Civil Law

Republic of the Philippines vs Dominador Santua

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564 SCRA 331 – Civil Law – Land Titles and Deeds – Documents Needed for Reconstitution of Land Title

Dominador Santua was claiming that he is the owner of a parcel of land in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. He could not, however, produce the original copy of the certificate as it was lost during an earthquake in 1994. The records of the Registry of Deeds were destroyed due to a fire in 1977. There are no encumbrances on the land. Santua then filed for reconstitution. He presented a tax declaration, a survey plan and technical description of the land as evidence.

ISSUE: Whether or not tax declarations, technical description and lot plans are sufficient bases for the reconstitution of lost or destroyed certificates of titles.

HELD: No. Section 3 of RA No. 26 provides:

SEC. 3. Transfer certificates of title shall be reconstituted from such of the sources hereunder enumerated as may be available, in the following order:

(a) The owner’s duplicate of the certificate of title;

(b) The co-owner’s, mortgagee’s or lessee’s duplicate of the certificate of title;

(c) A certified copy of the certificate of title, previously issued by the register of deeds or by a legal custodian thereof;

(d) The deed of transfer or other document on file in the registry of deeds, containing the description of the property, or an authenticated copy thereof, showing that its original had been registered, and pursuant to which the lost or destroyed transfer certificate of title was issued;

(e) A document, on file in the registry of deeds, by which the property the description of which is given in said documents, is mortgaged, leased or encumbered, or an authenticated copy of said document showing that its original had been registered; and

(f)Any other document which, in the judgment of the court, is sufficient and proper basis for reconstituting the lost or destroyed certificate of title.

Santua anchored his argument on Section 3 (f) of RA 26. However, applying the principle of ejusdem generis, Section 3 (f) of RA 26 should be pertinent to the items preceding it. Meaning, these should be documents issued by or are on file with the Register of Deeds.

Moreover, they are documents from which the particulars of the certificate of title or the circumstances which brought about its issuance could readily be ascertained.

At most, the tax declaration can only be prima facie evidence of possession or a claim of ownership.

As for the survey plan and technical descriptions, these are not the documents referred to in Section 3(f) but merely additional documents that should accompany the petition for reconstitution. Moreover, a survey plan or technical description prepared at the instance of a party cannot be considered in his favor, the same being self-serving.

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