may, on application of an interested party, and after due hearing, alter, modify in whole or in part, or set aside any such award, order or decision, or reopen any question involved therein." Under this provision, a proceeding may be reopened only upon grounds coming into existence after the order or decision was rendered by the Court of Industrial Relations, but not upon grounds which had already been directly or impliedly litigated and decided by said court nor upon grounds available to the parties at the former proceeding and not availed of by any of them. To hold otherwise may give way to vicious and vexatious repetition of proceedings."

The foregoing ruling was reiterated in Nahag, et al. vs. Roldan, et al., 6 when the Court said: "While Section 17 of Commonwealth Act No. 103, as amended apparently authorizes the modification of an award at any time during its effectiveness, there is nothing in its wording to suggest that such modification may be authorized even after the order for the execution of the award has already be come final with respect, of course, to the period that had elapsed at the time the order was issued. To read such authority into the law would make of litigations between capital and labor an endless affair." 7 Considering all the foregoing, We find that the CIR has acted without or in excess of its jurisdiction in issuing its orders dated September 6, 1965 and October 20, 1965 insofar as the same has set aside its order of March 13, 1964 and reopened Case No. 958-ULP for the recomputation of private respondents' back wages. WHEREFORE, judgment is hereby rendered setting aside the orders of the CIR dated September 6, 1965 and October 20, 1965 for being null and void. No pronouncement as to costs. SO ORDERED. Teehankee, Makasiar, Esguerra and Muoz Palma, JJ., concur. Castro (Chairman), J., took no part. Footnotes 1. Abolished by Article 288 of Republic Act No. 442, as amended by Presidential Decrees Nos. 570-A, 626 and 643. 2. Docketed as Case No. L-15508. 3. Connel Bros Co. vs. National Labor Union, L-3631, June 30, 1956; Hotel & Restaurant Free Workers vs. Kim San Cafe Restaurant, et al., 102 Phil. 470; Apo Workers Union, et al. vs. Castillo, et al., L-7480, Oct. 31, 1955. 4. 14 SCRA 424. 5. 88 Phil. 147; La Campana Food Products, Inc. vs. CIR, L-27907, May 22, 1969, 28 SCRA 314. 6. 94 Phil. 87. 7. The same ruling was adopted in the Rattan Art. etc. vs. Union L-6466, May 21, 1954. C o p y r i g h t 1 9 9 4 - 1 9 9 9 C D T e c h n o l o g i e s A s i a, I n c. G.R. No. L-24003 November 28, 1975 HADJI MOHAMAD DAUD vs. COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS OF THE PORT OF ZAMBOANGA CITY FIRST DIVISION [G.R. No. L-24003. November 28, 1975.] HADJI MOHAMAD DAUD, petitioner-appellee, vs. THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS OF THE PORT OF ZAMBOANGA CITY, respondent-appellant. Solicitor General Arturo A. Alafriz, Assistant Solicitor General Felicisimo R. Rosete and Antonio G. Ibarra, Solicitor Augusto M. Amores and Special Counsel Apolinario A. Ramos for appellant. Dominador L. Natividad for appellee. SYNOPSIS After appellee's motor launch was intercepted by the elements of the Philippine Navy for carrying untaxed blue seal cigarettes, appellant Collector of Customs initiated a criminal case against the patron and crew of the vessel. He also

instituted a Seizure Identification case against the vessel and the cargo, in which proceedings the Collector declared the vessel and cargo forfeited in favor of the Government for violation of Section 2530, paragraphs (k) and (m) of the Tariff and Customs Code. When appellee's request to be allowed to redeem his vessel was denied by the Collector, he commenced a mandamus suit before the Court of First Instance. Based on a stipulation of facts, the trial court ordered the Collector to release the motor launch to appellee. This prompted the collector of Customs to institute the present appeal. The Supreme Court reversed and set aside the appealed order and directed the dismissal of the mandamus suit commenced by appellee, holding that the remedy of appellee was to appeal to the Commissioner of Customs, and then to the Court of Tax Appeals should the Commissioner uphold the Collector's decision. SYLLABUS 1. CUSTOMS AND TARIFF; COURT OF TAX APPEALS; JURISDICTION TO REVIEW ON APPEAL DECISION OF COMMISSIONER OF CUSTOMS. Republic Act No. 1125, Section 7, effective June 16, 1954 gave the Court of Tax Appeals exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review on appeal, decisions of the Commissioner of Customs, involving "seizure, detention or release or property affected . . . or other matter arising under the Customs Law or other law administered by the Bureau of Customs." The law affords the Collector of Customs sufficient latitude in determining whether or not a certain article is subject to seizure or forfeiture and his decision on the matter is appealable to the Commissioner of Customs and then to the Court of Tax Appeals, not to the Court of First Instance. 2. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS ACTS AS TRIBUNAL WHEN SITTING IN FORFEITURE PROCEEDINGS. The Collector of Customs constitutes a tribunal when sitting in forfeiture proceedings beyond the interference of the Court of First Instance and the latter should yield to the jurisdiction of the Collector of Customs. The jurisdiction of the Collector of Customs is provided for in Republic Act 1937 which took effect on July 1, 1957, much later than the Judiciary Act of 1948. It is axiomatic that a later law prevails over a prior statute. 3. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; COURTS OF FIRST INSTANCE DIVESTED OF PREROGATIVE TO REPLEVIN PROPERTY SUBJECT OF SEIZURE PROCEEDINGS UNDER THE TARIFF AND CUSTOMS CODE. On grounds of public policy, it is more reasonable to conclude that the legislators intended to divest the Courts of First Instance of the prerogative to replevin a property which is a subject of a seizure and forfeiture proceedings for violation of the Tariff and Customs Code. Otherwise, actions for forfeiture of property for violation of Customs Laws could easily be undermined by the simple device of replevin. 4. ID.; ID.; ID.; ID.; RECOURSE OF OWNER IN SEIZURE AND CONFISCATION CASES. The judicial recourse of the owner of a personal property which has been the subject of seizure and forfeiture proceedings before the Collector of Customs is not in the Court of First Instance but in the Court of Tax Appeals, and only after exhausting administrative remedies in the Bureau of Customs. If the property owner believes that the Collector's conclusion was erroneous the remedy is by appeal to the Commissioner of Customs, and then to the Court of Tax Appeals should the Commissioner uphold the Collector's decision. The Court of Tax Appeals exercises exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review the rulings of the Commissioner in seizure and confiscation cases, and the power is to the exclusion of the Court of First Instance which may not interfere with the Commissioner's decision even in the form

of proceedings for certiorari, prohibition or mandamus, which are in reality attempts to review the Commissioner's actions. DECISION MARTIN, J p: The imperative question presented to Us in this appeal from the Order, dated September 7, 1964, of the Court of First Instance of Zamboanga City in its Special Proceedings No. 1029 is whether or not a regular court possesses jurisdiction to order by writ of mandamus the redemption of a motor vessel forfeited by a Collector of Customs in favor of the Government for violation of the Tariff and Customs Code (Republic Act No. 1937, as amended). casia The appellee Hadji Mohamad Daud is the owner of a motor launch identified as M/L "MISS HURAIRA". On March 23, 1964, the said vessel was intercepted by the elements of the Philippine Navy between the waters of Palawan and Zamboanga for carrying untaxed blue seal cigarettes. The Philippine Navy then brought the vessel, its crew, and its cargo of blue seal cigarettes to the custody of the appellant Collector of Customs for the Port of Zamboanga City. Immediately thereafter, the Collector of Customs initiated Criminal Case No. 1097 in the City Court of Zamboanga against the patron and crew of the vessel. Likewise, he instituted Seizure Identification Case No. 1265 (1149) against the vessel and the cargo of blue seal cigarettes. On April 27, 1964, appellant Collector of Customs promulgated his decision in the seizure identification case, declaring the forfeiture of the vessel M/L "MISS HURAIRA * and the blue seal cigarettes in favor of the Government for violation of Section 2530, paragraphs (k) and (m) 1 of the Tariff and Customs Code. Upon receipt of this decision, appellee Hadji Mohamad Daud sent a letter on April 28, 1964 to appellant Collector of Customs requesting that he be allowed to redeem his vessel, pursuant to Section 2307 of the Tariff and Customs Code, at the same time emphasizing