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August 12, 2014

Baranda vs. Gustillo

Facts:
  • A petition for reconstitution of title was filed with the CFI (now RTC) of Iloilo involving a parcel of land known as Lot No. 4517 of the Sta. Barbara Cadastre covered by OCT No. 6406 in the name of Romana Hitalia.
  • The OCT was cancelled and TCT No. 106098 was issued in the names of petitioners Baranda and Hitalia.
  • The Court issued a writ of possession which Gregorio Perez, Maria P. Gotera and Susana Silao refused to honor on the ground that they also have TCT No. 25772 over the same Lot No. 4517.
  • The Court found out that TCT No. 257772 was fraudulently acquired by Perez, Gotera and Susana.
  • Thereafter, the court issued a writ of demolition which was questioned by Perez and others so a motion for reconsideration was filed.
  • Another case was filed by Baranda and Hitalia (GR. NO. 62042) for the execution of judgement in the resolutions issued by the courts.
  • In the meantime, the CA dismissed a civil case (GR. NO. 00827) involving the same properties. (NOTE: This time three cases na ang involve excluding the case at bar.)
  • The petitioners prayed that an order be released to cancel No.T-25772. Likewise to cancel No.T-106098 and once cancelled to issue new certificates of title to each of Eduardo S. Baranda and Alfonso Hitalia To cancel No.T-25772. Likewise to cancel No.T-106098 and once cancelled to issue new certificates of title to each of Eduardo S. Baranda and Alfonso Hitalia.
  • In compliance with the order or the RTC, the Acting Register of Deeds Avito Saclauso annotated the order declaring TCT T-25772 null and void, cancelled the same and issued new certificate of titles in the name of petitioners. 
  • However, by reason of a separate case pending in the Court of Appeals, a notice of lis pendens was annotated in the new certificate of title. 
  • This prompted the petitioners to move for the cancellation of the notice of lis pendens in the new certificates. 
  • Judge Tito Gustilo then ordered the Acting Register of Deeds for the cancellation of the notice of lis pendens but the Acting Register of Deeds filed a motion for reconsideration invoking Sec 77 of PD 1529.


Issue: What is the nature of the duty of a Register of Deeds to annotate or annul a notice of lis pendens in a torrens certificate of title.

Held: 

Section 10, Presidential Decree No. 1529 states that "It shall be the duty of the Register of Deeds to immediately register an instrument presented for registration dealing with real or personal property which complies with all the requisites for registration. ... If the instrument is not registrable, he shall forthwith deny registration thereof and inform the presentor of such denial in writing, stating the ground or reasons therefore, and advising him of his right to appeal by consulta in accordance with Section 117 of this Decree."

Section 117 provides that "When the Register of Deeds is in doubt with regard to the proper step to be taken or memoranda to be made in pursuance of any deed, mortgage or other instrument presented to him for registration or where any party in interest does not agree with the action taken by the Register of Deeds with reference to any such instrument, the question shall be submitted to the Commission of Land Registration by the Register of Deeds, or by the party in interest thru the Register of Deeds. ... ."

The function of ROD is ministerial in nature
The function of a Register of Deeds with reference to the registration of deeds encumbrances, instruments and the like is ministerial in nature. The respondent Acting Register of Deeds did not have any legal standing to file a motion for reconsideration of the respondent Judge's Order directing him to cancel the notice of lis pendens annotated in the certificates of titles of the petitioners over the subject parcel of land. 

In case of doubt as to the proper step to be taken in pursuance of any deed ... or other instrument presented to him, he should have asked the opinion of the Commissioner of Land Registration now, the Administrator of the National Land Title and Deeds Registration Administration in accordance with Section 117 of Presidential Decree No. 1529.

No room for construction for the laws on functions of ROD
The elementary rule in statutory construction is that when the words and phrases of the statute are clear and unequivocal, their meaning must be determined from the language employed and the statute must be taken to mean exactly what it says. The statute concerning the function of the Register of Deeds to register instruments in a torrens certificate of title is clear and leaves no room for construction.

Read the full text:
G.R. No. 81163 September 26, 1988 
EDUARDO S. BARANDA and ALFONSO HITALIA, petitioners, vs. HONORABLE JUDGE TITO GUSTILO, ACTING REGISTER OF DEEDS AVITO SACLAUSO, HONORABLE COURT OF APPEALS, and ATTY. HECTOR P. TEODOSIO, respondents.

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