Payatas Estate Improvement Co. vs Mariano Tuason

G.R. No. 30067 – 53 Phil. 55 – Civil Law – Law on Property – Avulsion vs Alluvium – Accessio Natural

In 1904, Maria Concepcion Cañas obtained a Torrens title over a large parcel of land (5,122 hectares) situated near the Marikina (then Mariquina) River. On the opposite side of the river is situated an equally large parcel of land belonging to the Tuasons (Mariquina Estate).

In 1920, Concepcion sold her land to Payatas Estate Improvement Co. Payatas Estate had the land surveyed but this time it is showing that the total land area is 22 hectares less than the original plan. The surveyor explained that this was due to erosions that took place near the river bank and that some portions of the land were washed away by the river toward the opposite estate.

Payatas Estate is now claiming some portions of the Mariquina estate. Payatas Estate avers that since the land is covered by a Torrens title, the rule on accretion is not applicable.

Issue: Whether or not Payatas Estate has a right to claim some portions of the Mariquina Estate.

Held: No. Article 366 of the [Old] Civil Code provides: “any accretions which the banks of rivers may gradually receive from the effect of the current belong to the owners of the estates bordering thereon.” This provision applies even to Torrens titled lands.

Accretions of that character are natural incidents to land bordering on running streams and are not affected by the registration laws. It follows that registration does not protect the riparian owner (Payatas Estate) against diminution of the area of his land through gradual changes in the course of the adjoining stream.

Avulsion cannot be raised as well as a ground to lay claim over the 22 hectares land now forming part of the Mariquina estate. There was no evidence presented to show that the increase was due to avulsion. The presumption is that the change was gradual and cause by erosion of the Payatas bank of the river and consequent accretion to the Mariquina estate. It follows that the land in question is now a part of that estate and no longer pertains to the Payatas estate.

Read full text