Respondents Zenaida Guinto-Aldana, her siblings, nephews and nieces, filed an Application for Registration of Title over two pieces of land in Talango, Pamplona Uno, Las Piñas City.
These lands, identified as Lot No. 4 and Lot No. 5 measure 1,509 square meters and 4,640 square meters, respectively.
Respondents professed themselves to be co-owners of these lots, having acquired them by succession from their predecessors Sergio and Lucia Guinto who, in turn, had acquired the property under a 1969 document denominated as “Kasulatan sa Paghahati ng Lupa na Labas sa Hukuman na may Pagpaparaya at Bilihan,” stating that Sergio and Lucia acquired for a consideration the respective shares on the subject property.
Respondents also alleged that until the time of the application, they and their predecessors-in-interest have been in actual, open, peaceful, adverse, exclusive and continuous possession of these lots in the concept of owner and that they had consistently declared the property in their name for purposes of real estate taxation.
The trial court found the application to be sufficient in form and substance; hence, it gave due course thereto and ordered compliance with the publication and notification requirements of the law.
Opposing the application, petitioner, through the Office of the City Prosecutor of Las Piñas City, advanced that the lots sought to be registered were inalienable lands of the public domain; that neither respondents nor their predecessors-in-interest had been in prior possession thereof; and that the muniment of title and the tax declaration submitted to the court did not constitute competent and sufficient evidence of bona fide acquisition or of prior possession in the concept of owner.
The trial court rendered its Decision denying the application for registration. It found that respondents were unable to establish with certainty the identity of the lots applied for registration, because of failure to submit to the court the original tracing cloth plan as mandated by P.D. No. 1529.
It likewise noted that the fact of adverse, continuous, open, public and peaceful possession in the concept of owner has not been proved as the evidence did not establish the nature of the possession of respondents’ predecessors.
On appeal, the CA reversed the RTC Decision.
Hence, this petition.
Whether or not there was sufficient compliance with PD 1529.
We find the petition to be unmeritorious.
Section 17 of P.D. No. 1529, otherwise known as The Property Registration Decree of 1978, materially provides:
Section 17. What and where to file.–The application for land registration shall be filed with the Court of First Instance of the province or city where the land is situated. The applicant shall file, together with the application, all original muniments of titles or copies thereof and a survey plan of the land approved by the Bureau of Lands.
The provision denotes that it is imperative in an application for original registration that the applicant submit to the court, aside from the original or duplicate copies of the muniments of title, a copy of a duly approved survey plan of the land sought to be registered. The survey plan is indispensable as it provides a reference on the exact identity of the property.
Sound is the doctrinal precept that while the best evidence to identify a piece of land for registration purposes is the original tracing cloth plan issued by the Bureau of Lands, blueprint copies and other evidence could also provide sufficient identification.
While the petitioner correctly asserts that the submission in evidence of the original tracing cloth plan, duly approved by the Bureau of Lands, is a mandatory requirement, this Court has recognized instances of substantial compliance with this rule. In previous cases, this Court ruled that blueprint copies of the original tracing cloth plan from the Bureau of Lands and other evidence could also provide sufficient identification to identify a piece of land for registration purposes. x x x
In the case at bar, we find that the submission of the duly executed blueprint, together with the technical description of the property, operates as substantial compliance with the legal requirement of ascertaining the identity of Lot Nos. 4 and 5 applied for registration.