Civil Law

LANZAR v. DIRECTOR OF LANDS G.R. No. L-31934 July 29, 1977 Property, Accretion, Public Domain, Possession

 

FACTS:

Petitioner, Ramon Lanzar, filed an application for registration of title to a parcel of land located in Iloilo City alleging that he is the owner in fee simple of the land in question and asking that the title thereto be registered in his name.

The Director of Lands and the City of Iloilo filed an opposition to the application on the ground that the land in question a foreshore land which forms part of the public domain and is needed by the City of Iloilo as a road right of way of the Molo Arevalo Boulevard, and that the applicant had not possessed the property in such a manner as to warrant an implied grant entitled him to confirmation of his title thereto.

After trial, the CFI rendered a decision holding that the property in question, having been possessed by the applicant and his predecessors-in-interest, publicly, continuously and adversely for more than 30 years, the same was adjudicated to the petitioner, it appearing that no proof had been adduced that the said land is necessary for public utility or establishment of special industries. Such decision was reversed by the CA. The CA held that the land in question, being an accretion formed by the action of the sea, is property of the public domain and not susceptible of private appropriation.

ISSUE: 

Whether or not the title to the land in question which was formed by action of the sea as an accretion to Lot 1899 may be registered in the name of the applicant on the basis of adverse possession for over 30 years.

RULING: 

The petitioner has applied for the registration of his title to a parcel of land which is admittedly an accretion of Lot No. 1899, it having been formed by the gradual action of the sea before 1922. A verification of Lot 1899 by the Bureau of Lands disclosed that the portion of land applied for and described in the plan, and in its technical description, is outside of Lot 1899, the same being an accretion thereto formed by the action of the sea.

During the Cadastral Survey of 1911-1912, the lot in question was non-existent. Hence, said land as an accretion to Lot 1899 must have gradually developed from 1912 to 1922 and thereafter. It is now separated by the Arevalo-Molo Boulevard from the sea.

Article 4 of the Law of Waters provides:

ART. 4. Lands added to the shores by accretions and alluvium deposits caused by the action of the sea, form part of the public domain. When they are no longer washed by the waters of the sea, and are not necessary for the purposes of public utility, or for the establishment of special industries, or for the coastguard service, the Government shall declare them to be the property of the owners of the estates adjacent thereto and as an increment thereof.

Provisions of the said Law of Waters, in its article 339, it prescribes that:

Property of public ownership is —

l. That destined to the public use, such as roads, canals, rivers, torrents, ports, and bridges constructed by the State, and banks, shores, roadsteads, and that of a similar character.

Article 341 of the same code provides:

Property of public ownership, when no longer devoted to general uses or to the requirements of the defense of the territory, shall become a part of the State property.

The shores and the lands reclaimed from the sea, while they continue to be devoted to public uses and no grant whatever has been made of any portion of them to private persons, remain a part of the public domain and are for public uses, and, until they are converted into patrimonial property of the State, such lands, thrown up by the action of the sea, and the shores adjacent thereto, are not susceptible of prescription, inasmuch as, being dedicated to the public uses, they are not subject of commerce among men, in accordance with the provision of article 1936 of the Civil Code.

The occupation or material possession of any land formed upon the shore by accretions and alluvium deposits occasioned by the sea, where the occupant or possessor is a private person and holds without previous permission or authorization from the Government, granted in due form, although he may have had the intention to hold it for the purpose of making it his own, is illegal possession on his part and amounts to nothing more than a mere detainer of the land, which is out of the sphere of the commerce of men, as belonging to the public domain and being alloted to public uses and for the use of all persons who live at the place where it is situated.

It is thus seen that the petitioner could not acquire the land in question by prescription.

In view of the foregoing, the CA did not err in declaring the property sought to be registered as part of the public domain devoted to public use not susceptible of private appropriation. The land in question is needed by the City of Iloilo for the expansion of the Arevalo-Molo Boulevard.

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