Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Office of the City Mayor of Parañaque City, et al. vs. Mario D. Ebio and His Children/Heirs namely, Arturo V. Ebio, Eduardo, et al., G.R. No. 178411, June 23, 2010.

Possibly Unnecessary Use of a Latin Maxim (But At Least You Find Out What it Means). In the June 2010 case of Office of the City Mayor of Parañaque City, et al. vs. Mario D. Ebio and His Children/Heirs namely, Arturo V. Ebio, Eduardo, et al., G.R. No. 178411. June 23, 2010 , the Court noted that the State does not have any authority to convey a property through the issuance of a grant or a patent if the land is no longer a public land. It then stated: Nemo dat quod dat non habet. “No one can give what he does not have.” 


Property; Ownership; Alluvial Deposits. In case you ever wondered who owns land formed by alluvial deposits, wonder no more. The ownership of such land is governed by Article 84 of theSpanish Law of Waters of 1866, which remains in effect, in relation to Article 457 of the Civil Code. Article 84 of the Spanish Law of Waters of 1866 specifically covers ownership over alluvial deposits along the banks of a creek. According to this article, accretions deposited gradually upon lands contiguous to creeks, streams, rivers, and lakes, by accessions or sediments from the waters thereof, belong to the owners of such lands. In this regard, Article 457 of the Civil Code states that “[T] o the owners of lands adjoining the banks of rivers belong the accretion which they gradually receive from the effects of the current of the waters. It is therefore explicit from the foregoing provisions that alluvial deposits along the banks of a creek do not form part of the public domain as the alluvial property automatically belongs to the owner of the estate to which it may have been added. The only restriction provided for by law is that the owner of the adjoining property must register the same under the Torrens system; otherwise, the alluvial property may be subject to acquisition through prescription by third persons. 


Property; Ownership; Prescription. In the case at bar, respondents assert that their predecessor-in-interest, Pedro Vitalez, had occupied and possessed the subject lot as early as 1930. In 1964, respondent Mario Ebio secured a permit from the local government of Parañaque for the construction of their family dwelling on the said lot. In 1966, Pedro executed an affidavit of possession and occupancy allowing him to declare the property in his name for taxation purposes. Curiously, it was also in 1966 when Guaranteed Homes, Inc., the registered owner of Road Lot No. 8 (“RL 8″) which adjoins the land occupied by the respondents, donated RL 8 to the local government of Parañaque. From these findings of fact by both the trial court and the Court of Appeals, only one conclusion can be made: that for more than 30 years, neither Guaranteed Homes, Inc. nor the local government of Parañaque in its corporate or private capacity sought to register the accreted portion. Undoubtedly, respondents are deemed to have acquired ownership over the subject property through prescription. Respondents can assert such right despite the fact that they have yet to register their title over the said lot. It must be remembered that the purpose of land registration is not the acquisition of lands, but only the registration of title which the applicant already possessed over the land. Registration was never intended as a means of acquiring ownership. A decree of registration merely confirms, but does not confer, ownership. 


Property; Ownership; Registration Does Not Confer Title. Undoubtedly, respondents are deemed to have acquired ownership over the subject property through prescription. Respondents can assert such right despite the fact that they have yet to register their title over the said lot. It must be remembered that the purpose of land registration is not the acquisition of lands, but only the registration of title which the applicant already possessed over the land. Registration was never intended as a means of acquiring ownership. A decree of registration merely confirms, but does not confer, ownership. Office of the City Mayor of Parañaque City, et al. vs. Mario D. Ebio and His Children/Heirs namely, Arturo V. Ebio, Eduardo, et al., G.R. No. 178411, June 23, 2010.

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