therein that his request is not an appeal from the decision of the latter in the seizure identification case. On May 12, 1964, appellant Collector of Customs denied the request of Hadji Mohamad Daud for the redemption of his vessel, stating that a Presidential directive forbids the redemption of vessels caught in smuggling and that the said redemption might prejudice the criminal prosecution of the vessel for smuggling activities. Without appealing from the April 27, 1964 decision of the Collector of Customs or from his order of May 12, 1964, denying his request for redemption of the motor launch M/L "MISS HURAIRA", Hadji Mohamad Daud commenced a mandamus suit before the Court of First Instance of Zamboanga City. In that court, the parties entered into a stipulation of facts, upon which the court rendered a decision on September 7, 1964, ordering appellant Collector of Customs to release the motor launch M/L "MISS HURAIRA" to Hadji Mohamad Daud after paying the appraised value thereof in accordance with Section 2307 of the Tariff and Customs Code, and upon due presentation of a bond in the amount of FIVE THOUSAND (P5,000.00) PESOS, on condition that the said Hadji Mohamad Daud shall bring the motor launch within the jurisdiction of the court whenever so ordered in connection with pending Criminal Case No. 3321 involving the motor launch. aisa dc This prompted the Collector of Customs to institute the present appeal. The appeal is meritorious; a fortiori, it must be sustained. As early as June 30, 1955, the Court had already announced in Millarez v. Amparo 2 that "Republic Act No. 1125, Section 7, effective June 16, 1954 gave the Court of

Tax Appeals exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review an appeal, decisions of the Commissioner of Customs, involving 'seizure, detention or release of property affected . . . or other matter arising under the Customs Law or other law administered by the Bureau of Customs". Specifically, in Caltex (Philippines) Inc. v. City of Manila, 3 it was held that the law affords the Collector of Customs sufficient latitude in determining whether or not a certain article is subject to seizure or forfeiture and his decision on the matter is appealable to the Commissioner of Customs and then to the Court of Tax Appeals, not to the Court of First Instance. The fundamental reason is that the Collector of Customs constitutes a tribunal when sitting in forfeiture proceedings 4 beyond the interference of the Court of First Instance. 5 As expressed in Pacis v. Averia, 6 " . . . the Court of First Instance should yield to the jurisdiction of the Collector of Customs. The jurisdiction of the Collector of Customs is provided for in Republic Act 1937 which took effect on July 1, 1957, much later than the Judiciary Act of 1948. It is axiomatic that a later law prevails over a prior statute. Moreover, on grounds of public policy, it is more reasonable to conclude that the legislators intended to divest the Court of First Instance of the prerogative to replevin a property which is a subject of a seizure and forfeiture proceedings for violation of the Tariff and Customs Code. Otherwise, actions for forfeiture of property for violation of Customs laws could easily be undermined by the simple device of replevin." The judicial recourse of the owner of a personal property which has been the subject of a seizure and forfeiture proceedings before the Collector of Customs is not in the Court of First Instance but in the Court of Tax Appeals, and only after exhausting administrative remedies in the Bureau of Customs. 7 If the property owner believes that the Collector's conclusion was erroneous, the remedy is by appeal to the Commissioner of Customs, and then to the Court of Tax Appeals should the Commissioner uphold the Collector's decision. The Court of Tax Appeals exercises exclusive appellate jurisdiction to review the ruling of the Commissioner in seizure and confiscation cases, and that power is to the exclusion of the Court of First Instance, which may not interfere with the Commissioner's decisions even in the form of proceedings for certiorari, prohibition or mandamus, which are in reality attempts to review the Commissioner's actuations. 