You are on page 1of 2

LAND TITLES AND DEEDS| B2015

CASE DIGESTS

Republic v. Villanueva
June 29, 1982
Garcia, J.
Gabe Ruaro

SUMMARY:
The INC bought land, and wanted to have it registered. The
CFI and the SC agreed that it could not own land, as it is a
private corporation.
DOCTRINE:
A corporation sole, a juridical person, is disqualified to
acquire or hold alienable lands of the public domain, in
accordance with the constitutional prohibition in Section
11, Art. XIV of the 1973 Consti that no private corporation
or association ma hold alienable lands of the public domain
except by lease not to exceed one thousand hectares in
area.
Further a church is not entitled to avail itself of the
benefits of Section 48(b) which only applies to Filipino
citizens or natural persons. A corporation sole, an unhappy
freak of English law, has no nationality.
Teehankee, dissent:
The lands had already become private by the time the INC
acquired them. Thus, the consti. Prohibition against private
corporations owning public land no longer applies.
FACTS:
Lots nos. 568 and 569 in Barrio Dampol, Plaridel Bulacan,
with an area of 313 sqm were acquired by Iglesia ni Cristo in
exchange for a lot with an area of 247 sqm. The said lands
are in an area certified as alienable or disposable by the
Bureau of Forestry, nad have santol, mango, and banana
trees planted on them. The taxes covering them had been
paid.
The INC, a corporation sole, thus filed an application
for the registration of the two lots, alleging that it and its

predecessors-in-interest had possessed the land for more


than 30 years, citing Sec. 48(b) of the Public Land Law.
The Republic, through the director of lands, opposed
the application, on the grounds that as a private
corporation, INC is disqualified from holding alienable lands
of the public domain, that the land applied for is public land
not susceptible of private appropriation, and that INC and its
predecessors had not been in OCEAN possession since June
12, 1945.
CFI ordered registration of the 2 lots in the name of
the INC, represented by Executive Minister Erano G. Manalo.
Hence this appeal.
ISSUE:
WON the INC is allowed to acquire or hold alienable lands of
the public domain.
RULING: No.
RATIO:
A corporation sole, a juridical person, is disqualified to
acquire or hold alienable lands of the public domain, in
accordance with the constitutional prohibition in Section 11,
Art. XIV of the 1973 Consti that no private corporation or
association ma hold alienable lands of the public domain
except by lease not to exceed one thousand hectares in
area.
Further a church is not entitled to avail itself of the
benefits of Section 48(b) which only applies to Filipino
citizens or natural persons. A corporation sole, an unhappy
freak of English law, has no nationality.
Other matters
1. The lots are not private lands, following the doctrine
of Susi v. Razon. What was considered private land in
that case was a parcel of land possessed by a Filipino
citizen since time immemorial. Here, the lands are
still public lands. A land registration proceeding
presupposes that the land is public.
2.
All lands that were not acquired from the
government belong to the public domain, except
those in the possession of an occupant and his

LAND TITLES AND DEEDS| B2015


CASE DIGESTS

predecessors since time immermorial. (Oh Cho v


Director of Lands)
3. the right of an occupant of public agricultural land to
obtain the confirmation of his title is derecho
dominical incoativo and before the issuance of the
certificate of title, the land still belongs to the state.
DISPOSITIVE: Lower Court Judgment reversed and set
aside. Application for registration dismissed.
Dissenting Opinion, De Castro, J.:
Supposedly a dissenting opinion, but only written to rebut
Teehankees dissent, wherein one of De Castros ponencias,
Herico v. Dar, was cited as proving that lands of the public
domain which by reason of possession and cultivation for a
length of time gives rise to the presumption of a grant by
the State. De Castro merely wanted to clarify that only
through the prescribed procedure known as judicial
confirmation can full and absolute title be granted to
convert the land into a truly private land. He concurs
otherwise.
Just because land has been set aside from the mass
of public domain subject to judicial confirmation of
incomplete or imperfect title does not make it private land.
It is still private land, Only when the court adjudicates the
land to an applicant does it become privately owned.
None of this matters because of the constitutional
provision quoted. De Castro just wanted to write this
because hes mad at Teehankee.
Dissenting Opinion, Fernando, C.J.:
The Constitution must be respected. However, it is not the
prohibition against private corporations owning land which is
decisive of the case. Rather, it is the provision on religious
freedom which bans the enactment of any law prohibiting its
free exercise. Here, the INC as a corporation sole seeks
registration of land, on which a chapel is located. Religious
freedom must be respected, so the land must be registered.
Besides, the right of the Roman Catholic Church to buy land
from a Filipino citizen was recognized in RCA of Davao v.
Land Registration.

Dissenting Opinion, Teehankee, J.


Somehow in this opinion Teehankee discussed Meralcos
registration, which was not included anywhere else in the
case.
Teehankee posits that the registration should be
allowed, on the thesis that the lands in question had
become private lands after the OCEAN possession for at
least 30 years of their predecessors in interest.
In adherence to the established doctrines of Carino,
Susi, and all the cases down to Herico, pursuant to the
Public Land Act, the possessor of the subject lands shall be
conclusively presumed to have performed all the conditions
essential to a government grant and shall be entitled to a
certificate of title. Thus, by legal fiction the land has ceased
to be of the public domain and has become private property.
As such, the Constitutional prohibition against private
corporations holding lands of the public domain no longer
applies.
The acquisitive prescription provided for in Sec. 48
(b) of the Public Land Act happens by operation of law, and
the public land is converted to and becomes private
property under a showing of OCEAN possession under bona
fide claim of ownership for the statutory period of 30 years
immediately preceding the filing of the application.
Cases cited to support this doctrine: Susi v. Razon,
Mesina v. Vda. De Sonza, Lacaste v. Director of Lands,
Manaarpac v. Cabanatan, Miguel v. CA, Herico v. DAR.