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G.R. No. 66130 – 236 SCRA 336 – Civil Law – Land Titles and Deeds – Land Registration – Submission of Tracing Cloth Plan is mandatory
Remedial Law – Evidence – Best Evidence Rule – Secondary Evidence; when admitted – Before blueprint of survey plan is admitted, loss of original must be proven
Isabel, Consuelo, and Serapia were sisters who filed a petition to register 6 parcels of land under their name. The land has an area of 10,481 sq m. The same was inherited by them from their parents who acquired the same from Spanish grant. The sisters showed possessory information. The lower court ruled in their favor but only awarded 4 parcels of land. Parcel no. 1 and 2 were not yet decided upon as there was a separate case involving one Constancio dela Peña Tan. The heirs appealed to have lots 1 and 2 be included.
ISSUE: Whether or not the heirs have rights over lots 1 and 2.
HELD: No. The Supreme Court noted that they do not even have rights over the other parcels of land (but no need to disturb ruling as it was not appealed for by the Director of Lands). The original tracing cloth plan (sometimes referred to as diazo polyester film or whiteprint or sepia print) of the land applied for was not submitted in evidence by the heirs. Such omission is fatal to their application as the submission of the original tracing cloth plan is a statutory requirement of mandatory character. While a blue print (the copy of the whiteprint) of survey Plan Psu 215382 (lot 1) was presented before the trial court, the same falls short of the mandatory requirement of law (the law requires the ORIGINAL TRACING CLOTH PLAN).
The basis of the claim of the Heirs of Tesalona is a Spanish title, a possessory information title issued on May 20, 1896 to Maria Rosita Lorenzo pursuant to the Royal Decree of February 13, 1894 for 1.0481 hectares (but the actual land area being applied for (lot 1) was 7000+ sq m. But the heirs did not submit the original of the possessory information title. What was submitted was an unclear, illegible copy of a Spanish document purporting to be the title evidencing the land grant of 1896. Moreover, proof of loss or unavailability of the original document as required by Section 5, Rule 130 of the Rules of Court was not established thus, rendering admissibility of the said secondary evidence questionable and dubious. PD 982 was also in effect which mandated Spanish titles to be registered but the heirs never registered the same (purpose of the law was to avoid falsified titles after the war).