8 In the case before Us, appellee Hadji Mohamad Daud preferred not to trail the procedural path oft-repeated by the Court in its consistent rulings on the matter. Instead of appealing from the decision of the Collector of Customs in the seizure identification case declaring the forfeiture of his motor launch M/L "MISS HURAIRA" in favor of the Government or from the order denying his request to redeem the same, petitioner-appellee directly pursued the controversy in a petition for mandamus before the Court of First Instance of Zamboanga City to compel the redemption of the subject motor launch. Unexpectedly, the trial court entertained the suit and commanded the appellant Collector of Customs to release the motor launch in question to petitioner-appellee by way of redemption under Section 2307 of the Tariff and Customs Code. Such actuation of the trial court bespeaks of an utter desertion of its own jurisdictional limits and trenches upon those delineated for the Collector of Customs. Certainly, the trial court has no jurisdiction over the case. The present case is strikingly similar to that of Luna v. Pacis. 9 In that case, Donata Luna was the owner of a fishing boat named M/B "PANINDA" which was apprehended near the Calavite Lighthouse, in Occidental Mindoro, for carrying unmanifested and untaxed articles of foreign origin, consisting of blue seal

cigarettes and other articles. Both the vessel and its cargo were made the subject of forfeiture proceedings instituted by Acting Collector of Customs Pedro Pacis, pursuant to the provisions of the Tariff and Customs Code. After hearing, the Acting Collector of Customs rendered a decision ordering the fishing boat M/B "PANINDA" forfeited in favor of the Government. Subsequently, Luna's counsel wrote to the Acting Collector of Customs offering to redeem the fishing boat pursuant to the provisions of the Tariff and Customs Code. The Acting Collector of Customs denied the request for redemption upon the ground that the period within which the forfeited article might be redeemed had already expired and "that release of vessels apprehended for smuggling activities runs counter to the existing policy of the Government." Instead of appealing to the Commissioner of Customs from this decision of the Acting Collector, Luna filed a petition for mandamus with preliminary mandatory injunction (ex-parte) in the Court of First Instance of Manila, praying that "a writ of mandamus issue commanding the respondent to execute all the acts necessary to complete the surrender to petitioner of the vessel in question" upon payment of the appraised value thereof. The trial court dismissed the petition upon the ground that it had no jurisdiction over the case. On appeal by Luna, this Court ruled that the Court of First Instance of Manila had correctly dismissed the petition since it had no jurisdiction over the case. "What appellant should have done," held the court, "was to appeal to the Commissioner of Customs denying her offer to redeem the vessel in question, and, in the event of an adverse decision by the Commissioner of Customs, to appeal to the Court of Tax Appeals; and she still had a recourse of appeal to this Court in case of an adverse decision by the Court of Tax Appeals." ACCORDINGLY, the appealed order of the Court of First Instance of Zamboanga City, dated September 7, 1964, in its Special Proceedings No. 1029, is hereby reversed and set aside and the mandamus suit commenced by petitioner-appellee ordered dismissed. Costs against petitioner-appellee. cdtai SO ORDERED. Teehankee, Makasiar, Esguerra and Muoz Palma, JJ ., concur. Castro, Chairman, J ., took no part. Footnotes 1. Section 2530. Property subject to forfeiture under tariff and customs laws. Any vessel or aircraft, cargo, articles and other objects shall, under the following conditions, be subject to forfeiture: . . . k. Any beast actually being used for the conveyance of article subject to forfeiture under the customs and tariff laws, with its equipage or trappings, and any vehicles similarly used, together with its equipage and appurtenances, including the beast, team or other motive power drawing or propelling the same; but the forfeiture shall not be effected if it is established that the owner of the means of conveyance used as aforesaid, or his agent in charge thereof at the time, has no knowledge of the unlawful act. xxx xxx xxx m. Any article sought to be imported or exported: (1) Without going through a customhouse, whether the act was consummated, frustrated or attempted; (Note: See P.D. 34 amending Section 2530 (h) and (m) 1, promulgated October 27, 1972). 2. 97 Phil. 284-85 (1955). 3. L-30734, July 28, 1969, 25 SCRA 840; see also Collector of Customs v. Arca, L-21389, July 17, 1964, 11 SCRA 537.

