Civil Law

Register of Deeds vs Philippine National Bank (1965)

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G.R. No. L-17641 – 13 SCRA 46 – Civil Law – Land Titles and Deeds – Land Covered by a Previous Title 

Datu Binasing was the owner of 4 parcels of land in Cotabato. He sold the 4 parcels of land to Soledad de Teruel in 1938. Soledad had the parcels of land be registered under her name and she was granted Torrens titles thereto. During the war, the Register of Deeds of Cotabato was destroyed.

In 1947, Datu was able to obtain 4 certificates of titles over the same parcels of land he earlier sold on the strength of an affidavit which attested he never sold the said parcels of land. Datu then obtained a P10k loan from PNB, he mortgaged the 4 parcels of land to PNB.

In 1948, Soledad discovered what Datu did. The Register of Deeds then issued an order declaring Datu’s title as void. PNB averred that the mortgage executed by Datu in its favor should be given effect as PNB was in good faith.

ISSUE: Whether or not to give due weight to the mortgage executed by Datu in favor of PNB.

HELD: No. Datu has other properties that the bank can use to enforce its loan against Datu. On the other hand, the Supreme Court ruled that the Torrens issued to Datu in 1947 could not prevail over the Torrens issued to de Teruel in 1938. The theory of indefeasibility of titles under the Torrens System, states that the indefeasibility of title thereunder could be claimed only if a previous valid title to the same parcel of land does not exist. Where issuance of the title was attended by fraud, the same cannot vest in the titled owner any valid legal title to the land covered by it; and the person in whose name the title was issued cannot transmit the same, for he (Datu) has no true title thereto. This ruling is a mere affirmation of the recognized principle that a certificate is not conclusive evidence of title if it is shown that the same land had already been registered and that an earlier certificate for the same land is in existence.

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