In May 1960, Ramon Lanzar filed an application for registration a parcel of land alleging that he is the owner in fee simple of such land. The Director of Lands and the City of Iloilo filed an opposition to the application on the ground that the land in question is a foreshore land which forms part of the public domain and is needed by the City as a road right of way of the Molo Arevalo Boulevard.
The trial court ruled in favour of Lanzar holding that the property in question had been possessed by the applicant and his predecessors-in-interest, publicly, continuously and adversely for more than 30 years and that the City failed to show proof that said land is necessary for public utility or establishment of special industries.
The Director of Lands and the City of Iloilo appealed to the CA which reversed the trial court’s decision, hence, this appeal.
Is the land in question part of public domain?
Yes. The land in question is an accretion of Lot No. 1899, it having formed by the gradual action of the sea before 1922. Under Article 4 of the Law of Waters, it is stated that “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.”
Also, under Article 341 of the Civil Code (Article 422 of the NCC) states that, “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 of Article 1936 of the Civil Code.