4. Commissioner of Customs v. Cloribel, L-20266, January 31, 1967, 19 SCRA 234; Auyong Hian v. Court of Tax Appeals, L-25181, January 11, 1967, 19 SCRA 10; Auyong Hian v. Court of Tax Appeals, L-28782, September 12, 1974, Second Division, per Zaldivar, J ., 59 SCRA 130. 5. Lopez v. Commissioner of Customs, L-28235, January 30, 1971, 37 SCRA 3334. 6. L-22526, November 29, 1966, 18 SCRA 907; see also Ponce Enrile v. Vinuya, L-29043, January 30, 1971, 37 SCRA 386-87. 7. Collector of Customs v. Torres, L-22977, May 31, 1972, 45 SCRA 281, and cases cited. 8. General Travel Service, Ltd. v. David, L-19259, September 23, 1966, 18 SCRA 66-67, citing cases. 9. L-24237, March 31, 1971, 38 SCRA 193; see also Pacis v. Geronimo, L-24068, April 23, 1974, Second Division, per Fernando, J ., 56 SCRA 587-88. C o p y r i g h t 1 9 9 4 - 1 9 9 9 C D T e c h n o l o g i e s A s i a, I n c. G.R. No. L-20400 November 28, 1975 CITY OF ZAMBOANGA vs. JUAN S. ALVAREZ SECOND DIVISION [G.R. No. L-20400. November 28, 1975.] CITY OF ZAMBOANGA, plaintiff-appellant, vs. JUAN S. ALVAREZ, defendant-appellee. City Attorney Pascual S. Atilano and Special counsel Jose J. Anastacio for plaintiffappellant. Timoteo de los Santos Rosauro Alvarez & Ernani Cruz Pao for defendant-appellee. SYNOPSIS The City of Zamboanga sued defendant for damages for failure of the latter to comply with a contract for the construction of a building on a city property. The trial court saw no justification for holding defendant liable after finding that the City Engineer had not prepared the plans and specifications as required in the contract; that it was impossible for defendant to construct the building on account of the stagnant water in the premises in question coming from the public comfort station; that the City had not installed a drainage system despite the promise of the Acting City Engineer that the City would do so; and that from the time the contract was executed and continuously up to the time the case was heard, the premises had been occupied by shanties and buildings belonging to the several persons, which obstructed defendant from constructing the building, and on top of this, the City had acquiesced in and allowed the shanties to remain by collecting market fees from the occupants thereof. On appeal, while the error assigned by appellant was worded in a manner that would imply that a legal question was raised, appellant's discussion basically concerned itself with factual matters, for what was assailed was the credence that the lower court gave to the testimony of the witnesses for appellee. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal. SYLLABUS 1. APPEAL; QUESTION OF LAW; ONLY QUESTIONS OF LAW MAY BE RAISED IN THE SUPREME COURT ON APPEAL. Where the error assigned is worded in a manner that would imply that a legal question is raised, but appellant's rather terse and inadequate discussion in four pages did basically concern itself with factual matters, what was assailed being the credence that the lower court gave to the

testimony of the witnesses for the appellee, a direct appeal to the Supreme Court then allowed limited to questions of law, the futility of the appeal is apparent. 2. MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS; CONTRACTS, POWER TO ENTER INTO. The power of municipal corporations to bind itself with the stipulations freely entered into cannot be disputed. This has been conceded in a case decided as far back as 1903 and followed in subsequent cases, where express reference was made to the Administrative Code provision vesting municipal corporations as political bodies corporate to contract and be contracted with, and where it was expressly held that a valid and binding contract" of a municipal corporation "is protected by the Constitution," and that the terms of the contract are the law between the parties. 3. ID.; ID.; PARTIES ARE RECIPROCALLY BOUND BY THE CONTRACT. A municipal corporation undeniably may rightfully insist on the other contracting party abiding strictly by the terms of the agreement. Reciprocally, it is equally bound. Should it fail to live up to what was covenanted, its conduct is blameworthy; it cannot hold the other party liable for damages. DECISION FERNANDO, J p: The disposition of this appeal on a question of law by the City of Zamboanga, plaintiff in the lower court, is not attended with difficulty. From the facts as found in the well-written decision of the lower court to which deference must he paid, it does follow that appellee Juan S. Alvarez is entitled to a favorable judgment, the dismissal of a complaint against him for the alleged failure to live up to a contract being warranted. There is no justification then for holding him liable in damages. A judgment of affirmance is therefore called for. According to the appealed decision: "The plaintiff alleges that on June 7, 1950, it entered into a contract . . . with the defendant, wherein the defendant agreed: (1) To construct at his own exclusive expense a building of strong materials on a parcel of land belonging to the plaintiff known as Block 'D' in the City of Zamboanga; (2) That the construction of the building in accordance with the plans and specifications duly prepared by the City Engineer shall terminate within 180 