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G.R. No. L-9989 – 37 Phil. 781 – Civil Law – Law on Property – Easement – Right of Way – Public Highway
Ramona Benedicto owns Hacienda Toreno which is located in Victorias, Negros Occidental. Two roads pass through the said hacienda: the Dacuman-Toreno Road and the Nanca-Victorias Road. For forty years, the owners of the nearby hacienda, Eduardo Cuaycong et al, had been using the said roads to transport their products.
But in 1911, Benedicto decided to close the roads and began asking for toll fees for wagons passing through their hacienda. In 1912, Cuaycong et al sued Benedicto. Cuaycong claimed that they have a right of way over the said Nanca-Victorias Road considering that they have been using it since time immemorial.
The lower court dismissed the claim over the Dacuman-Toreno Road for the other parties were in default, but the lower court declared that Cuaycong et al do have a right of way over the Nanca-Victorias Road. Benedicto appealed. Cuaycong then averred that the road is a public highway.
ISSUE: Whether or not Cuaycong et al were able to establish their right over the Nanca-Victorias Road.
HELD: No. The Nanca-Victorias Road is not a public highway. First it was shown that in the Torrens title held by Benedicto, there was no encumbrance attached to the hacienda, that it is nowhere nearby a road nor does it border a road.
Second, the road was not maintained by the local government. Its upkeep was solely supported by the road users for their benefits, convenience and interest. There was no adverse possession by the government.
Third, there was no evidence which shows that the land is of the nature of a public highway. It was shown that the road was in existence since 1885, but it was not shown as a public highway, in fact, the other evidence shown pertain to Dacuman-Toreno Road.
Fourth, the road was closed in 1911; it was only in 1912 that Cuaycong et al filed their suit.
Neither did Cuaycong et al acquire a right of private easement. The lower court ruled that Cuaycong et al and their predecessors in interest had been using the said road since time immemorial yet they only showed evidence that it was in use in 1885 but no other evidence to show a further time of usage was ever shown to prove their claim.