MARTINEZ v. CA (56 SCRA 647) GR No. L- 31271, April 29, 1974

FACTS:

 Spouses Romeo Martinez and Leonor Suarez are the registered owners of two (2) parcels of land located in Lubao, Pampanga. The disputed property was originally owned by one PaulinoMontemayor, who secured a “titulo real” over it way back in 1883. After the death of Montemayor the said property passed to his successors-in-interest, Maria Montemayor and DonataMontemayor, who sold it to a certain Potenciano Garcia.Because Potenciano Garcia was prevented by the then Pedro Beltran, from restoring the dikes constructed on the contested property, Garcia filed a civil case with the Court of First Instance and applied for a writ of preliminary injunction. The Court declared permanent the preliminary injunction.

On April 17, 1925 Garcia applied for the registration of both parcels of land in his name and was granted the registration.Thereafter, the ownership of these properties changed hands until eventually they were acquired by the spouses.

To avoid any untoward incident, the disputants agreed to refer the matter to the Committee on Rivers and Streams, who reported that the parcel was not a public river but a private fishpond owned by the herein spouses after investigation. The Secretary of Public Works and Communications, ordered another investigation and directed the spouses to remove the dikes they had constructed and threatened that the dikes would be demolished should the spouses fail to comply therewith within 30 days.

ISSUE:

 WON the spouses are purchasers for value and in good faith of the parcel of land alleged to be a public river.

HELD:

 No, they are not.The nullification of its registration would be contrary to the law and to the applicable decisions of the Supreme Court as it would destroy the stability of the title which is the core of the system of registration. Appellants cannot be deemed purchasers for value and in good faith as in the deed of absolute conveyance executed in their favor.

Before purchasing a parcel of land, it cannot be contended that the spouses did not know exactly the condition of the land that they were buying and the obstacles or restrictions thereon that may be put up by the government in connection with their project of converting Lot No. 2 in question into a fishpond. Nevertheless, they willfully and voluntarily assumed the risks attendant to the sale of said lot. One who buys something with knowledge of defect or lack of title in his vendor cannot claim that he acquired it in good faith.

The ruling that a purchaser of a registered property cannot go beyond the record to make inquiries as to the legality of the title of the registered owner, but may rely on the registry to determine if there is no lien or encumbrances over the same, cannot be availed of as against the law and the accepted principle that rivers are parts of the public domain for public use and not capable of private appropriation or acquisition by prescription.

Digest Credit: Rose May Erazo

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