days from the date of execution of said contract; (3) That upon completion of said building the defendant shall outright donate the same to the plaintiff and in consideration of which donation the defendant is to be given a priority to lease the said building for a period of ten years paying a monthly rental of P80.00 and with option to renew for a like period under such terms and conditions as the plaintiff and defendant may in the future determine; and (4) That from the date of the execution of the contract . . . up to and including the date of the complaint on May 27, 1959 and the date of the hearing of this case, the defendant failed to construct the building. In view of the failure of the defendant to comply with the terms and conditions of Exhibit 'A' the City Council of Zamboanga passed a resolution on January 23, 1953 (Exhibit '4') revoking the contract, Exhibit 'A'". 1 The lower court then set forth the stand of now appellee Alvarez: "On the other hand, defendant alleges that while it is true that he entered into a contract . . . with the plaintiff on June 7, 1950, however, he has not been able to construct the building on the lot in question due to the following facts: (1) The premises in question have been occupied from the time said contract was executed, continuously up to the present, by shanties and buildings or compartments belonging to several persons who for the last ten (10) years have been paying rent to the plaintiff by reason of the . . . occupancy of said premises; (2) The water and human waste drained from the public comfort station into the said premises remain stagnant and have prevented the construction of said building

under the contract; and (3) The City Engineer's Office has neglected and failed to prepare and approve and to furnish the defendant with the plan and specifications of said building as required by the contract." 2 After which came this portion: "From the facts of the case, it is clear that the plaintiff and defendant entered into a contract . . . on June 7, 1950 with the stipulation that the construction of the building on the lot in question by the plaintiff shall terminate within 180 days from the date of the execution of said contract; however, the plaintiff only sought the revocation of the said contract for failure of the defendant to construct said building on January 23, 1957 or a period of more than six (6) years. What held the plaintiff from revoking the contract after 180 days from June 7, 1950 was not well explained by the plaintiff during the hearing of the case. On the other hand the defendant had only proven by Exhibits '9' and '10' and by the testimonies of eyewitnesses the presence of shanties and huts belonging to several persons on the lot in question, which obstructed him from constructing the building; and that on top of this, the plaintiff had acquiesced in allowing these shanties to remain on the lot in question by collecting market fees from the occupants thereof." 3 Further: "The matter of not bringing up a court action against the squatters or owners of those shanties on the land in question has been well explained by the defendant during the hearing of this case by stating that during the terms of two mayors of Zamboanga City, namely Honorables Manuel Jaldon and Hector Suarez, the former having been the Mayor at the time of the execution of the contract and the latter up to a few years thereafter and before Mayor Cesar C. Climaco became Mayor of Zamboanga City, under whose administration the present action was brought against the defendant, these two (2) city officials for political reasons [had] requested the defendant not to drive out those squatters or owners of shanties on the lot in question; and, further, that resorting to court action involves a long and litigious battle in court. This allegation of the defendant seems to be true because Mayors Jaldon and Suarez or the City Council then at the time of their administration [on] its own initiative should have sought the revocation of the contract. . . . On the other hand, the plaintiff never attempted to explain the presence of those squatters or owners of shanties on the lot in question; instead it only flatly denied this established fact, which even up to the hearing of this case was still existing. Another provision of the contract, . . . in one of its paragraph states: '. . . to construct a building on said site with its plans and specifications to be prepared and approved by the City Engineer. . . .' It is clear from the above quoted provision of Exhibit `A' that the plaintiff thru its City Engineer, should be the one to prepare and approve the plans and specifications of the building on the lot in question. But the present City Engineer Benjamin Limbaga in his testimony stated that it was not incumbent Upon the City Engineer to prepare the plans and specifications, but it is the defendant who should do it and the City Engineer will only approve it. This allegation of the City Engineer runs counter to the expressed provision of the contract, . . . in this regard, as the contract specifically states that is should be prepared by the City Engineer. The plaintiff, thru its City Engineer, is more in a position to prepare the plans and specifications of the proposed building on the lot in question than the defendant. Besides, this is what the contract . . . expressly provides." 4 Lastly: "The other allegation of the defendant that it is impossible to construct the proposed building on the lot in question on account of the stagnant water in the premises in question coming from the public comfort station into the lot in question thru the sewer pipes had been duly established by Exhibit '8', letter of the Acting City Engineer, Marciano A. Solis, dated March 24, 1953 to the defendant herein wherein the former admitted

