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August 7, 2014

Ramos vs. Director of Land

Facts:
  • In 1882, Restituto Romero y Ponce apparently gained possession of a tract of land located in the municipality of San Jose, Province of Nueva Ecija.
  • Ponce obtained a possessory information title of the land (by taking advantage of the Maura Law or Royal Decree of Feb. 13, 1994) and registered the land in 1896.
  • In 1907, the part of the land (Parcel 1) was sold by Ponce to petitioner Ramos and to his wife Ambrosia Salamanca.
  • Ramos instituted appropriate proceedings to have his title registered. 
  • The Director of Lands and Director of Forestry opposed the application on the following grounds: Ramos had not acquired a good title from the Spanish government; The first parcel was forest land.
  • RTC and CA ruled against Ramos. 
  • It has been seen however that the predecessor in interest to Ramos at least held this tract of land under color of title.

Issue: Is that actual occupancy of a part of the land described in the instrument giving color of title sufficient to give title to the entire tract of land? 

Held: YES.
The doctrine of constructive possession indicates the answer. The general rule is that the possession and cultivation of a portion of a tract under claim of ownership of all is a constructive possession of all, if the remainder is not in the adverse possession of another.

Ramos has a color of title, is in good faith and had been in OPN possesion
The claimant has color of title; he acted in good faith; and he has had open, peaceable, and notorious possession of a portion of the property, sufficient to apprise the community and the world that the land was for his enjoyment. 

Possession in the eyes of the law does not mean that a man has to have his feet on every square meter of ground before it can be said that he is in possession. Ramos and his predecessor in interest fulfilled the requirements of the law on the supposition that he premises consisted of agricultural public land.

Important law: Act NO. 926
Subsection 6 of section 54, of Act No. 926, entitled The Public Land Law, as amended by Act No. 1908, reads as follows: 

6. All persons who by themselves or their predecessors and interest have been in the open, continuous, exclusive, and notorious possession and occupation of agricultural public lands, as defined by said Act of Congress of July 1, 1902, under a bona fide claim of ownership except as against the Government, for a period of 10 years next preceding the twenty-sixth day of July, nineteen hundred and four (July 26, 1904), except when prevented by war or force majeure, shall be conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions essential to a government grant and to have received the same, and shall be entitled to a certificate of title to such land under the provisions of this chapter.

There was no satisfactory evidence to support the claim that the land is a forest land
Forest reserves of public land can be established as provided by law. When the claim of the citizen and the claim of the Government as to a particular piece of property collide, if the Government desires to demonstrate that the land is in reality a forest, the Director of Forestry should submit to the court convincing proof that the land is not more valuable for agricultural than for forest purposes. 

Great consideration, it may be stated, should, and undoubtedly will be, paid by the courts to the opinion of the technical expert who speaks with authority on forestry matters. But a mere formal opposition on the part of the Attorney-General for the Director of Forestry, unsupported by satisfactory evidence will not stop the courts from giving title to the claimant.

Ruling:
  • Ramos proved a title to the entire tract of land for which he asked registration, under the provisions of subsection 6, of section 54, of Act No. 926, as amended by Act No. 1908, with reference to the Philippine Bill and the Royal Decree of February 13, 1894, and Ponce’s possessory information.
  • RTC shall register in the name of the applicant the entire tract in parcel No. 1, as described in plan Exhibit A.


G.R. No. L-13298 November 19, 1918 CORNELIO RAMOS, petitioner-appellant, vs. THE DIRECTOR OF LANDS, objector-appellee.

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