this fact with a promise that 'if funds are available in the future, the City will undertake the installation of the drainage system in the lot in question.'" 5 In the light of the above facts, the lower court, in the appealed decision, stated that it "is of the opinion that the defendant, even if he wanted to construct the building on the lot in question within the time specified in the contract from the date of its execution or even years thereafter, . . . could not do so due to the existence of shanties therein, the non-fulfillment by the plaintiff, thru its City Engineer, to prepare and approve the plans and specifications of the proposed building, and the impossibility of constructing a building with a solid foundation due to the dormant and stagnant water existing on the lot in question." 6 Hence, the adverse judgment against appellant City of Zamboanga,. The appeal was taken direct to this Court. As noted at the outset, there is no ground for reversal. 1. While the first error assigned is worded in a manner that would imply that a legal question is raised, there being an objection to the finding of the lower court that appellee Alvarez could not be adjudged as having failed to comply with the contract in question, still its rather terse and inadequate discussion in four pages did not basically concern itself with factual matters. For what was assailed was the credence that the lower court gave to the testimony of the witnesses for appellee. There ought to have been a realization on the part of the City Attorney Pascual S. Atilano for appellant City of Zamboanga that in a direct appeal to this Court as was formerly allowable, only questions of law may be raised. That was made clear in Perez v. Araneta. 7 It cited thirty decisions to that effect. Then came Flores v. Flores 8 which referred to twelve additional cases. A reaffirmance of such a doctrine last appeared in Encinares v. Catighod. 9 Appellant, therefore, ought to have realized the futility of its appeal. There was a valid contract, and if there were any violation thereof, the fault cannot he imputed to appellee. Nor can the power of municipal corporations to bind itself with the stipulations fully entered into be disputed. It was conceded as far back as 1903 in Acuna v. Municipality of Iloilo. 10 It was recognized in Municipality of San Joaquin v. The Roman Catholic Bishop of Jaro. 11 In the leading case of Viuda de Tan Toco v. Municipal Council of Iloilo, 12 express reference was made to the Administrative Code provision vesting municipal corporations as political bodies corporate to contract and be contracted with. 13 What is more, in Manantan v. Municipality of Luna," 14 it was expressly held that "a valid and binding contract" of a municipal corporation "is protected by the Constitution." 15 As reiterated in the recent case of Smith Bell and Co. (Phils.) v. Gimenez, 16 "the terms of the contract are the law between the parties." 17 Necessarily then, from the finding of facts to which deference must be paid and in the light of the above well-settled principle of law, there can be no disputing the conclusion that the decision arrived at by the lower court absolving appellee Alvarez calls for affirmance. A municipal corporation undeniably may rightfully insist on the other contracting party abiding strictly by the terms of the agreement. Reciprocally, it is equally bound. Should it fail to live up to what was covenanted, its conduct is blameworthy. Here that was what happened. There cannot be the least justification then for imposing liability on appellee. 2. Such being the case, the second assigned error to the effect that damages should be awarded appellant City of Zamboanga is equally devoid of any legal foundation. WHEREFORE, the decision of the lower court dated June 3, 1961 is affirmed. No costs. Barredo, Antonio, Aquino and Concepcion, Jr., JJ., concur.

Footnotes 1. Decision, Record on Appeal, 60-61. 2. Ibid, 61-62. 3. Ibid, 62-63. 4. Ibid, 63-65. 5. Ibid, 65. 6. Record on Appeal, 65-66. 7. L-18414, July 15, 1968, 24 SCRA 43. 8. L-28930, August 17, 1973, 52 SCRA 293. 9. L-29764, November 29, 1973,, 54 SCRA 140. 10. 2 Phil. 217. Cf. United States v. Fernandez, 9 Phil. 199 (1907). 11. 36 Phil. 577 (1917). 12. 49 Phil. 52 (1926). 13. Section 2165 of the Revised Administration Code (1970). 14. 82 Phil. 844 (1949). 15. Ibid, 849. Cf. Municipality of Pasay, v. Manaois, 86 Phil. 629 (1950); Municipality of Batangas v. Cantos, 91 Phil. 514 (1952); Municipality of Camiling v. Lopez, 99 Phil. 187 (1956); San Diego v. Municipality of Naujan, 107 Phil. 18 (1960). 16. L-17617, June 29, 1963, 8 SCRA 407. 17. Ibid, 412. Cf. Sanchez v. Municipality of Asingan, L-17635, March 30, 1963, 7 SCRA 559.